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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blackness Castle in the Wind - 9/3/2008

We found Blackness Castle this time around, though the wind tried to blow it and us away soon after we got there. Perhaps more attention should have been paid not only to what the weather would be like but also from where it was coming. The day started out reasonably enough. We got a lazy start to South Queensferry and found our way to the Round the Forth trail with some creativity in Dalmeny. Bridge repairs had led to trail closures, but with a few creative hikes, we arrived and departed South Queensferry.

The familiar cruise to Hopetoun House we had hoped would lead us to the trail that followed the coast to Blackness Castle, but we were unsuccessful finding that trail. We avoided the one wrong turn that led us astray the last time thanks to some cyclists coming from the other direction. The nice people at Hopetoun House wanted to avoid cyclists in the main part of the property but didn't sign post the diversion very thoroughly. One more sign would do it.

We got to pet a stallion and a very pregnant mare. I think come early or mid April, that same enclosure will have a baby horse in it, too.

We reached the familiar roads on the other side and missed the potential trails leading off to Blackness. The A904 was where I remembered it to be. The options from there were to cross and find the canal or follow the A904 for a while. We took the latter option, staying on the pavement until it ended and then crossing over to a quiet B road. The B road ended at Old Philipstoun and we headed back to the busy A904. It wasn't the best cycle, but only two miles of busy road doesn't warrant much griping. We followed the signs to Blackness Castle and enjoyed a nice downhill zoom along the way.

Unfortunately, I was running out of steam and bad weather was rolling in. I had hoped to find a shop in South Queensferry to get snacks because my supplies at home had been empty. No such luck. Blackness was a bit too late but never would have been worse. I got some tablet from the gift shop and that would have to do. Looking west across the Firth of Forth toward Bo'ness and Grangemouth showed some ugly clouds moving rapidly in our direction. We decided to beat a hasty retreat rather than enjoy a pitstop at the castle.

The wind kicked up and the pressure dropped. No surprises with what followed. Brian was gone and I struggled to just keep moving. We followed the sign to Linlithgow, which took us out to Champany first. About halfway there, the bullets of rain fell from the sky. I felt very frustrated that my legs just wouldn't work fast enough and even more annoyed that I was getting pelted by rain while Brian had completely disappeared with the rest of my rain gear. I yelled at Brian. Even if he was right beside me, he wouldn't have heard me.

There was a pub/restaurant in Champany that Brian asked me if I wanted to stop there for food. I told him I didn't care, that I was angry and frustrated and cold and I don't remember what else. We took a short break in the pub's waiting area -- they did full meals only, no snacks or coffee -- and the rain let up. We followed the pavements on the A road into Linlithgow and found food there.

Food service at the pub in Linlithgow was stereotypical for Scotland, friendly but helpful only when I asked very specific questions. Lots of questions. Juice went a long way towards feeling in my right mind again and so did the food that followed. Eventually. We caught the train home though dusk beat us there by a few minutes.

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