In planning my holiday in Scotland, I had a handful of hikes and walks in mind, but I also wanted to leave myself open to whatever interesting places I might find along the way. And after too many hours spent sitting on planes and in airports, once I reached my first destination of Dunfermline, I was ready to stretch my legs.
Top of my must-see list for Dunfermline was the abbey and the ruins of the palace and monastery. I spent over an hour exploring this historical site, dating back to Queen Margaret (later Saint Margaret) and the charitable works she contributed to Scotland in the late 11th century.
Directly to the west of the abbey and palace grounds, however, is another property associated with Margaret and her husband King Malcolm III (son of Duncan, the one from Shakespeare’s Macbeth). Long before it became Pittencrieff Park, the glen and woodlands here featured a fortress attributed to Malcolm, a pilgrims’ path to the Abbey, and a hiding place for William Wallace.
In 1902, Andrew Carnegie purchased the property with the plan to turn it into a leisure park where the working classes of his hometown of Dunfermline could enjoy the natural world outside their urban neighborhoods. Since then, it has developed into a cross between a walking park, an arboretum, and a cultural center with museums. So of course I had to explore!
I wandered down the path directly across from the abbey and very quickly found myself surrounded by peace. Taking one path up to the remains of Malcolm’s fortress tower, I came down the other side to the sounds of a nearby waterfall in the glen. Across the Double Bridge (one arch stacked above the other), I found rhododendrons and azaleas in lush bloom as I followed a path back past a gazebo to that secluded waterfall.
From there, I returned along the path and continued uphill to Pittencrieff House (now a museum) overlooking the glen. And from the lawn on the other side of the house, I had a stunning view south to the three iconic bridges over the Firth of Forth.
Since I still had some energy left in me, I headed back down into the glen and followed the winding stream. A couple of sandstone outcroppings reminded me of the many ledges trails at home, and along the way I spotted the stone shelter housing the cave believed to be where William Wallace escaped the English.
My visit ended with a tiring climb up the hill at the far end of the glen, returning me to the old town, and I made my way back to the bus station, satisfied with my first day’s adventures.