We have just spent two fantastic days with Tony and Irene from Tayport in Fife. I know 99.9% of you won’t know where Tayport is so I’ll tell you. It’s on the coast on the River Tay, next door to St Andrews. The Coastal path which is part of the North Sea Trail also runs along the coastline of Tayport.
We’ve known Tony and Irene for just for just one cup of coffee and two days, we feel like we’ve known them forever. They are the parents of one of Emilie’s friends and when their daughter Lorraine heard we were going to Scotland she was adamant that we should stay with her parents and we are so glad to have spent the time with them. They picked us up from our hotel and Irene’s warm hug and Tony’s “hello you” was all we needed to feel at home.
I have no doubt we’ve seen more of Fifeshire than anyone else we know. Starting at Falkland Castle, the location of the opening scene of the Outlander TV series we have seen the most beautiful coastline, constantly changing with the tides, crossing over the Tay Bridge to the V & A, (the new Victoria and Albert Museum) in Dundee.
Tony & Irene live right on the water in Tayport. Stepping out their back garden gate a path will lead to the marina on one side where Tony moors his yacht or turn to the right and the path will lead to the Tentsmuir forest. Along the way Tony told us about the Dragon’s teeth we could see along the path. They are massive ribbed concrete bollards that were designed and placed to keep the German tanks from coming up onto the beach during WWII. The tides have had an effect on them, some have sunk and some have been dislodged, goodness knows how. Concrete machine gun turrets are also still in place. (I’ve posted some photos on Facebook).
We were sad to leave them today having threatened to stay until Christmas we thought the better of it and continued on our journey north.
We’ve been on the train today from Leuchars near St Andrews making our way to Fort William.
Mountains coated in yellowing grasses, patches of green pastures, miles of fir trees, lochs and other waterways. Sometimes we are above the trees stunned by the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, sometimes the trees obscure the view and we are forced to look across to the other side only to be wowed by another unbelievable view. This is mountainous country I knew it would be beyond our capability to hike any of this section of our trip and it has been confirmed in a conversation I had with a couple of mature hikers on this third of our four trains taking us to our destination.
A Pennsylvanian who was confused about the trains on the station platform told me he had been hiking for several days, he had at some point been hiking alongside a couple of young German fellows much younger than himself who he found impossible to keep up with. In the last 24 hours he had been hiking with an Asian woman who had been also trying to keep up with some Scottish fellows who are true hardcore hikers.
As they tell their story, they had planned to hike 12 miles each day but there is no path or signs they said. Everyone uses GPS apps on their phones, the American fellow goes on to say there is no use for hiking poles the terrain is so rugged they were literally climbing over rocks using their hands. Rather than covering the 12 miles they have been covering 2-3miles each day. The young bucks though have been completing a 6 hour section in 3 hours and will continue into the dark hours if necessary.
He’s disappointed I can tell, that he’s not able to keep up but as a mature person he is sensible and not above catching a train after walking knee deep in water following three solid days of rain, traversing flooded streams. The Asian lady is suffering with either a rash or blistering feet she can’t quite tell. There is nothing worse than walking in wet socks and boots but until now she has had little option and expects to find a store in Tyndrum where she can take care of her feet before going on to finish the West Highland Way in Fort William.
Since our final change at Crainlarich I’ve noticed that many of those getting on board the train have backpacks a fair indication of the attraction along this train route.
For the last few miles it seems that even the fir trees have abandoned this route replaced by the ever resilient birch trees and another variety of evergreen tree that I cannot identify at this distance and then even those have disappeared leaving only the brown hilly and mountainous landscape, a lone stone building can be seen in the distance. Other than rain I have no idea what we will find ahead of us in the next four days. I know that we will have tow paths but I’ve read that there are also some challenging sections that we will face as well. The young Scottish hikers I mentioned previously refuse to do the Great Glen Way my American friend tells me, they consider it too boring. ?
It’s been a warm day today. Adelaide wouldn’t be so warm at only 18 degrees but it’s not the same as Scotland. The sun has been shining, the sky is clear and blue and I can see as the train climbs up across the mountain backs that the clouds are beginning to appear in the distance and then the sun breaks through again.
We’ve just stopped at a station called Corours and there is nothing here except a platform and a small building advertising accommodation Peter asks why even have the station but there has to be something.
As the train continues on the scenery leaves you speechless. We have seen small waterfalls along the way and narrow streams of water flowing from the top of the mountain to the left of us running all the way down to the loch and water pools amongst the trees the evidence of the heavy rains. We’ve seen stunning rushing water cascading and crashing into one body of water making the whole train carriage gasp, leaving us all wanting to see more. More rain is forecast for the next three days! Yikes!
The train is creating its own rhythm as it curves around the mountain. We are just one stop away from today’s destination, sitting in the shadow of the monster mountain, Ben Nevis.
Fort William has a quaintness about it. Only a small portion of the old fort wall remains, perhaps after Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander I’m not sorry that it’s reduced to rubble, but history is history.
We’ve checked into our bed and breakfast for the night, washing is on the line and you’re not going to believe it but we have found another Wetherspoons ‘The Great Glen’, so appropriately named. Half a pint of Thatchers Gold cider for me and a pint of something for him.
We’ll see you on t