Tuesday, 24 May 2016

going coastal

I saw the weather for Monday on Sunday evening and knew that that would be the day for May's Tynecastle Bronze. I felt it should be a return to Gala and back over the hills (I had failed to do the second half of this due to lack of light, in the Winter) but I was bit tired from the 7 Hills Recce and a busy weekend so thought I would copy Nick and Steve's February TB running back to Edinburgh from Kirkcaldy.

over the bridge on the 11am train

This wm is right beside the train station and Art Gallery. 

I took loads of pics here as the sun was blasting down and the whole place had a european feel - quite something for Kirkcaldy (only joking, Mike L). I nearly went into the art gallery for a mooch around then realised it was just the tiredness speaking and I had 30 miles to run. Best get on with it. And yet I felt quite hungry. I went into a newsagent and got a chicken and bacon sandwich (farmyard friends back together again) which I ate on the front with an energy drink. I hoped the latter would put a spring in my step. 

I really like this monument to the depression and the motivation behind it. The seafront has aged well and doesn't look 93 years old. The city motto Vigilando Munio means I Guard by Watching and not as I first thought Keep your Hand on your Wallet. I chased a jogger along the front, overtook and said how lovely the day was. (It seemed ridiculous to pretend we weren't running right beside each other.) And it was splendid. I was still very much in dicking about mode so when I saw a seal corpse about a mile down the coastal path I climbed down onto the shore to take pics. It was fully grown, but pretty manky in the heat so I won't post the photos. However right nearby was a colony hauled out on the rocks. I spent about 20mins taking pics and video. They all looked delighted about the weather, as was I, and showed indifference about my presence 40 yards away.

Eider ducks with chicks.

Climbing over rockpools filled with shrimp
(centre of pic, nearly transparent.)

Nick had said the route was pretty easy to follow so I hadn't taken a map. If I was doing it again I would carry a couple of print outs. Because you are competing with the rail line and the geology. (If the tide is hard in against a cliff you are either swimming or going back. I had plenty of time and would wander down to the shore or across a beach to explore. I'm not sure if the official coastal route went the same way and sometimes I would find myself trapped by the rail line, a boundary fence or struggling to cross an estuary. A lot of these dilemmas were near urban places and a map would help. Although if you aren't exploring there are possibly enough Fife Coastal Path signs to stay on course.

Black Rock 5  - famous uphill finish

BR5 start

Kinghorn. I nearly caught the train to here because I reckoned it was sufficient distance and it is prettier than Kirkcaldy. Under Nick's influence I went to the next stop and wouldn't have met the seals otherwise, so I was pleased to run 4 extra miles. (I was considering buying a cheap day return in case things went bad but in the end just took the risk and bought a single. I'll let you decide whether that makes me bold or a cheapskate.)

That's a bit harsh.

Hadn't noticed much of the interesting architecture here having only run past eye-balls out.

The black rock in question, squatting like a turd on the beach.
Still another 16 miles to the bridges.

This is what happens if you leave your jellyfish out in the sun.
(It becomes a communion wafer.)

The world was burgeoning. Buds were opening and bees were buzzing.

I tried to restrain the amount of photos I was taking but in the dazzling light everything looked superb. Normally I'll take 10 photos per mile. Today I took 576 over 35 which is over 16 per mile. Usually one in ten makes the blog. Today one in six. I spent most of the day in an ecstatic heat trance taking photos.

I could see up ahead as the beach approached Burntisland that the narrow strip of path became squeezed between railtrack and water. I looked for crossings. The photo above is of an 8' high culvert with wet green bottom. It went under the railway but just seemed to get smaller and there was no light at the end of this tunnel. I clambered along in the growing darkness without any sign of an out on the other side. Then my head brushed against something cobwebby, I made an unmanly noise and retreated hastily.

200 yards further on there is this more accessible escape route so there would be absolutely no reason to run across the rails risking the £1000 fine and through an acre of nettles to jump over the wall. So I definitely didn't do that if railtrack are reading. 

I trust this is self explanatory.

You have to hand it to Burntisland, they haven't hidden their crappy modern urban developments on the outskirts of town like an inbred cousin they are embarrassed about. They stuck 'em right there, just a street away from the main drag. I was running through schemey hell within a stone's throw of the town centre, if that was the town centre, and you would see some turreted mansion right in the middle of mid20th century council houses. It's as if they just filled in the gaps between the knobs' villas with 2up2downs. I bought another can of caffeine (the first one hadn't worked properly!) and some sweets. (They hadn't heard of Mrs. Tilly.)

Nearly called in to report a crime of urban development
but didn't fancy an afternoon in the cells for cheek.

I see from Nicks report he also came this way - there is a photo of an attractive arch just up the road. I wonder where he went next. I cut through some housing and then in a straight line through a park where 3 women were teaching 12 dogs to misbehave less. I ended up following the edge of the park to the coast (in pic below) where the train line stopped me re-joining the official trail. I clambered along some rocks then along the rocky beach for a while until a giant hand lifted me into the air, across the tracks, over the wall and placed me on the lovely path just the other side avoiding the £1000 fine for the second time. Well that was handy I said to the invisible rescuing force as I headed towards Aberdour on what was all of a sudden a delightful tarmac-ed cyclepath. (Note to self: next time print out Burntisland town plan large scale map.)

Aberdour Beach: childhood haunt and the site of me getting high for the first time. We, my brother and I, would get out the car, race to the beach and race to blow up our lilos, on which we jumped as we ran into the sea. I realised that I always had the same feeling running into the sea and it took several occasions to work out the slightly dislocated, slightly dizzy, slightly looking-through-someone-else's-eyes feeling I would always seem to have. It wasn't the sea breeze but the lilo inflating wheeze, the oxygen deficit making me high as I stood and ran into the water and it was almost as if watching from a distance. Now, I hear you surmise, is that maybe why I then spent 30 years chasing the other highs, in search of the perfect innocent childhood intoxication of the sand and surf, safe from the worries of adulthood? Is that why I now run till lungs are bursting and brain empty? Well no. It's just I'm a picker, I'm a grinner, I'm a lover, and I'm a sinner, I play my music in the sun. I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker, I sure don't want to hurt no one. Someone might have once called me a space cowboy but nobody ever called me Maurice. 

More nostalgia here as we used to come climbing on these cliffs - not high-tide friendly. I see Nick and Steve came this way, although I suspect the official trail might follow the Donkey Brae race route. To start with anyway. I took a couple of dirt trails through the woods coming out twice at viewpoints overlooking the next bay. There was a dude sat at one reading a book so I couldn't take a photo from there unless I asked to lean on his head and we'd only just met.

Donkey Brae race route goes round this pretty bay.

Again I probably should have followed the signs for the coastal path but look at this; how could you not follow the steps cut into the shore rock and then worn down by tide and sailors in espadrilles. I was now on the Med for sure and following the shore line path, abutted by a tall wall. I wondered what was on the other side of the wall. 

And look at this. Someone has made a seat for you to admire the view. Look again. You could hitch an oil tanker to that seat and it would pull the nose off the headland before it came away from the rock it is bolted to. What is going on here? And check out the weird rock at the corner (after trying not to disturb yet more Eider chicks.) (Eider are the largest European ducks and can be harvested for eiderdown without harming the duck.) (Apparently.) Anyway check out that rock! Have you been holding your breath again? Never mind the chick-a-dees.

cliff face

So it all gets a bit scrambly round here and I retreat to find out what indeed is over that wall. Nettles is what. Back down and back along to the right and HUP! Charmingly they have cemented broken glass shards into the top of the wall. But Nature has laughed in the face of these spoilsports by sand blasting the sharp edges off the glass over the years and the shards are now smooth like you get on beach. Hell we are on a beach. And helpful little handholds. Stop blowing up my lilo. 

This has to be my favourite sign of the day.

Two things. I bet the rock-climbing fraternity are aware of these outcrops. They will either be crumbly and crap to climb or climbed. I suspect the former because the tops looked cluttered with gorse and I couldn't see any belay points, bolts or chalky hand holds. Second thing: who put that sign there?

I had to scamper round the edge of the golf course then back onto the coast. There is a fantastic beach with a fallen tree on the right, still growing and I am channeling the Bahamas. The tree goes down to the sea and the only way past is to crawl below on the sand. It is splendidly cool on warm knees and I stay low to take a photo. I am in danger of going native. I can't remember what the hazard was but I have to go inland to progress and I surprise a large deer that bounds away before I can get the camera out. All around are bluebells and I try to ignore the brackish mud oozing over my shoes. It is nice but also I still have 20 miles to run. I clamber over branches taking photos of the bluebells. I need to get running again. I find the boundary wall and wait till the sit-on mower turns East before legging it along the fairway looking like Stig of the fucking Dump.

This might be Inchcolm.
bet they don't get a big attendance on Sundays

Time to get off the golf course. I come across a car park but it only leads towards a large industrial complex and away from the coast. I follow the wire fence of the industrial plant (Shell's Braefoot refining plant) and think I am onto a short cut. The fence has a boundary area that is cleared and makes for good running. After half a mile it becomes apparent that it runs right to the sea and probably beyond. I admit defeat and go back to the entrance of the plant and back up the road leading away from it. I come to the official Coastal Path and follow that until what looks like a path once taken in the Donkey Brae race.

It takes me back to the attractive coastal paths leading into Dalgety Bay. There are warnings about radioactivity but I know to disregard them as per Nick's blog although I don't dig up anything and eat it either.

another one of those

aspirational Dalgety Bay

I see Nick took a photo here as well: I think it is a prison or granny farm in the Tuscan style.

I stopped here for a sandwich, very pleasant, shame the photo is shoogly.

The feeling is the Bridges are getting near. However there is a quite a way to go. First you have to go through Inverkeithing. I stopped at a shop and got more juice. Filled the reservoir with raspberry Lucozade and Water mix. Rinsed my hands and face with the remainder of the water. Ran on to the junction where you would go if you were driving over the bridge and saw a bus stop at the park and ride. Maybe I should just get a bus over the bridge? This was tempered by the thought I might not want to get off the bus and just ride back into Edinburgh. Forget that thought. It became clear this was the wrong way on foot so I went back into Inverkeithing and back out another way, up a very steep long hill. It seemed to be heading in roughly the right direction and I was much relieved when it said North Queensferry. I asked someone for directions and they gave me exactly the right route (turn right at the block of flats and head for the community centre) and I found myself descending towards the bridges, three where there used to be just 2.

With the sun being out even a scabby old shed is filled with artistic promise.

Not THE Sandy Wallace.

Last couple of times across the road bridge I have felt a bit wobbly. Both times there has been 20+ miles on the clock and the mind is starting to behave independently from the brain. I stick to the centre of the pedestrian walkway away from temptation. But there is about a mile to cross and I can't help but play with all the space to my left. So, my addled brain says, do you think you could squeeze under the gap at the bottom of the rail and climb back over the top? This thought makes me look at the massive airy drop and I picture sweaty hands slipping on greasy rails. OK I've given myself the heebie-geebies and I order myself to stop thinking until we get to the other side. My camera is away because the battery has run low but I am not going to change it while there is a potential for throwing it accidentally off the.... I thought we weren't going to think until we got off the bridge.

sticking to the centre

Off the bridge without any more nonsense and I have the second half of my sandwich to fuel the last 13 miles. I have run 22. I change the battery in the camera. Right just a small half marathon to go. It is impossible to be near the bridges without taking photos of them. They are so iconic. Especially the rail bridge which outshines the other 2 by far. Such a good red.

There is a tiny gents loo about here which I visit. And then phone Mary. It is 6pm and I warn her that I won't be home in time to shop for and cook dinner (Nothing if not considerate.) She says stuff like no shit Sherlock and that she is already cooking. Should be ready when I get home. Ooh nice!

I really like the next bit through Dalmeny Estate which helps it fly by.

more of them

Now I really like these reeds just where this small stream goes into the Forth, and I am not the only one. Often a duck will raise her young here. I walked quietly round from the path but nothing stirred. I reluctantly joined the trail and just about set off again when I noticed....

So I walked back up the other side of the burn but when I got there, nada. Well I take my hat off to you I said out loud to nobody. Then the mother duck comes out quacking. I'm not sure if she thought I said come out with your hands up, or what, but she was a bit wary. And kept the chicks to the other side of her, mostly. I was pleased to get a couple of photos but they were into the sun and bit rubbish. I wished her and them all well and set off back up the trail.

Barnbougle Castle from the other end of the bay.

And yet more.

I shot some video of these 2 doing identical movements to balance as the breeze changed, a kind of sitting dance with wings out and in to stabilise.

Nearly there just the other side of the Almond, Cramond, Granton and home.

The Almond was awash with Wild Garlic and it made me want very thin crust pizza soaked in garlic butter and just a little bit of cheese and tomato. Hope Mary is making a good dinner. (It wasn't good, it was FANTASTIC!)

Sun through the dandelions.

What a fabulous day. It was great to get home and scrape the filth off in a hot shower. I bought beer on the way home but didn't even finish the first bottle. Water and juice were plenty. And that marvelous dinner Mary made. Plenty more wms along the way so may well be repeating this route over the next few years. I think next month's is the half way point - 24 x 30milers. This was a special one, due to the weather. Out from 11.30 till just after 8pm. 35miles (incl. station mile) Sunbaked face. Happy heart.


  1. Massive Peter,great achievement of man and nature , i feel you are being somehow drawn in my the immense conquest of man over nature.....who will win?

  2. Thanks,
    How do you mean?