CCXLVII – Arbroath to Dundee

Helpful MammalIN LATE April 2024, I headed up north once again to continue my intermittently-ongoing amble around our shores.  Since my last walk left off in Arbroath, it was to that town that I now returned, alighting at the station at some unsociably early hour in order to give myself the whole day in which to go easy.  I had done little to no long-distance walking since my last trip and was concerned that I would be out of practice. The test of that would be to get going…

Arbroath

Arbroath Station

My starting point for the day was Arbroath railway station, which was opened as Arbroath Junction by the Dundee & Arbroath Railway (D&AR) in 1848. It replaced both the company’s Arbroath West station – which was on a section of tramway that couldn’t be upgraded to proper railway standards – and the Arbroath & Forfar Railway’s station in Catherine Street.

Today, it sits on the Dundee-Aberdeen Line and is served by four train-operating companies (TOCs), namely ScotRail, LNER, CrossCountry and the Caledonian Sleeper. I had ScotRail to thank for depositing me at the station, after a 20-minute journey from Dundee.

Map showing that my starting point was Arbroath Station
It may take me slightly longer than that to walk back again…
Arbroath Abbey

As I made my way back to the High Street, I passed a helpful information board emblazoned with Arbroath’s portcullis coat of arms. The sign outlined some key points of Arbroath’s history, such that it had a Tironensian abbey, which was founded by King William the Lion (c. 1142-1214) in 1178. This would rise to become the wealthiest and most powerful abbey in late medieval Scotland.

Arbroath Abbey was dedicated to an English saint, namely St Thomas Becket, whom William had met in person at the court of England’s Henry II (on whose plausibly deniable and ambiguous orders, Thomas was murdered).  As befits an abbey dedicated to a man who defied an English king, in 1320 it would witness the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath – an assertion by Scottish barons of their independence from England, addressed to Pope John XXII.

The abbey fell into ruin after the Reformation and was raided for material to build other buildings in the town.  What’s left of the ruins still stand today but these stood about a third of a mile northeast of the station, which was in quite the wrong direction and I wanted to press on…

Progress map showing that I had not gone to Arbroath Abbey, but instead had reached the High STreet
To make up for my own omission, inset is an image by Anne Burgess, sourced from Geograph (cc-by-sa/2.0)
The rams of Arbroath: gules, a portcullis or.

The arms of Arbroath display a gold portcullis on red, representing that of the Abbey Pend that stood at the western end of Arbroath Abbey (‘pend’ is the Scots word for an arched or vaulted gateway).  These arms were granted to the royal burgh in 1900 but were based on a design already in use in its seal. They had St Thomas Becket and a Scottish baron holding the Declaration as supporters. The burgh’s modern community council successor retains the shield without the two supporters.

High Street

The High Street was deserted and all the shops were closed on account of the early hour.

Arbroath High Street looking north (top) and south (bottom)
Fortunately, I had already bought breakfast in Dundee and eaten it while on the train. So the lack of any open shops looking north (top) or south (bottom) was no real hardship.

I glanced north briefly and then went south, heading for the seafront.

Arbroath Harbour

Arbroath was originally called Aberbrothock, being located at the mouth of Brothock Water, and didn’t settle on its modern shortened name until the mid-19th century.  I had already crossed Brothock Water once on my way to the High Street but I crossed it again, close to its mouth, as I approached Arbroath Harbour.

Arbroath has had a harbour since 1394 when Abbot John Gedy had one constructed using timber. Impressively, this lasted until 1706, when it was destroyed by a storm, but a replacement was built in stone in 1734 and expanded in 1842 and 1877. This became the centre of several related industries including fishing, ship-building, and sail-making.  The famous tea-clipper Cutty Sark wore sails made in Arbroath.

Arbroath took over from nearby Auchmithie as the main sailing port on this section of coast, when the latter’s fleet moved to Arbroath’s better facilities in the early 19th century. It then became associated with the Arbroath Smokie – a type of hot-smoked haddock – which today has Protected Geographical Indication, requiring them to be made within five miles of Arbroath Town House if they are to use that name.

Arbroath Harbour
The harbour ceased to be a commercial fishing harbour in the 1980s and today serves mostly as a marina.  There is still some small-scale fishing activity, though, as shown by the lobster pots and the presence of the fishing boat Crimson Sky.
Crimson Sky

Crimson Sky is a 15 m wooden-hulled fishing trawler, built by Herd & Mackenzie in Buckie in 1979.  Since then, she has had numerous owners and names, but gained her current name and owner in 2023 after five years of being called Ceol na Mara (Gaelic for ‘music of the sea’).  She is registered as fishing vessel PD 352 with her home port in Peterhead, (hence ‘PD’).

As far as I can tell, she makes use of various ports along Scotland’s North Sea coast but I imagine Abbot Gedy would be pleased to see Arbroath Harbour still seeing some use as a fishing port 630 years after he founded it.

Progress map showing that I had reached Arbroath Harbour
The fish might have other opinions, of course.
Arbroath Lifeboat Station

At the western edge of Arbroath Harbour was the lifeboat station. This was established in 1803, making it one of the oldest in Scotland and predating the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), which now runs it, by 21 years.

In its long service it has seen both triumph and tragedy and most notably in the latter category was the Arbroath Lifeboat Disaster of 1953. The lifeboat RNLB Robert Lindsay launched to search for a vessel in distress in stormy conditions but was unable to find her, she having presumably already sunk by the time they reached her position. Eventually, they gave up looking and headed for port only to swamped by huge waves on approach to the harbour. One crewmember, Archibald Smith, was pulled to safety but six other RNLI volunteers drowned.

Bell Rock Signal Tower

An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, an effort was made to mitigate one source of maritime disaster when a lighthouse was built on Bell Rock (also known as Inchcape from Gaelic Innis Sgeap meaning ‘beehive isle’ in reference to its shape), which stands eleven miles off the coast.

West of the harbour, close to where the old Arbroath West railway station once stood, I found the Bell Rock Signal Tower.  This was constructed in 1813 to act as a shore base and signalling station for Bell Rock Lighthouse.

The signal tower housed lighthouse keepers’ families, vital stores and staff to man the supply tender.  Both tower and lighthouse were each fitted with a signalling mast, comprising a ball on a pole, which could be raised or lowered. The most basic signal was that the ball on the lighthouse would be hoisted at set times to indicate all was well, promoting an emergency launch of the tender if it stayed down.

Bell Rock Signal Tower
Ironically, a serious balls-up was signalled by exactly the opposite!
Bell Rock Lighthouse

Bell Rock Lighthouse was a couple of years older than the signal tower, having been built on Bell Rock by Robert Stevenson (1772-1850) in 1810. It is still there today, and still working in the service of the Northern Lighthouse Board, making it the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse.

The North Sea, looking towards Inchcape/Bell Rock
It’s just over there, somewhere.

Robert – grandfather and namesake of novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) – was commissioned to the build the lighthouse after a wreck saw the loss of HMS York, with the loss of all hands. York was a 3rd-rate ship of the line, which meant that she mounted up to 80 guns and carried a crew of somewhere between 500 and 720 men. Not a small loss for the navy!

Sir Ralph the Rover

Local tradition says that Bell Rock Lighthouse was not the first attempt to warn of the dangers of Inchcape and that Abbot John Gedy had a warning bell installed upon the rock only for it later to be stolen by a notorious pirate known as Sir Ralph the Rover, who then plundered the wrecks of those ships that foundered on Inchcape.  It’s a great tale and serves as the theme of a poem by Robert Southey (1774-1843) – also called Sir Ralph the Rover – written in 1802. This tells us that:

The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung
And over the waves its warning rung,

Until Sir Ralph had other ideas:

His eye was on the Inchcape float;
Quoth he, ‘My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock
And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothock.’

Unfortunately, there are is no actual evidence in the surviving records of either the abbey or the burgh that Abbot Gedy did any such thing as set up a bell.

Progress map showing that I had reached Bell Rock Signal Tower
Sadly, the story just doesn’t ring true.
West Links Beach

After the signal tower, I found myself on a metalled promenade beside a rocky beach.  On my inland side was Inchcape Park and I rounded this to soon find myself beside West Links Beach, on which the rocks gave way to sand.

My first mile or so heading out of Arbroath was then remarkably easy-going:

Path next to West Links
I don’t think my fear of heights is going to be much of a problem.

Arbirlot

Elliot Water

About a mile out of Arbroath, I came to Elliot Water, a 7½-mile stream that flowed through the inland village of Arbirlot.  A foot and cycle bridge had been helpfully supplied but on the inland side of the links, not by the beach.

Kelly Castle

Between the sea and Arbirlot, by the banks of Elliot Water, stands the 15th-century Kelly Castle, also known as Ouchterlony Castle, after one of the many families that owned it. 

The original castle on the site was probably built by a Norman, Philip de Moubray, who was granted lands by William the Lion. His descendant Roger Moubray later forfeited it to Robert the Bruce who placed it in Stewart hands until it passed by marriage to the Ouchterlony family in 1402.  It was subsequently owned by the Maule Earls of Panmure and Ramsay Earls of Dalhousie amongst others. 

Arms of Stewart of Rosyth, Ouchterlony, Mauke and Ramsay.
I couldn’t find any specific arms for the Stewarts of Kellie (though I did find reference to a letter from David II telling James Stewart of Kellie to stop imprisoning the monks of Arbroath on spurious grounds), but I think they were a branch of the Stewarts of Rosyth. This would explain why, when the Ouchterlonys stopped quartering their silver lion with the Stewart chequered fess, they surrounded it by a red bordure with golden buckles. The arms of the Maules, with their counter-changed bordure and scallops, and the black eagle of the Ramsays are also shown.
Progress map showing that I had reached Elliot Water
At the time of writing, you might also join that list for £2.3 million – the castle is currently up for sale!
Elliot Links

The path continued slightly inland this became clear on the far side of Elliot Water, on account of not all of that stream having flowed out to sea. Some of it was forming a mixed terrain of dune and marsh which comprised the Elliot Links Nature Reserve.  Had the path stayed where it was, I’d have been wading on it. Or rather in it.

Left: a swan; right: a signpost indicating 2 miles to Arbroath and 2½ to Easthaven. A boardwalk stretches away behind it in neither direction.
‘I don’t see the problem, mammal,’ scoffed a resident swan (left), but I had to wait until this boardwalk (right) before I dared leave the path.  Where, I wondered, would it lead?

As it turned out, the boardwalk led straight across some unspeakably boggy ground and terminated in a viewing platform. But, more excitingly for me, a dry, sandy dune path led away from it, close to the line of the beach. I took this with joy and gratitude, merrily striding over the dunes and brushing past the marram grass.

Penston Burn

I’d gone about a third of a mile further when the dunes were interrupted by Penston Burn, which first cut through them and then soaked into the coarse material that formed the back of the beach, only to re-emerge from the sands further on. This meant that I could cross the burn with dry feet by the simple expedient of stepping onto the beach just below the point where it sank out of sight.

This seemed like a great plan to me but less so to a rather excitable dog that was making a bee-line for a splash in the burn right up until it spotted me and decided I was more interesting. Fortunately, the Excitable Dog was friendly, in a ‘jumping up and trying to violently wag its own tail off’ sort of way. His owner, when he caught up, proffered his earnest apologies before neatly segueing into conversation about the weather, the dunes, and long-distance hiking.

I stood and chatted for a while; it seemed rude not to. This proved to be a blessing because about another third-mile ahead, the links became an enclosed field, beside the fence of which the path had eroded into the sea.  This made it look like a return to the cycle path was necessary but, as Mr Excitable Dog Owner told me, I could hop over a stile into the field and another one ‘a few hundred yards’ further on would let me back onto the dune path.

Progress map showing that I had reached Dowrie Burn
Some sheep in the field eyed me warily as I approached; lest I might be excitable like the dog.
Anti-Tank Blocks

The only excitability I demonstrated was some choice language when I discovered a seagull had visited the stile before me and left a present on where I would otherwise have put my hand to steady myself. Even so, I overcame my appalling clumsiness and poor balance and made it into the field where the sheep, having concluded that nothing so uncoordinated could ever be a threat, decided they didn’t need to bother fleeing, but could just stay put and watch me pass. I felt quite judged.

I made it over the second stile with just a smidgin more dignity, not that the sheep looked impressed.  On its far side, I found that the path was now tightly sandwiched between a fence and a low drop and surprisingly well-protected against an armoured assault by a line of WW2 anti-tank blocks.

A sandy path between a beach and a fenced field, with anti-tank cubes along the beach edge.
Well, at least I can cross being crushed by a tank off my list of potential dangers. Assuming the sheep haven’t got one, that is. That barbed wire fence won’t stop a Panzer.
Down & Up

The line of surviving anti-tank blocks was quite short, maybe 150 m, after which it disappeared, no doubt having long since toppled off the dunes and onto the beach.  A short stroll later, the path did the same for a bit, forcing me to do likewise. I scrambled back up as soon as there was enough time to do so, only for the dune path to convey back onto the metalled cycle path (NCN 1) that had been running in parallel since Arbroath. The latter had now moved back to run beside the shoreline and, in this manner, would carry me to East Haven.

Progress map showing that I was approaching East Haven.
I wouldn’t want to stroll on the beach for too long; a tank might get me!

Panbride

East Haven

In no time at all, I found myself in East Haven, a fishing village that dates back to 1214 when Philip de Valognes (d. 1215), Lord of Panmure, granted rights to the Cistercian monks of Coupar Angus to build there and levy fishing tolls.  Not that they called it ‘East Haven,’ mind. No, they named it Stinchendehavene (‘stinking haven’) on account of the less than delightful aroma of rotting seaweed that pervaded it. I am pleased to say that no such unpleasant odour assaulted my nose on arrival.

Since its foundation as one of the earliest recorded fishing communities in Scotland, East Haven has gone through a bewildering multitude of names, many of them variations on Stinking Haven, Ross Haven, Fishertown and East Haven, before settling on the latter around 1794.  More or less. (Is it two words or one? Seems to vary…)

Fisherman sculpture at East Haven
Fishing has been important to East Haven ever since the monks first showed up holding their noses.  This industry is celebrated by this 2018 chainsaw carving by Iain Chalmers.
Arms of Valognes: argent, three pales wavy gules.

Philip de Valognes was a younger son of Roger de Valognes (d. 1142), whose arms are as shown, namely three red wavy pales on silver. In later centuries, Philip would have been expected to difference them from those of his father (which his elder brother would inherit) but those were early days for heraldry…

East Haven Harbour

When I say that East Haven was a fishing community for centruries, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea and have you imagine a well-constructed harbour like Abbot Gedy’s in Arbroath (which he built 179 years after the founding of East Haven).  No, here they just relied on the natural haven, that being a gap in the treacherous rocks that separate sand from open sea along this stretch of coast.  This is not much to look at.

East Haven Harbour
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.
Airedale Terrier Monument

In addition to the fishermen carving, there is another sculpture facing out onto the haven, namely a WW1 monument erected by the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland in 2019. Carved from a 30-ton block of granite by sculptor Bruce Walker and his apprentice, Kevin Hill, it commemorates Airedale terriers who served on the British front line carrying out a variety of military tasks such as carrying messages, acting as sentries and locating injured men.

Airedale Terrier Monument, East Haven
Under threat of castration by rifle fire, if I’m interpreting the scene portrayed correctly.
Random Robots

At East Haven, the cycle path ducked beneath the railway which, as you can see from the Airedale Terrier Monument photo, wasn’t particularly high. This meant that it passed under a low bridge with 2 m or 6ʹ 6ʺ headroom. This was more than enough for me at my measly 5ʹ 8ʺ, but potentially enough for any tall men on bikes to enjoy using their faces to brake should they ignore the ‘cyclists dismount’ sign.

Beyond the bridge, I found a short residential street, the exit to which – or entrance, depending on direction – was overlooked by some unexpected robot sentinels, observing from their guard post in somebody’s front garden.

Robot sculptures
01010010 01100101 01110011 01101001 01110011 01110100 01100001 01101110 01100011 01100101 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100110 01110101 01110100 01101001 01101100 01100101!
Segregated Cycle Path

I successfully evaded the robots and found myself stepping out onto the main road between East Haven and Carnoustie.  Fortunately, the cycle path had felt the need to do likewise and, in order to spare its cyclists any further ordeals such as traffic after mashing their faces into a bridge and then being menaced by machine-creatures, NCN 1 ran alongside but separated from the road. As far as the Craigmill Burn, anyway.

Progress map showing that had reached Craigmill Burn
I was riding shanks’s bicycle, which needs less imaginary hay than shanks’s pony, but travels at much the same speed.
Panbride House

At Craigmill Burn, the segregated cycle path came to an end, requiring me to cross the road and use the pedestrian pavement on the other side. First, though, I diverted slightly up a track to try to snap a photo of Panbride House:

Panbride House
The blushing Panbride was far too bashful to be photographed, and quickly hid its face behind that tree.

Panbride House was built for businessman John Farquhar Dickson (1825-1896) in 1856, after his 1851 purchase of the Panbride Bleachfields for £4,220 (which was equivalent to almost £500 k today); these had been built a decade earlier by William Maule, 1st Baron Panmure (1771-1852), for the bleaching of flax yarn.

The house was designed by Dundonian architect James McLaren (1829-1893), who is not to be confused with his later unrelated namesake, the Glasgow-based champion of the Arts & Crafts movement, James McLaren (1853-1890) – the latter was born while Panbride House was already being built to the former’s design.

Arms of Dickson of Panbride, Keith & Douglas
John belonged to a branch of the Dicksons of Clockbriggs and used their arms differenced by the addition of a red bordure. The Clockbriggs arms included red pallets on gold and silver mullets (stars) on blue to allude to Keith and Douglas ancestry, while the gold martlet was probably an earlier mark of difference (replacing one Douglas mullet). The garb (wheatsheaf), ship and thistle in the base were seemingly their own.
Edwin Richardson

The early 20th century saw Panbride House in the ownership of Lt Col Edwin Heautonville Richardson (1863- 1948), who pioneered the training of dogs (especially Airedale Terriers) for police and military service. In 1905, the UK’s first official police dogs, trained by him, were given to Glasgow Police.

He also saw their battlefield potential, though this was not entirely innovative as other countries had already tried such a thing, but he realised that Airedale terriers were particularly temperamentally suited to this kind of work. He proved his point with the help of army officers at the nearby Barry Buddon Training Area and it is down to his living in Panbride House that East Haven was chosen as the site for the WW1 Airedale terrier monument.

Progress map showing that I had reached Panbride House.
Panbride house was far too shy and embarrassed to host the sculpture on its grounds.

Carnoustie

Signal Box

The road from East Haven soon reached the outskirts of Carnoustie, into which it keenly plunged in search of the A930 masquerading as Carnoustie’s High Street. The NCN 1 cycle path wanted no part of this, however and diverted off to find the sea front.  This sounded like a much better bet to me and so I followed it. This brought me to another metalled promenade which I followed as far as Carnoustie railway station – opened in 1838 by the D&AR – and the 1898 signal box that overlooks it.

Carnoustie Signal Box was supposed to be decommissioned in 2016 and its operations transferred to a modern control centre in Edinburgh but it has managed to escape that fate for the time being on account of other apparatus having not been upgraded. It is one of 40 signal boxes under Network Rail in Scotland that still operate mechanical semaphore signals that have not yet been replaced with modern light signals. In Carnoustie’s case, there are two of these, both on the ‘down’ (i.e. northbound) track – trains always go ‘up’ to London – and the box retains the two functional levers required to operate them.

Carnoustie Signal Box
This happens all the time with technology. If an instance of older tech can avoid being replaced as obsolete for long enough, it becomes a ‘legacy’ installation requiring specialist operators with skills no one else has any more.
High Street

While by the station, I realised that I did, in fact, want to go to the High Street after all. In an urgent fluid-throughput situation, I both required to purchase more water and to take a toilet break.  The town’s Co-op Superstore answered both requirements and sold me an ice cream to boot.

Progress map showing I had reached Carnoustie's seafront
Munching merrily on my ice cream, I ambled back to the seafront, where I heard my plans audibly unravel.
Buddon Ness

From the seafront, I was able to look ahead to the headland of Buddon Ness around which I had hoped to walk. I was aware that there were three problems to potentially thwart such an intention, two of which were small streams that needed fording, which I was confident I could handle.  The third and altogether more insurmountable problem was that same Barry Buddon Training Area that had seen so much success with Airedale terriers. Basically, the whole of the ness was a military firing range and I could only walk it if it were not in active use.

Now, the Ministry of Defence does publish a list of scheduled firing and non-firing days for the purpose of planning exactly this sort of thing. And, having consulted it, I was not coincidentally trying to walk it on a scheduled non-firing day. The thing is, though, that the British Army’s plans are subject to change without notice in the interests of the service, which means that one must still keep an eye out in case the red warning flags are flying. I couldn’t see any flags from Carnoustie seafront, still being too far away, but I could hear the crack of rifle fire.

Buddon Ness, as seen from Carnoustie.
I’m not going over there; I’ve seen what rifles to Airedales and I don’t want the same!

This was the second time since setting off from Gravesend that a non-firing range turned out to be firing after all (the other time was in Hythe), while on a third occasion (an aerial bombing range at Luce Bay) I just couldn’t find out in advance, incorrectly or otherwise.

Carnoustie Beach

The closure of the range wouldn’t bar my progress completely, but it would mean that I had to take the less interesting route, sandwiched on the cycle path between railway and range. In the meantime, I resolved to enjoy the coast while I’d got it and so ambled along the seafront overlooking Carnoustie Beach until I was forced to turn inland.

The benches along the seafront were backed by low walls, with sea snail capitals adorning each end.  There were three different designs, which were repeated:

Sculptures of a periwinkle, topshell and dog whelk, all serving as architectural capitals.
This is a dramatic diorama in the making as dog whelks are voracious predators of other molluscs. But snail statues move at geological speeds, so I’m afraid we don’t have time to wait for the result…
Carnoustie Golf Links

The point where I was forced to turn inland carried me directly past the clubhouse and attendant hotel catering to Carnoustie Golf Links, which is one of the venues that hosts the British Open golf tournament and is said to be one of the toughest golf courses in the world. But I loathe golf courses with an entirely irrational passion, so I barely spared it even a passing glance.

Progress map showing that I had reached Carnoustie Golf Links
I just find them to be a subpar environment.
Golf Street Station

The conceptual gateway marking my departure from Carnoustie was Golf Street Station, which sits beside – you guessed it – Golf Street, west of the beach and northeast of the golf links. The station is actually only about halfway across the breadth of Carnoustie but thereafter the town would be separated from me by the railway.

I mention Golf Street station partly because of its waypoint status on my walk and partly just because it just seems like a vaguely ridiculous name for a station. I mean, it’s not quite up there with Battersea Power Station Station on London’s Northern Line, which really takes the proverbial biscuit, but it is just a tad on the nose, don’t you think?

The station opened in 1960 to provide a handy station closer to the golf links, clubhouse and hotel. You’d think that this would make it quite busy but it’s actually barely used on account of there only being two trains each way per day and none on Sundays. And it’s only getting those to avoid the bureaucracy of closing it.  For all that I loathe golf, many others love it and this feels very much like an opportunity not so much missed as deliberately dodged for some reason.

Golf Street Station
This is very nearly as busy as it gets.
Footpath Closed?

From Golf Street onwards I was off the road and on NCN 1, with the railway bounding me to the north and the golf course to the south. This would have been absolutely fine were it not for the ‘footway closed’ signs and obvious signs of resurfacing work going on up ahead.  This gave me reason to pause as, with the range in use, this was basically my only way onwards that wasn’t the A930. And while most of the traffic would hopefully be on the dualled A92 a little further inland, I still didn’t fancy an A-road adventure very much.

While I was pondering what to do, a construction worker passed me by and nodded hello, completely unperturbed by my presence.  Then a couple of walkers came the other way, having clearly blithely ignored all the signs. And then I understood – while the path was properly closed to cyclists, who would have found it harder to get around the construction work – local pedestrians were having none of it and the construction workers were well past caring. Well, when in Rome and all that…

I boldly strolled along the supposedly closed footpath and was amused to note the workers happily greeting me as I passed.  One seemed almost surprised that I stepped out of his way to avoid him running me over with a mechanical digger instead of standing my ground. I soon passed the extent of the resurfacing work and continued without incident to Barry Links station, where another sign warned those heading east that the path was most definitely closed.

Progress map showing that I had reached Barry Links Station.
Well, ish.

Barry

Barry Links Station

Barry Links serves the northwest corner of the golf links, just as Golf Street serves the northeast one. Except that it doesn’t for exactly the same reason – the service is so sparse as to be utterly useless.

Training Area

After Barry Links, while I still had the railway on my right, I no longer had a golf course on my left. Instead, it was replaced by the firing range, flanked by its fence, its flags and the ‘Do not touch any military debris, it may explode and kill you’ signs, which I love for their no-nonsense wording.

Left: a red flag; Right: the cycle path past Barry Buddon Training Area.
Left: A red flag means ‘The published schedule is pure fiction. Do not enter the danger area when the range is in use.’ Right: The next two miles looked mostly like this. Not at all unpleasant but less fun than Buddon Ness.

The use of Barry Buddon for military training dates back to the 1850s, when the local army Reserve Forces –the Forfarshire Rifle Volunteers (infantry), Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (cavalry) and Forfarshire Artillery Brigade (artillery) – all made use of it, as did a battery of the Royal Naval ReserveForfarshire was an alternative name for Angus.

In 1897, Arthur Ramsay, 14th Earl of Dalhousie (1878-1928) sold the land to the War Office for permanent use as a training area and so it had been ever since.

Military Railways

Between 1910 and 1957, the Training Area had its own railway station, Buddon Station, although this was closed to public use after 1914. Within its boundaries, it also had its own narrow gauge railway on which an armoured Diesel locomotive would tow targets for moving target practice. Sadly, only the engine shed now remains.

Progress map showing that I was approaching the site of Buddon Station.
They were really putting the ‘train’ into ‘training area,’ back then.
Buddon Camp

As I approached Buddon Camp, where the bulk of the Training Area’s buildings are located, I espied a relic predating the long-lost rail infrastructure:

War Department boundary stone
Historically, before the modern fence and danger signs, the boundaries of the range were marked with stones like these. In case you can’t make it out, it is labelled ‘WD’ for War Department along with the broad arrow that marked HM Government property.  It is also labelled ‘No. 8,’ the perimeter boundary stones all being numbered.

Just a little further on, I set eyes on Buddon Camp and its cunningly camouflaged defenders:

Buddon Camp with two deer lurking in the long grass between path and buildings.
Who Deers Wins?
Buddon Burn

At Buddon Burn, the camp’s access road came to run alongside NCN 1, albeit on the explodey side of the fence.  The two eventually met up, just outside the Training Area’s gates, on the eastern edge of Monifieth, where I hoped a return to the shoreline would soon follow.

Progress map showing I had reached the western end of Barry Buddon Training Area and the eastern edge of Monifieth.
I say ‘hoped,’ but I really mean ‘expected.’ I did have a map with me after all.

Monifieth

Monifieth Sands

As my map had indicated that it would,  the cycle path almost immediately, diverted off coastwards, flanked by holiday parks. Once again I found myself on a seaside promenade, the coastline ahead laid out before me.

Monifieth Beach.
Now, this is more like it!
Not Dundee

In following this promenade, I was mostly missing out on the town of Monifieth, a mediaeval agricultural village that developed into a flax-milling town in the 19th century before losing that industry in the late 20th. Today, it is basically a commuter satellite town to Dundee and, in many ways, an extension of it yet not legally part of it (though it was part of Dundee District from 1975 to 1996; it then reverted to being part of Angus).

Progress map showing that I had reached Monfieth Sands
I’m sure it’s probably lovely, as commuter towns go, but I was quite happy where I was beside the beach.
Dighty Water

Since I was only skirting along its southern edge, ran out of Monifieth more quickly than one might have expected.  The boundary between it and Dundee is Dighty Water, a twelve-mile long stream that rises in the Sidlaw Hills

Carrying NCN 1 across Dighty Water was a brand-new five-metre wide Dighty Bridge, which was opened at the beginning of March, mere weeks before I crossed it.  The new bridge was part of a major upgrade programme improving this section of cycle route and replaced a narrow, one-metre wide predecessor.  At the same tine, they also brightened up its neighbour –  a red brick railway bridge – with a mural quoting poetry:

Dighty railway bridge as seen from the new Dighty Bridge.
The old footbridge rested directly above that pipe, clinging to the side of the rail bridge. You can see the upstream railing of the new bridge, which matches the mural in colour.

The mural, which was painted by Barry Robertson, a signwriter and signmaker based in Dundee, quotes a line from The River, a poem by local poet and author John Glenday:

We come to a river we always knew we’d have to cross.

Well, quite. And cross it I did.

Dundee

Broughty Ferry

Stepping off the bridge onto the western bank of Dighty Water placed me in the Dundonian suburb of Broughty Ferry. This was another Angus town absorbed into Dundee – in this case, in 1913 and forever.  As its name indicates, it used to be one end of a ferry route to Tayport across the Firth of Tay.  From 1850 to 1887, this was a Ro-Ro train ferry but that stopped running when the second Tay Bridge was opened in 1887.

A foot-passenger ferry also ran and this continued until 1939, carried from 1890 to 1920 by the Railway-owned paddle steamer Dolphin.

Progress map showing that I had crossed Dighty Water and entered Broughty Ferry.
Just because it’s been eighty-five years since the last ferry ran is no reason to change Broughty Ferry’s name.
Seafront Sculptures

Further along the promenade, I encountered some equally metal dolphins of non-paddle-steamer kind, not to mention a bizarre shape that might have just beamed down from an orbiting flying saucer.

Sculptures on the Broughty Ferry Seafront - a weird, vaguely humanoid shape, and three dolphins.
Left: Take me to your leader?
Right: So long, and thanks for all for the fish!

Both statues appeared earlier this year as part of the previously-mentioned upgrade programme.   The ‘alien shape’ is actually intended to represent ‘a silhouette of human form in motion,’ sculpted by artist Lee Simmons.

The dolphin statue, titled Tay Fins, is the work of artist Fanny Lam Christie and portrays threespecific bottlenose dolphins frequently observed in the Tay.  These were previously known only by the catalogue reference numbers #1264, #1272 and #1306 but the public were invited to name them in a competition (with suitable rules to prevent them all ending up as ‘Dolphin McDolphinface.’ Their new names were announced today to be Dooker, Haar and Brochtie.

Glass Pavilion

About halfway between the two sculptures, I encountered something that arrested my attention even more than they had, namely a sign promising tea and cake. I followed its arrow over the road and into the Glass Pavilion. This faces onto the Esplanade and was originally constructed in 1934 as an art deco beach shelter but was converted into café in 2004 with the notable addition of a glass-fronted area in which I was able to sit and drink the promised tea and eat a slice of red velvet cake.  This pleasant rest stop vanquished my growing fatigue and enabled me to stride boldly forth with purpose towards the dolphins.

Progress map showing I had reached the Tay Fins sculpture at the end of the promenade.
Had I already had my own dolphin, I could have stridden boldly forth with porpoise!
Broughty Castle

Continuing past the sculptures soon brought me to Broughty Castle, which has stood watch over the Firth of Tay since George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus (1427-1463) fortified its site in 1454, though the core of the current castle dates from 1495, when it was rebuilt by Andrew Gray, 2nd Lord Gray (d. 1514).

In 1547, during the Rough WooingHenry VIII of England’s military campaign attempting to force the engagement of Mary, Queen of Scots to his son, Edward (both minors) – Patrick Gray, 4th Lord Gray (c. 1518-1584) surrendered the castle to the English commander, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1500-1552).  With the castle now garrisoned by English troops, Archibald Campbell, 4th Earl of Argyll (c. 1507-1558) tried twice to recapture it (in 1547 and 1548, respectively) but it was eventually the French marshal Paul de La Barthe de Thermes (1482–1562) who retook it for his allies in 1550.

A century later, in 1651, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms saw an attack by the Parliamentarian army of General George Monck (1608-1670), but the defenders fled without a fight, allowing him to sack it. Afterwards, it returned to the Grays, but they sold it in 1666.  It subsequently fell into ruin, was repaired and refortified in 1860 and then served as a military fort until WW2, before finally becoming a museum in 1969.

Broughty Castle
It looks quite imposing but mostly just failed at its purpose (which was not to be captured).
The arms of the Earl of Angus, Lord Gray, the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Argyll, Marshal de Thermes and General Monck.
The arms of various people associated with Broughty Castle. Post-Restoration, Monck used more complicated arms with up to sixteen ‘quarterings’ but, in his no-nonsense Parliamentarian days, the Monck chevron and lions’ heads sufficed.
Broughty Ferry Harbour

The castle overlooks Broughty Ferry Harbour, but that is actually a relatively late addition. While the promontory upon which the castle stands had always provided a sheltered haven, the harbour was constructed in 1851, following the 1846 acquisition of the castle and its grounds by the Edinburgh & Northern Railway (E&NR).

The E&NR needed the castle grounds as a site to build the harbour and they needed the harbour as a purpose-built facility to cater for one end of their planned train ferry. The old Tayport ferry had departed from near the castle and Broughty Rock for centuries, so this was the natural choice.  By the time a scare about French invasion caused HM Government to purchase the castle in 1860, the ferry was already in operation and the E&NR got to keep the harbour, while the military acquired only the keep.

The rail ferry – which used two paddle steamers, Robert Napier and Leviathan – briefly went out of service when the first Tay Bridge was built in 1878 but unexpectedly resumed the following year, after the Tay Bridge Disaster. This saw the new railway bridge collapse, dropping a train into the Tay and killing all 75 aboard.  The rail ferry the filled in until the second, non-collapsing Tay Bridge was complete, when it stopped for good. As previously mentioned, the old foot ferry persisted until 1939, but never resumed after WW2. Even if it had, the ferry would probably not have survived the 1966 opening of the Tay Road Bridge.

Tay road and rail bridges, as seen from Broughy Harbour
Both the road and rail bridges can be seen from Broughty Ferry Harbour, taunting its obsolescence.  The harbour insouciantly shrugs it off – in its 35 years of operation, it never dropped a train into the sea.
Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Station

Directly west of the harbour stands something which would have been called into action, had the rail ferry ever sunk on of its trains, namely Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Station.  This was established in 1830, making it the first inshore lifeboat station in Scotland.  Well, sort of. 

That 1830 lifeboat was actually stationed on Buddon Ness but they added a second boat at Broughty Ferry in 1859. Two years later, the RNLI took over both stations and it eventually closed the Buddon Ness one in 1894.  The Broughty Ferry station is still going strong today, though, and is home to two lifeboats, one D-class inflatable inshore lifeboat and one sea-going Trent class.

Broughty Ferry's lifeboat and lifeboat station.
Top: the Trent class lifeboat RNLB Elizabeth of Glamis. Bottom: the lifeboat station, which houses the inshore boat.

Launched in 2001, RNLB Elizabeth of Glamis is a 14 m all-weather lifeboat capable of 25 kts (29 mph and a range of 250 nautical miles. She carries six crew. Her class was designed in the 1990s with the specific intent of creating a  faster, longer-range lifeboat to extend the RNLI’s reach from our shores – an objective successfully achieved.  She is designed to lie afloat at moorings rather than launch from a boat shed, which frees up said shed for the inshore boat.

RNLB Mona

Lifeboat operation is obviously risky and, like Arbroath, Broughty Ferry has experienced disaster.  In 1959, the lifeboat RNLB Mona – an open-topped Watson Class boat built in 1935 – went to assist the North Carr Lightship, which had broken free of her moorings and was adrift in St Andrews Bay. Appalling weather conditions mean that Mona was the only boat in the region able to launch and she set out to sea from the mouth of the Tay heading for the lightship. She never arrived.

The following morning, the empty lifeboat was discovered on Buddon Sands. She had capsized in the storm with the loss of all eight men aboard. The lightship’s crew of six had a happier fate, being rescued that morning by helicopter. They had eventually managed to successfully deploy their spare anchor and so arrest their drift.

Held by some local seamen to be cursed, Mona was subsequently burnt in a Viking-like ritual in Cockenzie Harbour. A new lifeboat was acquired to replace her and, despite the risk of volunteering having been cruelly demonstrated,  easily supplied with a full complement of crew – no fewer than 38 people stepped up to offer themselves!

Progress map showing that I  had reached Broughty Ferry's lifeboat station.
I have nothing but respect for those who volunteer to enter harm’s way to help others. They are incredible!
Rowing Skiff

From Broughty Ferry lifeboat station, I had about a mile and a half of promenade, heading west along the north shore of the Firth of Tay. This passed, on the way, the Dundee Sailing & Rowing Club (est. 1979) who had a crew of rowers out practicing on the firth in their St. Ayles rowing skiff. This is a 2009 design that was commissioned by the Scottish Fisheries Museum, based on a traditional Fair Isle fishing skiff.

I don’t know much about rowing, but they looked like they knew what they were doing.

Progress map showing that I had reached the end of the promenade at Broughty Ferry Road.
Row, row, row your skiff / Quickly down the firth
Try to miss the other boats / Or it will cost the earth!
Port of Dundee

At the end of the promenade, a quarter mile of Broughty Ferry Road curved away from the shoreline to meet either the A930 or, if a turning into Stannergate Road was taken, the east gate of the Port of Dundee. I was a little uncertain about this part as I knew that NCN 1 continued along the edge of the dockland but I also knew that fellow coaster Jon Combe had been prevented from using it during his walk from Dundee to Abroath (i.e., the reverse of my walk). A little research told me that the path had been revamped in 2019 and was now open to both cyclists and pedestrians without any need for ID, on account of having been properly fenced off from the port the whole way. Certainly, another coaster, Alan Palin, mentioned no issues when he walked from Monifieth to Guardbridge in 2020.

I was pretty sure it would be fine, although signs nearby pointing to a ‘secure cycle route’ without reference to pedestrians did not entirely put me at ease.

Port of Dundee East Gate.
Actually, it was fine. Those ‘no pedestrian’ signs pertain to the port itself; the cycle path is on the far right.

Okay, so I could use it. Did I want to? From what I had espied from the train that morning, it looked to be a soulless stretch of cycle path, fenced in tightly on both sides, which was pretty dull. No, somewhat perversely, I decided to voluntarily take the route that Jon was forced into back in 2014. Some days, I’m just like that; I don’t know why.

Broughty Ferry Road

Broughty Ferry Road swung up to a roundabout where it met the A930. Heading west along it, I discovered that this was also Broughty Ferry Road, the A-road having basically jumped into take over part – but only part – of its alignment. I knew that Jon had had a miserable time beside this multi-lane A-road but, to begin with at least, I found it… okay.  It wasn’t the best part of the day’s walk by a long stretch, but it wasn’t madly busy on a Monday evening, either.

Broughty Ferry Road (A930)
Actually, where is everyone? Hello? Did I miss the end of the world?

Despite what the photo above seems to show, there was traffic and, while it wasn’t dense, it wasn’t exactly light.  The road was mostly residential, with houses along the north side and a screen of trees hiding the port to the south. This went on for almost half a mile, after which the A92 joined it from the north, taking over from the A930.

A big, yellow, temporary road sign warned all traffic that ‘major road works’ were taking place on the Tay Road Bridge. They were, I understood, stripping concrete off the bridge’s southbound carriageway and completely resurfacing it, which was something I would doubtless see tomorrow. In the meantime, I still had today’s walk to complete…

East Dock Street

About a quarter-mile further on from where it met the A92, Broughty Ferry Road managed to escape it.  That road continued directly westwards while the A92 switched to following East Dock Street, which branched off it heading southwest. I went with the A-road, because it was going in the direction I wanted, but it was considerably less pleasant to walk beside, with its narrow pavements and industrial dockland unscreened by trees.

On the way, East Dock Street carried me past the Port of Dundee’s former west gate, which was permanently blocked in 2016, forcing all dock traffic to use the gate in the earlier photo.

Progress map showing I had reached the end of East Dock Street.
Whether better or worse than the cycle path, my A-road adventure was just about to end.

The A92 ended at a junction, where it met the A991 head-on. I left the latter almost as soon as I could, following West Victoria Dock Road which – you’ll never guess! – ran down the western edge of Victoria Dock. I know, right?

Victoria Dock

Victoria Dock was built 1833-1875 by Dundee Harbour’s resident engineer, James Leslie (1801-1889), following a design by the prolific and ubiquitous Thomas Telford (1757-1834).  It was one of the largest enclosed docks in Scotland.

In the 20th century, the dock work became focussed on wharves at the eastern end of the docks (i.e. the current Port of Dundee) and the older, western docks became disused. Some were filled in and now sit buried beneath the northern approach to the Tay Road Bridge but Victoria Dock was redeveloped into a marina.  Nonetheless, some hints of its past still remain:

Old industrial railway tracks by Victoria Dock.
You can track them down if you make a point of looking hard enough.

This short stretch of track is pretty much that remains of some sixteen miles (if stretched out in one line) of industrial railway that once served Dundee’s docks.  The actual tracks were owned by the Harbour Commissioners but they leased operations to the various railway companies, who provided the necessary locomotives and wagons. The rise of motor vehicles saw its usage increasingly reduced until the network finally closed for good in 1982.

North Carr Lightship

Moored up by South Victoria Dock Road was what I had actually come to see, namely the mouldering hulk of the North Carr Lightship, aiding which the crew of RNLB Mona lost their lives:

North Carr Lightship
She’s really not looking too flash, these days.

North Carr is the last remaining Scottish lightship but probably not for much longer as her current owners, the charity Tay Maritime Action (Taymara) have failed to raise the funds needed to restore her and plan to strip and dismantle her this year before she just falls apart and sinks.

Built in Glasgow in 1933 by shipbuilders A&J Inglis Ltd, this 268-ton lightship was not fitted with an engine since she wasn’t supposed to move about. Instead the space saved was used to house generators, fuel and a compressor for her fog horn.  This is why she was in so much trouble when she broke free in that storm in 1959; her crew had literally no way to control where she went!

After 42 years anchored off Fife Ness, she was replaced with an automated buoy in 1975 and decommissioned. Laid up for scrap in Leith, she was rescued and removed to Anstruther where she served as a museum from 1977 to 1995, when she was sold to Dundee City Council. In 2010, the city sold her to Taymara but, as mentioned above, they cannot afford to restore her and she is springing new leaks almost faster than they can plug them. She is basically doomed.

HMS Unicorn

Also moored beside South Victoria Dock Road was a somewhat older vessel that is remarkable more for what she is than anything she has actually done (which is ‘not much’).

HMS Unicorn is a surviving Leda class sailing frigate, launched in Chatham in 1824 but then laid up ‘in ordinary,’ which means that she was kept in reserve without rigging and remained in that form throughout her whole career. In 1857, she was designated a powder hulk – meaning a floating gunpowder store – and moved to Woolwich Arsenal then, in 1873, she was towed to Dundee by naval paddle steamer HMS Salamander to serve as a training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve. She kept this role for the rest of her career, though her name changed a few times – from Unicorn to Unicorn II to Cressy and then back to Unicorn – until she was retired in 1969. She opened to the public as a museum ship in 1975 and so she remains.

By virtue of never actually doing any dangerous naval activities like sailing or fighting, Unicorn has managed to survive to become the oldest ship in Scotland and one of the few intact warships that remain from the age of sail.

HMS Unicorn
There’s a lot to be said for keeping your head down, even if it does have a pointy horn.
Tay Road Bridge

From HMS Unicorn and South Victoria Dock Road, I took a side-street that led me out onto Marine Parade Walk, which was a promenade along the north shore of the Tay. Following this west, I passed under the Tay Road Bridge and directly over where the mouth of the Tide Harbour was before the bridge was built.

Tay Road Bridge
I’m not crossing that bridge when I come to it (i.e., now); I’ll do it tomorrow instead.

Close to the bridge stood an ugly concrete obelisk that just screamed ‘someone thought I looked ultra-modern in the ’60s!’ On it were a couple of bronze plaques commemorating the official opening of the Tay Road Bridge in 1966 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900-2002) as she then was then known, being the mother of Elizabeth II.  Prior to 1952, she had been the Queen Consort of George VI and before she married him, she had been Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

The plaque also listed the three 1960s-era local authorities that had cooperated to get the bridge built – Angus County Council, Dundee Corporation, and Fife County Council – and showed their coats of arms.

The Arms of Angus, Dundee, Fife and Queen Elizabeth.
The arms of Angus represent the four families that have each held the Earldom of Angus at some point, namely 1: Gillibride, 2: d’Umfraville, 3: Stewart of Bonkyll and 4: Douglas. Dundee’s simply show a pot of lilies in silver on blue while Fife’s ‘Scottish knight’ is based on a seal of Duncan IV, Earl of Fife (1289-1353).  Also shown are Elizabeth’s arms as queen, impaling the royal arms with her father’s Bowes-Lyon arms. The latter are canting arms, comprising both bows and lions as a heraldic pun.
V&A Dundee

Continuing along the waterfront in front of what would have been the Earl Grey Dock (opened 1834), had it not been filled and reclaimed in 1963, came to the V&A Dundee, a branch of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Opened in 2018, it perches on the edge of what was once the Ferry Harbour, from which the Dundee-Newport Ferry ran from the 15th century up to 1966, when the Tay Road Bridge made them obsolete.

Like the main V&A, the Dundee branch specialises in the history of design and, as such, felt the need to have its own building proclaim creative design from every inch.  It is the work of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and is supposed to evoke the eastern Scottish cliffs.

V&A Dundee
It needs more nettles and ‘footpath closed’ signs to really sell that to me.
Discovery Point

Right next door to the V&A, in a dry dock occupying part of Ferry Harbour, is the famous Royal Research Ship Discovery. Built in Dundee and launched in 1901, she carried explorers Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912), Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and the rest of the 1901-4 British National Antarctic Expedition to Antarctica.

After variously serving as a merchant ship, research vessel and training ship, she became a museum ship in 1979 and returned home to Dundee in 1986. RRS Discovery initially resided in Victoria Dock but was moved to her purpose-built dry dock in 1992, which incorporates Craig Pier, from which the ferries once departed.

RRS Discovery
It’s not a ‘Union Jack’ unless it’s flying from the jackstaff of a… no, wait, it actually is.

On the far side of RRS Discovery from the V&A stands Discovery Point, a museum and visitor centre dedicated to her.  Outside the main doors, a pavement mosaic depicts a compass rose surrounded by suitably-themed bollards.

Take note, V&A – penguins are a cool design!
Dundee Station

Having reached Discovery Point, I had all but completed my walk. All I now needed to do was cross the busy A85 and reach Dundee railway station.  Not that I was catching a train, it just seemed a good place to finish and my hotel was only a stone’s throw away.

Dundee station was opened as Dundee Tay Bridge station in 1878 despite being almost a mile from the actual bridge.  It was then one of several stations serving Dundee, operated by various railway companies, and is the sole survivor of them all. It was demolished, rebuilt and renamed in 1965, mainly because its public entrance was in the way for constructing Tay Road Bridge’s off ramp.  This, in turn, was rebuilt again in 1989 and then again 2018, resulting in a shiny new station with a hotel on top (though not the one I was staying in).

Dundee Station
All change! All change! Your journey terminates here!
Map showing that I had reached my destination, Dundee Station.
And indeed, it did.

Hasteful MammalThis time: 19½ miles
Total since Gravesend: 4,446½ miles


Combined map showing the whole route

9 thoughts on “CCXLVII – Arbroath to Dundee”

  1. Nice to see the fish find their voice. More power!

    I can actually remember this one as it was relatively recent. Robot sentinels still there. I did not chance the construction work but did take the final route through the docklands. It was not too grim.

    You ended with a lovely shot of the lightship in that light.

    1. Yeah, I was pretty pleased with that photo of the lightship. More by luck than judgment though, I fear.

      I’m reading my way through your own blog right now; I’m way behind on where other coasters have got to.

  2. Hi Mammal, thanks for alerting me to your new[ish] site. I’ve certainly missed your well exceedingly well researched TR’s and your very clever dry wit. I can see that I need to do a lot of ‘back reading’ , in fact all the well back to Sutherland!Cheers Alan

    1. Hi Alan. Yeah, I moved it during the pandemic. Partly because I thought it ought to be a proper blog, and partly because where it was hosted before had changed ownership.

      I think it’s going to take me a while before I emulate you by completing my circuit of the coast!

  3. I usually seem to get an error when leaving comments on your blog, so lets see how this goes! Another lovely write up and I’m glad to hear after the problems I had that the cycle path through the port is open to pedestrians now (I see Tony had no problems) even if you did opt for the road, which I found very grim.

    The North Carr is certainly looking worse than when I passed it, sadly. I wasn’t a fan of Dundee as I was there at the result of the Scottish Independence referendum result. Dundee was the highest vote for “Yes” in all of Scotland and felt pretty hostile to the English at the time I was there. Hopefully it is better now.

    Glad to see you on the move and I really appreciate you reading my blog too and glad it was by the sounds of it at least some use. I do appreciate that and the lovely comments you left (I will get a chance to reply to them all soon I hope!). I should be finishing my own walk later this month IF all goes to plan (as you may have seen, things don’t always go to plan!). But hopefully this year whatever happens. Though at the rate I write them up (mostly, but not quite, once a week) it will likely take me a few more years to finish my write ups. But I am not finishing there, I’m going to Northern Irerland and most (all?) Scottish islands too I hope so I won’t be stopping just yet!

    1. Thanks!

      You mentioned getting errors before and I did check things at this end, but I could find nothing that might cause it. I think it was probably a caching error in your browser: hopefully it was and it’s cleared now.

      I know I rather spammed your blog with comments the other day. Some personal issues led to my losing track where others had got to, so I had a bit of a mad catch-up day and read a whole load of posts at once. Well, not literally at once, but one after the other. Oh, you know what I mean.

      As for Dundee, I was aware of its nationalist – and hence potentially anglophobic – reputation but experienced no hostility there myself. I imagine things were a bit more charged during the independence referendum, though. Actually, the only part of Scotland where I have ever encountered any bigotry was in Wigtown in the southwest, which I found particularly ironic as that’s the area where the (very small) amount of Scottish ancestry that I possess originates from.

  4. Glad to find you again and read another great write up. You always make me chuckle. How sad that the lightship can’t be saved, although I didn’t realise they couldn’t actually move under their own steam (so to speak). Is there a way of subscribing to this blog so I don’t miss future posts?

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, a lightship is basically just a big buoy with people living on it to keep it fuelled and maintained. Or was, I guess, since they’re pretty much obsolete now.

      Hmm, looks like I accidentally managed to turn subscriptions off at some point, think it’s fixed now. And you appear to have subscribed when I first moved my blog here. Guess we’ll find out if I actually have fixed that when I make my next post.

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