Dunfermline Heritage walk is a free event which takes place every January the 2nd at 1.30pm and attracts visitors from the local area as well as tourists who want to learn about Scotland’s alternative royal mile. Dunfermline is now a busy and modern town but within a square mile radius there are plenty of reminders of the towns royal connections.
The meeting point for the walk is the Mercat cross on the pedestrianised High Street, walkers from all over the world are met by volunteer guides and the walk begins. The walk starts off by going down the High Street and Bridge Street past the City Chambers with its stunning architecture and elaborately carved stonework and into Pittencrieff Park through the elaborate Louise Carnegie gates.
Pittencrieff park is a beautiful place to walk even in the winter, the park once the playground of kings and off limits the ordinary man on the street was gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie. The walk through the park has fantastic views over to the Forth Bridges and is the home of the ruins of Malcolm Canmore’s tower and is also the location of the cave where Robert the Bruce was famously inspired by a spider to never give up.
Once a circuit of the top part of the glen has been completed, walkers come out of the glen at the gates by Dunfermline Abbey. The Abbey was established in 1040, stone carvings pay tribute to Robert the Bruce and there is even a small spider in the stained glass windows. The Abbey is most closely associated with St Margaret who is just one of the many royals who rest beneath the Abbey and her shrine was believed to have healing properties attracting many pilgrims to visit. The graveyard is a peaceful place to walk around, the ancient tombs with their carvings still visible giving clues to the lives of the people who now rest in the kirkyard.
The second last port of call is the ruins of the ancient palace which was once home to royalty and is still an impressive sight as it sits on the edge of a ravine. The western wall is still intact and you can gain an idea of the size of the palace which once housed Queen Anne.
A walk through the remains of the monastery which once housed Benedictine Monks takes you down to Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace museum. Carnegie was born in a humble cottage with parents who had strong social values and a sense of social justice. Although he later emigrated to America to make his fortune he never forgot the town of his birth and left many gifts to the people of Dunfermline which are still enjoyed to this day. The small cottage has been extended to house exhibitions about Carnegies incredible tale of rags to riches but also retains many of its original charm and features including the bed where Carnegie was born. As well as having a chance to look around the house, visitors are given mulled wine and shortbread which is very welcome after their walk.
Dunfermline’s heritage walk is a great way to start your new year, a leisurely stroll in the cold January air is a perfect way to cure your hangover or burn off some of the calories from overconsumption over the festive period. The tour guides are lively and know lots of interesting details and stories about Dunfermline’s history and are happy to answer questions. The heritage walk is an event which grows more popular every year, why don’t you join them next year?