Tentsmuir Forest in North-east Fife was the venue for the latest walk by the Mearns 50+ Group.
19 of us met in the car-park at the easternmost edge of Tayport, beside a residential caravan park.
Six members opted for the shorter walk, led by Ian Bell, while the remaining 13 headed for Tentsmuir, led by Dave Shaw.
The group doing the shorter walk set off round the outer edge of the caravan park, through the public park where they saw swans and ducks on a pond there. Then, following the edge of the water, they made their way to the harbour where there is a plaque marking the visit in 1877, of Ulysses S Grant, President of the USA. He had been keen to see the railway bridge; unfortunately, two years later, a dreadful storm led to the terrible Tay Bridge disaster and subsequent loss of life.
Following lunch at the harbour, the group then walked along to what was once a boat-yard at the end of the Fife Coastal Path.
The main group, meantime took the beach path which soon branched off to Tentsmuir forest. Just where we were about to enter the forest, there were several large concrete blocks which we’ve seen before – most recently on our Arbroath walk. These are sometimes called “dragon’s teeth” and are anti-tank blocks; they also act as coastal defences. I understand they were built on-site by Polish forces.
As we entered the forest, we immediately turned right and followed what is known as the Pine-cone trail. The paths are wide and well-maintained: I can see why it’s a popular area for walkers. On a quiet day, I’m sure there would be lots of wildlife to see, but this was still Easter holiday time and there were lots of people and dogs around. Part of our route took us on the Feather trail, to Morton Lochs and four bird hides. Morton Lochs is rather a grand name for three small lochs (or ponds?). They were created in 1906 by the Christie family who flooded an area of the dunes for fishing purposes. Since then they have become an important habitat for all sorts of creatures, but birds in particular. Three of the bird hides are accessible to all, but the fourth requires a key. Inside the hides, there are pictures of the various types of water fowl that you might see. There are also pictures of John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, and founder of many National Parks in the USA. These have different quotations by him. I’m not sure if this was in any of the hides but it is appropriate for Tentsmuir: “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”
From the hides, we made our way back past a large house and stables, with an interesting ruin nearby. Through a gate, we found ourselves on a wide public path through part of Scotscraig Golf Course. What was particularly disconcerting at this point was the sight of four golf balls, all within six inches of the path. We didn’t linger! Wild life seen on this occasion were a few ducks and a moor-hen. We had lunch on a grassy bank covered with wood anemones. Throughout the forest, paths were well marked and there were lots of information boards. The next walk will be on Tuesday, April 28 to the Char Bothy.
As usual, the minibus will leave the Burgh Buildings in Laurencekirk at 10am.