The small town of Newburgh (pronounced “new-burra”), a mere 5 miles away from my doorstop here in Auchtermuchty, Fife, is rapidly teaching me the value of looking past a community’s surface blah-ness to discover its real personality, like taking the time to talk to the shy kid in the back of the class that is in reality scribbling down masterpieces in his notebook. I approached this town in my first week in Scotland, simply because it was the farthest I was willing to drive in my early days of UK driving terror, determined to keep myself entertained for an afternoon, acquiring a decent donut at the bare minimum. I left that day with an enriched understanding of the history of linoleum manufacturing, a new ball of homespun cashmere yarn, and the taste of my first cream donut lingering on my lips.
Today, feeling I’d already conquered the town, I grabbed my partner and headed towards it’s guardian hill, Ormiston. Armed with “Kingdom of Fife, 40 Coast and Country Walks” by Dan Bailey, a book that has become my little get-me-out-of-here-for-an-afternoon evangelist, we parked on the west side of town and began our walk. It’s strategy of ascent was to head straight up the hill without ceremony, which immediately endeared my partner to it. The endless feet of snow that has been falling from the sky in the last 2 months has all melted in just the last few days, so no matter where you stood, you were either IN an impromptu lake or IN an expanded girth of a burn (stream). I got over the wet feet resistance right away and learned to exaggerate for comic enjoyment the slipping about in mud and sheep poop. The views of the Ochils, the River Tay, and Clatchard Craig Quarry were nice but I was the most pleased when I looked up onto the slope of a neighboring hill and beheld my very first ever ‘crop circle’! (photo above) I can’t figure out what it is of. Maybe a yeti picking flowers off a saguaro cactus? A stalk-hugging bear? Dunno, but was thrilled to see the unification of art and agriculture in such a sleepy little town.
Down from the hill, we headed towards the ruins of Lindores Abbey to satiate my fondness for walls (which is all that is left of the dear place). Also in the ruins we found a recently hung tire swing, which I would have given a little spin if it wouldn’t have soiled my precious Paramo trousers, and what appeared to be the remains of an open casket, which I also would have lain in if it weren’t for the pants. Stifled by the love of my own gear, I was. But these were considerably odd things to find in an abbey ruin, and we kind of got the feeling we weren’t really supposed to be there and headed towards a trail along the river banks.
The River Tay was flowing with the majesty of the Nile with all of that snowmelt it was shouldering. Wide, rapid, and swallowing the limits of its banks and reeds, it also had apparently swallowed a little boat of some kind near the path. I’m sure it had already been a wreck, but wondered how much of it was usually visible, what it looked like, and of course whether or not there was a little chest of treasure in it. Today just wasn’t the day to scuba the Tay, so after a quick turn on the swing in the park, it was back to the car and Muchty.
Next weekend: 4 days in the Black and Red Cuillin on the Isle of Skye! Will I conquer “The Bad Step”?