Hello “Friends from the Wemyss” – you’ve been rumbled! 😉 😆 . Hope you enjoy the blog. 😀
It was just like old times, The Fatdog and I clambering up a boulder field. Whereas before she would have dithered and stumbled on the big rocks, FD now bunny hopped from stone to stone if not energetically then at least with a modicum of confident deliberation. Only thing was…it wasn’t a boulderfield.
We’d started on the beach but the The Fatdog was slipping and wobbling on the rounded cobbles covering the sand. I decided to head back up onto to the path. The red tiled roofs of restored Pan Ha’ (named from the once present salt pans) peeked over the top of the sea wall watching our impressive ascent of the sea defences as we rock scrambled back onto the Fife Coastal Path.
In January last year The Fatdog and I did 2 walks along the coastal path taking us from Lower Largo to St Monans on Fife’s southern coast. We had 2 consecutive weekends of glorious weather and amazing sights ( Day1 Day2 ) . Could we go back a year later and for a repeat performance? Our month long snow cover had gone and the weather was back to seasonal grey. But there’s always a chance…
We began today’s wee amble at the car park at Dysart Harbour planning to walk to East Wemmys, some 6.5km east. On the way would pass a disused colliery, an ancient castle, quaint whitewashed harbour villages and with a bit of luck we’d see the same amazing variety of coastal fringe bird life we’d noticed last year. Our main objective however was the group of caves on the far side of East Wemyss.
Only a few minutes from the car park the coastal path climbed, away from the shore, onto a cliff top on the eastern edge of the town.
Today I thought we might fit in a bit of geocaching. I downloaded the coordinates of 9 caches into the GPS, but reckoned if there was time to do half it could be considered a success. The reality of being walkers rather than geocachers means that The Fatdog and I don’t have a lot of time to search for any one cache. If it has been well hidden, or if my prima donna of a GPS throws one of its little strops, then rather than compromise our overall walking programme, we will just abandon looking for the cache and carry on. The leaving is generally preceded by me stomping about like a grumpy rhinoceros loudly cursing either the cacher or my GPS…which is precisely what I did on the very first cache GC1AFYH. This time it was the GPS upon which my considerable wrath was being vented.
It didn’t help that the cache had been hidden in front of some houses. In their descriptions of the strangely behaved intruder to the local polis at least the words “lurking” and “furtive” were not likely to have been used, as I crashed about the undergrowth swearing at the hand held gadget, while at the same time hauling up clumps of grass and soggy dead leaves with my hands. Who said men couldn’t multitask? Then the timer went off.
“Howw, howw, hooooww!” pleaded the restless Fatdog, whose stomach had by now reckoned I was getting nowhere fast and that a break of this length warranted the sounding of the lunch klaxon. FD’s complaints signalled the end of the search and we made a hasty retreat before another type of klaxon sounded -accompanied by flashing lights of the dark blue variety.
We left the last few houses and followed the cliff top path onto what had been the site of the Frances Colliery (1873 – 1987). I remember these metal colliery towers littering the Central Belt in the 1960’s. They have all long since vanished with the decline of the “deep pits”.
On a fence in front of the old winding gear was our first caching find of the day, a wee metal tube GC1Q7ME with a soggy register of all previous finders. From spring to late autumn this would have been a cache designed for those covered in thick leather hide instead of skin. Winter had thinned and flattened the undergrowth making the cache easier to access. The Fatdog was told to “STAY!” as I picked my way gingerly through long thorny stems of native bramble to reach our prize. Dripping blood I returned to The Fatdog sucking the back of my thumb. Bloody geocaching!
A few hundred metres further on at Blair Point the path suddenly plummeted downwards in a series of steps back to shore level. In the distance at the end of the bay, the white gleaming buildings of West Wemyss drew the eye and brought to mind the Mediterranean in June rather than Fife in winter.
The beach was wide and covered by an uninspiring mixture of scrub, stones and debris, so we stuck to the path next to the woods. It did however throw up the oddest site of the day, a young couple loading rusty bits of metal into a gleaming supermarket shopping trolley.
“Art work or tidy up?” I asked.
“Beach tidy…and a bit of scrap cash on the side” the young guy replied.
I looked at the small, heavily corroded, bits and pieces of rubbish stuffed into the trolley. Sadly, I didn’t hold much hope of a windfall for them, what remained of the metal was heavily oxidised and crumbling. Small heaps of rust covered debris littered the beach. They were smilingly enthusiastic and had certainly gathered together a fair amount of scrap metal, but it was going to be murder pushing the filled trolley from the beach onto the path and from there back up to their pick-up. I wished them good luck and began to move on when, from somewhere in the depths of my pocket, my erratic GPS took a beeping fit. Another cache site loomed GCX54E . Oh bugger! It was right at the rear of the beach-cleaners pick-up. I decided it could wait until the return journey. We didn’t want any misunderstandings which could prove injurious to my health.
A few hundred metres further on our luck improved. Now into the swing of things the enthusiastic GPS beeped triumphantly once more. Nearby a magnetic cache lay hidden GC1N8EA , stuck to a metal fencepost.
Again the paper register was soggy. I carefully replaced the cache but at the same time disturbed a flock of small brightly coloured birds, which swooped away from their perch on the adjacent bush, escaping from the two unwelcome intruders.
It was time for a photo – and a mental note to rummage through the bird book back at the house. I had no idea what they were.
West Wemyss proved to be a picture postcard, white-washed, harbour village. There had been a lot of renovation going on both on the town and on the coastal defences. In fact all three of today’s villages had excellent sea walls with a footpath promenade running behind. Easy walking for me and FD with no lead required.
Waves pounded the rocks below the walls. The rumbling, crashing, sound of water dragged big stones was to stay with us from here almost all the way to our destination and back. Out on the swell of the rising tide flocks of birds floated just out of sensible camera range. I took a couple of snaps anyway. Again identification would have to wait until I could enlarge the photos.
Once out of West Wemyss red sandstone cliffs of varying height loomed above the coastal path. Set on top of the tallest was the private Wemyss Castle. We discovered our 3rd cache GCX546 at the foot of the castle’s sandstone boundary wall, a conventional wee plastic box which afforded me the opportunity to drop off a geocoin that had been sitting in the house since before the snows.
The land now began to climb towards East Wemyss with cliff top warning signs of impending death should you dare approach too closely. The crashing waves where now far below us somewhere out of site beyond fence and cliff edge.
East Wemyss was a bit of a disappointment visually. The coastal path designers had obviously taken this into account as the path suddenly took a sharp left detour. Straight on lay the scrap-yard. Try as I might I could not raise enthusiasm for a quick visit.
Thankfully this was, in the main, screened by trees but it was obvious coastal path walkers were being given the sanitised approach to the town. Although not the most exciting looking of villages its little promenade will be fairly pleasant once building work is complete.
From the sea wall I could now get a better view of the birds floating just off shore – Eider Ducks. I remember seeing them further along the coast at this time last year.
The constant stopping was playing havoc with FD’s digestive system,
“Howw, howw, hooooww!” bleated The Fatdog, her stomach now insisting that lunch must be imminent.
“In a wee while” I promised (unconvincingly) as I strode off towards the end of the village. FD grunted and grumped along behind.
We were now only a couple of hundred metres from our goal. The East Wemyss Caves. The caves been used for thousands of years. One of their later uses was as a doocot (hence Doo Caves) and the local landowner’s pigeons were by all accounts much prized. Most of the caves have “Keep Out” signs warning of unstable rock, but the East Doo Cave was still accessible.
I have to thank pete37038 who provided the earth cache related to this location GC20X17 . The detailed descriptions of both the caves and their geological setting given on Geocaching.com were excellent. Not a conventional “wee plastic box”, an earth cache generally involves answering questions and providing evidence of a visit. I measured (guessed) the caves height, I felt the rock and I took photos. Hopefully, having sent an email to the cache setter, I will be able to claim my first earth cache.
The waves were very close here and almost drowned out my telephone call to J. Only a few metres away they thundered against the shore, churning the beach boulders over and over, grinding anything unfortunate to be caught between them to fine sand. There were still a couple of hours until high tide and, given the proximity of the water, I imagine that Spring Tides may see the caves flooded.
Today’s time constraint dictated we ate “on the hoof”. I unpeeled my snickers bar and stuck a Bonio in The Fatdog’s gob to silence the by now incessant “Howw, howw, hooooww!” One member of the team is very particular about meal times.
The sun, which had faded earlier on, reappeared. I didn’t mind the glare in my eyes as we began our walk westwards back to the car, the welcome warmth more than making up for the need for squinting. The sunlight stayed with us all the way back to Dysart, allowing the successful retaking of a number of photos.
The beach-cleaners pick-up was gone by the time we reached the cache that we’d omitted earlier. After a few minutes fruitless hunting I realised I was trying to be too clever interpreting the clue…then found the wee box almost instantly.
The Fatdog was marginally more tolerant of our stops by now and deigned to have her photo taken.
As the sun dropped somewhere behind Kircaldy our walk was coming to an end. It had been another fantastic trip along the Fife coast with once again all our expectations met. Hopefully we’ll get another sunny day for a second crack at it before winter ends.