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2013 Ramble Reports

Faskally Wood - Pitlochry 09 October 2013

The coach carrying members of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers headed northwards up the A9 out of Perth on their way to Faskally Woods lying north-west of Pitlochry. Although the weather had turned a bit autumnal with a cold north wind, the ramblers had the good fortune to enjoy the sun for a brief period during a comfort stop at Dunkeld. They boarded the coach again for the short journey to Pitlochry and

Faskally Woods where they met up with the vans carrying the electric mobility scooters. and also more club members who had arrived with their own transport.

Faskally Wood forms part of the Tay Forest Park (" Big Tree Country") with some of the pines being 100-200years old.

The ramblers grouped up then listened to the ramble overview given by the ramble leader before heading out of the car park and down the "Dunmore Trail" leading into the woods. The scooters coped well with the gravel surfaced pathway covered with autumn leaves, although more care was required on the downhill gradients and parts of the trail where the unprotected verges sloped away steeply down to the lower level of the forest. After a short while the trail emerged from the mature forest to continue along the reed covered banks of Loch Dunmore.

During late October and early November, this area of Faskally Wood is better known as "The Enchanted Forest" when the daylight autumn colours of the wood are transformed at night into a wonderland of different colours produced by the many floodlights and pathway lights installed along the trails. The surface of the loch is also covered with colour changing spherical lights and the bridge converted into a tunnel of light. With the addition of background sound and music this leads to create what is a totally magical experience.

The ramblers were now following the trail as it made its way upwards through the wood on the far side of the loch from where there are good views of the wooden bridge and ornamental boathouse with glimpses of Faskally House through the trees. Faskally House is currently used as a training school for foresters and countryside rangers.

The ramblers continued to be amazed by the diameter of some of the really mature trees in the wood as they headed down towards Loch Faskally which is an artificial loch created in 1947 by building a dam across the River Tummel at Pitlochry as part of the hydro-electric scheme. The dam also incorporates a "Fish Ladder" at one side to allow salmon a route up the river to reach their spawning grounds.

There were now spectacular views across the loch to the forest covered hills on the other side forming screens of autumn colours in the afternoon sun. This was the perfect time to enjoy a spot of lunch by the water`s edge. After a short break, the ramblers turned back along the outgoing route for a short distance before turning into the woods and following a minor road which eventually led them back to the car park.

Everyone agreed that this relatively short ramble had really demonstrated the outstanding beauty of the highlands at this time of year.with the changing of the seasons.

The ramblers then boarded the coach which took them to a highland hostelry in Pitlochry where they enjoyed refreshments and a heart warming meal What a perfect way to round of an enjoyable day and also the last ramble of the 2013 season.

Fife Coastal Path - Inverkeithing to Dalgety Bay Tuesday 24 September 2013

The morning turned out to be mild and overcast with a slight drizzle from the remains of an early morning mist as twenty plus members using mobility scooters along with their friends and volunteers headed out of the Inverkeithing Swifts Football Club car park and joined the coastal path at the East Ness of Inverkeithing Bay.

This section of the coastal path between Inverkeithing and St. David`s Harbour has a very good surface and is well used by all members of the community. As the ramblers proceeded along the path, faint outlines of the Forth Rail Bridge were visible through the morning mist lying over the river. A large oil tanker was moored at the offshore jetty while loading its cargo of petroleum products produced from North Sea oil.

A short distance further along the route, the group came upon the remains of an overhead conveyor which had once served to transport material, which had been excavated from the nearby quarry, over to vessels waiting to load at the jetty.

The pathway narrowed slightly as it followed the contours of the shoreline . It had sparse woodland on the left hand side , good views over the river on the right and straight ahead over the bay to St. David`s Harbour. The ramblers enjoyed the picturesque views as they made their way around the bay coming eventually to the new housing developments around the harbour basin.

Shortly after passing the houses along Harbour Place, the pathway`s surface changed to more of a rougher dirt track for a short distance before ascending a tricky incline leading on to "The Bridges" a public road in the township of Dalgety Bay.

From this location the ramble leader led the group on a detour away from the coast and followed a route which displayed many of the different executive house types ,each with its own architectural features.,

before finally rejoining the coastal path at River Walk.

The development of Dalgety Bay started around 1962 after the closure of the Royal Naval Airstation (HMS Merlin ) located on part of the Donibristle Estate.originally owned by the "Earls of Moray" who built Donibristle House around 1700 with the L-shaped wings being added twenty years later. The ramblers were now passing the entrance to Donibristle House with its elaborate wrought iron gates and screens stretching between the two L-shaped wings which are also joined by an underground passage. Unfortunately only the original wings of the house remain as the main block of the house burned down in 1858.

Today the original main block has been replaced by an apartment building and the original wings and nearby stables restored as housing.

The ramblers kept to the coastal route until turning off on to a grassy area beside "New Harbour " located at Doniibristle Bay where they stopped for lunch.

As they chatted amongst each other they also had time to admire two yachts on the slipway nearby and also the views up river to the Forth Rail Bridge. It was so peaceful and tranquil at this spot that the only occasional sounds were from the seabirds looking for a spot of lunch.

After a while, the ramblers reluctantly had to re-assemble and start making their way back along " The Wynd ", passing " The Courtyard " with its housing developed from the original stables belonging to Donibristle House.

At the nearby rock promontory of Downing Point , remains of the concrete plinths on which world war two gun batteries ,searchlights and barrage balloon anchorage points were located as part of the coastal defences, can still be seen to this day.

The group returned along the coastal path at a leisurely pace ,enjoying the clear views across the river now that the morning mists had completely vanished .

Eventually they arrived back at the car park having completed a very satisfying day`s ramble.

Once again a very big " thank you " must go to all the volunteers, and drivers who transport the scooters to and from the venues, also for making sure that all the scooter batteries are fully charged in preparation for the next ramble.

Leven to Silverburn Park 09 September 2013

The morning turned out to be dry,mild and very calm, with the sky slightly overcast, as the members and volunteers of Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers grouped up in the car park at the end of Leven promenade prior to setting off on the ramble to Silverburn Park.

The ramblers using electric mobility scooters accompanied by the volunteers set off up the well surfaced pathway beside the Leven Links Golf Club starters box and then over the small bridge spanning the Scoonie Burn. This burn creates a challenge for golfers playing the eighteenth hole as it runs along two sides of the green before heading out to sea.

The group followed the pathway as it ran parallel to the burn until reaching the point where the path joined Carberry Rd. then turned right passing the houses in East Links before finally turning left into the lane leading up to Scoonie Golf Club.

The ramblers continued on their way along the path, passing the clubhouse and headed eastwards through open countryside towards the woodlands of Silverburn Park.

There are good views to the south across Leven Links golf course , its fairways running between the sand dunes along the shoreline of the river Forth. In contrast, the greens and fairways of Scoonie parkland golf course lie to the north side of the pathway and encompass the woodlands of Silverburn. The ramblers continued along the Fife coastal path.passing long stretches of stone walling constructed from large flat stones recovered from the shore , before turning off into the parkland.

Silverburn Park comprises a large variety of trees and shrubs combined to form a large area of natural woodland, most of it accessible by following the network of well surfaced pathways. The ramblers found a good open grassy area beside the tree house to stop a while,relax ,have a spot of lunch and a chat before exploring further into the park.

After lunch, the group proceeded along to the sensory garden with its vivid floral displays and strong fragrances of lavender and mint coming from the raised flower beds.Unfortunately,the upper levels of this garden are not quite as accessible to wheelchair users.

The ramblers continued along the tree lined pathway until it opened out to display a row of cottages which had been formerly occupied by workers from the former mid 19th century flaxmill (a "B" listed building) located opposite. This old mill is awaiting plans for future redevelopment .

From here,the ramblers headed up the main drive for a short distance before taking a left fork along a pathway leading through the mature woodland of the estate surrounding Silverburn House which was re-built by Arthur Russell in 1866 at the same time as his flaxmill. The house which is now owned by Fife Council lies empty and is boarded up awaiting a final decision on its future.

The good weather held up as the group headed back towards the coastal path , stopping for a while at an elevated section of the route overlooking Leven and with clear views over the river to Berwick Law in East Lothian. Finally, the ramblers re-joined the coastal path which led them back to the car park and completed another most enjoyable day`s rambling.

The club is extremely grateful to " The Cruden Foundation" for sponsoring this ramble.

Gartmorn Dam & Country Park. Sunday 25 August 2013

The morning air was fresh and the sky filled with traces of cirrus clouds ,giving the promise of another good summer`s day, as members of the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers gathered outside the visitors centre at Gartmorn Dam Country Park .

The park lies to the south of the Ochil Hills with access from the village of Sauchie in Clackmannanshire.

The park covers an area of 370 acres and offers a peaceful retreat for everyone to enjoy. It is very popular with walkers,cyclists,pony trekkers and fishermen who are aiming to catch some of the dam`s stock of brown trout. The woodlands also provide a natural habitat for roe deer and red squirrels.

The ramblers planned to follow the well signed walk of approximately three miles taking the route around the perimeter of the dam.

The group consisting of eighteen members using electric mobility scooters along with their faithful volunteers left the car park and followed the well surfaced pathway leading along the water`s edge in an anti-clockwise direction, passing the sunken garden and shortly after turning into the woodland.

They rambled at a leisurely pace, giving everyone time to appreciate the variety of trees and shrubs making up the natural woodland setting and also stop to take photos from the various viewpoints along the route.

The pathway is perfectly accessible for medium to large sized mobility scooters .

There are occasional areas where protruding tree roots and potholes have to be avoided and also areas where soil erosion has taken place along the edge of the pathway next to the dam.

As the woodland thinned out and the route passed thro` more open countryside, the group turned off the main track and followed a minor track until they came to a grassy area near a small stone bridge which provided an ideal spot to stop and enjoy lunch in the glorious sunshine.

After lunch,the ramblers re-joined the main winding track around the dam

until coming to the narrow bridge spanning the "lade" where great care had to be taken immediately after crossing , by having to navigate between large boulders before powering up a steep gradient.

After reaching this higher level there were commanding views down the length of the dam to the island and beyond.

The pathway continued thro` more woodland and shortly passed the ruins of the Sheriffyards Colliery mine workings which were originally owned by the 6th Earl of Mar .

The Earl also commissioned the building of the massive earth Gartmorn Dam to store water from the river Black Devon. This water was used to provide power to drive drainage pumps which helped prevent the constant flooding of his mines and also drive water wheels which provided power to the industries located in Alloa and Sauchie.

The winding route continued downhill towards the waters edge then further round the dam before reaching the bird hide overlooking the island. This area is classed as a local nature reserve providing home for migratory wildfowl and also the resident swans on the dam.

The ramblers headed on as the pathwáy took them round the bottom of the dam, passing the picnic areas, before finally reaching the visitors centre and time for a well deserved coffee at the end of another enjoyable

day`s rambling.

Union Canal - Ratho July 2013

Disabled Ramblers Take to The Water!!

During the recent hot spell, members of the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers decided to leave Their electric mobility scooters behind and "cool off " by taking a trip along the Union Canal on board the magnificent barges owned by the "Seagull Trust".

The trust was founded in 1978 and offers free cruises on Scotland`s canals for people with special needs.

On arrival at the Ratho Boathouse moorings , the ramblers were given a warm welcome from trust volunteers who would be operating the two very accessible barges.The members using wheelchairs boarded safely by means of level ramped access on to the wheelhouse deck and then down to the cabin deck by an internal lift.

As it was a really warm day , the majority of the ramblers opted to sit out on the open deck areas while others preferred the relative shade offered by the cabin.

After everyone was embarked, the barges slipped from their moorings and headed out under the stone bridge adjacent to the Bridge Inn and along the canal in the direction of Linlithgow

The barges cruised along at a leisurely pace (up to a max of 4mph) allowing everyone plenty of opportunity to enjoy the constantly changing vista as they navigated their way round each bend. The still waters of the canal ahead of the barges , produced spectacular reflections of the bridges, trees with their dense foliage , reeds and other plant life in its mirrored surface

There was plenty activity to be seen on the canal including other barges and narrowboats each having their own distinctive features and not forgetting the proud wildfowl "parents" swimming along with their chicks. The tow path was also well used by many walkers, runners and cyclists out enjoying the summer weather.

The barges made their way steadily westwards along the canal`s winding route following the contours of the surrounding countryside and passing under various stone bridges ,each with it`s own number engraved in its keystone.

The "skipper" and other volunteer crew mémbers were always in attendance to give details about the history and life on the canal and also to arrange for providing the greatly appreciated refreshments.

The skills of the crews were put to the test when the barges had to navigate their way across the narrow acqueduct carrying the canal 80ft. above the river Almond from which there were spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Further along the route nearer Linlithgow the canal runs over the Avon aqueduct which at 810ft. long and 86ft.high is the longest and tallest aqueduct in Scotland and the 2nd longest in Britain.

Unfortunately our schedule called for the barges having to turn round before reaching this point.

The return trip was just as interesting and after passing the perimeter of the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, the barges arrived back at Ratho having given the ramblers three hours of total relaxation and pleasure on the canal thanks to everyone from The Seagull Trust.

As the ramblers had also worked up quite an appetite, the perfect day was rounded off by enjoying a splendid meal at the Bridge Inn.

Lennoxtown - Strathblane 20 June 2013 (Apologies for the size of some pictures).

Members and volunteers from the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers travelled to Stirlingshire recently to ramble in the area around the Campsie Hills.

Lennoxtown is a small country community in east Stirlingshire , known for its industrial past with its calico printing, handloom weaving and alum works. More recently for the supply of mineral waters to various uk brand names. It is also the birthplace of Scottish singer ,recording artist and actress "Lulu".who was recently awarded an OBE.

The ramblers, accompanied by a local countryside ranger, started out from the Glazert Country House Hotel in town and headed down over the bridge spanning the Glazert Water before taking a right turn on to a well surfaced pathway running through woodland beside the water. This winding path continued for approximately half a mile before emerging at the town`s Station Rd. The group headed up this road for a short distance before crossing over and joining a path leading on to the route of the old railway track that had previously been a branch line from Lennoxtown to Strathblane.

The track is roughly six feet wide with a tarmac surface, ideal for cyclists , wheelchairs and scooters. It has long straight sections with woodland and shrubs on either side. The ramblers headed along the route in a northerly direction, passing under a stone bridge carrying the roadway to a former hospital, the ranger showing points of interest along the way and giving descriptions of the various types of shrubs such as Hawthorn,Blackthorn and Dogrose. The route ,with the Glazert Water running on the left, headed slightly uphill before crossing the water via a footbridge after which the pathway narrowed slightly. The ramblers carried on until reaching a triple signpost ,the track going off to the right towards Milton of Campsie and straight on for Strathblane. Heading straight on the group soon crossed another small footbridge spanning the Finglen Burn with clear views of the Campsie Hills.over to the right and the woods surrounding Lennox Castle on the left.

During the lunchbreak, the countryside ranger gave the ramblers an interesting talk about the history of the surrounding landscape and showed specimens of different varieties of flora found locally.

On the return journey the group paused for a while to watch lumberjacks preparing tall pine trees for felling by scaling them, lopping off the branches and finally sawing off long sections of trunk before carefully lowering them to the ground with the help of a crane. The remainder of the tree could then be safely felled without damaging any of the surrounding buildings.

( Another good "cutting" to insert in the Forth and Tay Ramblers Diary!!)

The weather had been ideal for rambling and this always adds to the great pleasure obtained by the members from being in the great outdoors.

Many thanks must go to "The Co-operative Group" who kindly sponsored this ramble and everyone involved with the planning ,arranging of transport, the volunteers,drivers,countryside ranger service and also to all the club members who participated.

Quarrymill (Scone) May 2013

The morning was bright and sunny as the coach carrying members and volunteers from the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers turned into the car park adjacent to the Scone Old Parish Church outside Perth.

In the churchyard stands a memorial to the famous botanist David Douglas who was born in Scone and after returning from his explorations to America`s Northwest he was responsible for introducing many of the most commonly grown plants and trees into Britain. One tree species, the "Douglas Fir" bears his name.

The group consisting of less abled ramblers using electric mobility scooters.and the volunteer members headed out of the churchyard and along Burnside Walk . The well surfaced pathway followed the route of the Annaty Burn ,winding through sparse woodland and open countryside until skirting the edge of Scone Wood.

There is a wide variety of wild life to be seen in this area, both in the woods which provide the perfect habitat for roe deer and red squirrels and along the burn where grey wagtails,mallards and swallows have been spotted.

A short time later the pathway entered the denser woodland of Quarrymill Park. As the name implies , working quarries were once located in this area and the stone from them used in the construction of Scone Abbey , local mills and housing. The parkland was gifted by Arthur Bell (whisky distillers) in 1937 for the use of the people and is run by the Gannochy Trust.

The ramblers continued along the route , passing carpets of bluebells underneath the beech trees, before coming to the Mill Pond where an abundance of wildlife gather to feed off the ample supply of pondweed found there.

It was approaching lunchtime when the group reached the coffee shop and car park area situated adjacent to the main road from Perth to Blairgowrie and they selected a suitable open grassed area to stop and relax for a while.

After a refreshing lunch -break , the group took a leisurely ramble back along the same route to Scone ( a distance of approx. 1mile). Although this is a relatively short ramble, everyone agreed that it scored points due to the beautiful surroundings and the area`s natural history.

Falkland Estate Wednesday 29th May 2013

Fife`s historic town of Falkland was "invaded" recently by members of the Forth and Tay Disabled Ramblers gathering in the town centre prior to beginning their ramble through Falkland Estate.

The weather was dry,mild and slightly overcast as the group, consisting of members using electric mobility scooters accompanied by volunteer ramblers and a ranger from the estate, made their way past the Fountain in the town square and headed west along the High St. before turning down to the right, passing the"Stag Inn", then over the bridge leading on to the "West Loan".

The route followed the pathway over a grassed area with a children`s adventure frame located on one side and the shallow meandering Maspie Burn running along the other.

As the ramblers continued along the pathway there were good views of Falkland Hill rising up behind the village and of Falkland House situated among the woodland of the estate. In a short time they came to a large grassed area used as playing fields and on which local schools were currently playing cricket. The route passed along the perimeter of the sports field and continued through a gateway into the woodland of Falkland Estate which forms part of the Lomond Hills Regional Park. The network of paths within the estate are maintained by the Falkland Heritage Trust with support from the Fife Countryside Ranger Service.

The ranger, accompanying the group, pointed to a copse of trees standing out on the steep slopes of the hill and from this viewpoint their outline formed the shape of a German pistol! The story goes that the trees had been planted by German prisoners captured during the war.

The group carried on at a leisurely pace ,spotting various types of flora along the route before the pathway changed direction and headed into the denser areas of the woodland. The surface of the pathway was now covered by layers of fallen leaves and pine needles blending it in with the rest of the forest floor on which there were also clumps of bluebells highlighted in shafts of sunlight streaming through the foliage of the trees.

The handling skills of the scooter mounted ramblers were brought into play along this part of the route when they had to strictly control the speed of their vehicles as the path descended steeply towards the stone bridge spanning the stream at the bottom of Maspie Den. After crossing the bridge, the group followed the pathway which wound its way upwards through the woods on the far side of the den. Many trees had been brought down by the winter storms and others were lying over at extreme angles , only being supported by other adjacent trees. The ramblers spotted a magnificent carving of a pig`s head, in the base of one tree trunk , which had been completed by a really creative estate worker.

This highlights part of the "magic" of rambling by suddenly coming upon objects of interest and having the ability to pause and study them in more detail.

After a short while the pathway exited from the woodland and joined a minor road leading to the "Pillars of Hercules" organic farm shop where the ramblers stopped for a very welcome lunch break. Most ramblers sat out in the sun to enjoy their lunch and have a good chat ,while others took the opportunity to sample the organic produce for sale in the shop/ cafe.

The ramblers, now fully refreshed, regrouped and made their way back along the minor road which after passing through some woodland took a more direct route back towards Falkland. through open countryside. There were plenty of interesting things to see in the gardens of the cottages and large country houses scattered along this road including one with quite a large detailed model of a typical stone built farm house.

The group finally reached the former Royal Burgh of Falkland along the West Port with its crow stepped gable cottages, many of which are over 300yrs. old and have had their original thatched roofs replaced by pantiles.

Soon they were in sight of the High St. fountain and Falkland Palace as they turned right up to the car park from which the ramble began.

The club would like to thank everyone who helped in organising the ramble , the volunteers , the drivers, the Fife Countryside Ranger and also everyone who participated , therefore making it another day to remember.

Loch Leven - Heritage Trail April 2013

The launch of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers 2013 season started with one of their most popular rambles ,taking them along part of the Loch Leven Heritage Trail.

The club members and volunteers met up in the car park adjacent to Loch Leven`s "Boathouse Bistro" in Kinross where they where joined by the transport carrying the clubs electric mobility scooters.

The chairman introduced and welcomed three new club members before giving everyone a quick briefing about the day`s ramble.

The weather was dry and slightly overcast with the occasional bright interval as the fairly strong westerly wind scattered the clouds. The group consisting of thirteen ramblers using electric scooters accompanied with nine of the clubs trusty volunteers headed out of the car park and along the pathway running through the grassed park area before passing the jetty and reaching the "Kirkgate" viewpoint. This is a favourite spot to watch the vast amount of geese which shelter on the loch during the winter months and also to view Loch Leven Castle over on Castle Island.

Continuing further along the trail in an easterly direction, the group soon came to the "Fishgate" with its ornate stonework and through which the vast walled garden of Kinross House can be viewed. Kinross House was designed and built by Sir William Bruce in the 17th century to use as his own home. This is a fine example of an early classical mansion to be built in Scotland. The house itself and its walled garden complete with the main avenue running down to the lochside, were deliberately positioned so as to give a clear view over to the 14th century Loch Leven Castle.

Everyone was thoroughly enjoying the leisurely pace of the ramble, seeing nature at its finest and most of all the overall feeling of well-being given by spending a day out in the country with friends.

The ramblers soon reached the information board at "Marygate" where they took the right hand fork and headed along the track towards Burleigh Sands.This section of the trail involved the scooters having to negotiate over a wooden bridge which crossed a stream and then carried on for a further distance through a wooded area before reaching Burleigh Sands.

Looking across the loch from here, with forests of scots pine producing an amazing backdrop , there are good views of the Bishop Hill which is a popular target for gliders flying from the Scottish Gliding Centre

at Scotlandwell. The hill produces the necessary "uplifts" required to allow the gliders to gain height and therefore increase the duration of their flight.

After finding a suitable sheltered spot, using the trees as a windbreak, the ramblers stopped for a lunchbreak and a chance to sit and chat in the afternoon sun while admiring the views over the loch.

Feeling totally refreshed after their lunch the ramblers proceeded eastwards along the trail as it climbed steadily with woodland on one side and open fields on the other giving views of Milnathort and Kinesswood in the distance. The intention was to carry on and head up the separate track leading to Loch Leven Larder but due to the drain on the batteries of the smaller scooters it was decided to play it safe and start on the return journey . Although the route was the same , the ramblers had plenty of opportunity to stop and admire the various things that may have been missed on the outward journey as well as seeing the surrounding scenery

from a different aspect. There is always plenty of interest generated when the many users of the heritage trail such as cyclists, dog walkers, tourists and runners meet up with so many scooters at one time leading to many interesting exchanges of conversation.

After an interesting afternoon, the rambling group {complete with one electric scooter in tow ) made their way back along the lochside pathway in Kirkgate park from where a boat could be seen leaving the boathouse pier on its way to castle island. As the ramblers arrived back at the car park they all agreed that the first ramble of 2013 had given them a great taste of things to come .

The next ramble is scheduled for Tuesday 7th May and will visit Quarrymill near Scone.

 Scottish charity No. SC033022.  
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