Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

TGO Challenge 2017 - Day 13 - Dundee to Monifieth

Date: Wednesday 24 May

Route: as planned: Camperdown Country Park > fort and memorial at Dundee Law > join coastal cycleway before Tay Road Bridge > Broughty Castle > Monifieth (campsite at NO 494 320)

Distance: 18 km (Cum: 280)

Ascent: 150 metres (Cum: 8850)

Time taken: 6.25 hrs including 2 hrs breaks

Weather: sunny and warm

Dundee is Scotland's fourth-largest city and the 51st-most-populous built-up area in the United Kingdom. So why would a TGO Challenger want to walk through it?! Because it's a place steeped in history. Whilst the mid-year population estimate for 2015 was 148,000, which gave Dundee a the second highest population density in Scotland, we know the city developed originally in the late 12th century when it established itself as an important east coast trading port.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries the town had many ups and downs. It was even destroyed by Parliamentarian forces led by George Monck in 1651 and was held by the Jacobites in the 1715–16 rising.

Rapid expansion was brought on by the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the 19th century when Dundee was the centre of the global jute industry. This, along with its other major industries gave Dundee its epithet as the city of "jute, jam and journalism".

One of our correspondents, Wuxing Nick, knows all about this as he spent a few years here in the employ of Dundee Textiles Limited (RIP).

Today, Dundee is promoted as "One City, Many Discoveries" in honour of Dundee's history of scientific activities and of the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic exploration vessel, which was built in Dundee and is now berthed at Discovery Point.

Biomedical and technological industries have arrived since the 1980s, and the city now accounts for 10% of the United Kingdom's digital-entertainment industry. In 2014 Dundee was recognised by the United Nations as the UK's first UNESCO City of Design for its diverse contributions to fields including medical research, comics and video games.

A unique feature of Dundee is that its two professional football clubs Dundee United and Dundee F.C. have stadiums all but adjacent to each other.

With the decline of traditional industry, the city has adopted a plan to regenerate and reinvent itself as a cultural centre, to which the errant TGO Challenger may be attracted!

In pursuit of this, a £1 billion master plan to regenerate and to reconnect the Waterfront to the city centre started in 2001 and is expected to be completed within a 30-year period, with the Dundee Victoria & Albert Museum opening by 2018 at a cost of £80 million. 

From about 1854, there had been plans for a Tay crossing, to replace an early train-ferry. The first bridge, opened in 1878, was a single-track lattice design, notable for lightness and low cost. Its sudden collapse in a high wind on 28 December 1879 was, with the loss of 75 lives, one of the great engineering disasters of history, and its causes are still debated today.

The second bridge is a double-track construction of iron and steel with a 2.75 mile span, opened in 1887 and still in service.

In 2003, a strengthening and refurbishing project was recognised by a major award for the scale and difficulty of the work.

The most destructive fire in the city's history came in 1906, reportedly sending "rivers of burning whisky" through the street.

The jute industry fell into decline in the early 20th century, partly due to reduced demand for jute products and partly due to an inability to compete with the emerging industry in Calcutta.

This gave rise to unemployment levels far in excess of the national average, peaking in the inter-war period, but major recovery was seen in the post-war period, thanks to the arrival first of American light engineering companies like Timex and NCR, and subsequent expansion into microelectronics.

The city lies within the Sidlaw-Ochil anticline, and the predominant bedrock type is Old Red Sandstone. Differential weathering of a series of igneous intrusions has yielded a number of prominent hills in the landscape, most notably the Dundee Law that I visited this morning, and Balgay hill.

After setting off at 9 o'clock I managed to negotiate my way to Dundee Law on a pleasant day, before making my way down to the cycle track by the Tay Bridge. That track would basically provide my route for the rest of this Challenge, all the way to beyond Arbroath.

Passing through the centre of Dundee was an agreeable experience, from the latte and scone at Coffee & Co ('Down Town' - Petula Clark) to an encounter with a 'Dundee Ambassador'. Yes, they have people roaming the streets, accosting tourists to tell them more about the town. But I'd already walked past the medieval site that this chap was recommending. And I'd (just for you, Nick) paid a visit to the sparkling statue of Desperate Dan and his cohorts.

Once on the bike route I wandered around the environs of the new museum. Work is progressing apace and hopefully it'll be a great place to visit by sometime next year.

Sadly pedestrians aren't allow on the cycle track through the docks, so pavements had to suffice. This was after a visit to the Harbour Café. I sat outside with a £1 mug of tea feeling like a left over from a losing team on The Apprentice.

Beyond Stannergate, it was a most agreeable stroll to Broughty Ferry, past a display dedicated to sea eagles. Between 2007 and 2012 about 85 chicks from Norway were released here and the reintroduction of this previously hunted bird appears to be enjoying success. I next passed through Broughty Ferry, a separate burgh from 1864 until 1913, when it was incorporated into Dundee.

Formerly a prosperous fishing and whaling village, in the 19th century Broughty Ferry became a haven for wealthy jute barons, who built their luxury villas in the suburb. As a result, Broughty Ferry was referred to at the time as the "richest square mile in Europe".

Broughty Castle also has a long history. It has been restored as a museum piece and that was well worth 45 minutes of my time.

Onwards then to Monifieth, a large town situated on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, and my destination for today.

It was a lovely afternoon, and the rock gardens at Barnhill looked delightful as I strolled past, trying to absorb information from some of the many boards that litter the place.

At the outflow of Dighty Water an assembly of over 80 swans was enjoying something in the estuary.

The presence of a number of class II and III Pictish stones points to Monifieth having had some importance as an ecclesiastical centre in the early medieval period. Until the early 19th century, Monifieth remained a small village but grew rapidly due to the expansion of the local textile industry.

The earliest evidence for occupation of the area surrounding Monifieth dates to the Mesolithic period. Indeed, antiquities are found in abundance from here all the way to the end of my Challenge route.

Midden pits, worked flints, cropmarks, stones incised with cup and ring marks, the Iron age ruins of a broch and vitrified fort, artefacts including a quantity of gold coins, iron spear heads and a stone lamp, domestic remains from the late Prehistoric period, souterrains at Carlungie and Ardestie, etc, etc.

I ignored all this and timed a rendezvous with Sue perfectly - 3.15 at the campsite entrance. The Phreerunner went up to 'air', but as it's  £15 per tent I'm a guest tonight in the Nallo, which is just a bit bigger and makes tomorrow morning's logistics easier. 

Today's pictures:
Looking back to King's Seat from Dundee Law
A present for Nick
Last erection of Phreerunner for a while - drying it out.

Finally, in case you are not already bored, here's a Wiki take on Monifieth - optional reading:

Prior to the thirteenth century, the church and lands of Monifieth were possessions of the Céli Dé monastic order. The church was endowed to the recently founded Tironensian abbey of Arbroath by Gille Críst, Mormaer of Angus, around 1201-1207.

A hoard of 700 coins dating to the reigns of Edward I and Edward II were found in this area in 1854.

The present building of St Rule's Church (built 1812) originally incorporated three Class II and Class III Pictish/Early Medieval sculpted stones, recycled as building stones, including one that had previously been used in the pre-reformation building it replaced. These stones were removed in the mid 19th century and, along with a fourth stone found in an adjoining garden, were donated to the National Museums of Scotland in 1871. They represent some of the latest Pictish era monuments and can be confidently dated to the late 9th/early 10th centuries.

Monifieth remained a small village, comprising a number of turf huts until the early 19th century. In the eighteenth century, the economy of the parish was mainly dependent on agriculture. Other industries included quarrying, weaving within the home and the start of manufacturing of linseed oil at a water-powered mill by the Dighty burn, supporting a small community, 'Milltown', later named as 'Milton of Monifieth'.

Although Monifieth had no harbour, cargo was off-loaded from vessels on Monifieth Sands (in the relatively sheltered Firth of Tay) at low tide and horse-drawn vehicles would move the cargo to nearby destinations.

During the 19th century, the village gradually expanded following the introduction of larger scale industries to the area, including manufacture of machinery for flax mills in 1811.

James Low and Robert Fairweather had set up their foundry in the village at the start of the nineteenth century and in 1815 developed the first carding machine for flax tow in the area. With the growth of the textile industry in Dundee and Angus the business grew rapidly, and, by the late nineteenth century, James F Low & Co Ltd was producing a wide range of machines used for the processing and spinning of jute, flax and similar fibres.

As well as building machinery for local use, the firm attracted orders from across the world and by the 1880s the Monifieth Foundry employed about 300 workers. The expansion of Monifieth's industrial economy was aided by the opening of the Dundee and Arbroath Railway on 6 October 1838. This railway, which was originally intended only as a local line, was constructed with an unusual gauge of 5 ft 6 in (shared only with the Arbroath and Forfar Railway), later being converted to standard gauge when it was incorporated into the national Rail system.

A tramway service was introduced in 1905, with cars journeying into Dundee City centre at regular intervals. This service was welcomed by the many who travelled daily either from the Burgh into the City on business, or the many hundreds who commuted daily to work in the factories and mills.

In 1905 Monifieth gained a Cottage Hospital via a provision made in the will of the Reverend James Gerard Young DD. The Reverend Young had been Minister of Monifieth Parish Church from 1855 until his death in 1899. The funds he left were used to establish the Gerard Trust which managed the Gerard Cottage Hospital from its opening until it passed into the control of the new National Health Service in 1948. The hospital closed in 1969 and subsequently became Mary's Residential Home for the elderly.

In the First World War, Monifieth was the site of a Red Cross Hospital. During the Second World War the Monifieth Foundry was used for the production of war supplies including bombs and aircraft parts.

Amen!

Just off for some fish 'n chips.

1 comment:

wuxing said...

Thanks a lot for the customized content, Martin. And good luck for the 'final stretch'.