Tuesday, 17 February 2015

A walk in the woods in Fife

Walking in the woods at daybreak. A simple spartan ritual; a heavenly indulgence.

A circuit of four or five miles from the door of the house I grew up in, I've walked it hundreds of times over the years.

Coal trains once rocked and rumbled along the railway north of the woods. Then after bitter times the mines closed and the tracks were lifted, leaving only old ballast slowly reclaimed by grass, between blazing banks of August willowherb. In later years the track bed became a hardcore path, then a tarmaced cycle way.

Progress. All around, cars multiplied, and houses, and new roads, supermarkets, retail parks, more aircraft overhead, computers, commuters and offices, more stuff and more stress. The woods conceal the distant beginnings of the long boom. There are hidden mine shafts and tunnels where coal was extracted by hand.

But up here I can still find what I'm looking for. So can foxes. badgers, roe deer, and a host of birds, keeping the neighbourhood in touch with itself.

After months in the city the first thing I notice is not the silence, it's the sound - of living non-human things.

Wintering curlew wheel in to feed amongst the winter wheat, with sparse cries.

The magic hour is fading into broad daylight, and it's time to go.


  1. Wonderful. I really enjoyed that.
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks Alan. I used to do this walk a lot before I left Scotland - only really appreciated it after I left!

  2. Lovely post, and pictures. Funnily enough, among other things, I was lamenting the loss of an old railway line in my own most recent post. I never find railways - even the busy lines - to be quite the intrusion that roads are.

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for commenting. I agree, railways are much less intrusive, visually and in terms of noise as well, and are reclaimed very quickly by nature when disused. This particular one used to run from Stirling to Dunfermline. It was axed by Beeching as a passenger route with part of it remaining open until the mid 1980s to service local collieries.