Tuesday, August 23, 2011

giants, zombie vampires, and st. monans

Today's soundtrack:
"If It Feels Good Do It" by Sloan
"Ants" by Egger
"Suburban War" by Arcade Fire

Last Saturday, Miguel and I took advantage of the sunny weather and decided to walk a bit more of the Fife Coastal Path. We headed west, out past Pittenweem and onto St. Monans, which neither of us had visited. I'd spotted the windmill from the Pittenweem pier when Yvon and André were visiting and was itching to see it closer.

The walk out was lovely, although it's more manicured and busy than the Cellardyke-Crail path. Also, no goats. Just before we reached St. Monans, we came upon the windmill..

St. Monans Windmill

.. and these odd sort of mounds which I initially mistook for a deranged putt-and-bounce course.

Salt Pans

These are the foundations of the salt panning buildings. Salt water would be pumped up by the windmill, and then the salt would be processed out in these little factories. These salt pans date to the 1770s and were finally abandoned in the mid-19th century.

Reconstructed salt pan foundation

Abandoned or not, Miguel was still a little concerned that the windmill might a giant, and so did his best Don Quixote in order to keep the windmill in line. He also insisted on calling me Sancho.

Don Quijote y el gigante

Aside from the windmill, I really didn't know anything else about the town. I had a vague idea that the Lady Tower was somewhere nearby (it wasn't), so we decided to walk through the town and have a look about.

St. Monans

The town was empty. It was freaky. You could hear a pin drop. Miguel and I wandered down to the harbour, not daring to speak in more than a whisper. It felt like the village of the damned. Where was everyone? It is tourist season and all. Was everyone in hiding? Had the Zombie Apocalypse already come and gone here? Or were they all vampires? Zombie vampires, perhaps? Clearly that was the only logical explanation.

Soon enough, we reached the edge of town and came across the Auld Kirk, a church which dates back to the 14th century and has the honour of being the Scottish church closest to the sea. It's an oddly-shaped church, as it's missing a nave, but stunning nonetheless. The stone steeple is particularly striking.

Auld Kirk

After a wander around the graveyard, we took the low-tide path out towards Elie, having seen some ruins in the distance that I thought was the Lady Tower (it wasn't).

Auld Kirk from the low-tide path

Auld Kirk and St. Monans

The ruins were not of the Lady Tower (more on that whenever we get around to actually visiting it), but of Newark Castle, which dates from the 16th century and has a rather fascinating history.

Newark Castle

Currently, the castle is in a fairly ruined state, but there are rumours that some sort of restoration-as-stopgap (as in, to stop it from falling into the sea) could be in the works. At the moment, getting too close to the castle is dangerous (although we did it anyway), especially during a gale, as the masonry is crumbling.

Newark Castle

Nearby, as we headed back to St. Monans, we passed a doocot. Doocot is Scots for dovecote, and is a large aviary of sorts that traditionally housed pigeons and doves. This doocot currently houses rubbish.


I'm not sure when it was built, but doocots of all sorts were built up until the 18th century, although the plainness of this particular one probably means it was built much earlier, possibly not long after the castle itself. There's a more ornate doocot on the St. Andrews Road, just outside of Anstruther, complete with stone finials.

As we wandered back into the empty village, we realized where everyone was. There was a wedding at the Auld Kirk! Guests were starting to spill out from the church, complete with old men in kilts. I'm sure this will stop being a novelty at some point. Relieved that the townsfolk were a) zombies, b) vampires, or c) zombie vampires, we continued on and came across the Harbour Howff Cafe, a community-run restaurant where we popped in for a quick lunch.

Refreshed, we decided to head back home. As we passed by the windmill again, I snapped off my favourite photo of the day.

St. Monans Windmill

This was soon followed by my second favourite photo of the day, as this field between Pittenweem and Anstruther Easter reminds me of Saskatoon.

After 6 miles of walking, we sat down on our deck to nurse our sunburns and some beer.


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