Balbirnie walk, Fife

Our Saturday afternoon walk took us through the Balbirnie Estate woodland in Fife, which in these pandemic times is much busier than it used to be. There are lots of snowdrops looking their best at the moment and I thought they would be visible in the photos but obviously I need to do a close up of them as even I can hardly see them, and I know where they are!

Balbirnie Park , Fife, Scotland

The path leads to a wooden bridge which is perfect for playing Poohsticks, if you’re that way inclined.

Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland, woodland

A bit further on there’s a good view of the surrounding park and farmland which was once part of the estate which was owned by the Balfour family. A train dashed across the middle of the scene but I didn’t manage to get it in my photo, it’s behind the trees to the left.
Balbirnie Park, Fife, Scotland

You can see lots more photos of the parkland here. The landscaping of the estate began in 1779, you can read a bit about it here.

Back home in my garden the most colourful spot at the moment is the pot of dwarf Iris reticulata (Joyce). There are some planted directly into the ground but they haven’t appeared yet.
Iris reticulata Joyce

A snowy walk in Fife

garden snow 2

Yesterday we woke up to about five inches of snow which had fallen overnight. The first real snow of the winter, prior to that we had only had sprinklings overnight which only lingered on the grass. I had been able to smell snow for a few nights running earlier in the week, but that must have been on its way to England as unusually they got it before we did. Above is a photo of my back garden.

Balbirnie Snow, Scotland

Balbirnie Snow, Fife, Scotland, trees

The walk for the paper was actually easier than it had been as for weeks on end we had had to walk gingerly on grass that was so icy it resembled an ice floe. I can’t honestly say it was cold either.

Balbirnie Snow, Fife

If you look at the right hand side of the photo below you’ll see some kids having a fine time sledging. There’s not much home schooling going on – and who can blame them, it’ll be the first real snow that these kids have seen in their lives probably.

Balbirnie Snow , Fife

Balbirnie Snow, Fife

It’s a strange sort of snow, I’m sure that if we got lots of snow we would have a special word to describe it but I can only say that it’s soft powdery stuff which is very pretty as it looks like individual snow particles are glistening in the sun instead of it all being lumped together and smooth.

Balbirnie, snow, trees

The Balbirnie estate gates are enhanced by snow, it settles on the stonework of the gateposts. It’s a pity there’s a car parked there otherwise it would look white Christmas card-ish.
Balbirnie Gates, snow, Fife

This morning there was even more snow, we now have about nine inches of the stuff!

Scots Language explained, a little

If you’re interested in Scottish words the video below explains five Scots words in an amusing way, with some nice illustrative scenery.

Courtesy of Visit Scotland

Scotland’s Mountains from the Air and The Finest Mountain Between Heaven and Hell

I feel that things are getting very samey around here, normally I would be able to blog about my travels and visits to what I regard as interesting places but lockdown has scuppered that. While You Tube wandering – not something that I do a lot of – I came across the scenic films below. I hope you enjoy them. You’ll have to click over to You Tube to view the first film. Meanwhile I’m going to trawl through my old photographs to remind myself of where I’ve been before lockdown and haven’t got around to blogging about.

Scotland’s Mountains from the Air

The Finest Mountain Between Heaven and Hell

The film below has some great scenery on it with a couple of kayakers travelling to Knoydart, then climbing a mountain. Armchair travelling is the perfect way to do it – no midges involved.

A Winter Walk

Our usual morning walk for The Guardian has been somewhat fraught this week as each day the ice underfoot just got thicker, smoother and more dangerous. Crampons would have been the best choice of footwear, but not having those we just had to hang onto each other and hope that we didn’t both skid at the same time. Thankfully neither of us fell as obviously a visit to hospital with broken bones would be even more dangerous in these Covid times.

The path across the nearby golf course resembled a bobsleigh run, and we stuck to the safer option of walking on the iced up grass.

Icy Golf Path, Balbirnie

The recently flooded area due to all the heavy rain that we had had was very popular with ice skaters and ice hockey players though, and the sparkling landscape was pretty too, but I’m glad that a thaw is predicted for next week. Apparently the temperature here is set to be around -7 overnight tonight, which is 19.4 Fahrenheit – according to the internet.

Ice Skaters

Ice Skaters, Balbirnie Park

On a similar topic, I’ve really been enjoying a BBC 4 TV programme called Winter Walks. It doesn’t seem to be on You Tube though. In each walk a well known person takes a winter walk in the countryside while holding a small 360 degree camera, this week one of the walks was through the North Yorkshire Moors, there was also a coastal walk in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria in the north of England. They’re all such restful viewing.

Perhaps Winter Walks is also on a channel near you.

Armchair Travelling around Scotland

I must admit that I’ve watched a lot more TV this year than usual due to the various lockdowns, and it has been a good way to see some lovely scenery and note down places to visit in the future when we’re eventually able to get out and about. Or even to re-visit favourite places that we haven’t been allowed to travel to.

I always enjoy Paul Murton’s Scottish tours, the episode below is from Grand Tours of Scottish Islands. I hope you can see it and it isn’t blocked where you are.

Or you might prefer Tales from the Coast with Robson Green in the Outer Hebrides.

Or what about the classic Weir’s Way with Tom in the Orkneys? These films are really old now but still entertaining.

Tom Weir in Edinburgh.

And Tom Weir again at Dumbarton Rock, which is where I used to play when I was wee. This is now quite a historic wee film as the town of Dumbarton has changed so much. The Ballantine’s distillery which can be sen steaming away in the background at times is now long gone. It was the largest brick built building in Europe at one time.

I hope that wherever you are you can see these You Tube films and find them interesting. There are loads of them on You Tube and it’s good to be able to do some research this way before setting out on your own journeys.

River Tay, Perth, Scotland

For obvious reasons our travelling this year has been very much curtailed, but I’ve been coping well with having to keep within the guidelines for travelling around, even when we were only allowed out for an hour a day for exercise, and to go to the supermarket. But it looks like we in Fife will have to stick to our own county again soon as Covid stats rise again. So last Thursday we drove to Perth in the neighbouring county, just for a change – and while we could. I wasn’t interested in the shops – well – apart from the Oxfam bookshop, but the River Tay is right at the top of the High Street so we went to have a look at it. Unfortunately as you can see from the photos below we were a week or two too late for the best of the autumn colour.

Perth, River Tay at Perth

River Tay at Perth , River Tay, Scotland

There’s a nice old bridge over the river.
River Tay at Perth, Scotland

And a not quite so nice more modern bridge.
River Tay at Perth, Scotland

With my back to the river I took a few steps forward to take the photo below. The river is perilously close to the shops and the town has flooded in the past but I think they’ve solved that problem, for now anyway. I love towns with a river running through them, as all the old places do. The building on the left below with all the flags hanging from it is now the Perth County Council Headquarters. I really like that they are inclusive and happily fly the flags of so many other countries instead of just a Union Jack/flag or Saltire/St Andrews flag.

Perth, Scotland

You can see some great images of Perth here.

Yes I DID buy a couple of books in the Oxfam bookshop, but I’ll keep those for another time.

An Autumn Walk

Put your virtual walking shoes on and join me on my morning walk for the Guardian in rural Fife.

Autumn Trees

We’ve had so much rain recently, it’s very wet underfoot and my expensive wellies didn’t last long before the heel split so for me it’s a wet walk eventually as the dampness penetrates my two pairs of socks, at least virtual walkers don’t have that to contend with! I refuse to buy another pair of expensive but useless wellies.

Autumn Trees

The trees are probably at their best just now, soon the leaves will be battered to the ground by rain or wind.
Autumn Trees

Autumn Trees

It’s not only the trees that are providing interest at the moment, various fungi are doing their thing too. It has been a great year for them due to the very wet summer we had; puffballs appeared in my garden in June, they’re a pain in the neck.

mushrooms

I think these ones are Cantharellus cibarius, apparently edible but I’d be too scared to try them just in case they’re poisonous.

mushrooms , fungi

I think the one below is Grifola frondosa, edible but with a mouse-like smell!

fungus

I think the one below is a Coprinus comatus, edible unless the gills have started to liquefy! The camera didn’t pick it up but this one looked really beautiful as the raindrops encased all around it like diamonds and pearls, but even better.

mushrooms , fungi

Back to the path and the acers are looking grand.

acers

acer, Japanese Maple, autumn

acer, Japanese maple

Walking under the trees here is special and I can see why doctors have started to prescribe patients a course of woodland walks to help their mental health.

autumn trees

There aren’t quite enough leaves here to dance along while scuffing through them, I’ll have to wait a bit for that harmless but daft bit of seasonal fun. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me.

autumn leaves

Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire, Scotland

Last Thursday was a beautiful day, such a treat after the twelve hour long thunder and lightning storm of a few days previously, so we grabbed the day and drove to Kinnoull Hill in Perthshire. For decades we’ve driven past the rocky outcrop which towers above the M 90 motorway that takes you into the city of Perth and had just never got around to actually visiting the place, despite it being a really popular beauty spot.

Kinnoull Hill Path, Perth, woodland

The hill is covered with trees and the path is fairly steep but it only took us about 15 minutes to reach the top, we really needed the exercise anyway after being cooped up in the house hiding from the torrential rain of earlier in the week.

Kinnoull Hill Path,Perthshire, Scotland

There’s a wood carving of an owl in flight on the way up, but the woodland itself was bereft of birdlife. I’ve often been puzzled by this when walking in woods. Even when there’s nobody else around and it’s very quiet the woods never seem to have any wildlife in them. There are far more birds around my garden.

Kinnoull Eagle sculpture, Perthshire

Through a gap in the trees you can get quite a decent view of the historic village of Scone which is close to Perth.

Scone, from Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire

From the top of Kinnoull Hill you get a great view east to the Carse of Gowrie and over to Errol, even on what was a fairly hazy day. You can see why the River Tay is called the silvery Tay. Over the river are the hills of Fife.

Kinnoull Hill View , Distant Hills

The photo below is a stitch of three photos that I took looking over to the south side of the river and Fife beyond. The yellowy-gold coloured fields had just been harvested.

River Tay stitch, Perthshire, Scotland

The stitch below is from the top of what was a very blustery Kinnoull Hill, looking down towards the bend in the River Tay. It felt quite dangerous, in fact there are plenty of warning signs to tell you not to go too close to the edge as it just falls away and it would be easy to walk over by accident.

River Tay stitch, Perthshire, Kinnoull Hill

The one below is looking northwards towards Dunkeld and Birnam Wood of Macbeth fame.

View from Kinnoull Hill

Below is an information plaque which tells of all the instances of historical interest around this area.

information plaque, Kinnoull Hill, Perthshire, Scotland

After we walked back down the hill we had another look at the information board at the car park and realised that we had somehow missed a tower which has been built on the hill, so one day we’ll have to go back again and take a close look at it. Obviously we missed a path which leads over to that side of the hill. You can see images of it here.

We should have done our homework before setting out, such as visiting this Visit Scotland site.

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews, Fife, Shore and Castle

St Andrews in Fife is one of my favourite places to visit, but because of the lockdown we hadn’t been there for months, actually possibly we hadn’t been there at all this year. So on Saturday we took the opportunity to pay the town a visit. It was a bit daft doing it on a Saturday as it was bound to be busy but we were visiting family further along the coast so we killed two birds with one stone.

It looks a bit grey and cool but it was really quite a hot day, by Scottish standards. The queue for the ice cream shop was too long for us to stand in. The beach was packed, but we just sat on a bench (wearing our masks) and didn’t bother going on to the sands, we just people and dog watched, the dogs were more entertaining, chasing the waves.

St Andrews, sea, Fife

It was strange to see the gates around the cathedral closeed and padlocked, I had to tale photos through the railings.

St Andrews Cathedra, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral, Fife, Scotland

The archway below is over the road that leads down to the beach, down a steep road. If you want to read a bit more about the town then have a look here, there are some great photos.
St Andrews Archway, Fife, Scotland

If you are looking for tips on what to do around St Andrews have a look at My Voyage Scotland here.