Three more hidden gems
RUBIES IN FIFE
Fife’s Ruby Bay should really be known as Garnet Bay, as the blood-red gemstones found here are pyrope garnets coloured crimson by chromium. The basaltfringed beach lies on the Fife Coastal Path near Elie, with views across the Firth of Forth, and the fiery tint of these ‘Elie Rubies’ is most readily spotted on bright days when they gleam in the sunshine between the tidelines. Look too for the Lady’s Tower, built for Lady Anstruther in the 18th century so she could undress for a skinny dip, while a bell rang through town to keep locals away. And a short stroll west of Elie you can find the famous Chain Walk, where you can take an adventurous scramble along the cliffs, clinging to chains drilled into the rocks.
WALK HERE: A nine-mile stretch of the Fife Coastal Path from St Monans to Lower Largo takes in Ruby Bay and the Chain Walk; regular bus service for the return.
BLUE JOHN IN THE PEAKS
The source of this gem isn’t exactly hidden as Blue John Cavern is marked on the OS map with a big star. The semiprecious mineral lies in bands of purple, white, blue and yellow – its name comes from the French bleu-jaune – and it occurs in just this one hill in all of Britain. Treak Cliff ‘pyramids up’ in the Peak District near Castleton and you can admire it on a walk between the Great Ridge and the deep dale of Winnats Pass, but to see the rock in situ you need to head underground, either into the eponymous cave ( www.bluejohn-cavern.co.uk) or the Treak Cliff Cavern ( www. bluejohnstone.com). If you relish sparkle, Castleton packs its streets with trees each Christmas, all aglow with fairy lights.
WALK HERE: Download The Great Ridge at www.lfto.com/bonusroutes
CAIRNGORM IN THE CAIRNGORMS
Yes, this quartz (cairngorm) takes its name from the Scottish mountains (Cairngorms) in which it is found. Formed by mineral-rich liquids that seeped into gaps in cooling granite and solidified, it ranges in colour from clear through yellow to smoky and even black. It’s long been prized: many Highland clans would carry a polished gem as a talisman, and it’s a regular feature in kilt pins and the handles of sgian-dubhs (traditional small knives). The summit of Cairn Gorm itself was a prize hunting ground, with prospectors using lines of milky quartz to find where to quarry. Walk the summit plateau and you might trip over some yourself as huge pieces weighing as much as 22kg have been found.
WALK HERE: Download Cairn Gorm at www.lfto.com/ bonusroutes