Day 37 Sun 05-06-2005
Carlops to Kelty
My alarm went off at 6:15, and I was walking up into the steep Pentland Hills behind the pub by 6:45. The morning was grey and misty, so I missed out on the views, but there were plenty of sheep to chat to, and I had Paul's bl**dy "Great Escape" in my head, keeping time with my feet.
I ate the sarnies the pub had provided at 8:30, and continued over bleak moorland, with a reservoir cum bird sanctuary to add interest. I always found these black bodies of water in remote places rather creepy in poor weather, so I didn't linger!
Soon I am back down onto roads, and I made my way toward the Forth Road Bridge. By 11:00 I can see the bridge, and by by 12:00 I am walking towards the two huge towers which support the span - of over a kilometre. The total length of the bridge including the approach viaducts is over two and a half kilometres, and when the Queen opened it in 1964, it was the largest suspension bridge in Europe.
Imposing though the road bridge is, you cannot fail to be at least as impressed by the rail bridge, which runs parallel about half a mile away. Opened in 1890, it was the biggest man-made construction of its time. It was the first bridge to be constructed purely of steel, and a total of 5000 workers were employed over seven years to construct it, costing £3 million. Many legends surround the bridge - the most famous being the story recounting how the bridge requires continuous painting - work begins at one end and by the time the other end is reached it is time to begin again. Another legend is that of the mysterious golden rivet - apparently a single solid gold rivet was used somewhere on the bridge, amongst the other 6.5 million ordinary rivets - rumour has it though, that it was removed to stop foolhardy treasure hunters risking their lives in search of it.
I had imagined a lonely crossing of the Firth of Forth, but there was a sponsored walk, and the bridges' path was thronged with good natured folk, raising money for a local charity. For some reason they were all in fancy dress, and the passing drivers all sounded their horns in applause.
Onwards - to Inverkeithing. I stopped in a pub for a Guinness, and the locals were very friendly and interested. Had I walked in dressed "normally," I doubt if anyone would have looked at me, let alone chatted. Carrying a large backpack and wearing scruffy hiking clothes seemed to break the ice. As soon as I walked into a bar, someone would make a joke, and ask me if I was walking Lands End to John O'Groats! Gone were the days when I was reluctant to tell people my plans, now it was a case of them trying to shut me up! A couple of locals shook my hand as I left, there are so many nice folk about.
Talking about nice folk, as I walked out of Inverkeithing, I saw three lads on the other side of the road at a bus stop. They were each clutching the yellow cans of Tennants Lager so popular in these parts, and I wondered how they would react to me.
"Where ye off to??" they shouted across the road.
I told them.
"Where ye come from??"
I told them.
"GOOD ON YE, BIG MAN!!" they shouted, and their calls of encouragement followed me down the road. I tried not to swagger...
By 4:00 I had passed through Dunfirmline (another familiar name from the footie results on Saturdays) and was looking for accommodation. Asking about B&Bs in the village of Lilliehill I was directed back into Dunfirmline. I broke a self imposed rule, turned back, and walked about a mile and a half south to a road where there was supposed to be a lot of B&B accommodation. I found one such, and, of course, no-one was in.
Cursing, I decided to walk on, and, if necessary, camp in a field. I had all but given hope, when at 7:00 I walked over the M90 and into the little town of Kelty. Almost straight away I passed a lovely chalet house with a B&B sign, whose owners were in, and had a room. Wonderful.
Later, I had a walk round Kelty. It was a gritty, hard edged town, not without charm, and the teenagers wandering around didn't seem too threatening. Back at Thistledome I relaxed in the resident's lounge watching TV.
Mrs E Mathie
2 Blair Drive