Sunday, April 22, 2012

East Wemyss to Kirkcaldy

On the way to church this morning I noted that the thunderclouds were nursing their wrath across the Forth and I prayed they would remain over the Lothians. Naughty.
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.
Only about 50 feet above sea level we noted Wemyss Castle. This 12th century castle is the ancient seat of the Earls of Wemyss and their families and is currently inhabited by the clan chief Michael Wemyss and his wife Charlotte. Looks a bit like Colditz don't you think?
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.

Onward past the picturesque harbour at Dysart, we enjoyed reading the names of the boats. Through the tunnel and we could see Ravenscraig Park above us. At this point, I heard the words, tea... coffee...cookies... so I phoned Margaret and Bob who had offered to open the kirk up and get the kettle boiling for our return. Steps now quickening we emerged from the park onto Dysart Road and crossed to Pathhead village where we had left our cars.
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.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Morning 8th April 2012

Up with the larks this morning the walkers left the church at 0730 heading for Falkland Hill. We took the minibus hoping that we might have some new people just wanting a taster on Easter morning. We did have one newbie, Lewis, who was enticed to come along by the promise of a bacon butty back at the church. We missed several of our usual walkers, some of whom had a doctor's line.
It was a lovely clear morning, though a bit parky, and even from the car park at Purin Hill we saw for miles across the Forth, north to south. We chose a nice flat spot to have a wee short time of celebration. Rona gave us the Easter message - old familiar words delivered in her own inimitable way, and Charlie prayed a lovely prayer, almost in verse. Thank you R & C. We all sang a couple of hymns - and we really belted them out - and felt content with this good start to Easter Day.
Meanwhile, in the background, Lewis was getting the tail secured onto the kite, and as we began the climb up the East Lomond, it was sent flying with the message HE IS RISEN for all to see. We had some fantoosh stunts and a couple of nose dives (the kite that is) but the wind was just strong enough to keep it flying a good long time. Other people we passed who had already been up the hill asked us for a photo of our kite, so they must have the message as well.

We all climbed at different rates but gathered at the top to take in the terrific 360o views across Fife and the Lothians and as far as the Ochils for those with good sight. Falkland village nestled below and looked like it wasn't quite awake yet.  Now its not as easy as you'd imagine to come down a hill; you have to be careful not to overbalance and go head over heels. So we were all looking at our feet watching every step we took, not really paying much attention to where we were being led. And so a short detour was taken across the long grass, ' just for a wee change of scenery', according to the male leader. Aye, right.....
We still had wonderful views as we drove down the hill in the minibus, taking in the landscape which resembled quilting created in every shade of green and brown. It was a rather quiet return journey, all of us now anticipating the smell of bacon sizzling in the pan back at the kirk.
As expected, Janis and Hilda got their sleeves up at the cooker the moment we returned and the rest of us made preparations  for the breakfast. Sharing breakfast is a time of fellowship which always seems more meaningful than other meals, especially on a morning such as today. Janis had made a beautiful lemon cake for us as well so we were fed way beyond sufficiency.
We were looking forward to hearing Robin this morning and we were not disappointed. A contemporary slant on the Easter service lifted our spirits, but of course we had to finish with a rendering of Maccabeus that GF Handel composed in 1746 so surely something for everyone today.
Braw singing Bennochy.

                  He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! is the message for Easter Day.

And He is still rolling stones away.