July 2

Day 43 Burntisland to Glenrothes

The weather forecast for today was not encouraging but weather is a strollers constant companion and delight.

Bruntisland is quite a nice town with some old stuff interspersed with later architecture.

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Our old friend the Fife Coastal Trail forced us to leave and get on with the task in hand of strolling somewhere. Another consideration perventing us from loitering was the force 8 gale.
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We spotted a murmuration of starlings perched on an old tower as we strolled. It may be possible to spot their tiny presences on the top of the ruin in the next photo.
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Today’s stroll has been very easy, no navigational errors, no steep hills, no shortage of food. In fact we stopped for some tea and cake about an hour after setting off. It was as we were eating our tea and cake that I noticed that we were probably the youngest and fittest of the patrons. I also noticed a problem which hadn’t occured to me before today. With so many patrons of advanced years and diminished mobility there wasn’t enough room to park these intrepid elders’ zimmer frames. Could this be the next commercial opportunity?

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The corporation of Kirkcaldy did a fine thing in 1922/1923. To ameliorate the effects of depression they caused to be built an esplanade which seemed to go on and on for ever as we walked along it. I’m not sure how long this structure is but between one and two miles seems reasonable. Sadly though there is nothing on the structure, no sellers of trinkets, ice cream, hirers of deck chairs. It just goes on and on for ever into the distance in a vast gentle curve.
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We stopped for lunch in a shady grove. We ate our usual lunch of half an apple and a few slices of cheese, washed down with some tepid water, as we perched on a wall. The promised rain arrived in a torrent just we wiped the last cheesey crumbs from our chins, just one chin each as we are fitter than we were when we set out.

The rain eased and we emerged from our grove. The forecast had been for heavy, sudden, showers and how right it was as another arrived as we were passing Aldi, thanks for providing shelter Aldi. From Kirkcaldy we aimed for Glendrothes and the Golden Acorn.

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The architecture of Glenrothes is firmly rooted in its origins as a a new town. This means that some may find the buildings too uniform and too much of concrete. Even so these critics would be extremely unfair to find fault with the footpaths and cyclè tracks which enabled us, and others like us, to be able to stroll about without traffic noise. So full marks to the planners for that
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Tomorrow will take us further on the road to the next bridge, the mighty Tay Bridge. Not the bridge of that famous Scot William Topaz McGonagall thank goodness.

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July 3

Day 44 Glenrothes to Cupar

Wetherspoon’s of Glenrothes does a very nice eggs royale. The egg yolks are cooked to perfection. Yesterday I stuck my knife into one of these perfectly cooked yolks and most of it leapt into my lap. This morning I was much more careful and made my eggy incision protected by napkins.
We set out clad only in jumpers etc but very soon changed into windproof attire. The weather was what Scots call breezy. Less hardy folk would say blowing a freezing gale.

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The layout of Glenrothes means that one can stroll out of it without needing to go near a main road. There are numerous cycle and foot tracks which separate self propelled humans from those propelled by fossil fuels.

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This lack of contact really gives the impression of space and tranquility even when in the middle of a bustling town.

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Had we gone for plan A we would be heading for the West Highland Way now. Instead of that, we are heading for the Tay Bridge. In many ways our current stroll is more interesting and challenging than that of the WHW. How so, you may ask? How can strolling through flat Fife be more exciting than clambering over the west highland way?

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On the famous national trails the destinations and routes are set out by someone else and all that one has to do is to follow the markers and all the other strollers who have set out earlier having taken their porridge earlier. In addition it is not unusual to read books written by those who have completed the trails thus preparing the stroller for what lies ahead.
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We, on the other hand, have to find our own way through the countryside. We have the excitement of not knowing if the paths we have chosen will end in tears or laughter
Today we have seen very few people and have had the countryside to ourselves.

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Today’s stroll ended in Cupar, a town I have never knowingly visited before.

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Tomorrow we head towards Dundee and the Tay Bridge.

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July 4

Day 45 Cupar to Dundee

The weather forecast for today encouraged us to get a move on. So we decided on an earlyish breakfast. I may have mentioned the delicious eggs royale in previous posts. This morning’s eggs royale were eggs rubber meaning that I didn’t go to work on an egg today.
Cupar is a pretty town and has a fruiterer so the disappointment of no egg was soon forgotten after the purchase of an apple.

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One of the delights of today has been the villages through which we strolled. Most of these villages have, for we strangers, unusual names. How does on pronounce Foodieash?
On the occasions when we have had to use minor roads they have been largely traffic free. This freedom from traffic fear has been the case for most of this stroll and does make the day so much more fun.
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When I used to work near Duns, many, many years ago, we used to go to the disused airfield and zoom about in an ancient Ford Capri. I was told that Jim Clark, the famous racer, was from Duns. I learned today, by passing his statue, that he really came from Kilmany. You learn something new every day by strolling.
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Keeping off the roads we followed a track through a field. We have been much better of late in noticing when there are junctions on our tracks and checking that the one we have chosen is the correct one. Remembering that the weather might turn nasty we were trotting along at quite a pace and missed the turn so found ourselves under a wind turbine. Fiddle dee dee we said.
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Approaching midday we became thirsty and spotted the excellent Gauldry Arms. The Gauldry Arms is a small but vibrant hostelry. We learned that Gauldry or The Gauldry was a gallows village and was called Gallows. I had no idea such villages existed..
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Further along the coast we came to the village of Wormit. Some wag had managed to modify the village name to vomit on the bus stop sign. The railway bridge is very prominent and can be seen from quite a distance with the stumps of the old bridge columns alongside like rotten teeth as a reminder of past failure. I was reminded by these stumps of that piece of epic poetry by McGonagell The Tay Bridge Disaster Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay! Alas! I am very sorry to say That ninety lives have been taken away if you click the link you can enjoy the poem in all its magnificence.
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So, from the rail bridge to the distant road bridge. Like the Forth Bridge it opened in the 1960s putting the ferry out of business. I am told that people crammed onto the last ferry journey, happily paying the fee of 5/6, for those under the age of 50 years this was a significant sum of money,

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The meteorological office promised us rain and wind and other stuff after lunch so we decided to wait until we got to the bridge before making the decision to cross. On arrival at the staircsae to heaven the skies were clear, apart from a slight drizzle, so the crossing wasa on.
The stroller ascends to a central walkway by means of a staircase. Once on the bridge the length of it creates an optical illusion that it goes on and on for ever. Not only does it seem that it goes on and on for ever but that one has walked along it for ever and ever.
I think that suspension bridges are more fun than beam bridges as suspension bridges move with the wind and passing traffic. Beam bridges, in contrast, feel more like causeways than bridges nevertheless the length of the thing makes it a terrific stroll.
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No strolling tomorrow. We don’t know Dundee at all so to just stroll in and stroll out seems like a wasted opportunity plus we have been invited to lunch so no contest.
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The day after tomorrow? We head towards Arbroath, perhaps.

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July 5

Day 46 Dundee

The day started well but extreme seediness set in very soon afterwards. As strolling is a very enjoyable thing to do when free of seediness we decided to laze about in our Dundee Backpackers Hostel until we are ready to leap forward once more into the unknown.
The doorway into the hostel reminds me of 1950s cold war films. The street off which it leads is a busy commercial thoroughfare. A narrow wrought iron door between Virgin Money and another innocuous shop is the only clue that a hostel exists. This door leads down a corridor into a warren which is the McCleod building I think. The concierge is always on duty and one, if fortunate enough to be in the McCleod Suite, then climbs up many stairs through the warren to get to the top where the view is of another roof. I was expecting ‘M’ or ‘Hunter’ or ‘Smiley’ to be ready to interview us at any moment.

An important Dundee resident is Desperate Dan whose statue greated us as we strolled by. A child was climbing on the staue for a photo but got tangled up and started to whine, no Desperate Dan he.
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Never having visited Dundee before, we always seem to pass by on the bypass, I went to the tourist office to find out things to do. Scott of the Antarctic’s boat is here as is one of the last sailing warships so there is loads to see. The buildings are very grand as a result of the riches accrued from the jute trade. So there are lovely avenues down which to stroll, staring upwards.
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I fell into conversaton with a bloke who told me that there was nothing to see in Dundee as everything had closed. This depressing opinion was completely wrong, unlike the opinion of someone I spoke to in Basingstoke a few years ago. When I asked if there was anything interesting in Basingstoke this person said “There is the cinema, but I don’t know what’s on.”
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Those of you who have heard of Oor Wullie will be delighted to hear about the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail. Dotted about Dundee are plastic statues of this amusing tyke. At some point they will auction off these statues in aid of a children’s charity. If you want a full sized Oor Wullie statue make sure that you put the date in your diary.

This evening’s excitement was increased by the appearance of a fire service cherry picker which rose majestically above the buses trying to get through to deliver impatient passengers to their destinations. There was no hint of haste in the fire people’s preparations so we assumed that no lives were in peril. The bucket rose upwards and the fire people stared at a wall, then the machine descended and they all disappeared.
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So no strolling today. Tomorrow we might have a crack at strolling to Monifieth. Tomorrow is another day so perhaps we won’t after all.

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July 6

Day 47 Dundee to Monifieth

Having had a seedy day yesterday we awoke and tested all moving parts for signs of wear and tear. Everything appeared to be in full working order which gave us great reassurance. As a result of these results we felt able to set out on the stroll which we should have had yesterday.

We began by going down the cobbled Candle Street towards the docks and the cycle track, cycle track No 1 in fact. This track goes from Dover to the Shetlands if you want something to do.
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We don’t always stroll through beautiful countryside, bleak moors, grympen mires or golden shores. Sometimes our strolls take us to other equally interesting yet less obviously beautiful places. Today, for example, we walked through Dundee docks, an area filled with activity and interesting smells.
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Not only interesting smells but interesting bits of machinery. What the machine in the photo did, or does, I have no idea. It is a massive bit of kit and must have cost an arm and a leg when it was new
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As we strolled along chatting amiably we were passed by quite a few cyclists but saw no strollers. We assumed, or rather I assumed, that the cycle track was not used by strollers as it wasn’t very pretty and that cyclists would be using it as a safer alternative to the busy main road. A security gate appeared in the distance. A cyclist passed us and pressed a button and the security gate opened. As we were close we passed through before the gate shut again and strolled onwards enjoying the industrial landscape.

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At the end of the docks there was another gate with a button and lots of notices telling strollers that they needed permits to stroll. There was a map too with red shading if the point hadn’t been made clear enough.
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I don’t quite understand how the innocent stroller is so different from a cyclist, from the point of view of security of course. A cyclist can become a pedestrian in an instant by getting off his/her bicycle. Then, who knows what skullduggery they could perform once released from the encumbrance of their bicycles.
We pressed the button, as instructed on the notice, and the security gate opened. No alarms went off and no security guards appeared so the whole business is still a mystery to me.
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Once away from the docks we could enjoy the lovely walk along the shore into Broughty Ferry. This week is Broughty Ferry’s Gala so everywhere was festooned with flags and children rushing about with bits of paper peering into shop windows for clues. As we passed along a young woman with a boy of about 11 yrs asked Janet if the object in the window was a crochet hook. As Janet said, after confirming that the hook was a hook, “She probably thought that an aul’ wyfie like me would know the answer to such a question.
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Around the bay we could see Broughty Ferry Castle
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It appears that the castle was used as a mine laying base during WW1
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A short stroll today of just 6 miles followed by a spot of mince ‘n’ tatties at one of Janet’s cousins’ houses. I believe that I could eat mince ‘n’ tatties every day.
Tomorrow we might stroll from Monifieth to Carnoustie for another short stroll. Just the job at the moment.

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July 7

Day 48 Monifieth to Carnoustie

Today’s stroll was very much like that of yesterday with the exception that yesterday’s stroll had more of interest for the stroller’s eye. That is not to say that it wasn’t a nice stroll. The sun shone and the going was easy.

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We found the cycle track, the famous Trail No 1, and strolled along the shore enjoying the hot sun and the sea. The track is adjacent to the railway line so we had the excitement of Virgin Trains passing every so often.
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Our OS Map showed the red flags of a military site. Our map warned us that we would be passing alongside this secret place so when the signs appeared we were ready. The signs told us that if the flags were flying then we were not to enter the site or touch any metal object. The flags looked as though they had been flying constantly for many years as they were tattered and faded.
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Our route was not over the military firing range but between the firing range and the dead straight railway line. This confinement meant that our track was dead straight too. We had hoped for glimpses of the sea or other interesting things but all that we could see was the scrubland of the military and the rails of the railway. We did see an assault course in the distance but no one was engaged in assaulting it so that was a bit dull too.
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Approaching the village of Carnoustie we passed some golf course or other. It all looked very grand indeed with its very neatly shaven greens and landscaped bunkers. I didn’t take any photos of the golf course as I don’t play golf myself and had forgotten that it was there.

Carnoustie is quite a small but pleasant sort of place
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We popped into a bakery for something to drink and a snack, thus ending the stroll for today. Butter and hot water must be very expensive in Carnoustie as Janet discovered that there was a charge for extra hot water for her milkless tea and I found that I had only one pack of butter for my thickly sliced bread.
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Tomorrow we might go from Carnoustie to Arbroath if all goes well. I have eaten Dundee cake in Dundee so I need to find smokies in Arbroath. Each day there is something new to look forward to.

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July 8

Day 49 Carnoustie to Arbroath

My pack has felt very heavy today. I have just discovered the reason, I bought a big lump of Dundee cake when we were in Dundee and only ate a small proportion of it. I had better get stuck in to lighten the load.

We realised today that we are not that far from Aberdeen. Our faded forms have nearly made it.
Our weather forecast told us that by setting out a bit later than usual we would get good weather all day. With this in mind we set out at 10:15 from Carnoustie. I am sure that golfers and residents love Carnoustie.
Our weather forecast was more or less right but the less bit hit us as we left Carnoustie. A sudden sharp shower fell from the heavens and we quickly put on our rainproof coats and kilts. A bloke in a white van shouted “Hey, where’d ye get yer watterproof kilt? I’ve gotta have one.” I gave him the sad news that it was unique and he reckoned that Janet could sell them in thousands to Scottish walkers.

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The short sharp shower was soon over and we could take off our waterproof coats and, now sought-after, kilts. We enjoyed a lovely sunny day from then on.

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I believe that the people of East Haven must all be particularly nice. East Haven is between Carnoustie and Arbroath on the coastal path. The first evidence of their niceness was of an assortment of jugs of soft drinks and an honesty box. But, the best thing of all was yet to make itself known.
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The car park at East Haven has a gentlemen’s public convenience. Those of you of the masculine pursuasion will know that these important buildings are not usually places of beauty or fragrance. The exception to this rule is the gents’ in East Haven car park. I don’t make a habit of taking photos in men’s loos for all sorts of reasons but I made an exception today. On the walls were paintings produced by local artists. On the wash stand were flowers. The entrance hall had a book in which visitors could inscribe their comments about the lavatory. How nice it was to enter a place with such a welcoming atmosphere.
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The final proof that East Haven is a nice place was the sight of some Fordson Tractors. I think that I could live happily here.
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Today’s stroll has been a coastal stroll with views of the sea and sand. People we have met have told us that the midges are bad in the west at the moment so our decision to go east seems to have been a good one. I think that it will also give us more pleasure in the long run as we drive up the east every year and so will be able to relive the stroll each time we come.
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The coastal path even provided us with a bench. We threw off our heavy encumbrances and relaxed after our exertions. We may have eaten something but I don’t remember.
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There, glistening in the sun, Arbroath.
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We expected to have difficulties today as the map did not show a full path along the coast. We may have had to walk along the shoreline which would have been difficult as small, but deepish, rivulets flowed down to the sea. None of this actually occurred. The stroll was gentle, sunny and altogether delightful. Tomorrow things might be different. A cyclist stopped for a chat and told us that the first bit of our planned route would be OK and, indeed, very nice but he didn’t think that the last bit would be so easy. Tomorrow will come and then we’ll know.

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