A day of Intercity walks began in Dunfermline. Dunf is blessed/cursed with a very good bus service to Glasgow, with four or five buses an hour. Of course the day I was there saw the bus timetables in Fife change which flummoxed me a bit fitting in the later destinations. But it was possible. The timetable booklets at Dunfermline bus station were going like nobody’s business. An hour later, the Glasgow booklets were gone. Anyway, logistics worked out and fortified by the inevitable, incredible steak bridies, the Dunfermline Intercity walk began by Dunfermline City Chambers, known by the rather prosaic handle Dunfermline Customer Contact Centre, a prosaic name for a beautiful town house building quite like a Disney castle. The only municipal building I’ve seen like it is Renfrew Town Hall. This walk covered a few streets, beginning at the top of the hill and ending near the bottom by Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace. It was either that or the walk along Halbeath Road to East End Park but I get in trouble if I write too much about football here.
I soon passed Dunfermline Abbey with its spire bearing the words ‘King Robert The Bruce’. Bruce’s remains are buried within the Abbey, all except the heart which is in Melrose. Sadly I had no time for the Abbey Nave, a particular favourite place of pillars and stained glass put together by the masons who brought us Durham Cathedral. There was a decent, meaty food smell nearby, possibly coming from a pub just up the way. Nearby was a nightclub called Life. I always think life is better without being in nightclubs, to be honest. A sign by the Palace directed people to the various extremities of the Fife Coastal Path, North Queensferry and Culross closer, St. Andrews further away. I was to be there a few hours later in the day. By the sign was a plaque about Charles I, the last monarch born in Scotland, born indeed in Dunfermline in 1600. The plaque was sympathetic, maybe even obsequious, declaring that Charles met ‘his death with dignity and courage’.
Moving swiftly on I walked under the Palace, Royal place and Abbey guesthouse. I let a family pass and the girl walked by stomping, as little girls often do. I could hear kids running about the Palace – that’s fine with me as long as some history goes in along the way. I was now on Monastery Street, pedestrianised as far as the Cenotaph. I had never seen the Cenotaph before. It was present but almost an afterthought, hidden in the corner. There was a Garden for Heroes across the way too. As I walked with the Palace beside, the Abbey above and the river water in my ears, I was reminded very much of Stirling, history all around me which is never a bad thing.
Before I came to the Carnegie birthplace, I passed a ghost sign above a shop. The next door building clearly housed a nationalist with Yes flags hanging out the windows. They were bang up-to-date since the Yes campaign for independence has recently changed its branding. That’s the type of details I notice. I try not to, honest. I don’t have a scooby how Andrew Carnegie felt about Scottish independence but his birthplace had some rather cool details on the outside, panels on the wall depicting discovery (with a ship) and industry with a miller’s wheel and some tools. It seemed a good place to end this walk and it was decent, a walk through one of my favourite towns in Scotland, history as ever with every step.