Enjoying Hopetoun’s autumn glories

IMG_5712 Marine Conservation Society volunteers, Blackness
IMG_5712 Marine Conservation Society volunteers, Blackness
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Cycle tyre tracks prove the popularity of the Blackness to South Queensferry section of the SUSTRANS National Cycle Network Route 76, The Round the Forth Route, opened last September.

It goes through Hopetoun Estate’s Wester Shore Wood and red deer park, a lovely walk or ride with much history, avoiding the busy A904. It is well marked, with classy looking signs on the estate.

A limited bus service operates at each end but remember to check time-tables beforehand.

Wester Shore was recently cleaned by Marine Conservation Society volunteers.

Interestingly, a 100ft long 19th century Admiralty battle practice target barge lies in the mud.

I was lucky enough to photograph it before the bow collapsed.

Now rarities of archaeological interest, they could be strung together to simulate a fleet action.

At the bay’s east end a stone bridge crosses the Midhope burn which fans out over the beach. Waterfowl can be seen enjoying the fresh water and green weed.

They can be watched from the cover of the trees.

The geese are back, noisily stoking up for winter. By the path a patch of grey pigeon feathers remained from a kestrel’s takeaway.

Nearby, a bramble picker was doing well, his bag laden.

At Midhope a new zig-zag path leads up to Abercorn Church, a participant in Linlithgow Civic Trust’s Doors Open Days.

Its stained glass, carved skulls and crossed bones are well worth the detour.

A small museum houses Viking hog back gravestones and parts of carved 8th century crosses.

Visitors to Hopetoun House can watch the stags being fed - the hinds are often seen from the cycle path.

The last couple of miles bring one back to modern day life, passing the colour and activity of the Queensferry Crossing south landing construction site and its record-breaking caissons in the river.