A snowdrop walk in Fife

Snowdrops in Balbirnie Park.

snowdrops, Balbirnie Park, Fife

I spoke to an elderly man who told me that these snowdrops were grown commercially originally and as a young lad he had picked them and packed them into boxes for sale in the cities. The Victorian estate is probably why there was a railway station nearby.

snowdrops, Balbirnie Park, Fife

 

snowdrops , Balbirnie Park, Fife

There are several places advertising snowdrop walks, in rural estates where you have to pay for the privilege, but there is probably somewhere near you where you can admire the snowdrops for free. Within Fife in the east of Scotland there are swathes of snowdrops in Falkland, Glenrothes and Balbirnie Park. Unfortunately the snowdrops don’t look great in these photos, but the burn (stream) and trees look fairly scenic.

If you look closely at the photo below you’ll see a heron, almost in the middle of it, I love those birds but a friend of mine thinks they look like vultures and can’t stand them, I think they look elegant.

heron , Balbirnie Park, Fife

Balbirnie has some great trees in it, even some redwoods, but some haven’t survived.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, trees

Sadly, with all the terrible storms we’ve had to endure this winter there were also quite  a few trees which had been blown over. The saddest one is in the photo below, I think it was a beech tree, going from the smoothness of the trunk, but it’s hard to tell when there are no leaves on trees and you can’t even see the shape that it grew in. If it was a beech tree it looks like it must have been between 150 and 200 years old, beech trees tend to fall over after 200 years anyway. It damaged some other trees on the way down,  but bizarrely it landed across the length of what was a lovely wee stone  bridge, and is now blocking it completely, I’m just amazed that the bridge hasn’t collapsed under the immense weight of the tree, but one side of it is badly damaged. It’s on council land and given the state of the budget it’s doubtful if it will ever be fixed.

fallen tree, Balbirnie Park, Fife

As you can see they have already cut up some of the tree, but maybe they are waiting for more experienced people to deal with the rest of it. It’ll be an awkward job.

fallen tree , snowdrops , stone bridge, Balbirnie, Fife

You can just see the intact side of the small bridge through the leaves in the photo above.

Balbirnie Park, fallen tree, Fife

So many trees are lost with every storm we get, and as this winter they’ve been coming at the rate of two a week at times, it’s time some serious tree replacement started.

 

Blackness Castle, West Lothian

Blackness Castle , near Falkirk, Scotland

Blackness Castle sticks out into the River Forth, as you can see, it was apparently designed to look like a ship. You actually have to walk over a wee drawbridge to get on to this wooden walkway.

Blackness Castle, near Falkirk, Scotland

It’s a couple of weeks since we visited Blackness Castle, it’s not far from Bo’ness in West Lothian, it might be in Falkirk District now, they keep changing things! It’s one of the many places that was used as a location for Outlander, they had to cover the metal handrails with wooden panelling. It was also used in the filming of The Bruce, Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, Starz (?) Doomsday and Ivanhoe. Blackness was built in the 15th century.

Anyway, it’s not that far from where we live and possibly for that reason we just didn’t get around to visiting it until years after reading about the castle. For some reason I didn’t think it would be a very interesting castle – but it was. As usual there are a lot of spiral staircases involved.

Blackness Castle  stairs

 

Blackness Castle, near Falkirk

It’s a long way up to the top.

Blackness Castle

 

Blackness Castle , River Forth

In the distance you can just see the Forth Bridges below. As ever, if you click on the photos you should be able to see them enlarged. Tomorrow I’ll show some photos of inside the castle.

River Forth View, Forth Bridges, Scotland

Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick, East Lothian

Tantallon info Board , North Berwick

Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick in East Lothian, is yet another ruin, but what a ruin it is, and what a great location!

Tantallon Castle , North Berwick, Scotland

As you can see there’s a fine view of the Bass Rock from the castle. This rock was used as a place to dump prisoners back in the day. With a sea crossing over notoriously rough waters to make if you tried to get off it it was in effect not escapable. Nowadays it’s a haven for seabirds.

Bass Rock , Firth of Forth, Scotland

As you can see from the photo below taken from the castle’s top floor it’s a long way up – or down, and there are parts of the castle which have been sectioned off as they’re deemed too unsafe for the public at the moment. There are a lot of spiral staircases involved but we were determined to see the whole place.

Tantallon Castle , near North Berwick, Scotland

In the photo below Jack is surveying the walls, it’s definitely beyond his DIY skills!

Tantallon Castle , North Berwick

Tantallon Castle wall, near North Berwick

Let’s look through the arched window. That takes me back!

Tantallon Castle, Archnear North Berwick

Tantallon may look a bit grim now but as you can see from all the fireplaces below, it must have been quite cosy in its heyday. Just imagine the walls with tapestries on them and a flckering fire.

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick

There was a harbour and ships came in loaded with whatever was needed to make life comfortable, and presumably guests also could arrive that way.

Firth of Forth from Tantallon Castlerocks 1

It was a bit blustery up there to say the least, but look at the fantastic colour of that orange lichen on the stonework, it’s obviously in its element!

Tantallon Castle , North Berwick

Tantallon Castle is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in history or like castles. It’s run by Historic Scotland.

Tantallon Castle, info board, North Berwick

 

Falkland, Fife

Falkland, Pond, Fife

This year is going by in a flash and it’ll be September soon, but I’m casting my mind back to a sparkling day in March when we visited nearby Falkland. The photo above is of the lodge house at Falkland House. This used to be a favourite haunt of ours when we had wee ones in the family, before we even had our own kids to take there it was loved by our niece because at that time the pond was full of ducks and all sorts of water fowl. For some reason you never see any at all nowadays. The lodge house looks idyllic, but the water flows underneath it so that will be noisy and chilly I imagine. Below is a photo I took of crocuses but they’re dark purple so quite difficult to see.

Falkland Crocuses ,Fife

From Falkland Pond, Fife

To the left of the field above the ground slopes up to the Lomonds, I’ve never gone up that way, it looks too steep.

But walking over to the right from there you get onto a woodland path which leads eventually to Falkland Palace orchard. The wee waterfall below and the bridge are close to a popular children’s play park.

Falkland Waterfall , Fife

The view below is looking over towards the villages of Auchtermuchty and Dunshalt  from the footpath which leads to Falkland Palace orchard. Nowadays Falkland is probably best known for being used as a  location in the TV series Outlander.

Fife Hills, near Falkland, Fife

In this post that I did way back in 2016 you can see the village when the film people converted the shops to look like they were in the 1950s.

Knaresborough, Yorkshire

Knaresborough Castle , Yorkshire

It was way back in November 2022 when we visited Knarseborough in Yorkshire. I’m way behind with blogging about places we’ve visited. We had never been there before but I had read about it, probably in a magazine or The Guardian. Anyway, obviously quite a lot of people had also read about it, it’s a pretty destination, but was quite busy, even in November.

Knaresborough Castle , Yorkshire

As you can see Knaresborough Castle is still imposing despite being a bit of a ruin, it dates back to around 1100.

But the viaduct is probably more well known than the castle is, it’s very high.

River Nidd Viaduct, train, Knaresborough

Knaresborough is hilly and as you can see you get an even better view of the River Nidd from higher up. We had our lunch in the town, it’s a good place to stop off. We also visited Tadcaster, Thirsk and Harrogate on that trip, but for me this was the most scenic place.

Knaresborough, River Nidd Viaduct

 

Some Fife scenery

It was my birthday fairly recently, but as we had been travelling a lot I decided I didn’t want to stray far from home on that day. We just went out for lunch to a place nearby, and after that we went for a wee walk and I took some photos along the way.

Fife scenery, Scotland

The field is close to the historic village of Falkland.

Fife scenery, Scotland

Fife scenery, Scotland

Fife scenery, Scotland

Then it started to rain so we went home. I had a good day though.

Fife scenery

Craigellachie Bridge, Moray, Scotland

We just had to stop to take photos of Craigellachie Bridge before we drove over the modern bridge. It isn’t a stone bridge, apart from the ends, it’s iron but very elegant anyway.

Craigellachie Bridge, from modern road, Moray

It’s near the village of Aberlour in Morayshire, north-east Scotland. The bridge was built by the famous civil engineer Thomas Telford  in 1812, it took two years to complete it.

Craigellachie Bridge end pillars

Craigellachie Bridge spans the River Spey, famous for salmon fishing in the past but nowadays it’s very much a catch and return policy. Salmon are so scarce and have to be conserved.

Craigellachie Bridge, Aberlour, Moray

 

Scenery, Perthshire, Scotland

We were away up north a bit for a day out a few weeks ago. These are just random photos of our short break. The photo below is of a very misty and moody Loch Earn, it’s a freshwater loch.

Loch Earn Mist, Perth, Kinross, Stirlingshire

I think the river below is the River Earn, it’s flowing through the village of Comrie in Perthshire. We stopped there for our lunch at a lovely wee cafe. It was used by locals – always a good sign.

River, Church, Comrie, Perthshire

River ,Church, Comrie, Perthshire

And this is the River Earn by Inverpeffray Library.

River Earn at Innerpeffray

River Earnand Sheep at Innerpeffray

River Earn and Trees at Innerpeffray

It was a great day out if a bit misty.

Firth of Forth, Bridges and South Queensferry

A few weeks ago we drove to South Queensferry on our way home from – I can’t remember where! I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took.

Forth Bridge stitch, Scotland

The photo below is of the Forth Road Bridge which dates from the 1960s and if you look carefully you can just see the white struts of the new Queensferry Crossing behind it.

Forth Bridges, South Queensferry

These photos were all taken from almost exactly the same spot, it’s not often we walk out to the edge of the river, so I don’t think I’ve taken any photos of South Queensferry from this angle.

South  Queensferry , Scotland

The houses aren’t quite so quaint looking from the back as you can see, but the Jubilee Clock stands out well. It was built to commemorate one of Queen Victoria’s jubilees of course.

South Queensferry , Scotland

The tide was out on the Firth of Forth, that always makes things look a bit messy. South Queensferry is where the better off people of Edinburgh used to go for the weekend to escape the smells and muck of Auld Reekie, now it’s just an afternoon jaunt for people.

South Queensferry , River Forth

If you click on the photo below to see it enlarged you will be able to see through the bridge arch an island although it might not look like one to you. The island is warship shaped and I believe that during WW2 they built structures on it which made it look even more like a warship – in fact the Nazis claimed to have sunk this ‘warship’ several times. It was used defensively with men stationed on it as there was a lot going on in this area during the war as the Victorian Forth Bridge which was the only one there at the time was a major target for the Nazis and they had their submarines skulking around too.

Forth Bridge , Firth of Forth, island

If you’re interested you can read a bit about South Queensferry here.

Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross.

Way back in July we visited the Loch Leven area of Perth and Kinross to have lunch and walk off some of the calories after that. It’s close to an airstrip that’s used by people for gliding. A nearby hill produces good updraughts.

Glider, Loch Leven,

Memory is so weird as I remembered this as being a really blue sky day, well we did have a really good summer, so I was surprised to see that the sky was really quite grey and moody looking.

Gliders, Perth and Kinross

We decided to go for a walk to the loch, the photo below is a stitch.

Loch Leven stitch, Perth and Kinross

We walked for ages, but didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the loch.

Loch Leven

So we ended up turning back and walking towards the Bishop Hill and Scotlandwell.

Bishop Hill, Scotlandwell, Perth and Kinross