Monday, 27 April 2015

Lockerbie. Eskdalemuir Forest Trip. Bothy nights.

As Alex and John had planned a weekend away together bagging hills the initial west coast Corbett pilgrimage into the mountains was switched at the last minute to the Scottish Border region in the hope of better weather. It was forecast for heavy rain all up the north west side of the country but dull and mainly dry in the Borders all weekend. I always love Scottish Baronial style old town halls like this one with a high four sided viewing platform that you can stride across, looking important and distinguished as you pee over the side onto the heads of the peasants below. These high balconies seldom receive a prestigious visit anymore. Very Rapunsel and Brothers Grimm though.
Lockerbie itself is a pleasant place with a hint of fairy tale about it as it has a scattered collection of stone sheep trotting down the main street, a beautiful example of a dark Angel holding an upturned raised sword on the war memorial  and a Tibetan Buddhist monastery not far away. David Bowie and Leonard Cohan both studied here during the 1960s and Billy Connolly has also visited it frequently. There has been a Buddhist presence here since the late 1960s and it is still one of the most important Buddhist sites in Europe. Worth viewing the slide show in here.

As we don't get down here that often I was keen to have a walk around Lockerbie and was drawn to the idea of a visit to the Samye Ling Centre and surrounding gardens. I had my tourist head on and was looking forward to some good photos, if permitted to take them. As a big L. Cohan fan I think Alex has been here to the centre but it was all new to me. Sadly, life with others can be a compromise sometimes, on trips away, so we stopped briefly at a retail park instead for coal, kindling and food supplies. They had timed it to perfection, in that we only had enough time left for a cycle run into a remote bothy before nightfall and we had no time for sightseeing. ( "Better make it a mid day pick up... that''ll stop that mad bugger dragging us off to all the points of interest along the way".... usual instructions I suspect from various club members over many, many years. " It's supposed to be a hillwalking club. If you want to go off on a sightseeing tour you've joined the wrong outfit pal. What is it with you and visiting gardens!!!, flowers!!!, statues!!, and unusual buildings?? anyway!   I'd like to take that camera and stick it up your....................... It's a distraction from the mountains.... so it is." Quote- unquote from the early 2000s. Just one of many!!!
Eskdalemuir is a region noted for its sheep and wool trade (Hence the stone sheep in Lockerbie as it has held a well known lamb market here for hundreds of years, and the town itself has Viking and Roman roots. As we were packing up the bikes about a dozen of these big aggressive sheep made their presence felt in an adjoining field. Aggressive is not a word commonly associated with sheep but these big brutes roared instead of "baaaad" and were not intimidated in the slightest even when I walked over to see what all the racket was about. Maybe they had just been separated from their lambs and recognized the three of us as potential lamb eaters.
This big beast was also a startling sight in the wild. Dead of course but pretty impressive clicked full screen. The heavyweight division of UK frog-toad. com.
Primrose on hillside. The sunny Butter Petals of a Scottish Highland Spring.
The first part of our journey was fairly scenic with typical borders open landscape but we soon climbed higher and entered one of the largest blanket conifer plantations in Europe, comprising Eskdalemuir Forest and two other massive plantations connecting into it nearby.  Kielder Forest, just over the English Border is a similar empty region of rolling moorland covered in monoculture forest with a few scattered bothies hidden deep inside a dark green sea flowing over hill ranges.
The last beautiful open valley before the desolation to come.
Bikes heavy with fat old men, overnight gear and coal, we set off. It was an 8 mile cycle into this bothy and my companions set a fast pace.... until the first major hill arrived....upwards.
The strange thing about Alex is that he's always up for this sort of cycling, which was hard, but has seemingly no interest in cycling flatter areas with  much nicer scenery involved... like canals or minor road networks . He always walks up hills these days anyway, even with a bike, to savour each incline  and there were a few more steep ones for him to enjoy and get his shop bought new plastic teeth into on the long haul in.
John managed to stay in the saddle most of the way as he's determined and younger and I was somewhere in between... in a cycling sense of course........ I didn't wasn't that kind of outdoor trip........
Just real hard men staying together in bothies. Bloke culture. Drinking... big fire... tales of yesteryear, the Witches Tower and Rapunzel... well, it was supposed to be a remote high prison in a deep dark forest she was held in after all by the cruel and devious Dame Gothel.......... who probably tricked her away from the bright lights and safe twinkling sparkles of city life to that remote and empty stone prison.... with few home comforts.... no electricity..... no sockets............ no internet!!!.
And we had it all to our-self's......... except for half a dozen or so MBA guys up for a team area meeting, some of whom we had bumped into occasionally over the decades. Alex here is talking to one of them.

We entered the other room... Still no sign of Rapunzel with her unfeasibly long hair. How did she walk with 40 feet of hair trailing behind her? Swimming would be very tricky too I'd imagine... and as for the weekly shopping trip out to Lockerbie. Nightmare!
The bothy floors looked nice and clean though as if we'd just missed her tiding up. Maybe she cleaned all the bothies up just by visiting each room. Like a hairy living duster wandering the landscape. Sweet girl and very useful.
The room already had occupants however. It was suitably dark and gothic inside.. like all bothies are when eventually reached in the dark after a cold damp evening. This area holds many UK weather records for dire conditions apparently, and often clocks up as the most sunless place in Scotland in summer...moss and murk-laden.... dampest forest.... heaviest rainfall etc..... A family used to live happily in this cottage in the early 1900s however, in a sheltered, more open glen, before the surrounding ocean of dark, tightly packed trees grew up to swallow down the surroundings.  Hey, it even sounds like a fairy tale world.

With Rapunzel gone it was the usual bear cave scenario in action but this time with no thieving Goldilocks stealing plates of porridge from hard working earners. Sitting on her bum all day... entering other people's property...smashing up chairs...falling asleep on someone else's bed then doing a runner without payment or apology. We know your sort, Blondie! Get an Asbo served on her sorry cheating body right away magistrate!
Innocent little Lady Gulp Gulp scoffing all our grub then ruining our nice home. Good riddance shorty! Shave her head then lock her up in that empty tower room.Try the same hair trick twice?... I think not... Baldy-locks.
Can you spot the owl in the fire embers children? And a hooded bird creature with cold dark eyes just above it?  I can. And two people having a conversation?  Fire embers always have faces in their depths.

That window needs a proper set of bright curtains though. Lemon or cream flowers with a pattern perhaps?
 Maybe that's why you don't get many women in bothies.. and very rarely visiting on their own.... as it's still the Wild West out here.. far beyond the reach of any town sheriff, wandering law man or bounty hunter. The preserve of hard men doing hard remote locations......without girls........or curtains!.........just other hard mountain men........................................... who didn't want to visit a colourful golden temple, see ornate gardens and spring bulbs or scenic town architecture on the way home either!!!!   Baa!.........  And I got a back wheel puncture and a wet soggy saddle for the ride back as it poured down overnight.

And so to this....
This time it's a remarkable selection from German performance Artist, Composer, Dancer, Ballet Director, and renowned Modern Dance Choreographer Pina Bausch who pushed the boundaries of performance art over several decades and this video is a small celebration of her work and life. Starts with interest then quickly builds into some stunning and original sets, dance moves and ideas. Dead Can Dance have some of the most intriguing and beautifully different videos on you tube and this is one.



Lux G. said...

That tower looks so majestic against its surroundings. And that dance is impressive. :)

Neil said...

Good to see that the bothy is in good condition Bob. Not sure about the comments about women and bothies though......many of our Maintenance Officers nowadays are female and a good job they do too!

Carol said...

"I always love Scottish Baronial style old town halls like this one with a high four sided viewing platform that you can stride across, looking important and distinguished as you pee over the side onto the heads of the peasants below"

That's what I kept thinking was Scotland having lots of rain is it? LOL

When you look at the photo of the bothy in miniature size (on my screen at least), the roof tiles have lovely curving patterns... when I make it full-size they don't! Please fix! ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Lux G,
I,m not really into the world of Ballet and Modern Dance normally so it was a real treat for me being a collection of different performances spliced together. Really suited the music as well.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
I've been in over 100 bothies over the years and don't remember women in many of them. Been in a few where it would have been very intimidating as a lone women in them as it was a drinking crowd in for a weekend piss up and carry on.(not us) I have been in bothies with women that were part of our group but don't know many that would go into one alone. Decided not to name any bothies now in posts if they are not well known as they seem to be frequented more these days with so much information available online. Very few really secret ones left.
The MBA have made a good job of that one which is in excellent condition.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
My monitor screen is 18inches across by 10 inches high and I size the photos for that. Don't know how they look on a smart phone or a giant monitor screen but I like them the way they are. They are large enough to feel as if you are actually there in the picture. I try my best at all times :o)
If anyone wants them smaller you can leave a comment.... and I will consider it.

Linda W. said...

Thanks for sharing your latest trip with us. It does indeed look like a fairy tale type of place!

Carol said...

I wasn't complaining about the size! (not all women do!). I was just mentioning that, before I click on that photo to make it full size, the roof slates show a strange pattern - it's quite nice. Doesn't it do it on your screen?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
Yes, it's a nice small Scottish town.

blueskyscotland said...

Nope, I don't see it here Carol, But I know what you mean as certain materials or squares or lines can go into different patterns sometimes. Always used to wonder why car wheels and some propellers went backwards in films despite the vehicle going forward until I discovered the answer.