Monday 2 March 2009

Two Autumn Walks

To Tayport Lighthouse

By the time we arrived at Elena's house in Tayport, Liam and Jamie were just about ready to go. Liam was sitting on the front step trying to put on his wellies. He couldn't quite manage and needed his mother to help him. Jamie was all ready to go, with trainers instead of wellies. They had fleece jerseys and hats, but no jackets even though it looked like it was going to rain. They had decided to take their father's big golf umbrella, so I got mine out of the car – I always carry one in the boot of the car. Liam carried his father's and Jamie was happy to take mine – one each and everyone was happy. The walk goes past the harbour and out to the lighthouse between Tayport and the bridge. The first part of the walk is a narrow path which winds along the shore between the back gardens of the houses on Harbour Road and the estuary. Elena particularly likes this section as she can dream about which house she would like to buy when she is richer. You get good views out to sea, back to Tentsmuir and across the estuary to the Ferry. The tide was out and you could see a large expanse of seaweed covered rocks. Quite a gathering of seagulls flying about. I tried to capture some with my new camera and its 10x zoom, but it doesn't have a fast enough shutter speed to get good moving shots. In the estuary, not far from the Tayport shore line some sort of wooden stack juts up from the sea.. It's looks as if it's been there for a very long time and I've no idea what it is. Perhaps it was a platform – for fishing? Or a watchtower? This was the first time I had really looked at the thing.

The path continues to the harbour wall where you have to turn inland and walk all the way round the harbour to get to the next section of the walk. The harbour itself is very ordinary and the surrounding buildings are either very plain or downright ugly. The backs of old council houses and other non-descript buildings. In the harbour there is now a good mix of pleasure boats with a few larger ones resting on the jetty. It is quite a pretty scene, deserving of better surroundings. Past the harbour there are some more cheap flats, a car park , public toilets and rows of large communal rubbish bins. Once past this things get better again. The houses are better kept and more in keeping with a coastal town. The path again follows the shore for a while before climbing up towards the old Tayport to Dundee railway line. From here you can follow a lower path to the lighthouse or follow the old railway line which is now a track for walkers and cyclists. We took the lower path which is really good for the boys and for Gerry, Elena's dog, when he comes with us. Plenty of space to run about. There is even a little play area with swings, but to-day it was too damp to use them. The path eventually reaches the lighthouse or rather lighthouses. There are two of them. The first is a very old one, made of stone blocks and not very tall. It's been out of use for goodness knows how long. The other one is covered in the much more traditional whitewash. There are a few cottages beside both lighthouses, all of them still occupied. After the lighthouse the path continues to the the bridge, but we usually climb up to the old railway line for the walk back. This takes you past a long rope which someone has hung from the branch of a tall tree. If you feel brave enough you can try your luck at swinging on the rope. Good fun though there is rather a steep drop if you did lose control of the rope. The boys don't bother with this yet and to-day they were too engrossed with the umbrellas. They used them as guns, broadswords and most of all dragged them along the ground. Jamie even managed to bend the tip of mine. Don't know how he managed this feat – nobody saw anything.

Around and about the East Neuk

It was a dry but dull and cold morning as we drove to Elie taking the cross country route via Peat Inn. It is always a pleasure to drive through this part of Fife – rolling hills, mixed farmland with some forest areas remaining. As usual there is very little traffic to disturb the drive and enjoyment of the scenery. In Elie we parked the car in the High Street and then set off for a walk along the beach towards Earlsferry. Part of a tree trunk had been blown across the sands and now lies upturned forming an elongated arch. Took some photos of Kate sitting on the relic. Stalks of sea wrack had also been left stranded on the beach. Quite a few families out with children. We figured it must the English half term as all the Scottish schools are now back. The return route took us all the way through Earlsferry town back to Elie. A fair amount of rebuilding going on. Lots of the houses were in need of quite extensive repairs and, or redecorating. We ended the walk at the Ship Inn where we had a pleasant lunch sitting by a blazing log fire. More families with children kept appearing to enjoy the food and drink. When we re-appeared on the outside the sun had come out, though it was still cold.

We took the coastal route for the return journey and stopped off in Crail for another little stroll about. We walked down to the harbour – pretty much empty as usual, a few boats bobbing up and down on the water and tidily arranged piles of creels and coloured rope dotted around the piers. We then wandered along the shore path to Broome Bay. The sun was still out and it made for a pleasant walk with lovely views out to May Island and across the estuary to North Berwick.. Loads of berries sagging on branches. There were also lots of sea birds on the rocks by the shore. Among them was a solitary heron who just stood there imperiously, as though he were surveying his domains. Hardly moved at all. Managed to get a couple of good photos. It was then back to the car and off home.

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