Day 41 South Queensferry to Aberdour
After today’s wonderful stroll we have arrived in the Kingdom of Fife. Our straight line distance was about 4 miles but it took us 12.2 miles to do it as the coast doesn’t play ball. It could have been a shorter more direct stroll but that would have been noisy and smelly from car/lorry/motorcycle engines.
The “Queen” in Queensferry was Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III. She set up a church in Dunfermline, where she had married Malcolm in 1070. This rapidly became a place of pilgrimage leading to increasing demand for transport across the Forth Estuary. The Queen’s Ferry, paid for by Margaret and operated by monks from Dunfermline, was the result. All this changed in 1964 when the road bridge opened. 900 years isn’t bad for a transport business.
We had no idea only a few days ago that strollers were welcome on the Forth Road Bridge this monumental structure to the motor vehicle. Having learned that we could stroll over the thing we expected the odd sign to that effect but we looked about us for signs as to how to get onto the walking area in vain. Janet went into a newsagent and asked for directons but the assistant gave discouraging news that it was a long way and she didn’t know how. Discouraged a little we pressed on and asked another woman of a more robust character who told us that she crossed the bridge every day to walk her dog. The weather forecast wasn’t really very encouraging so we prepared by wearing fleeces and, in my case, long socks. Janet tells me that I look like a scoutmaster in them, I take this as a compliment. So off we went towards the bridge following our robust lady’s advice through the traffic.
Arriving at the bridge the weather forecast appeared to be correct. We were assailed by a strong wind and scuds of chilly rain and decided to put on our bad weather gear. The only bit of me showing to the wind and rain were my knees and nose.
I took loads of photos from the bridge but they really do not do the stroll justice. If you get the chance to wander over the bridge on foot you won’t regret it. The weather, having tried to frighten us off, relented very soon and we probably didn’t really need the excessive clothing we had on.
The lady of robust character who had given us the instructions to find the bridge also advised us to take the first stair after the bridge and go into North Queensferry. She told us that there was a very good tea room and would give us strength to carry on. We found the tea room and the scones and were thankful for them.
Our original intention had been to follow a small road towards Aberdour but, although we enjoyed the views from the bridge, the traffic noise was something of a trial so we took the Fife Coastal Path instead. The path was longer but quieter.
The views from the path .on this side of the firth were heaps better than those on the other side. The north side has fewer trees so the panorama is much wider. We could see people on the shore doing something or other and I speculated as to whether they were after shellfish
One of the many joys of strolling through the landscape is to discover unexpected treasures. We found the ruined church of St Bridget the ruins are the only surviving feature of it. It was in existence by at least 11 March 1178 when Pope Alexander III issued a papal bull, calling for the founding of the “Church at Dalgetty with its appurtenances”. The church was later appropriated by the nearby Inchcolm Abbey, and in 1244 it was consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St. Andrews. The interesting bit, for me anyway, is a shed in the boundary walls provided for the relatives of the recently deceased who could watch their corpses by night to make sure that they weren’t stolen for the medical schools in Edinburgh. The kirkyard was vulnerable to theft by boat so needed these precautions to ensure the safe rest of the deceased.
It is beginning to look as though the stroll is over halfway to completion. Of course that does depend on us taking a direct route.