We had an early breakfast this morning at 7:30 am - our typical hiker's breakfast with the addition of some porridge. It was a family style breakfast, which gave us the opportunity to meet some of the other guests, including a nice young couple visiting from Cambridge. By the time we packed up and started our day's journey it was 9:15.
Olivia wanted to learn a new monologue today, so as we walked through the Kinneil Wood we chose a new monologue for the day.
Shortly after we started, we passed by James Watt's Cottage, which was built in 1768 and used by him to work in secret on improving the design of his steam engine. The engine was originally used to improve the pumps used at the local mines.
Just past the cottage is the Kinneil House, the country home of the influential Hamilton family. It was saved from demolition in the 1930's by the discovery of its remarkable Renaissance painted rooms.
We had been told before we left the B & B this morning that today was the biggest day of the year for this area -the Bo'ness Fair Day- with parades and celebrations. We could hear music and marches throughout the morning as well as signs on quite a few houses like this one, celebrating the children who were named as fairies and royal members.
Then we hiked for quite a few miles along the coast of the River Firth. While it was a paved path, it did offer some incredible views.
And it gave Olivia an opportunity to work on her MOO talk too!
Eventually we could see the Blackness Castle, built in the 15th century by the Crichton family. It was a fortress and prison known as 'the ship that never sailed' because from the sea it looks like a docked ship.
And, of course, it was a wonderful spot for Lara's daily handstand shot.
Shortly after the castle, the path enters the Wester Shore Woods. While we liked the water views of the earlier stretch, we much preferred this section with its dirt path and secluded feel.
We spent a few bucolic miles hiking through the woods before alighting on the Hopetoun House, completed in 1707 and regarded as one of Scotland's finest stately homes. We didn't go in the house, but the trail did wind it's way around and through the estate.
It was another day that Olivia found difficult. She is definitely our mountain goat, thriving on steeper terrain. The flatness of this trail doesn't inspire her as much - so we promised that our next trek will include more mountains!
A couple of miles past the estate, we reached our destination for the day - the Ravenous Beastie in South Queensferry.
We arrived a little past 2 pm and were excited to have the afternoon to relax. My feet were especially thrilled. Unfortunately, the days of hiking in the rain in sandals caused some cracking on the skin of my heels. That doesn't make for the most comfortable hiking, but in the scheme of things it is minor so I don't worry about it.
The owner of the Beastie wanted to make a donation to our charity by doing our laundry for free! What a kind gesture and one that we kindly accepted. We ordered some lentil soup and vegan nachos for lunch - those were brought up to our room to enjoy.
We ate, showered, and relaxed. Lara and I took a nice 1.5 hr. nap while the kids read, wrote in journals, and watched some TV. We awoke refreshed and got ready to go to dinner at Orocco Pier, a great restaurant with a vegan menu option right across the street.
We had planned to spend the next two days hiking with an amazing couple whom Lara and I had originally met on Little Corn Island in November. Alex and Kate were there on their honeymoon and we were on one of Lara's yoga retreats. We made plans then to meet up to hike for a few days in Scotland and also to spend a couple of days with them after the hike in Birmingham, where they live. So they came right to the restaurant from the airport and we had a wonderful evening catching up with them. We are thrilled that they will be joining us for the next few days.
The kids walked back to our lodging a little before 9 and we hung out for another hour before calling it a night. It's now almost 11 and I'm happy to be finishing this blog and joining Lara and the kids for a good night's sleep!
Distance: 12.6 miles
Time: 4 hrs. 30 min.
Avg. Speed: 2.8mph
Total Ascent: 705 ft.
Total Descent: 1,042 ft.