*Our Golden Retriever tour guide, Sawyer, has taken over the blog this week. Please enjoy his fun take on our recent visit to Culross.
It has not been easy for many people the past few months due to COVID-19, and it has been quite strange for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and almost forgot to give a proper introduction! My name is Sawyer, and I am the canine tour guide here at Wee Walking Tours. Normally, I assist my human Dad, Sami, on our Edinburgh walking tours. It’s quite exciting as I get to guide visitors around our beautiful capital city here in Scotland. However, as I said, it has been quite confusing for me as I have not been to the city centre for four months!
I’ve been told that we’ve had to stay home to protect each other, be responsible, and save lives. As a dog who takes his tour guide job quite seriously, I understand the importance of helping others. Therefore, I am happy that we’ve been doing our duty staying home and within our local neighbourhood. Travel has started to open here in Scotland, but we still must travel responsibly. That means my human family make sure to wear face coverings when required (currently on public transportation and in shops), socially distance (2m or 6 ft), and avoid crowded areas. We must all follow the law, so be sure to check out the latest information from the Scottish Government when you visit Scotland. Now that I’ve covered that important information- let’s get to my story of our adventure to Fife!
I haven’t just been sitting at home the past few months. I have had some fun local adventures on our daily walks and Dad tells me he shares that with all of you on our social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook). However, I am not going to lie when I tell you just how excited I was to find out we were finally going on a car ride outside of our neighbourhood on one of our ‘explore and discover’ missions. We were going to a magical sounding place called the Kingdom of Fife and to the port town of Culross. I am fortunate that I get to go on many adventures within Edinburgh and around Scotland, but I have not been to Culross before. Mom tells me that they wrote an article about this wee, historic village. So, be sure to read that to learn a bit more of its history and- for Outlander fans (we get a lot of those nice people on our tours)- you can find out fun information on filming locations.
With all this excitement about our destination, I eagerly got ready to ‘hit the road’ with my family. My humans packed up the car, my big brother, Finn (who also holds the important job as Head of Human/Canine Resources in our family-business), snuggled up next to me, and, before I knew it, we were setting out on our adventure.
One exciting fact about us canines is that we possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in our noses and humans only have about six million. This means that going on a car ride and exploring new places is quite an experience- just from the standpoint of our sense of smell! And, let me tell you, there were quite a few amazing smells along the way to Culross and once we arrived. One of my favourites scents is the seaside and the fresh, salt air. So, I was quite thrilled when we pulled into the car park at Culross and saw that we were overlooking the Firth of Forth.
I happily jumped out of the car (after my human was safely attached to me), and quickly set out learning the lay of the land. I could smell many other dog pals that had previously visited as well as some friends who were close by. I heard Mom tell Dad that it was strange to see so few cars in the car park during a Saturday in July. We hope more tourists will come back soon but were content to take advantage of visiting such a popular location with so few people around.
We started out walk into the village, and it wasn’t long before we encountered the beauty of Culross. For those of you who regularly read this blog and follow us on social media, it isn’t a surprise to find out that I love to pose for pictures. Whenever I see Dad pull out his phone, I stop and make sure to give my best smile. Therefore, I was ready when we entered a lovely community garden park and Dad started taking pictures. There were a variety of plants and Finn and I thoroughly enjoyed smelling our way around.
Continuing along the road, we came across a place that normally delivers the wonderful scents of steak pie, fish and chips, and much more delicious food- The Red Lion Inn. Well, that is serendipitous because I’m fairly certain that I’m a ‘Golden’ lion! There was a plaque next to the entrance that Mom read to us. The Red Lion Inn was originally a merchant’s house dating back to 1570-1640 but was turned into a pub in the mid-1700s. It’s now the only pub left in Culross, and temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Hopefully, they will be able to open soon so locals and visitors can enjoy eating at such an historic place.
There are cobblestones all over Culross, so I had to be careful how I stepped. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience when Dad and I do our walking tours around Edinburgh. For example, Victoria Street (also known as ‘Diagon Alley’) is on a hill and has cobblestones- talk about the need to be sure-footed! As I shared before, my sense of smell gives me the wonderful ability to explore my surroundings in ways that humans can’t. But I also have fantastic eyesight and it is fun to see the world from my perspective further to the ground.
History surrounds you everywhere you go in Culross and I could tell the buildings were incredibly old (don’t forget to read our previous article for more info on this). I had so much fun walking down the streets and stopping for pictures. Here are some of my favourites:
As of the writing of this article, Culross Palace is currently closed due to COVID-19. However, some of the places in the town- such as the Palace Gardens- have reopened as we move out of lockdown. Therefore, be sure to check out their website for the most up-to-date information on how to plan your visit. However, I am not allowed into the Palace or Gardens since I am not an assistance dog. So, Dad took Finn and I for further explorations around the perimeter while Mom and my human sister did a walkabout in the Gardens.
After we had some water and a wee rest, Mom and my sister rejoined us. We decided to head back down to Bessie’s café because I could smell that they were baking some tasty goodies! The inside of the café is closed, but, fortunately, they were doing takeaway. The humans got coffee and almond croissants. I heard them say that they were some of the best croissants they’ve ever had. Unfortunately, Finn and I didn’t get any. But don’t worry, because I will remind them about this injustice when we get home and it’s time for our evening treat.
While they enjoyed their snack, we set out once again on our quest for fun discoveries. And, let me tell you, this next bit was my favourite part of the whole day! We decided to walk out to the West Kirk ruins just a half mile out of the centre of town. There are open fields on this side of the village, and we walked along a dirt path to the Kirk- much easier to walk on than the cobblestones if I’m honest. As an experienced canine tour guide, I knew that I could find the Kirk, but I let my humans follow the signs so that they felt useful.
Even though it was a warm day, there was a lovely breeze to help keep us cool. It also made the grass look like it was dancing in the wind. Finn and I decided to join in and hop along in the tall grass. You humans are really missing out on such experiences. We had so much fun jumping, running, and exploring all the scents and sites- we were living our best lives that day!
Eventually we came to the kirkyard ruins, and what a fascinating site to take in. I have special permission from the City Council to go in Greyfriars Kirkyard on our Edinburgh walking tours. Therefore, I have extensive experience in kirkyards and understand that I must be on my best behaviour. On the West Kirk grounds, I remained on lead next to Dad and only went off briefly for some quick photos.
Mom let us know that this used to be the pre-Reformation parish church of Culross, but it was already in ruins by the 1600s. There were graves dated from the 16th – present century. Within the ruins of the Kirk itself, there were intriguing details that Mom and Dad pointed out. We saw engravings on the walls of a fleur-de-lis, swords, shield, and keys. Here are some of our favourite pictures from the West Kirk ruins:
After our trek back into the town centre, my human family decided to get some ice cream from the Nelson’s ice cream truck. I heard them say that they make it themselves and it looked quite delicious. They even have a dairy-free sorbet option for those who need it. Finn and I looked at the ice cream longingly but were promised dog treats when we got home.
At this point, we all realised that we were quite exhausted and ready to head back home. This time, Finn and I slept the whole journey back to Edinburgh. It’s tough being a travel dog blogger here in Scotland, but someone’s got to do it! 😉
Well, I hope you enjoyed my story of our trip to Culross. Don’t forget that when you visit Scotland- be sure to book one of our Edinburgh walking tours. I love to show people around my city. I’ve been told that I provide a cheerful, calming, and delightful atmosphere to our Wee Golden Walks.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!