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Digital walking trails: Fife’s rich industrial heritage captured in new app’s audio guide

digital walking trails
Rab McKenzie and Kate Stewart provide audio for the guide.

Fife’s rich industrial heritage has been captured in a series of digital walking trails.

The five bespoke audio guides can be downloaded on the mobile phone app.

Walkers can then listen to local people sharing their knowledge of the former mining communities in the west of the region.

digital walking trails
Rab McKenzie, left, and Kate Stewart.

The guides highlight Fife’s landscapes, local heroes, architecture and once thriving industry, all of which are steeped in history.

They span the coastal routes and the centre of Fife and include Kincardine, Culross, Valleyfield, Newmills, Oakley and Blairhall.

And spots around Lochore Meadows, Kelty and Blairadam are also included.

Blairadam Woods.

The guide has been produced by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) at a time when more people are enjoying the countryside during lockdown.

It is hoped the digital walking trails will encourage more visitors to an area not traditionally known for tourism.

Witch trials

One of those who contributed to the audio guide is west Fife and coastal villages councillor Kate Stewart.

Ms Stewart was instrumental in bringing the story of Lilias Adie – known as the Torryburn Witch – to public attention.

Lilias Adie.

She is also part of a campaign calling for women accused of witchcraft to be pardoned.

Fife is full of rich social history.”

Tourism convener Altany Craik.

The independent councillor said she was delighted to take part in the new guide.

“It allows communities here to share in their rich history and gives them information that’s not usually available,” she said.

Ms Stewart at a plaque to commemorate Lilias Adie

“I talk about Lilias who was imprisoned after she confessed to having sex with the devil in 1704.

“She died in prison before her trial and was buried on the beach at Torryburn under a large slab to prevent her body rising from the grave.

“She is thought to have been the only witch buried in Scotland, the others having been hanged.”

Ms Stewart added: “Visitors can listen to this and found out things they wouldn’t otherwise know.”

Mining heritage

Walkers can also hear from former miner Rab McKenzie who talks about Valleyfield Colliery, which closed in 1978.

Rab is vice-chairman of Valleyfield Community Council and is involved in various other organisations.

digital walking trails
Rab McKenzie.

He is known locally as Mr Valleyfield due to his knowledge of the area.

“This area has a very rich history,” he said.

“The woods were my playground and even today I walk there every couple of days.

“But not everyone knows the history.

“The mining industry is all gone now but I like to keep its history alive.

“Hopefully visitors will want to learn more and will enjoy finding out about it.”

Rich social history

The digital walking trails have also been welcomed by Fife Council.

Tourism convener Altany Craik said history is massively important when it comes to attracting visitors.

Tulliallan Kirkyard gets a mention.

“This kind of added value really helps people to see our social history,” he said.

“Fife is full of rich social history, particularly when it comes to our industrial heritage.

“These sort of apps give visitors to an area something more and something to stop for instead of just passing through.”

A ‘whole host of information’

Nicky Wilson, CRT chairman in Scotland, said the walking trails would also entertain people who live locally.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen more and more people going out on walks and exploring their local areas,” he said.

“The trails not only guide people along attractive routes, but also provide the listener with a whole  host of information they’ve perhaps never heard of before, all from a local expert.”

Balgownie Woods near Valleyfield feature in the guide.

Mr Wilson said culture and community play an important role for the CRT.

“We hope the launch of our new audio guides can be enjoyed by people of all ages who are keen to learn a little bit more about the area they live in.”

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