“I’m by no means happier than once I’m writing.”
~ Ed Hood, as spoken to Martin Williamson from the passenger seat, driving alongside a stage route on the Tour de France.
Expensive Readers – Our beloved colleague and buddy Ed Hood suffered a severe stroke in February. We don’t anticipate Ed will make it again into our bunch, so we’ve began a GoFundMe web page to assist Ed along with his future. Learn the total put up right here – and please contemplate donating.
** Click on this hyperlink to donate to the GoFundMe web page to assist Ed **
We’ll be posting a choice of Ed’s work from the previous 16 years, as a result of nice story-telling by no means will get previous.
Ed’s Native E-Bike Gravel Ramble: As a substitute of capturing over the Channel to ‘Race Chase’ the Classics or the Tour de France, Ed Hood has been getting higher acquainted along with his native paths, due to his Ribble gravel e Bike. Right here is certainly one of his favorite gravel rambles.
Ed’s Ribble e Bike – Very a lot at residence in Scotland
I’d been that means to get again into semi-serious bike driving for some time however a analysis of spinal stenosis, which doesn’t have an effect on on a regular basis life an excessive amount of however which is rattling sore in case you’re urgent exhausting on the pedals, made it troublesome.
Then got here the, ‘Eureka!’ second – an e Bike.
I’m fortunate the place I keep; simply yards from the Fife Coastal Path, so an ‘e Gravel Bike’ was the selection. I plumped for the Ribble machine, not like many e Bikes which have lumps, bumps and protuberances the Ribble has the motor within the rear hub and the battery inside the down tube. To the informal observer, aside from what might be an ejector seat button on the highest tube, it’s indistinguishable from a standard machine. The Coastal Path is for pedestrians and cyclists solely, working proper around the Coast of the peninsula which kinds the Kingdom of Fife, 117 miles from Kincardine on the River Forth to Newburgh on the River Tay. I hope to experience all of it over time, not in a single go, I’m too previous for that, somewhat a piece at a time. It is sensible to start out in Kirkcaldy, not so removed from the place I reside in Dysart.
The place else however at of my favorite bars; ‘The Harbour’ has simply modified possession, the earlier landlord, Nick died final 12 months, sadly. The brand new proprietor tells me that he’s going massive on Belgian beers, our first go to is scheduled for tonight.
First cease after a brief part of gravel single observe across the again of Kirkcaldy Harbour is Ravenscraig Fortress, a fortress from 1460, on a rock outcrop with a commanding view of the Forth. It was one of many first fortresses constructed to face up to cannon hearth with partitions as much as virtually 4 metres thick. Subsequent up was a trudge alongside the seaside, pushing the bike, the sand was smooth and one has to marvel how Freddy Maertens used to do his coaching runs within the sand.
I really like the Ribble however mild it’s not – nonetheless, while you push the button as much as max of the three increase ranges on tarmac or gravel the load turns into irrelevant.
Again within the day of the citadel there have been no supermarkets so that you needed to make your individual preparations for victuals. Ravenscraig had a ‘beehive doocot’ – that’s ‘dovecote’ in English. Pigeons had been inspired to nest in there and have become a supply of eggs and meat for the occupants of the citadel. The horizontal ridges working across the doocot had been to cease rats working up the partitions and getting in to ravage the doos.
Gravel paths now, the Ribble’s pure setting which it handles with aplomb, these large 47 mm tyres are very grippy however responsive. The trail runs by way of Ravenscraig Park, the place the perimeter wall follows the coast line, each cove and promontory. There are two tales in regards to the wall, one is that it was constructed by the Earl of Roslyn to stop miners taking shortcuts by way of what again then was his personal park. However the different is that he commissioned it to offer work for locals in a time of want. Into my residence village of Dysart now, in case you’re an ‘Outlander’ fan then you definitely’ll recognise the setting, it featured within the collection as a French sea port.
The roofless constructing on the appropriate was supposed as a whale oil processing facility to benefit from neighbouring Kirkcaldy’s burgeoning whaling business however the Earl of Roslyn vetoed that on the grounds that he didn’t need the odor of boiling blubber wafting as much as his residence at Dysart Home.
A little bit methods previous the harbour lies the Pan Ha’ – a row of restored sixteenth to 18th century homes, as soon as fishermen’s properties however now extremely wanted. Saint Serf’s tower behind the homes was a part of the now gone church however was additionally a lookout tower to offer warning of marauders arising the Forth. The Title Pan Ha’ stems from the times when there have been salt pans right here, large steel, sea water crammed pans under which coal fires burned to evaporate off the water and depart the valuable salt which was exported out of the harbour to England and the Low Nations. The structure betrays Dysart’s hyperlinks with The Netherlands and Belgium with ‘crow step’ gables and purple pantiles contributing to Dysart’s previous nickname of, ‘Little Holland.’
The Woman Blanche pit stood simply alongside from the Pan Ha’ and a tunnel lead direct from the pit all the way down to the harbour the place it was loaded on to the ships for export to the Low Nations and Baltic. The 2 flights of tough steps which take the Path up from sea degree to larger floor aren’t a enjoyable push – however I inform myself, ‘it’s all a part of my work out.’
On the jap fringe of the village is one other of the only a few reminders of Fife’s as soon as large coal business, the preserved winding tower of the Frances Colliery. The Frances workings had been linked under the Forth to the Seafield Colliery which stood on the western finish of Kirkcaldy. Nothing stays of Seafield, a housing scheme now sprawls over the location. The fallout from the miners’ strike within the 80’s put an finish to each pits nonetheless – Kirkcaldy and Dysart have by no means actually recovered from the blow. ‘The pits’ of their heyday introduced prosperity to The Kingdom however at a worth; not simply when it comes to a number of stunning seashores spoiled by 1000’s of tons of pit waste but in addition in human lives misplaced.
One of many particular issues for me in regards to the Coastal Path is the rock outcrops approaching the village of West Wemyss the place, when the tide is out the seals lay and solar themselves; lately the brand new pups have began to look – a deal with for the senses as they wiggle within the daylight and sing their songs.
Michael Colliery catastrophe
Approaching the village of East Wemyss is a flat space the place stood the Michael Colliery. A brief distance in land from the Path, up in East Wemyss there’s a memorial to the 9 males who misplaced their lives within the Michael Colliery catastrophe of 1967 when hearth ravaged the seams.
Again down on the Path some sections have succumbed to the power of the North Sea, erosion now a serious downside for coastal areas however fortunately, Donald Trump has informed us that we’re imagining world warming.
The Jimmy Shand memorial
East Wemyss was the birthplace of accordion enjoying legend, Jimmy Shand – the village’s most well-known son has his personal memorial, simply off the Path.
A little bit additional east are the Wemyss caves, a few of which have Pictish artwork on their partitions and one was a doocot cave for close by McDuff Fortress. It’s unhappy that so little has been accomplished to protect these historic gems.
The steps to MacDuff’s Fortress
There are extra stairs to complete this a part of the Path as much as MacDuff Fortress; ‘again within the day’ there have been no steps right here, only a steep gravel path which was too steep for a giant previous boy like me to experience – happening was fairly wild although.
MacDuff’s Fortress is in a sorry state now however was as soon as residence to probably the most highly effective household in Fife within the center ages, though nothing survives from this era. The current ruins are the stays of the house of the Wemyss household, who lived right here from the 14th century, and their successors within the sixteenth century.
*With Secteur One of many path within the bag, it’s time to move again residence alongside the coast highway and residential – Secteur Two to comply with.*
# You possibly can examine Ed’s journey from time trial bike to Ribble e Bike HERE. #