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Great Walk- St Margarets Loop

Pilgrim Walk in Fife

On Saturday 20 June, twelve of us gathered in the drizzle to walk “St Margaret’s Loop” , the detour from St Margaret’s Way , from North Queensferry to Dunfermline .

First of all, we explored the chapel of St James in North Queensferry, a reminder of the gift from Queen Margaret of a free ferry passage to all pilgrims crossing the River Forth. A guide opened the gate for us and gave us information about it. Built in the 11th century, the parts of the structure that remained had been incorporated into the walls of a small cemetery, so it was not immediately recognisable as a chapel. However, the inscription on the gateway read, “This is done by the sailers of North Ferrie 1752“.

Some of us might have been feeling a little depressed because of the weather, but the mood soon lifted as the rain stopped and we began to get to know each other and enjoy the peace of the beautiful countryside as we walked. Occasional open views across the River Forth, with the railway bridge, the road bridge and the new road bridge under construction, gave way to an industrial area, then the small town of Inverkeithing. Walking on to the outskirts of Rosyth, we sat down on the grass outside Stephen’s bakery (a very popular place!) and chatted about Spain. It started to feel like a real camino day. We were halfway to our destination and a little behind time, so we stepped out with renewed vigour, crossing fields and woods, wondering if we were on the right path or if we had missed a sign …. Does this all sound familiar? Soon, it seemed, Dunfermline was in sight, the Abbey in full view at the top of a hill, our eight mile walk almost over. We made our way towards the Abbey, then lost sight of it as we entered Pittencrieff Park. It was more of a wooded hill than a park, really, with 117 species of trees; we counted the scurrying squirrels and met some dogs, including a husky! Suddenly we were coming out of the park gates, right into the centre of historic Dunfermline, to find our guide waiting for us to tell us all about the shrine dedicated to Saint Margaret, wife of Malcolm III, King of Scotland. The guide explained that the Queen had regularly disappeared from the royal palace to spend time alone with God in a nearby cave.

After a reviving refreshment stop at Abbot House, the guide took us to visit the cave and we had time to reflect on the saintly life of the queen who had a personal devotional life and engaged in deeds of kindness for the poor and needy.

A group photo concluded the visit (see below).

We took a bus back to North Queensferry and our cars, hoping to meet again in July and have another walk in Fife. We also waved off one of our number who was flying to Spain on Tuesday to walk the camino.

The visit was organised by Ken Spittal, to whom thanks are due for a most interesting and enjoyable day.

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