A Silk Purse from A Sow’s Ear

23 Sep

An Afternoon on the Fife Coastal Path East of Cellardyke

A rushed (and unprepared for) lunchtime start led to a severe case of backpack rage as I tore various badly fitting items out of the various sized compartments of my Kata camera pack to stuff them into the single cavity of my orange Lowe alpine…only to haul them back out again to stuff them unceremoniously back into the overflowing Kata!  Eventually the dedicated camera backpack contained all the necessary items for the trip…if not in the most logical of pockets.  My mood had turned foul; we’d lost half an hour already.


…there was a refuse lorry that crawled its way towards the East Neuk of Fife who wasn’t for letting anyone past.  I was stuck behind that for miles.


…driving through the old narrow lanes of Cellardyke, and only a few hundred metres from my start point, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d left FD’s water supply back at the house.


…it was turning into a piggin’ awful day!

By a strange coincidence (and more than a moderate amount of clumsy literary contrivance) it turned out to be a real pig of a day!  Just outside Cellardyke, in the fields rising upwards from the foreshore, huge snuffling pink grunters littered the slope, closely followed by squealing nursery groups of bouncing mini-grunters.  We stopped to watch, or at least I did.

A whole load of "grunters" Note the various hangers-on.

The Fatdog ignored the oversized, food gobbling, creatures.  She had been dragged to Fat Club and was suitably outraged at the implication.  She turned her head away from the tubby grunting masses to face the sea.

Contrary to my expectations there was a total absence of pig-pong.  In fact I don’t recall much of any sort of smell coming from the trotter tramped fields.  Unlike Cellardyke itself.

It's pretty...but it don't 'alf smell!

The most noticeable feature of the Cellardyke car park was the nose tweaking stench, the deeply rotten fetid stink that you fervently hoped was merely rotting seaweed and not the contents of a poorly maintained Victorian sanitary system.  The picturesque natural pool at the edge of town smelled like a Delhi Games privvy

Heading East from the car park

The weather promised much but delivered little.  The cloud began to lift and thin and a tentative sun threatened to appear.  It peeked out briefly from behind grey clouds but reckoned that was as far as it was prepared to go.  It was a maybe-sun.  Not a great day for photographing the landscape.  Mind you it wasn’t a particularly great landscape to photograph.  Sea, flattish rocks, path, then gently sloping fields.  Once away from the old town of Cellardyke the scenery for the next mile or so was a trifle turgid…the pig farm being the obvious exception.

I looked seaward for something interesting at which to point the camera and found a cormorant family perched on a nearby rock.


A Brief Treatise on the Observing of Burdz

My birthday binoculars worked well.  On occasions I’ve carried an ancient inherited pair but the weight had been horrendous as had been the well-knackered focussing mechanism.  The clear images produced by my new Pentax pair were, by comparison, an absolute joy.

Conversely my efforts to identify the various bird species inhabiting the shoreline proved not to be an absolute joy.  In fact they were somewhat pitiful.

I could see the bird (a glorious start) and mentally noted its size, shape, colour etc, but when it came to checking to see what variety it was; by the time I’d pulled my glasses back down from my forehead, rummaged into the pack for my Dorling Kindersley Illustrated Book of Burdz, found roughly what type it might be…I’d forgotten what the feckin’ thing looked like in the first place!  This process was to be repeated numerous times with very little improvement at identification on my part.

Over the wall with the grace of a well honed athlete!

The "well honed athlete" pauses for The Press

As we stuttered our way along the coastal path, me stopping every 50m or so to look at something new The Fatdog, who (in the past) used to stand absolutely still whenever I stopped, developed a routine of collapsing dramatically in a sighing heap every time either the camera or the binoculars were hauled out.  Clearly someone’s patience was wearing thin.

How does it do that?

The highlight of the walk had to be the unexpected sandstone cliff jutting from the now raised fields, outwards towards the shore.  Weathered layers of yellows and pinks decorated wave formed columns, holes and caves, all crammed into one small outcrop.  It seemed as random as Ayers Rock with nothing similar on view in either direction.  The Fatdog seemed to enjoy the exploration as much as I, sniffing her way around the various nooks and crannies until she was satisfied that there was no food left behind by previous visitors…or no previous visitors left behind that might have doubled as food.

The weathered sandstone "outcrop"

Had there been just a touch of bright, low sunshine even I could have managed a couple of decent photos.  As it was I had to make do with the pathetic glimmer of today’s maybe-sun.

The Watcher over the Water

Reminiscent of Easter a dog-rough sort of way.

I checked the watch.  It was fairly obvious we weren’t going to make Crail and back to Cellardyke before dark, having dithered about so much with the camera and the binoculars.  My stomach was telling me it was time to head back.  The Fatdog’s stomach was rumbling in agreement.

Time to be heading back

Cormorant Rock and the Isle of May

As we began our trek back to “The Tank” the maybe-sun finally fizzled out altogether and daylight began to wind down towards the end of another day.  At an old stone stile we stopped for tea and biccies.  A definite chill now crept off the sea in the gathering breeze.  I pulled on my fleece and, sitting tea in hand, a calm cosiness descended.  Today there was a definite sense of peace and of winding down…no doubt in the knowledge that the car was only a short stroll away.

On the way home.

A cloud of goldfinches spun up into the air...oh how I wish I had had the bigger lens on at the time!

The last shot before the light goes

As we wandered back past the porker production plant my thoughts turned to how the day had eventually turned out.  All in all I reckoned we’d made a decent fist of what had started out as, in this case, a piggies dinner.  By way of celebration I tossed a treat to the ambling Fatdog.

“Oink!” came back the happy reply.


Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Fife Coastal Path


5 responses to “A Silk Purse from A Sow’s Ear

  1. Linda

    September 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    The pics of the piglets are very cute. The sandstone rock formations are quite strange, as is the ‘Easter Island’ imposter! 😀

  2. fatdogwalks

    September 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks Linda…I was hoping for the cute and cuddly vote…things are becoming desperate with the hillwalking now much reduced 😆

  3. Simon

    September 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Nice rock pics.

  4. annienz

    September 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I’m sure if you’d offered to capture & cook any of the burdz (with, of course, the assistance of her choice of 3 star chef) FD would have shown much more interest and the flopping & sighing would have been avoided. A dog has priorities, after all.

  5. fatdogwalks

    September 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Point taken Annie. 😆 The Fatdog is very taken with Marks and Spencers Rotisserie Style Roast Chicken. Whether she associates the basted type with the feathery flappy type is open to question. 😀


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