Walks 2 : May to June 2018


27 May 2018

On Sunday 27th May Madge led members and visitors on a ‘River Walk’ at Dunkeld.  Hot sun and blue skies accompanied the party all the day – ideal weather for the walk through the woods along well-signed footpaths and tracks, all part of the Dunkeld Path Network.  

From the main car park in the town the group made its way along the Fiddlers Path passing the Cathedral to reach the Tay.  Heading northwards along the riverside this section of the route took the walkers through woods carpeted thickly with bluebells in flower and brightened here and there by patches of white stitchwort catching the sun.  Sharp eyes in the group noticed the unassuming leaves of dog’s mercury.  Hiding in the undergrowth this modest plant, along with the bluebells, is a sure indicator of a very old woodland.  Before reaching the modern bridge carrying the A9 over the river, a sunny bank made a good spot for a coffee break.  

Then it was a quick step across the bridge along the roadside pavement to join the Inver Path on the far side of the river.  A short climb uphill soon revealed woodland of a very different character.  Tall straight trunks of conifers, mainly Douglas fir here, soared to the sky.  Notices warned that felling was to take place around here from 1stJune – the plantation had clearly reached commercial maturity.  Alongside the track too were mature specimens of deciduous trees. One particularly took walkers’ attention.  With its huge gnarled and knotted trunk and a cascade of roots hanging on tightly to a rocky bank, it could have stepped right out of a book of fairy tales from the wildwood.

Then following Madge up a rocky knoll members of the party were surprised and delighted to find a very well-designed, substantial and pleasing man-made feature.  Named Torryvald and bearing the date 1996, it replaced a Victorian structure put here for the view over the Tay to Dunkeld House, once a home of the Dukes of Atholl.  The growth of the trees took away that view and the folly is there now to celebrate the presence once nearby of long-deserted township lost in the woods. Built of the local stone, metamorphic slate and schist, and with a stylish brushed steel handrail leading up steps to a seat, the design has been inspired by the shapes of trees and fir-cones in the surrounding forest.  The steps then lead upward to a pointed gable end atop sections of wall clearly representing the ruined houses.  It is unusual but well in-keeping with and so complimentary to its environment.

Rocks in the sunny clearing around the folly made good seats for lunch.  Then it was off again to follow the path to the River Braan and Ossian’s Hall.  Built out over a gorge of the river, the Hall gives a magnificent view of spectacular waterfalls.  It was a great hub for visitors on this hot summer’s day.  From here the route led down the Braan to Inver and the Birnam Riverside Path.  A pleasant stroll by the river Tay, flanked by mature trees, took the group then to the bridge across to Dunkeld and the welcome prospect of a ‘cuppa’.  Spill the Beans café in the High Street provided the goodies and comfortable shade too for a sit and a chat before walkers returned to the cars for the journey home.

2 June 2018

Saturday 2nd June developed into a beautiful warm sunny day when Liz led members and guests on a Linlithgow Circular walk. A short uphill road walk from St. Ninian's car park led onto the Union Canal where the group followed the tow path to the aqueduct. Along the route, it wasn't long before a nest of ducklings, being watched over by proud parents was encountered, giving rise to admiring remarks. As we continued, it was a joy to see a selection of colourful wild flowers along the embankment as well as yellow gorse and white hawthorn bushes.  Together they made most attractive scenery, especially when sharp reflections were mirrored on the calm water. As we progressed a heron was seen in flight. Soon, the sea scouts building was reached where a perfect grassy area made an ideal  coffee stop in the sun. Across the canal from where we sat, a field where sheep, lambs, cows and calves were grazing kept the group entertained especially when several cows clambered down the embarkment to drink from the canal.

Refreshed, the group continued and on arrival at the aqueduct they marvelled at the well made structure while  looking over the edge and down onto the River Avon, a long way below. The canal, once used to convey goods between Edinburgh and Falkirk is now used for pleasure. The group saw some canoeists but unfortunately no barges were around at the time. Backtracking slightly. we exited from the canal and joined the Avon Heritage Trail.  This was a lovely shady glade  formed by trees alongside the river with the smell of wild garlic in abundance. An Information Board on the trail was studied telling of the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge in 1526 which was fought in the area.

Soon Linlithgow Bridge was reached and a short walk along streets, past up-market housing and through a wooded area brought us back to Linlithgow Loch. A lunch stop in the  sun at the lochside was ideal. To add to the chat there was plenty to witness as numerous fishing boats were out on the loch as were a variety of birds including swans with cygnets. There was also an impressive view of Linlithgow Palace where Mary Queen of Scots was born in1542. Continuing the walk around the loch, the views were stunning. On reaching the palace a detour was made to the palace courtyard and St. Michael's Church before walking down the cobbled roadway where there are plaques on the wall showing the lineage of kings and queens from Mary Queen of Scots to the pesent Queen. From there the Burgh Halls and the Cross were passed before returning to the cars.

5 June 2018

On Tuesday 5th June Joan led members on the Langtoun Daunderers walk ‘Aroond & Aboot Station End Kirkcaldy’. In bright sunshine they set off from Kirkcaldy Station along Oriel Road and through the woods of Dronachy Den. Crossing into Raith Estate the route led through sunny woodland along the ridge top and down to Lakeside Road. It was then on to the path round the end of Raith Lake and by the Mill Dam to reach Beveridge Park. There the walk ended with some of the walkers proceeding to ‘The Duchess’ restaurant for a tasty lunch.


Bill Gibson Memorial Walk 9 June 2018

On Saturday 9th June Brian led members and guests on the ‘Leven Circular’ walk. This was a favourite walk of Bill Gibson, who sadly passed away earlier this year, and was dedicated to his memory . Bill had been an enthusiastic member of the club for many years  serving on the committee in various capacities for most of the time. He was held in high esteem and very well regarded by all those who came in contact with him. A fact which was reflected by the large turnout of walkers on the day. Quite literally, he was the one person you never heard a bad word being spoken off. The walk commenced on a warm sunny morning at Leven Esplanade car park taking the route past the swimming pool, over the Bawbee Bridge and following the River Leven towards Windygates before circling round to the north of Leven, past the Diageo warehouses and top of Letham Glen to Blacketyside before joining the Coastal Path at Silverburn and returning to Leven. An evening meal had been booked at the Upper Largo Hotel and it was to there that those of the group who were participating proceeded after the walk to be joined by some non-walkers. An excellent meal well served by friendly staff in pleasant surroundings was enjoyed by all. Before guests made their various homeward bound journeys Beth thanked Liz, in particular, for organising the meal and for her part in making the memorial day for Bill Gibson such a memorable one.

16 June 2018

On Saturday 16th June Mike led a group of four Ramblers on a 10 mile section of the Southern Upland Way, from Melrose to Lauder in the Borders.
We drove to Lauder, from where we planned to take a bus to Melrose and walk back. Our plans were almost stillborn when the driver, during the course of donning boots and waterproof trousers (the forecast was not good) mislaid her car keys. We all searched high and low without success. Eventually, at the third emptying of her pack, the driver found them at the bottom of a pocket they should not have been in … but all’s well that ends well!

Having given ourselves over two hours for the drive from Kircaldy, even with the missing key saga we had half an hour in hand so we partook of coffee in the very pleasant Flat Cat cafe across the road.

The bus took us to the centre of Melrose, and just after 11 we started our walk out past the abbey and along the path to the Chain Bridge, a small but perfectly formed suspension bridge over the River Tweed to the village of Gattonside. We followed the riverside path westwards until it comes up the Gattonside road at the west edge of the village. A short distance along the road brought us to a path that turns uphill and climbs steadily for about 200 ft, then levelling out for a while before climbing another 150 ft to a farm called Easter Housebyres. By this point we were on open moor and high farmland.

Despite the rather dismal weather forecast, we were getting only light drizzle interspersed with some quasi-sunshine, and it was warm and muggy enough to induce the shedding of coats after the climb. Half a mile beyond Housebyres we came to a place where a field provided some convenient sitting stones and excellent views for an early lunch break.

From here the path soon joined a wider track which, later becoming a surfaced road, headed north almost dead straight for about three miles, clearly following a Roman road. We were treated to a heavy downpour along this section, but luckily it was short-lived. At Fordswell the route left the road for a track heading to Woodheads Hill (via a short detour at one point through some very long wet grass). The final section took us along the top of the steep brae above Lauder Burn. Now we were given a real treat of sunshine and lovely views over Lauder and across the valley -- this alone would have made the walk worthwhile.

We dropped down the last slope into Lauder, where we headed back to the car. But how could we leave without rounding off the day with another coffee (and cake) at the Flat Cat cafe? And our timing was immaculate, because scarcely were we inside than the rain was bucketing down so hard it was bouncing off the ground -- yet by the time we finished our refreshment and were heading back to the car, it had stopped.

A very successful day all round!