A slight (planned) hiatus in our holiday occurred at the point we have reached in my narration. This required me to use my thirteen year old ‘emergency’ mobile phone in order to summon a lift. We had recently had an issue when such summoning did not work owing to a technical hitch but on this occasion, it seemed my phone and the recipient’s were now communicating. I decide however to send a text message in preference to a call. Simples. I know how to send text messages. It turns out that I can indeed send text messages, I just cannot write them on my phone. My capitalisation is idiosyncratic and I am unable to work out how to create a space between the words. I write the message Ifinishat4wiLLletUkNowifitcHanges and hope the fisherman of my acquaintance can interpret it. Considering that I am reasonably proficient with computers, it is sad but true that mobile phones are another country.
Amongst all this, panda hiding continues. I head out to photograph a hidden panda in the early hours before we are due to move the caravan on to Scotland. I appear to have forgotten to return the SD card to the camera after uploading previous pictures. Fortunately, I don’t have to walk back up the hill and down to the van as there the van is, just the other side of a fence. I call for assistance and my travelling companion retrieves the card and prepares to hand it over the fence to me. Ah. A slight snag, my side of the fence is accompanied by a stinging nettle filled ditch. Hmm. I am terrified that the card will somehow get dropped in the undergrowth but fortunately this danger is averted and the picture is duly taken.
We arrive in Markinch. My children have Scottish ancestry. In fact, all my grandchildren have kilt wearing credentials on both their mother’s and father’s sides. The closest I get is Northumbrian lineage. I pay tribute to Edward’s ancestors, who come from this area. We decide to go for a walk, following a leaflet we have found at the site. It is a five mile walk. We realise that it probably a while since we walked five miles. It may not sound far but we are out of practice and knocking on a bit now. We used to walk regularly until grandchildren visiting seemed like more fun!
The walk instructions are a tad vague. It starts well, with us finding our way through Markinch then on up a footpath. We are to look for a ‘worn stone step style’ (their spelling). We debate whether a couple of steps constitute a ‘style’. They are supposed to be opposite a parish boundary mark. We climb a bank. No sign of said marker. We dismiss these steps and continue. Our first mistake. It turns out that these were the steps we sought. Road signs are conspicuous by their absence but we manage to recover the route, although have walked on road rather than footpath more that we should. I am wearing soft shoes as opposed to walking boots as the latter are slightly narrower than my feet (story of my life). I should have read all the instructions. They are taking us across a peat bog. My shoes are not peat bog proof. Luckily, the recent dry weather means I can safely negotiate the boggy bits. We try to identify the ruins of Kirkforthar Chapel. The guide tells us a former vicar was called Reverend Zong, allegedly a corruption of Yogh/Young – one for the family historians amongst us. We also see the remains of Kirkforthar House and ‘doocot’. Also on the itinerary is Stob Cross, a monolith of uncertain origin but possibly Pictish.
As a reward for our strenuous exercise, we treat ourselves to an ice-cream. It may be a day or two before we walk again!