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The Back Burn, Balbirnie Park (ii)

The old Balbirnie Estate had some extensive grounds. About half of these were converted to a golf course. The rest makes up what is now Balbirnie Park.

The back burn runs from the upper part of the former estate – now sold off for housing – between the golf course’s 18th fairway and green before wending through the wooded area of the Park.

There are some exposed tree roots on the burn’s banks in the upper estate:-

Back Burn + Tree Roots

Part of the burn is very shaded:-

Back Burn, Balbirnie Park

We often take a walk through the woods and beside the burn. There are three wooden bridges over the burn after it passes the golf course. This is one of them:-

Back Burn Bridge, Balbirnie Park

Close-up. (The wooden superstructure on this has recently been replaced):-

Back Burn Bridge, Balbirnie Park

The burn:-

Balbirnie Park, View from Back Burn Bridge

View from Back Burn Bridge, Balbirnie Park

Covid Innovations At Balbirnie

I mentioned the Balbirnie House Hotel a few posts ago and again here.

One day last August I noticed on our daily walk that a whole load of tents had sprung up in the grounds.

This was the hotel’s response to Covid restrictions on gatherings inside. Instead they had introduced al fresco dining.

A brave move in Scotland!

Tents, Balbirnie House Hotel

Dining Tents, Balbirnie House Hotel

Balbirnie House Hotel Dining Tents

Covid Dining Tents, Balbirnie House Hotel

Balbirnie House Gardens

Normally we skirt round the side of Balbirnie House Hotel when we take our daily walk to Markinch for the Guardian. (To the left in the photo below and round past the front of the building.)

Balbirnie House and Garden

During the first lockdown last year we felt able to take a stroll through the House’s gardens.

Balbirnie House Garden

Balbirnie House Lawn

Balbirnie House Garden

Garden, Balbirnie House

Balbirnie House Garden Arch

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden , Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House

Balbirnie House was the “big” house nearest to Markinch and was home to the Balfour family before being sold off in 1969. It is now a hotel, the Balbirnie House Hotel and the estate grounds are now Balbirnie Park.

Nearly every morning I walk past it and through its grounds (more than half of which is now a golf course) on my way to Markinch to pick up the Guardian.

This is a photo of the hotel from just over a year ago:-

Balbirnie House Hotel

There had been reasonably heavy rain and a pool of water had collected beside the footpath which skirts the estate road leading upo to the hotel. This was followed by a freeze:-

Balbirnie Park Flood

Balbirnie House with Frozen Flood

Lower down the estate road, nearer to Markinch, this area of the golf course had also been flooded and frozen:-

Flooded Golf Fairway, Balbirnie

On the other side of the estate road this part of Balbirnie Park remained flooded for almost all of 2020:-

Flooded Ground, Balbirnie Park

Friary Hospitium, Inverkeithing

One of Inverkeithing‘s oldest buildings is the former Hospitium of the Grey Friars (Dominicans) which dates from around 1350 and is in modern Queen Street.

Hospitium from north:-

Inverkeithing Friary Hospitium

A represenatation of how the Hospitium looked in its heyday can be seen here.

Hospitium from southwest:-

Friary Hospitium, Inverkeithing

South gable:

Gable of Friary Hospitium, Inverkeithing


Rear of Friary Hospitium, Inverkeithing

North gable and part of rear:-

Friary Hospitium, Inverkeithing

Buildings, Inverkeithing

Just after the War Memorial gardens on approaching Inverkeithing from the north, on the opposite side of the road, lies this old building called Fordell’s Lodging:-

Old Building Inverkeithing

Old Building, Inverkeithing

St Peter’s Kirk is on the same side of the road as the War Memorial gardens, some of whose trees are in the foreground here:-

St Peter's Kirk, Inverkeithing

St Peter’s Kirk:-

Inverkeithing Church

Inverkeithing Town Hall is on a side road:-

Inverkeithing Town Hall

Inverkeithing War Memorial

Inverkeithing’s War Memorial is in the form of a pillared Celtic type cross above a square plinth. The memorial stands in a memorial garden to the side of the main road entering Inverkeithing from the north.

Inverkeithing War Memorial

From entrance to Memorial garden:-

War Memorial, Inverkeithing

Great War dedication. On bronze panel: “To the glory of God and in memory of the men of Inverkeithing who fell in the Great War 1914-1919.” On base: “Their name liveth for evermore.”

Great War Dedication, Inverkeithing War Memorial

Great War names, Wilfred D Aikman – Fred Wykes:-

Names, War Memorial, Inverkeithing

Second World War Dedication. “To the glory of God and in loving memory of the men and women of Inverkeithing and district who fell in the World War 1939 – 1945.” Names: Joseph Allan – Alfred Wallace:-

Inverkeithing War Memorial, Second World War Dedication

More names. James Anderson – Charles Wylie. It’s not clear to which war they refer:-

More Names, War Memorial, Inverkeithing

Inverkeithing, Fife

Just before the first Covid lockdown we visited with a friend the ancient town of Inverkeithing in Fife. We’d passed through it many times, even making purchases there. However we’d never taken a really close look. It has some interesting features.

Inverkeithing Mercat Cross:-

Inverkeithing Mercat Cross

Mercat Cross, Inverkeithing

Inverkeithing Mercat Cross Plaque

A short history of the town:-

Inverkeithing History

This is the lintel mentioned in that history above. The inscription reads, “God’s providence is my inheritance”:-

Lintel in Inverkeithing. From 1688

Lintels like this were commonly placed above the doors of houses built for newly married couples, usually with their initials and the date of the marriage. This one is more elaborate than most. “IT. BT. Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that built it.”:-

A Marriage Lintel, Inverkeithing

For a time the explorer David Livingston lived in the town – in Moffat Cottage:-

Moffat Cottage, David Livingston's House, Inverkeithing

Plaque on David Livingston's House, Inverkeithing

The Barrel Brig

Abut a year ago we decided to take a walk to try to find the Barrel Brig, an old bridge over the River Ore in Fife. It had been featured in a calendar we had of local scenes but we’d never seen it.

It’s not on the beaten track and we had to walk quite a distance from where we parked in Coaltown of Balgonie. The start of the path has a view over to Balgonie Castle (on the left of this photo):-

Balgonie Castle, Fife, Scotland

It turned out to be a longer walk than we had expected along muddy roads/paths and over a disused railway line before finally seeing the River:-

River  Ore, Fife

It was still a couple of hundred metres or so before we saw the brig itself:-

Barrel Brig Over River Ore, Fife

The path curves round to the brig:-

Curved Path to Barrel Brig, Fife

You can see it’s not a modern thoroughfare:-

Approach to Barrel Brig

Before taking that shot I did scout down to the bank to grab this photo:-

Barrel Brig

We then strolled across the (unparapeted) bridge to get the opposite angle:-

Barrel Brig, River Ore, Fife

On the way back to the car I took this shot over the fields to Largo Law in the distance:-

Looking to Largo Law, Fife

Fifty Years Ago Today …..

…. five boys from the town nearest to where I live went off to watch a football match.

And never came back.

They were caught up in the crush on Stairway 13 at Ibrox Park – as it was then known – in which 66 people died.

No one in Markinch knew their fate until the last buses and trains through the town that night had come – and gone. And then they feared the worst.

The incident is still a sore memory in Markinch, it is almost as resonant, perhaps even equal to, Remembrance Day in importance.

The loss struck the town hard. Many of the present inhabitants were at school at the same time, if not the same year group, as the five, whom they remember vividly.

In the years after, one of the mothers would run down the street from her work every lunch time to be beside her boy.

The last big anniversary – the fortieth – saw a refurbishment of the town’s memorial, which till then had been a plaque lying on the grass overlooked by both the streets in which the boys had lived. An appeal to raise funds for refurbishment was inundated within days with contributions coming in from all over the world. So much so that the memorial was added to and made into a pair of stones one atop the other.

I posted a photograph of the upgraded memorial here.

There was a programme about the disaster on BBC Scotland on Monday 28th December, available on iPlayer for 11 months.

The disaster was also the subject of a piece in the Guardian earlier in December, mentioning previous crushes on the same stairway (ten years earlier one of these had resulted in two deaths) which ought to have brought about remedial action.

Sadly, it took the 66 deaths fifty years ago for Rangers FC to start upgrading the stadium.

As well as the memorial stone in Markinch there is a bench in the grounds of the local Kirk, St Drostan’s. Since St Drostan’s is on a hill the bench overlooks the town.

Ibrox Disaster Memorial Bench, Markinch

Names of the five boys:-

Nameplate, Ibrox Disaster Memorial Bench, Markinch

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