Dunfermline, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Powerchair
There are several different walking tours, led by Jack Pryde, who is Dunfermline born and bred. The one described here has been put together specially for anyone who uses a wheelchair or needs a walking aid and can walk a distance of 1.5 miles, mostly on the flat but with a short incline near the start of the walk. It covers three main aspects of the history of Dunfermline. 1. Andrew Carnegie – the man who gave away $350,000,000 of his fortune was born in Dunfermline in 1835. Visit his humble birthplace and exhibition to hear his story! 2. Dunfermline Abbey – the most important of Scottish Abbeys from the 12th century to Reformation times in Scotland. The burial place of Scottish royals, including the greatest of all the Scottish Kings, Robert the Bruce, the victor of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314! After the tour, the inside of the Abbey and Palace can be visited - cost of entry is £4.50, although there are concessions. The inside of the Abbey Nave and Palace are operated by Historic Environment Scotland. 3. King Malcolm’s Sainted Queen – Margaret, has her shrine in Dunfermline Abbey. Take a moment or two to visit where countless thousands have visited over the centuries. St Margaret is the only Scottish female saint.
Transport & Parking
This tour starts at The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. There are 2 free designated parking spaces for Blue Badge holders on the other side of the street, opposite the birthplace cottage (approx. 10 metres away). The car park and street surface is tarmac. There is a bus stop on Moodie Street (town buses only) about 100 metres south from the main entrance.
The main entrance to the museum has steps with no handrail at the right hand side as you face the building. There are automatic doors, operated by sensors. There is level access (small lip, less than 2.5 cms) at the birthplace cottage entrance, directly opposite the designated Blue Badge parking. This entrance has a window on the door and a low level door-bell on the right to alert staff. There is a café just inside this door. The shop and reception is to the right, via a very gradual ramp about 5 metres long and without handrails. Part of the reception desk is at a lower height. There are seats without arms in the café which can be moved to the reception area if required. Seats can be removed to accommodate a wheelchair user. There is also a bench with arms in the café area. A wheelchair can be borrowed from reception but the museum is unable to provide assistance to get around the museum. There is an induction loop at reception. Assistance dogs are welcome and a dog bowl is available on request. A magnifying glass is also available on request at reception. The cottage, where Andrew Carnegie was born, is off to the left of the café. It has 3 steps leading up to the ground floor rooms. A wooden staircase, with a handrail on the right side, leads to the upstairs rooms, including the actual room where the famous man was born. There are currently plans to put colour-contrasted strips at the front edge of the steps. There is no lift. An audio version of the tour of the rooms is available from reception for anyone who cannot access the cottage, with a folder containing images of each room. The Exhibition Hall has level access throughout. It contains a range of resources, telling the story of Andrew Carnegie’s life in America and his rise from rags to riches. It demonstrates his desire to give away nearly 90% ($350 million) of his personal fortune. The museum is open from 27 February till 30 November, Monday to Saturday from 10am till 5pm (last entry 4.30pm). The walking tour continues from the museum, turning right out of the level access entry door and walking a few metres before crossing at the dropped kerb to reach the dropped kerb on the same side of the road as the designated parking. From there continue to the right, along St Margaret Street, on a narrow pavement. St Margaret’s Street is on an incline. It may be necessary to go on the road if a wider wheelchair or mobility scooter is used but the walk leader and a back marker will be wearing high visibility jackets, should this is necessary. It is extremely inadvisable to do this if you are unaccompanied as traffic is coming from behind around a blind corner with limited visibility. Take a left turn into Monastery Street, where the Abbey will be in view. An archway with a short cobbled section leads to the Abbey entrance, with the Palace ruins on your left. The cobbles continue after the archway but can be avoided by moving to the left, where there is a level pathway. To reach the entrance to the Abbey graveyard involves following the pavement, keeping the Abbey on your right. At the top of the street, cross to the right hand side via the dropped kerb. Turning back the way you came, there are a further 2 dropped kerbs, which take you back to the Abbey gate but parked cars and a lack of dropped kerb means you have to use the road for a short distance. There is level access throughout the Abbey grounds. (Free access can be gained into the ‘modern’ Abbey Church - Church of Scotland, and a portable ramp can be put in place. This leads into the vestry and then into the Church). Following the exterior of the building around to the left, you will reach St Margaret’s Shrine. St Margaret is the only Scottish,female saint. From there, take the path out to St Margaret Street, past the new Carnegie Library and Art Gallery on your left and return downhill to the car park at the museum. (Instead of negotiating the narrow pavement downhill on a wheelchair or mobility scooter, it is advisable to have the car brought up to collect you if you are accompanied).
There is an accessible toilet about 30 metres from the café through the garden in an adjoining building (small lip at entry to this building, less than 2.5 cm). There are grab rails on both sides of the toilet but they are not colour-contrasted. There is no emergency cord. The wash hand basin has space below to allow access for a wheelchair user.
The tour guide, Jack Pryde, is very knowledgeable and has gone to great lengths to create a walk that is accessible to wheelchair users and those who can walk with aids for 1.5 miles on relatively flat ground. The Museum staff and volunteers were extremely helpful and are looking at ways to make the museum access even better.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
The whole tour was extremely interesting. Museum staff and volunteers are well aware of access issues and are working towards making improvements. The doorbell at the accessible entrance to the birthplace museum could be more visible. There are currently plans to put colour-contrasted strips at the front edge of the steps. Although there is an audio version and a folder with photographs of the rooms available from reception, an audio-visual presentation would make the visit much more enjoyable. The accessible toilet would benefit from colour- contrasted grab rails and a red cord to summon assistance.