Three more hid­den gems

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Discover - WORDS : J ENNY WALT ERS


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.


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 (­john-cav­ or the Treak Cliff Cav­ern ( www. blue­john­ If you rel­ish sparkle, Castle­ton packs its streets with trees each Christ­mas, all aglow with fairy lights.

WALK HERE: Down­load The Great Ridge at­routes


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 bonus­routes

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