Sunday, 27 May 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn...

So, the great cross-Fife trek continued today, as I broke the habits of a lifetime, and actually got up early on a Sunday in order to go for a walk!  This one was a bit different, in that I was doing this one solo. Both my walking buddies were working, so challenged me to complete the next leg on my own, one which I'd already done, albeit in the other direction!  So, today's trail took me from Burntisland train station, all the way to Kirkcaldy.

I know how much some of you are stats fans, so the once the numbers have been crunched, they come out reading:

Today's route
Distance: 6.61 miles
Time: 2h 17m 28s
Average velocity (because that sounds so much faster than speed): 2.8mph
Pain at end: Well, the back of my legs and neck are sunburned, my left ankle seems to fatigue relatively quickly, but generally, not bad. I put that down to two things - 1) apart from a bit at Kinghorn, and then a few major ups-and-downs as I approached Kirkcaldy, it was relatively flat, or at least, the inclines were long but shallow, for the most part, and 2) my new secret weapon - memory foam insoles for my shoes. They made a huge, huge difference.

You may have noticed a map has appeared, as if my magic! The reason is that I actually remembered to bring my phone's USB cable home with me this weekend, so I can plug the phone into the PC and upload images!  The image has been screencapped from my JogTracker app, which has been very handy in helping me pace the walks. My average velocity on this one has dropped from the last couple, again, it was the last 1.5 miles or so which killed it, I was bubbling around the 3mph mark for most of it until then. Not having my pacemakers this time didn't help either! In plus news though, I only stopped once, for about 3 minutes in Kinghorn to buy some water. The stop would have been much shorter, but the young lady who served me seemed to spend a lot of time confused when trying to work out how much change to give me from the £1.10 I handed over for a bottle of water which cost £1.05 (which, as an aside, is a rip off!). Anyway...
Burntisland Train Station

So, the walk itself. I started off at Burntisland train station, as the Burnt Island was the end point of the previous leg. When I left Kirkcaldy, the sun was shining, the birds were tweeting (quite an achievement, it can't be hard using a phone or computer with those small feet and beaks) and it promised to be a glorious day.  When I got to Burntisland it was shrouded in a sea mist, and actually fairly cold. By the time I had walked up from the station to the beach, however, it was already starting to lift, but that haar would follow me all the way to Kirkcaldy!  I spoke about Burntisland in my last blog, but gave it a bit of a short shrift, and it deserves a bit more. It's very much a town of two halves - heading out from the town toward Kinghorn, there are some spectacular buildings, including my favourite, which is right on the beach. It used to be a pavilion by the looks of it, and the faded advert for ice cream still on the roof, but has been converted into a house. I was going to try and grab a picture of it on the way past, but there was someone standing at the window looking out, he may have been a bit odd if some random stranger started photographing his house!

Burntisland has much more history than a lot of people, including I am sure, many who live there, give it credit for.  There are rock carvings in a hill just on the edge of the town which are thought to be up to 4,000 years old, and the area has a Roman connection! The general charged with the invasion of Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola is thought to have camped in the area during the invasion of Caledonia, circa AD81.  The entity known as Burntisland, however, can be traced back to the 12th century, when the harbour and surrounding land was owned by monks from Dunfermline Abbey, and at the time was known as Wester Kinghorn. This all changed in the 16th century when the monks sold what became Burntisland to King James V, who granted the land Royal burgh status.  The name is thought to come from the burning of fishermens huts on an islet which is now part of the harbour system. 

One of the enjoyments I've been getting from my walks, has been the opportunity to learn so much more about the Kingdom, the land of my birth, and where I've lived all my life.  I've been constantly amazed at how much I have learned as a result, firstly by noting things I see on my walks, and then doing a bit of research for this blog.  It's not why I'm doing the walks, the real reason behind them is as part of my new fitness programme, but I'm really glad I am being given the opportunity to learn more.

After Burntisland, comes Kinghorn.  If anyone from the coastal path trust happens to read this, if I could make one suggestion for any part of my walk so far, it would be a) signpost the path better in Kinghorn, and b) build an actual coastal path to cover the distance between the two. The views across the river in that area are stunning, especially on nice days, but they are lost as you have to follow the road, rather than the coast. The road itself is, well, roadie! It's a constant uphill section for about a mile or so, but the gradient isn't too bad, you feel yourself having to do a bit more work to get up there, but it's not a lung-buster. That came later!! 

Getting into Kinghorn itself, you need eagle eyes to spot the tiny marker for the coastal path, which then takes you downhill, toward the harbour.  The altitude you gained in the preceding mile is lost in the space of 100 yards.  Kinghorn has a penchant for interesting street names. For example, when you turn off from the main road to start the downhill section back to the coast, you are doing it down David the First Street. If that doesn't take your fancy, how about Alexander the Third street? A lot of Kingorn's streets have a decidedly regal theme!

Kinghorn today is known as a holiday centre, thanks to Pettycur Bay Caravan park, which I've only ever been in twice - once in a professional capacity when I was the commercial manager for Fife Flyers and 'The Bay' was one of our sponsors, and last hogmanay in a social capacity, seeing in the new year with some friends. Apparently, the lifeboat station at Kinghorn is one of the busiest in Scotland, something which surprised me! Whether that's got anything to do with the 'Black Rock 5' race, is unknown! The BR5 is a race held every year which has, as it's course, a road, the beach, and the black rocks, which are about 1 mile offshore, and are only visible at low tide.  The race, held once a year, is timed to co-incide with a low tide, but even so, the water you have to run through to reach, and then run around, the black rocks, is usually about knee deep.

Kirkcaldy was next in line - the place I've lived for that past several years, and home to the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, constituency of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and famous for linoleum production, "dancing on the streets of Raith" and of course, Fife Flyers.  The path going into Kirkcaldy was very foggy as I traversed it, and was given a decidedly spooky quality thanks to the herds of seals which were basking on the exposed rocks (it was low tide), who were barking and howling. I have only recently read Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner', and I must admit, the strange noises, and foggy vista made me think! 

There is much more which can be said about Kirkcaldy, and this part of my walk (including my getting a little lost!). However, that, my friends, will be for the next instalment!

As I said at the beginning, the walk today was different, being that I was on my own. I'm not entirely sure I enjoyed it as much without someone to talk to, and someone to drive on the pace. I suffer terribly when I am being pushed hard, but I know that if I'm not pushed hard, I won't get the results. I am not, sadly, one of those people for whom weight just falls off. I just need to look at a pie and I put on 3 pounds. I must also admit, it was with a sense of vague disbelief that I actually voluntarily chose to complete the walk I had been assigned by Ian and Lesley-Ann.  I've been suffering a bit from ankle pain, and could possibly have used that as an excuse. I could also have jumped off the train at Kinghorn and just taken it from there, but that, my friends, would have been disrespectful, not only to Ian and Lesley-Ann, who have been tremendous in helping me, but also all of you who have been giving me encouragement and support.  So, despite it being hard, I am glad that I did it. If someone had said to me 6-7 weeks ago, that in less than a couple of month's time, I would have walked the 30/31 miles from Kincardine to Kirkcaldy, and that I'd be able to cover 6/7 miles in less than a day, I wouldn't have believed you.  I'm always being told that I am too hard on myself, that I'm my own worst enemy.  Maybe that's true, but I hope you will forgive me if I give myself a metaphoric pat on the back.  I chose to walk the path today. I chose to cover the full distance. This time a couple of months back, I would not.  So, know what, I actually feel a little proud of myself.  I still have a long, long way to go, and it's not going to get any easier, but today, for the first time in a long time, I have a sense of... I'm not actually sure what it is really, hope maybe, that I am going to face the challenges to come, and I am going to beat them.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! And good for you for recognizing you have done a good thing! And good for you for patting yourself on the back! And good for you for everything else good you said in this blog!!!