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Dunfermline in General
Dunfermline in General
Date: 14/02/01, updated on 14/11/03 (1318 review reads)
Advantages: Central, not far from a lot of places including Edinburgh
Disadvantages: Not very safe, crazy drivers, not a huge amount to do.
I've been living in Dunfermline for six months now, and I have to admit it's growing on me. It's also just plain growing - and fast. More and more people are moving outside Edinburgh in search of cheaper living, and there are always plenty of diggers to be seen around the town as the green belt grows steadily narrower.
Dunfermline prides itself on being one of the oldest towns in the country - in fact, in days of yore, Dunfermline was actually the capital of Scotland. Must have been before they had cities...
The town centre is small, and all the attractions are within walking distance of each other, but the surrounding areas are fairly spread out, with four overcrowded secondary schools taking in pupils from the large catchment area.
Like any town, there are affluent and poor areas, although not to the extremes that you might find in Glasgow. So, let's go for a walk...
As you come into Dunfermline off the M90 there is Duloch park, a small leisure park including an Odeon cinema, Pizza Hut, MacDonalds, and a Bannatynes gymn for afters! The Odeon is modern, with around 10 screens, but there is still a fairly limited choice of films - quite often we miss out completely on film releases, as some films are shown on two or three screens at a time to accomodate the large audiences. Monday night special, all tickets £3.
Driving into town, you'll pass the "stadium" (or Subbuteo field) where the Dunfermline footie team (The Pars) strut their stuff. Parking in this area is shocking whenever there is a match on, so steer clear if you see the colours out on the street.
The bus station is situated next to the Kingdom centre, a shopping arcade with the usual high street stores - and nothing extra.
Etams, Electronics Boutique and Marks and Spencers is about as exotic as you get in Dunfermline. But it's not to be sniffed at - there's no trudging around for hours to get between shops. All t
he shops are very close together, with one main street (High Street) and side streets going off it for pubs, bakeries and newsagents.
The High Street is a haven for charity shop junkies, with about 6 in the space of one block, all vying for people's spare time and unwanted bric a brac. The Sue Ryder shop just off the High Street and opposite the park is particularly enticing, with no order of any kind - everything just lies about in piles. I have come across some real bargains in that shop, hiding away like treasure beneath the junk.
Stepping back out into the sunshine (well, there is sometimes) you will find yourself at the gates of Pittencrieff Park, or "The Glen", as it is fondly referred to by the people of the town.
Pittencrieff park consists of several acres of unspoilt grass and trees, streams and waterfalls. The Glen is home to many squirrels, rabbits, peacocks and other wildlife. The park was given to the people of Dunfermline by Andrew Carnegie, a hero in the eyes of the townspeople. When Carnegie was a child, he and his friends were banned from the Laird's estate, although they longed to play in the wide spaces, among the trees and streams.
Well, Carnegie grew up and made himself a millionaire, and bought the park for the townspeople, so that no greedy laird should ever keep it from them. A small museum near the entrance tells Carnegie's story in more detail, as well as a mining museum in the top floor, and a changing exhibition on the first floor. The park is a real beauty spot, and well worth a visit.
The other main tourist attraction in Dunfermline is Abbot House, and the ajoining Abbey. Both are free to enter, with a gallery and museum in Abbot House. Opt for a guided tour, where you will be given detailed stories about the pictures and artifacts you will find inside.
The library is housed in a large old building, and may also be of interest, especially to Historians.
r>So you've spent a day sightseeing, and now you're thirsty. For a friendly banter, and a good pint, try Somewhere Else, a small pub on Guildhall Street. Later in the evening, head down to PJ Molloys round the corner from Somewhere Else, where there is live music playing downstairs, and a disco upstairs. Be prepared for a squash, but everyone is really friendly and up for a laugh.
Dunfermline also has several concerts, plays, performances and films going on throughout the year, both prefessional and amateur. These usually take place at the Carnegie Hall, which is all lit up, and quite attractive after dark.
For a swim or other sport, the Carnegie Centre is a five minute walk from the bus station.
The only thing Dunfermline really lacks is some good places to eat out. There are several Chinese and a couple of Indian restaurants, but not really a great deal of choice.
A word about personal safety - I have not yet had a problem with safety since I have come to live in Dunfermline. However, every week in the local papers I read about attacks, violence and other scary stories. Sometimes the names are familiar. The street names often are. I don't want to put you off, but if you do come to Dunfermline, be sensible about safety - don't wander the streets alone after dark, try to avoid shortcuts and dark alleyways, and hang on to your wallet!
The driving and parking can also leave a lot to be desired - few drivers adhere to speed limits, and there have been at least 3 fatal road accidents in the last 6 months.
If you're coming for a visit, don't plan to spend weeks here, there really isn't *that* much to do. But it is a good central place to base yourself if you're travelling around Fife and Edinburgh.