As often happens with blogs, I got busy with other things and this webpage has sat largely silent for too many months. During that time I went on a fabulous story journey that I meant to write about but just never managed to. With spring promised in the returning light, my thoughts have once more returned to ecotravel and to the Storybikes weekend I went on with my husband in the Fall.
Last summer, long-time storyteller and avid cyclist Andy Hunter started up an environmentally-friendly, narratively-informed, tourism business: Storybikes. His goal, to get people to slow down, get out in the fresh-air and re-learn how to see the world through stories. Storybikes offers a number of different routes in Northern England and Scotland, ranging from weekend to week-long cycling holidays. The one my husband and I went on followed the trail of Celtic saints around the Kingdom of Fife.
Public transit is fabulous over here and very accommodating of cyclists. On the local train routes, every second car seems to have a bicycle rack, so it was simple enough for us to get ourselves and our bikes out to Kirkcaldy Saturday morning, where we met up with the rest of our group (which included a six-year old who rode on a “tag-a-long” behind her father’s bike and did not complain once).
From the Kirkcaldy train station, Andy took us down to the banks of the Firth of Forth, to Ravenscraig Castle, where we had our first story, this one about the fair Rosabelle St. Clair. We followed the coastline for a wee while to Dysart, where monks used to retreat to their equivalent of the “desert”. From there we turned inland heading through Thornton and Glenrothes and then over to Vane Farm, one of the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s nature reserves. There were several thousand pink-footed geese in temporary residence in the nature reserve. Every once in a while something would set them off and they would all take off squawking and wheel in a circle before settling down again.
After lunch we took a leisurely cycle around the Loch, stopping for stories about St. Serf and to watch the pirouettes of the local gliders. Not only is Loch Leven a destination for birds, it is also a highly storied landscape, having two major historical sites: St. Serf’s Inch, or Island, and Loch Leven Castle, one of the many places that Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner, and from which she eventually escaped. We spent the night at an inn in Kinross, gathering in the dining room to share some stories before taking our sore muscles to bed.
After a huge Scottish breakfast, the next morning we set out away from Loch Leven up the Cleish Hills, where we took a well earned rest from cycling to hear another tale and then down to Dunfermline, where the tour ended with tales of Saint Margaret. Andy promised that “through stories, [we would] travel to the heart and history of the landscape” and I feel that he delivered on it. I highly recommend the concept and Andy’s tours.
Storybikes tours this year include routes in: Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, West Lothian, Perthshire, and along Hadrian’s Wall.