- Chris Jones
Day 57 & 58. Monday & Tuesday, 3rd, 4th April. St Andrews to Barry Buden.
Monday mornings, don't you just love them ??? Weirdly, I used to love them when I first created my business, I couldn't wait to get cracking on a Monday morning, a new week to embrace all I could achieve, a new week to work on changing the lives of our students for the better. As the business grew into the monster it became, I started to love the weekends for the escape from the madness and it naturally followed that I started to hate Mondays. Never because of the over exuberant weekend I may have had because I very often worked for most of the weekends but Mondays were always a good day for staff to be ill, for students to turn up, still under the influence of their busy weekend and it was always my job to sort it all out. It's amazing how that process has created a feeling, a thought process which has become ingrained... I bloody hate Mondays !!!
I know that's a load of nonsense, it is a day like any of the other six and now, more than ever, I shouldn't feel like this about Mondays but i still do so I'm working hard on changing this daft mindset...
I left the hotel after a half decent breakfast, it was included in the price so I did partake. A short walk around the corner to the bus station and I joined the many workers and students filing onto the bus to start their week.
Back in St Andrews, I started the boring walk along the road back towards Dundee, the disadvantage of jumping ahead on the bus, I had seen the roadside path I needed to walk for the next 8 miles !!! With the sun beating down I did nip into the bushes for a quick change into my shorts, with legs as white as milk bottles there was a danger that I could dazzle drivers as they passed... Eventually I was away from the road and into the nature reserve so a mixture of forrest paths and sandy tracks through the dunes.
Past Leuchars station, no longer an RAF base but now belonging to the Army, predominantly 71 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers. A strange feeling walking through the station which is divided by the public road, a feeling of nostalgia and belonging but equally a feeling of total isolation because actually, I no longer belong.
I was soon past the camp and walking up past the vast estate of Officers accommodation, I guessed much of this had been sold off looking at the extravagant garden walls and big conservatories built onto the oversized properties. Another cracking example of how the MOD wastes enormous amounts of money selling off well built housing for well below the market value.... eventually, off the roads and into the reserves I walked through even more evidence of the devastation caused by storm Arwen in 2021. Huge areas of forrest wrecked by the wind with an enormous clean up taking many years to clear the downed forrests.
It would have been a much shorter walk and therefore much quicker to stay on the road but the aim is to walk the coast so the longer route back out to the waters edge had to be the plan. It also gives a better opportunity to find a more comfortable pitch for the night which I would have managed if not for the massive forrest clearance operation. Finding nowhere to stay, I eventually got to Tentsmuir and walked into the Larick community campsite. The lovely lady warden kindly gave me a discount to stay, despite that she was a Yorkshire lass !!! It wasn't me that said they were a tight bunch of buggers in Yorkshire although I have yet to see evidence to prove the contrary... And I have to say, the best toilet & shower facilities I have ever seen on a campsite. Spotlessly clean, lovely and warm and I did consider taking my bed and sleeping bag into the shower block for the night...
A good sleep on a very peaceful site and in the morning just a short walk along the waters edge to Tayport got me back to my mate Alans back garden. Alan was waiting in the garden with Archie, coffee and biscuits were soon provided and a nice relaxing sit in the early morning sun. What a beautiful place to live and retire, Alan has certainly made me think hard about how I would eventually like to retire. I've been following Alans Facebook page for weeks before I met him last week, being an early riser and with his garden facing due East, Alan posts pictures of the most spectacular sun rises , complete with the sun rising and setting times and the ambient temperature in his lovely part of the world. A public service for which the met office should pay him in my humble opinion, Alan would no doubt then donate that income to a worthy cause. Coffee and biscuits finished, Alan and Archie walked with me the 3 miles along the river Tay to the bridge across into Dundee and into the Province of Angus.
At the time of opening in 1966 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, The Tay Road Bridge was the longest bridge over a river in Britain. Spanning 7365 feet and built with 140,000 tons of concrete, the most interesting fact, it drops from 125 feet above sea level on the Fife side to 32 feet on the Dundee side. That must have been some string line they used to get that fall right when building the buttresses !!! 😬A central walkway for pedestrians and cyclists rather that one along both sides makes for a slightly less enjoyable walk over the bridge, especially when you see the speed of the road traffic flying past !!! Clearly going much faster than the 50MPH speed limit, I figured that the vehicles going down hill were struggling to maintain their speed on the steep decent but it did seem like the ones going up hill, away from Dundee were driving even faster !!! 🤔 Make of that what you will...
The walk around the docks was interesting, passing HMS Unicorn, the 3rd oldest Navy ship that is still afloat, a strange looking set up with a new roof !!! She didn't have a particularly interesting life, probably why it is still in such good nick and now used as a museum. My Granddaughter Ava used to love 'Unicorns' so I took the pic for her, and of course for those sad ex-matlows that like looking at pictures of boats !!! 😉
Once past the docks the walk was lovely, brand new promenades edging the water past Broughty Ferry , no longer (grotty ferry) as it was effectionaly referred to in the 1990's. Walking into Monifieth I didn't recognise anything, I tried a pint in The Crown and in The Vault, I know I consumed many pints of 'heavy' in both establishments many years ago but not surprisingly, nothing was coming back to me. I
I knew it would be peaceful down by the water so headed out of town, I passed the Lodge Grange 1073, stuck my head in the door to see a country dancing class in full swing, I'm much more partial to a bit of Madness so I never stayed for a dance. I didn't actually expect to be able to walk right onto the ranges so with no red flags flying, I settled down on a lovely comfortable piece of grass at the end of the 300Mtr firing range. I fully intended to be up and away early, just in case the 'shootists' were planning on an early start....