Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fife coastal walk: 4

It was snowing hard in Edinburgh as I caught the bus for Anstruther and part 4 of this saga. Almost miserable enough for me to decide not to go, but I persevered, and am glad I did. Anstruther looked picturesque in the sun, and there were fine views across the Forth to the snow-covered Pentlands. I really ought to go to the fishery museum sometime, but onwards!

Islands and hills dominated the view for a while, what with the Isle of May being close by, and the Bass rock and Berwick Law defining the southern shore. The last cute fishing village on this walk is Crail, which has a harbour partially built by Robert Stevenson.

A pill box near Fife Ness was so neat inside that it looked as though somebody had put it up a few years ago. They must have had a good batch of concrete in 1940. The northerly firing slit commanded a view over a golf course, and I indulged myself for a few minutes with fantasies of mowing down golfers on the 16th green with a Bren gun.

If, like me, you think of the map of Fife as being like a Scottie dog seen in profile, then Fife Ness is the tip of the dog's nose. It's certainly cold and wet. The view across the Firth of Forth rotates out of sight, and you have a new vista out to sea, with the snow-covered hills of Angus ahead.

Just past the Ness itself is a flat area of rock with some concentric circles on it. This is where Robert Stevenson knocked up the light for the North Carr Rocks before deploying it. So we're back at industrial archaeology.

Having rounded Fife Ness, you are on the "golf coast", God help you. As you may have guessed, I detest the game and everything to do with it. I therefore found the next couple of miles very trying, as they skirt a course, and are prefaced by a sign that tartly requests you to walk on the shore and not on their course, and specifically not to visit Constantine's cave. This cave is where tradition suggests that Constantine I was killed in 874, while trying to repel a Danish invasion. Or maybe he wasn't. Anyway, the cave lies all of five meters from the shore, and dangerous subversive that I am, I took a picture.

The light was getting rather lovely by about 3 o'clock or so, and it was tempting to keep going and soak up the views. However a local bus to St Andrews from Kingsbarns looked like a good deal, and I took some pictures while waiting. It felt very cold once I had stopped for a while—amazing how a good walk warms you up.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Fife coastal walk: 3

Episode three of this wee adventure rapidly developed its own character. I rejoined the route at Leven, next to the disused power station, but turning to the left and walking along the beach soon left industrial Fife behind. Largo Law beckoned in front of me.

Although the day was dry and fairly clear, there was a strong wind off the sea, so I had to wear a lot of fleece and keep moving. I did manage to take a lot of pictures though. I'm really pleased with my new(ish) camera−it lets me do a lot of things that I couldn't before, including taking hand-held shots on windy beaches without much camera shake.

Largo is famous as the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, the historical figure on whom Robinson Crusoe was based. Here's a statue of him.

After Largo, there was another fine beach, over which the wind whistled unhindered. The flat openness probably also explains various Second World War defences that are found there. There are lots of tank traps (concrete cubes) in a line along the beach, and a few concrete pill-boxes with a field of fire to the sides in case Jerry managed to land and get past the cubes.

After skirting a drift of caravans at Shell Bay, I wandered up my first bit of cliff of the day, showing that I was now in the East Neuk. I already knew that there was a Klettersteig along the base of the cliffs here, but it didn't seem like the day to try it. Instead I walked along the headland, passing some former gun emplacements as I went.

After pausing for some overpriced food in Elie, I followed the now rather rocky coast to some classic fishing villages. St Monans church is mediaeval and very close to the sea. The path in front of the church takes you within splashing distance.

Days are lengthening a little now, so I managed to keep going until Anstruther at 4.30, where I was nicely in time for my bus home. Passing back in the gathering dusk through the places I had just walked through, I could still see the waves beating on the shore.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The origins of Tetris?

I know, I should get out more often.