Balmerino, Fife, Scotland

I was about 20 or 25 years behind everybody else where reading Rosamunde Pilcher is concerned as it was only last year when I got around to reading anything by her. If you’ve read her book September you might remember that the story is set in Scotland and the main characters are Lord and Lady Balmerino. At the time I thought that it was a made up name but since Duncan (eldest son) moved to Dundee we’ve been driving past a road sign which points the way to Balmerino Abbey and last Saturday we got around to visiting it. The photo below is the view on the way to the abbey.

Balmerino from the road above

It actually looks far more beautiful in real life, there aren’t many parts of Fife which are very scenic but this area in the north of Fife is not bad.

I loved this gateway, it’s all dry stone walling, no mortar involved and this is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Balmerino farmhouse gate

This Spanish chestnut tree is in the grounds of the ruined Balmerino Abbey. It has been tested and apparently it’s between 400 and 435 years old. You can see that some of the branches are being supported by massive metal poles, in the same way that the Birnam oaks are.

Spanish chestnut tree

On the left of this photo is part of the chapter house of the abbey and the huge cross is where the original altar was. Ermengarde de Beaumont founded the abbey and she is buried in front of the cross.

Chapter house  at Balmerino

If you’re in the area it’s definitely worth a visit, Balmerino itself is very small but in a lovely setting by the banks of the Tay. It’s very remote though and you have to get into a car for the necessities of life as there are no shops, it would be about an eight mile round trip to buy a newspaper!

8 thoughts on “Balmerino, Fife, Scotland

  1. I really love the top photo. So beautiful! I can’t imagine it being even lovelier in person. And that gateway is very unique. What a gorgeous place to visit!

    • Anbolyn,
      It is nice there but not nearly as beautiful as the west of Scotland. I was brought up within walking distance of Loch Lomond, a really lovely area. Have a look at some images here if you have the time!

    • Me again! Just thought to look it up and found that it’s probably right! The Gaelic it came from is Baile Meireanach, where the accent on the second word would be on the first syllable.

      • Evee,
        I’m not too bad at recognising Gaelic names when they’ve been anglicised but am cluless as to how to pronounce them. We got a shock when we went to Oban a while back and saw that all the road signs are in Gaelic – first. I think it’s just to make tourists think that we all speak Gaelic!

      • Yes, there are plenty of people who have a lot to say on the signposts in Gaelic. Being interested in the language, and singing in a Gaelic choir, I find they are interesting, but I’m not so sure about all the money ploughed into the signs. Sure it could be used in more beneficial ways to promote the Gaelic language. Maybe the tourists like it! Makes them feel they are in a different country! Just as long as councils don’t decide to adopt the Gaelic names and scrap the English ones! They tried to give Dingle, in Ireland, its old Irish name back again a few years ago, but it caused such a furore that they had to change it back! Imagine folk seeing sign posts to An Gearasdan, when they’re looking for Fort William.
        Balmerino comes from Bal/baile, a town, probably a ferm toun, and Meireanach, who was a saint or something! So, MERRinoch was his name and Bal MERRino what his toun became known as!

        • Evee,
          I know that people who run things like nursery schools / playgroups here are incensed by the amount of money which is thrown at anything like that if they do a bit of gaelic as well absolutely thousands of pounds apparently. The normal ones are struggling along on about fourpence ha’penny!
          An Gearrasdan isn’t exactly specific either, doesn’t it just mean ‘the garrison’ – and there’s Fort George too! Thanks for the Balmerino info.

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