South Queensferry to Linlithgow, 26Km
I booked a 7am breakfast and secured a table with the best view of the Forth Bridge stretching over to North Queensferry. The twin towns were named when Queen Margaret launched the ferry service to carry pilgrims to the church in Dunfermline, back in 1070.
Soon, I was walking under the Forth Road Bridge which is already at the end of its life and finally the new Queensferry Crossing. Just around the corner I entered the Hopetoun Estate, home to the Earl of Hopetoun. The house is regarded as Scotland’s finest stately home with over 6500 acres of grounds. Unfortunately I missed the house, possibly I was distracted by a lot of horses engaged in cross country eventing. The course is not immediately obvious so you need to keep a close watch for galloping horses.
Onwards along the shoreline to Blackness Castle (cafe open from midday) with distant views up the Firth of Forth to Grangemouth oil refinery. Here I met a couple from Bromley walking the John Muir Way, west to east. The man apologetically explained that his wife couldn’t do the hills anymore. I thought she probably could and wondered if she still had her tartan mini kilt from 1966.
When I reached Bo’ness at midday, I diverted into the small town and found a popular cafe, staffed mostly by sixth formers. They recommended a Brie and cranberry toastie which was so delicious I will attempt to recreate it at home.
Bo’ness (or to give it its full name, Borrowstounness) is a dreamy little place, lost in time. All the buildings are quite old and undeveloped, even the old Hippodrome cinema. I peered inside wondering what it was now. But the lights were on, there’s a box office, circle and stalls and the next performance is at 14.20. Everything as it was in the 1950s.
A train puffed along beside me for awhile. I don’t know where it was going but things like that don’t really matter in these parts.
Now I’m settled in Linlithgow in the Palace View B&B. It’s rubbish but has a great view of the palace where Mary Queen of Scots was born. This JMW is actually quite an interesting footpath.