I can see clearly now the rain has gone...  Nope,
actually,  my sight is a bit blurry from too much red wine last night. The rain has gone though. Nick and Susan have the luxury of a leisurely Saturday morning. Nick starts checking out the horses on the internet, which Susan tells me is his Saturday ritual.

But I have to get on the road and make the most of the weather. So it is out of the house and past the flash cars on the corner, before getting a bus into Haymarket Station. Again there is a train almost immediately to North Queensferry. For a tiny station in a small village it seems amazingly well served.

Not that I am complaining. Back we judder across the railway bridge, the road bridge looking as elegant as ever in the morning sunshine.

I am already most of the way up Ferry Hill and I set off along a quiet road lined with houses. Though these soon give way and I start to get views, North Queensferry is on a little promontory and there are views to the Firth on either side as I am effectively on a small ridge, first to the East and then as that becomes obscured by the edge of a quarry, the veiw opens to the East over Rosythe Naval shipyard.

I pass a little wired off corridor festooned with barbed wire on the top with a sign that says "view point" This I cannot resist. It simply leads a few meters to a wired off end where you can see into the quarry. Clearly not many people bother as there are brambles growing through the concrete flooring.

The road winds sharply downhill to JamesTown, a farily flyblown, rusty industrial looking little place.  Here I take a road back under the railway and then negotiate a couple of roundabouts to get the B road to Rosythe.

It takes a while as the main road is absolutely packed. A Saturday morning traffic jam, almost of people trying to get over the Forth bridge. Going to Edinburgh for shopping and stuff, I suppose.  I wonder what it is like on weekday rush hours.

This runs parallel to the A 90 to start with and I meet an elderly man with a dog who has crossed a wee bridge across the main road. I say hello and he ignores me steadfastly. Just as, come to think of it, the young guy at the roundabout who was the only other person I have seen not in a car since leaving the station.

Friendly people round here. No, I tell a lie, there was a woman with a dog in Queensferry itself who acknowledged my existence as we passed each other.

Oh well, I walk on, it is back uphill for a while and then the road starts to descend and I can see the start of Rosythe. I pass a sign declaring that it is a garden city, which surprises me.

I come across a bakers and stop for supplies. It is bustling and I have to wait to get a fruit scone, a Scots pie and some rolls.

I pass a garden. Completely concreted over but not for a car. This one is decorated by gnomes and all sorts of concrete animals and figures, cemented to the ground.  I think about taking a photo but have walked on before I do, but then I come across another one, which has even more of these painted, cement animals, in this case arranged around four square flower beds. Must be a popular style of garden round here. Maybe the two are in competition.

If Rosythe has a centre it eludes me. The nearest thing I see is a taxi rank in front of an large pub with at least half a dozen taxis. This surprises me even more than the garden city sign as there is no sign of major shops or, well, anything much at all that would need a taxi rank.

On I go. The road is busy and gets a bit roundaboutious, but once I negotiate that I am walking by some playing fields and a golf course as I head into Dunfermline.

I pass a rook on the ground behaving like a carrion crow. Completely urbanised and unworried about the cars or me passing by a few meters away. That is something I don't remember seeing before though it is common enough in crows., particularly in London.

A get a glimpse of Dunfermline as it is on a hill ahead, and I can see a big church and other old and interesting looking buildings.

On a bus shelter someone, who seems to be called Daz, has expressed their opinion. "Famen is over," it reads, "Why don't they go home." Where is the "famen" over? In Poland, Pakistan or perhaps Iraq? In England even? Daz does not elaborate.

And so on up the hill to Dunfermline. I reach a final roundabout by the railway line and get confused. The footpath disapears but the viaduct holding up the railway to my right is fenced off so I shrug and go  under the arch by the roundabout.

Big mistake. This takes me to a dual carriageway with fast cars, the central reservation and the edges thick with spiny shrubs. I beat a retreat but at least have seen a footbridge.

So I go past the fenced off bit of the railway viaduct and find the bridge. Might be better signed that, Dunfermline council!

After that there is a steep climb up to the centre of town but at least I am past the traffic. And the centre is pleasant with some historic buildings and I get glimpses of view south down side streets. I almost stop in Marks and Spencers for refreshment but I spot an independent cafe that looks promising so go there for a cappuccino and a bite to eat.

After that I am keen to get on but decide I have to go back down the hill a little bit to see the ruined abbey, the great church and the remnants of the royal palace. Dunfermline was once the capital of Scotland and it is a pleasant suprise.  There are some really interesting looking gardens too but I resist the temptation and head on out of town to pick up another disused railway.

After trudging through a housing estate I find it. This one, like so many others, has been turned into a cycle track. However unlike the other ones I have used on this journey it has been metalled. I set off in what is now warm sunshine and quite soon I start to get pains in my shins. Not unusually for me, unofortunately but I wonder if three days on the trot of tarmac has had a bad effect.

From time to time, therefore, I go onto the grass verge. This is cut and OK walking but less fast that the tarmac, but I do it now and then in the hope that the very uneveness of the verge will make me use different muscles and mitigate the shin splints somehow.

There are a fair few cyclists on this route. Neither the lycra clad fanatics of the Grand Union Canal for the most part, nor the overweight people I saw wobbling down the Cloud Trail into Derby. These seem mostly to be local people, on workaday bikes, and they look like they are going into Dunfermline to do some shopping or, perhaps watch the football.

They tend to greet me anyway so clearly not all Fifers are as miserable as the old man with his dog this morning.

If the signage before that dual carrigeway by the railway was inadequate I have no complaints here. There are two sorts that appear at regular intervals. One lot is infomative and gives distances in miles. But there are also basic posts that give a distance in kilometers. It says to A which I hope might mean Alloa though by my calulations it is more likely the distance to Clackmannon.

Regular mileposts are a mixed blessing, I have discovered.  For navigation they are great of course and they can be encouraging if you are doing well. If you are going slow though, and there are a lot of them, they can be the opposite.  This is the third day I have had them at least once a mile, on the Cloud Trail to Derby and along the North Shore of Kielder Water were puntilious mile posts. But these are kilometer posts so there are even more of them. And the first one is something like fifteen K so there are a hell of a lot of them.

I am in the country and there are sometimes good views down towards the Firth to the south or over the Ochils rising to the north. The only towns and villages nearbye are small: Gowkhill, Carnock, Oakley.

And  yet it feels quite urban. There is the sound of motorbike scrambling or something like that, high whining engines, for a long time.  I come across grafitti from time to time and as the route passes Oakley I pass a bunch of guys with a staffie drinking super strength lager. At least from the cycle way it looks like the sort of country that would be either rural or well off commuters who work in Edinburgh, but going by the traffic and the graffiti there is an industrial vibe around these little towns.

All the same, after Oakley the old railway goes through woods and is as pretty as the railway down the river North Tyne was, if you ignore the bridge covered by homophobic graffiti in which someone has accused what seems to be most of their acquaintance of being gay or lesbian in yellow paint.

I pass a field of fine looking horses. There must be twenty at least and all look beautiful.

But if the views are pleasant I am suffering all the same. My shin splints are getting worse especially in the left leg. And though I leave the graffiti and towns behind it is a long, long, pull through the countryside of Fife, and then Clackmannanshire in the warm September sunshine.

At least the Ochils look spectacular as the shadows lengthen and the light starts to become amber. I had originally intended to go through them en-route to Crief but I could not see a good route that was not road heavy and the lure of the old railway line won out in the end.

That and the fact that there is a Youth Hostel in Stirling. I have spent a lot of money on B&Bs and Hotels already on this trip so that was a factor.

Anyway, tarmac or no the way my leg is hurting I am glad not to be climbing that escarpment today. At least this route is flat even if the surface is punishing.

And it is punishing. Every step is hurting. I decide to stop at the next seat I see. Unfortunately this route is not like the one from Northampton to Market Harborough where there were seats every couple of hundred meters. I go for miles without seeing one or anything that would do instead apart from the grass verge. At last I find a seat and take some ibroprofin.

I had been resisting this. When my dodgy knees play up I am happy enough to swallow ibroprofin because I know that exercise, however much it hurts, actually helps. I doubt this is the same for the shin splints and if I take pain killers it will mask the pain and maybe make me push on further than I should.

I hope to make Alloa today but I can probably get a bus from Clackmannan if need be.

After a bit to eat some water to drink and the magic ibroprofin caplet, I set off again. Hobbling now, it has to be said.

There is a long bend in the cycleway and then a straight all the way into Clackmannan. And as I come down it I get a glimpse of something in the far distance. I think it might be Stirling Castle and the binoculars confirm it.

The gateway to the Highlands is in sight, even as I seem to have worn my legs out.

An even more welcome sight is Clackmannan, over some fields to the south west, with an impressive looking tower dominating a hillside.

Hobbling painfully I pass some old works where kids play gleefully.  According to the map the trail stops outside Clackmannan but the old railway continues. Can I carry on or not? Just as I reach the end of the metalled track I am overtaken by a couple of cyclists. There is an opening though the path ahead is grassy. They continue. A good sign. So I begin to follow them.

But then I see them stopping up ahead as the vegetation rises. They seem to be considering it. And then deciding it is no go, they turn back.

Well, I cannot afford to have to backtrack, so reluctantly I turn and take the footpath along a road into Clackmannen.  I don't go all the way in but take a road off that leads through some woods and over a river. Then there is a path to Alloa.

More tarmac, unfortunately. They build their paths to last round here. But it is pleasant and good to not be on the main road which I can see a little way away. The path takes me to a very new and modern housing estate and there I lose it. The way marked on the map seems to lead to a private cul de sac and looking for it to the North I find myself shunted off towards a giant Morrisons.

Oh well. With some difficulty I find my way out of the car park and then on the road to the centre of Alloa. I am on the main road for a bit but then there is a side street.

I pass a  house with a collection of concrete animals that puts even the one I passed in Rosythe to shame.  A truly impressive display.

Then I pass Recreation Park, the grounds of Alloa Athletic. Then a world of roundabouts, modern  warehouses and more superstores and I am at the station.

There is a train waiting and, despite the pain in my leg I run, or at least hobble quickly and just catch it for the short journey to Stirling.



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