Our last tour in Edinborough found us heading north out of the city toward the Kingdom of Fife, the small fishing villages and St. Andrews, home to the oldest golf course. But first, a stop to take in the three bridges that cross the Firth of Forth. The first bridge was built in 1890 and before it was even constructed, underwent a reengineering because of the collapse of a similar bridge over the Firth of Tay the year previous. During a violent storm the structure fell into the waters below as a train was passing over, killing all aboard. The second bridge is the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964 and at the time was the 4th (how apropos) longest bridge in the world and the longest outside the US. The newest is the Queensferry Crossing, opened in 2017, and the longest three tower cable stay bridge in the world, at 2.7 km.
Onwards and northwards through the Kingdom of Fife, a distinct entity whose existence can be traced back to the Pictish kingdom of Fib after the departure of the Normans. We stopped for a wee break at the small fishing village of Anstruther. Then on to St. Andrews, where the game was first played some 600 years ago. There happened to be a tournament going on, the Dunhill Links Championship, so we decided to jump off our wallets and pay the 15 pounds to watch some of the play. It just so happened that we were in time to catch Rory McIlroy and his group coming up to play the 18th, 1st and 2nd holes. That was quite the thrill, especially because on the second teebox, we could have reached out and touched him!! The golfers were paired up and Rory was playing with his father! Only thing was that it was bloody cold, what with the wind blowing in off the ocean right beside the course!! Could have used my down jacket that I had left at the apartment!!
Since we spent most of our allotted three hours at the course, we only had time for a quick lunch and then I jogged down to catch a glimpse of the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. It looked to be a very quaint town, with lots of interesting old buildings! Oh, and the beach beside the golf course was the one from Chariots of Fire!
Back on the road to the town of Falkland, another lovely picturesque place. In the Outlander series, it doubled as Inverness of the 1940s, where Claire and Frank stayed on their trip after the war. One of the buildings is the one where they stayed before she went through the stones. It is also home to Falkland Palace, a favourite place of the Stuarts, and particularly of Mary Queen of Scots. She loved to pursue falconry and hunting, and also enjoyed playing tennis on what is now the oldest surviving tennis court in the world. And - scandalous at the time - she played in men’s breeches!! The castle was built on the site of a 12th century hunting lodge, in the 13th century. In the 1500 James IV and V transformed the castle into a beautiful royal palace. The interior of the palace is most impressive, having being in great disrepair after 1660, but renovated in the 19th century by the third Marquess of Bute. There are also lovely gardens surrounding the castle.
Back on the bus, Edinburgh bound through the lush fields and verdant forests of this beautiful part of Scotland.
A good dinner at Bilbos, near the apartment, with a good conversation with a couple from Melbourne, whose son’s partner was from Calgary. We had a good chat with them about Australia, Canada, Scotland and Dublin, where they were headed next.