Today was the return meeting of Bennochy and St Andrew's Erskine Walking groups and we had planned to do part of the coastal path. We assembled outside the kirk at 1.30 and shoogled into as few cars as possible to take us to Pathhead Village where we caught the No 13. There were so many walkers getting on the bus the driver's schedule went skew-wiff as it took a good 8 minutes to swipe all the bus passes - some of us young ones had to cough up £2.40 for the fare though. It was a bit of a mystery tour but we got to East Wemyss around 2.30 and began our walk at Macduff Castle descending very steeps stairs to the coast below. Now if I had done my homework, I would have been able to describe the Wemyss caves which do actually start below Macduff Castle. They are not open to the public any longer except for organised tours during the summer months. Apologies to Charlie for giving duff information; the caves are at East Wemyss, not West Wemyss. Must do better.
It was nice to speak to new people, discovering a little about their lives and comparing notes about churches. To start with, the sun was hitting the Forth and it glittered like glass. I recognised sandpipers at the waters edge. All very pleasing. Ah well, by the time we were approaching West Wemyss, the heavens had opened and we had to don our waterproofs pretty sharpish. This did not dampen our spirits though or halt conversations in any way. That's what becomes of hoping bad weather stays with the folk across the water.
This next photo is of a mosaic created by children from the local primary school and adults from the community with the permission of Michael Wemyss. Swans are depicted on the Wemyss family crest and also the Primary school emblem. There is also a Sycamore bench there, created by a local craftsman though we didn't take time to rest.
We reached the village of West Wemyss passing the church which was bought by the Wemyss family from the Church of Scotland promising the upkeep of the exterior provided that it always remains a church. We should be grateful that this condition ensures that worship will continue here for the foreseeable future. This quaint little village has a lot of history still to see including the Tolbooth dating back to 1511 and again the Wemyss family has been instrumental in protecting, renovating and investing to keep the village alive. Very recently the Wemyss Arms was renovated through funding from the Lottery and is now a very attractive Bistro and Hostel called the Walk Inn. Let me recommend the onion soup with crusty bread and the ploughman's lunch.
Just outside the village is the lovely little harbour which now only has a few small pleasure boats but historically was a busy port exporting coal and bringing back wood, flax and iron from Baltic countries.
We knew that, just as we had descended all those steps at the beginning of the walk, we would have to ascend at some stage so here we are hanging on for dear life as the steps were steep and treacherous at some parts. But the view of the Wemyss at the top was worth getting puffed for, though the photo below is a bit peely-wally and doesn't do the view justice.
Following the formidable red stone sea wall to the former Royal Burgh of Dysart, and now dried out considerably, we stopped for a photo shoot with Pan Ha' and St Serf's Tower in the background. Pan - from the salt pans which lay here on the Ha' - haugh meaning flat land. St Serf's Tower is the only remaining part of the church and tower and was used as a battlement in the World Wars.
As promised, the refreshments were ready waiting for us at the church (in the St Andrew's hall actually), and we were ready for them. Charlie, leader of St Andrew's group, thanked the Bennochy folk for the goodies etc and acknowledged that the groups have an affinity. We think we will meet again.
And before they left we simply had to go into the sanctuary and show off our new stained glass window to our new St Andrew's friends which received their glowing admiration.
Thank you Isobel, Charlie, Jane, Moira, Mary, Dave, Vicky, Thelma and Lorraine for your good company today. Fond thoughts.