Opening the Door: Day 1
What an exciting day it has turned out to be … new discoveries and winsome ponderings. Where shall I begin?
Perhaps with a question about the photo above – do windfarms blight our landscapes? If it is one as above I rather like to see them – I certainly don’t find they spoil the landscape – however if it was at the concentration they are at in some other areas of Scotland then yes I think they become intrusive. For me though the bigger issues are around whether they are really efficient at generating power – if they are we do need to use alternatives to reliance on fossil fuels and I am not keen on nuclear power.
One of my physical goals is to walk further with the dog every morning – as Winter goes on I find the dark mornings harder and harder to deal with and there is a tendency for me to be rushing because I stayed an extra 5 minutes in bed. This year I want to keep a routine – especially if I am going to be working as self employed when discipline will be critical – starting with not being lax about the dog walk.
I caught my usual bus and bought the East of Scotland Megarider which will take me into Fife. More roadworks and road closures have popped up over the weekend making the bus later for the service it goes straight on to do.
At Seagate Bus Station in Dundee I decided to catch the X7 service to Montrose – never been on this route before and it was a little disappointing to be on a rattly old coach instead of one of the new fancy shaped ones with the leather seats and WiFi – never mind I will have to catch it again when it is a new coach! By the time I got to Montrose I could see from the Basin that the tide was still well low.
I ambled around until I found a map … I do have assisted GPS on my phone but using it munches the batteries so I try to use other sources of information first. I wandered through a graveyard – they have rather cleverly made a walkway through with attractive modern arches with lights over head which tie into the fancy arch with the light at the far end.
I continued towards the beach and was greeted by an off duty guide dog taking her morning constitutional and her little terrier pal. I found a signpost and turned off in the direction indicated for the beach; this took me across some scrubby land with small trees which felt a little isolated and led to a car park. No further signs at the road where I emerged – just a chalet park across the road. I knew if I went left I would get to the “Splash” venue but I hadn’t intended to go that far north. I did see paths through the dunes, but these were good size dunes and still wet with dew and I didn’t really want to scramble up only to find I needed to return.
I turned left. I found a gap in the dunes eventually but the notices warned not to disturb the rock defences and there was no way down. I went a little further up the road and at “Splash” found a small esplanade with a viewing platform and steps to the beach – and wow what a beach!
I climbed the little spiral staircase to the viewing platform
… now here is one of my ponders – the conversation in my head went a little like this …
Why do I have a neck strap on my camera when I rarely put it round my neck? It gets in the way. I did use it today to go down a spiral staircase so I had both hands free – so obviously that is why I have it!
The steps down to the beach were steep, shallow and had many chipped/repaired edges – my favourite sort of outdoor steps – oh and a missing handrail on the bottom section! but I got there eventually.
I saw a woman on the beach with two dogs who I had been following in the town so I decided to see where she exited the beach since she had obviously come a shorter way than me. On the way I did see these little tracks everywhere in an area of wet sand … would love to know who’s footprint they are (ponder number 2)
And here is a ponder for readers … with the answer at the end … who did this?
Enough ponders for a few minutes – concentrate please! I found some steps off the beach, well buried in blown sand on the lower half! At the top there were two clear paths – one over the dunes alongside a fence and the other around the top edge of the beach and I could see a rock with a notice on – so I headed that way. The path started off as a chipped firm path and then it became soft sand, the notice turned out to be a plaque about the shore protection work at Montrose.
I assumed that the lighthouse I could see would be called Ferryden lighthouse – but no – it is Scurdieness Lighthouse.
So here is another ponder – where do some of the place name words we have come from? I mean Ness is a frequent one in Scotland and Northern England – this means a promontory or headland – and when I was checking that out I found a link to this lighthouse location … so Scurdie is a local reference to the volcanic rock thereabouts. I will be adding this to my places to walk to – although possibly not this week!
I enjoyed following this path as the beach dandered into the South Esk estuary. I disturbed a bunny in the dunes behind the path (didn’t sit still for his picture taken – obviously shy) and the sound of the waves gave way to a low but not unpleasant or intrusive hum of industry. There was clear evidence of new dunes forming on the beachward side of the path.
I continued meandering until I found the grave of Seadog Bamse – if you do not know his story please have a read and if you should visit Montrose as well as his grave there is a recently unveiled statue to him close to the end of the bridge. Then the path stopped at a road. There was a sign pointing to where I had come from saying Beach Access and another to direct people wanting to visit Bamse’s last resting place – but nothing to tell me which way to go to get out of ‘dockland’. I was quite content wandering around between semi derelict buildings and meandering from road to road, finding I had walked half a mile to stand 100 yards from where I was! but not everyone would be. Montrose you have a fabulous beach and a lovely path along the estuary – how about marking them a bit better to make people feel welcome and encourage visitors to enjoy them?
I am only halfway through my walk here …
I eventually passed the building site where the new lifeboat station is going catching site of a juvenile cormorant stood on a tall pole in the river; I took pictures of boats in the harbour and I walked across the bridge – and the moving water didn’t cause me a problem! With my pork and black pudding sausage sandwich (I didn’t intend to drop a piece of sausage but some pooch will think all his birthdays happened today) and a Crisp Tangy Cox apple in hand I headed to Rossie Island and and out towards Maryton to the Montrose Basin Visitor Centre run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
I have to be honest, the visitor centre is beautifully constructed and the displays well thought out and I know that the charity has to pay for it’s centres but I thought £4 was a bit pricey for the facilities. The toilets were immaculately clean; the small cafe was okay and the coffee was served in a glass beaker – very attractive. There are telescopes, binoculars, guide books and large screens showing the images from the observation camera. There were finches swinging on bird feeders clearly visible by the centre. I could see seals hauled out on the sandbanks using the telescopes as well as cormorants and eider ducks. I didn’t visit the hide but there is one there available for visitors. I was disappointed that I couldn’t access any of the outdoor space around the visitor centre; however I was very excited to see wading birds I did not recognise and identify them as redshanks – and even more excited when I realised I had photographed one earlier on the bridge edge of the basin.
Curlew, South Esk Redshank, Montrose Basin
I caught the 30 back into Montrose – having walked around 6 miles to get to the Centre. I found a cafe for lunch – a nourishing warming bowl of lentil soup and green tea to drink. When the delayed number 30 arrived at the end of the afternoon (after we had been entertained by a small child beguiling everyone at the bus stop) I went on to Brechin and then caught the 21B on it’s non school day timing. After a half hour wait in a by now chilly Forfar I was on a 20 and homebound.
- Walked – lots;
- Met some strange new things – including a very furry plant which resembled a lettuce and found out some amazing facts about the amount that wading birds eat every day;
- Stuck to the no sugar no refined carbs eating;
- Climbed onto a viewing platform with no wobblyness;
- Found out the origins of some words and planned some new walks;
- Used two bus services I have never travelled on before; and
- Forgot to perform my Tai Chi whilst out! … I have done some of it since I got home but by now I am stiff from the day’s exercise!
Today’s statistics: Cost: £37.50; Miles travelled: 97.6; Steps taken: 18,480; Pictures taken: 117
Weather guru … what about this boat … she is nicely appointed with lovely shiny stainless railings …
And for those of you still pondering meet the sand ribbon maker …
I never expected to find a snail on the sand dunes … but there it was embroidering it’s slime trail with sand – fascinating.
I took the parafoil kite with me again today but didn’t fly her … perhaps tomorrow … I’ll just go check the weather and think about destinations!