Tuesday, 2 March 2010

On my Travels: Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine

I've been trying to use my week off not just to slob about at home, but get out and enjoy the fresh air. The original idea was to get a week-long Megarider ticket, but it hasn't turned out like that. Probably for the best as I've been too knackered to do journeys on consecutive days and the weather has peaked on the days I've chosen.

First off on Tuesday was Stirling- a destination I only decided at the bus station. It might easily have been Perth or the Fife coast or even Linlithgow.

If you look at a map and see the proximity of Dunfermline and Stirling you'd think it was a simple bus journey, probably an express route taking 30 minutes or so. Neither is true - I set off fairly early, taking the 10.15am departure. But because this embroiders a way via the villages along the River Forth, particularly High Valleyfield, and ignores motorways and direct routes I arrived at 11.45, which was admittedly 10 minutes late too. Hence why I don't go very often - Glasgow is quicker!

Though I've been to Stirling as recently as September 2007 (notably from Crieff), I was determined to climb up to the Castle and get views that took advantage of the crisp, clear day. I'd only done that once before, in summer 1999, armed with a camcorder whose Hi-8 footage I can no longer access.

Actually, the thing that caught my eye on approach was a new structure that was absent even in 2007 and I thought at first was a stadium rather than a bridge. It does look very impressive, if not too dissimilar to a lot of recent urban bridges, but is ultimately a bit pointless by traversing the rail lines but not quite stretching over a main road into the town on the north. And at the moment it's south side leads nowhere.

After a pub stop to catch up on the twitterati reaction to the 11am BBC cuts announcement (mine is in the next post) and upload a £1.75 pint of cider I was ready for the journey up to the castle.

Though I didn't actually enter the castle proper, which costs, the views from the esplanade are outstanding enough and you can see for miles in almost every direction (part of the west is blocked by the castle).

Having pottered around the town centre a while it was still mid-afternoon so I thought I'd try and fit in another destination while the weather held out. I nearly hopped on a 23 bus which went to Kinross (and eventually St Andrews) where I could easily head back to Dunfermline from. I actually caught the next direct service to Alloa - hoping to find a village-avoiding service back home. For Stagecoach ticket purposes both Alloa and Kinross count as Fife in 'rider' tickets, though neither actually are in Fife.

I've not stopped off in Alloa since, I think, 1985 and thought it might deserve another look. It didn't, but the above sign did confirm that Dunfermline is only 22 miles from Stirling (though not in the same direction obviously).

Importantly, although there is now a rail station again, there now appears to be no bus station or any attempt at one. All there is is a complete mess of a bus stop on the main street where the only information available gives the impression all buses go toward Stirling and nothing goes east, which was where I wanted. Eventually, and a lot later than I'd have liked, I caught a Falkirk bound one which could let me off at Kincardine where I knew I'd get on one of the express buses returning from Glasgow. It's probably what I should have done in the morning - it takes 10/15 minutes between Kincardine and Dunfermline on the express buses that run every half hour. Alas, as the temperatures dropped alarmingly, the express buses were very much behind schedule - one didn't appear at all and the next one was ten minutes late so I was stood there for another 45 minutes rather than the 5 minutes I expected.

Anyway, 75 of the pics from the day (I took more than 100!) are to be found in my Facebook albums - this should be open to all, even if you're not on Facebook. Tell me if not.


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