Sunday, 20 April 2014

Pentlands. The Empty Quarter. Mendick Hill. Spring Lambs. The First Religion.

All photographs click full size.
Like all creatures on earth I wait for the beauty and radiance of  "Spring" each year, looking for the first signs that she's stirring- a signal to show she's finally leaving her winter bedroom and rising up to enjoy the sun's rays coming closer to earth once again. Like every women getting ready to go out however, sometimes you can have a false start and you think she's getting prepared, but it's only a quick appearance -a toilet dash perhaps- then she shivers and dives under the covers again and the snow falls once more. Sweet Persephone. The First Religion on Planet Earth.
I am a follower of Kore.  Eostre -(Who gave her name to Easter)- The Dawn Goddess. Call her what you like. Without her and her mother Demeter there would be No Life. No Nature. Why do you think the Resurrection of Jesus takes place at the start of "Spring." Each new religion superimposes itself on the bones of the past- The pagan growth and harvest festivals that have existed since the birth of crops. Yet P will never die. Long after the dominant species has destroyed itself once again- P will simply evolve into other forms and go on. Even Snowball Earth couldn't kill her off completely. A worthwhile short video in here from a time when the planet could easily have remained sealed in a ball of solid ice a kilometre thick for all eternity.

If "Spring" doesn't gladden the heart of every living thing then nothing will. Even people who have lost someone close to them, after a natural grieving period, take some comfort from this burst of new life and activity around them. A world resurrection- even in deserts.
The modern icons of Spring in the UK. The Snowdrop. The Crocus. The Daffodil. The Tulip. Her golden gown and the gems stitched upon it. Every girl likes a new dress when the fine weather starts.
Blackthorn blooms. Flowers before any leaves appear. How can Demeter be the mother of P when "Spring" comes before "Harvest?" As always, nature explains by example.
Cherry blossom? Even an eternal goddess likes pink and a makeover after a long sleep. "Spring clean" again to greet the world and her fans. The one true celebrity none of us can survive without.
Red Currant display along the canal. She rises and we adore. She is my religion.


On a fine spring morning recently I headed over to Ron's house and we then headed for Peebles where we intended to do a walk. On the way we passed Andy Scott's equine sculptures once again at the Helix near Falkirk/Grangemouth. This well known artist in metal has built up an impressive collection of iconic sculptures over the years and I'm a big fan. A slide show of some of his amazing installations  and commissions here. He has art works all over the world now.

I like this angle as it reminds me of my first sight of giraffes at a zoo and two huge heads, long necks and even longer rough tongues coming to get me over the barrier. Sandpaper kisses. No health and safety in those happy days. They even gave you monkeys to hold dressed in woollen jumpers at the front gates with inch long canine teeth on display when they yawned. Honest! I've still got the photo. Bitten children didn't sue in those days- they just got Dettol rubbed in the wound and a telling off.
A different angle, passing in the car.
Real animals. Fallow deer in the Pentland hills.
Another angle. Without Spring- no harvest. Without a harvest- no food. Without food- no life. The first religion keeps things simple, which I like. In this modern age however we tend to take everything for granted as if it's always going to be there for us- even if we muck it up- and get bogged down in the numerous complexities we have created for ourselves instead. For humans, P's arrival each year at this time, on this month, is a privilege- not an unending, un-shifting right. We should cherish her more for what she is-  the greatest gift we will ever receive- but many have grown so accustomed to her beauty we treasure her less as a result.
Eventually, we passed Edinburgh then travelled south west along the A702 which runs along the eastern edge of the Pentland Hills. As I said, we were intending to walk near Peebles but a heavy curtain of dark clouds still clung to that region whereas it was sunny and bright around Carlops. Easy choice to make as I do treasure my eternal princess and I like to see her smiling every time I'm in her company. Stay in sunshine then and so we parked the car near the golf course at West Linton for an ascent of Mendick Hill.

Mendick hill is a beautiful, symmetrical little peak that sits to the south west of West Linton.
Many rights of way and ancient drove roads pass through this part of the Pentland Hills as they tend to be more open here, with individual peaks and valleys instead of  a continuous range. They also tend to be quieter, with less visitors, which always appeals to me, although I don't mind large crowds where I expect to find them.
Sign post information at the start of our walk. We found out a Roman road used to pass through here and other remains (a roman fort) lie buried nearby.
This stone bridge dates to 1620. That's really old. Think about it. The same date as the Mayflower.  Mendick hill in the distance. A few years ago I came here with Alex so I didn't bother asking him this time as it's crossed off his list now and he'd climbed the Peebles hill I'd fancied already as well. Congratulations to him by the way on reaching his 200th Corbett and a belter of a recent post on Madeira- See Scotland's Mountains on Blogs List.
We found a lot of squashed amphibians on the minor road, which they have to cross to reach their breeding ponds. Over a dozen unlucky hoppers crushed by cars and tractors here yet this small track is seldom used. Multiply that by the number of roads throughout the UK and it's an animal holocaust that happens every year.
(I'll do a separate post on how we can all give them some help, very cheaply, with little effort, and for our own benefit and well being, later.)

It wasn't long before views were opening up as we climbed our hill of choice. It was the right decision stopping here as bad weather and lingering drizzle plagued the Peebles area throughout the day. We were just on the edge of it all and enjoyed a mixture of sunshine and the occasional dull interlude but no rain. Thank you P for your smiling countenance and warm personality once again.
 A view from the summit looking south west towards Lanark. This is a part of the Pentland chain that a lot of casual hill-walkers and tourists never bother with but I've grown to enjoy it here. Big skies and wide, empty horizons to play in and stride through.
We picked a great view for our lunch stop and Ron ( who'd never walked in this part of the Pentlands
before) said he would be happy to explore this region again. He loves Meikle Bin and the Campsies as he lives in the shadow of this well known west coast range but could see the attraction of these hills too.
It's only now it's stuck me how much these two modest hill ranges resemble the cities beneath them and how lucky we all are to have them on the doorstep. It may be far fetched but looking at these pictures in detail the Pentlands are elegant and refined with graceful sweeping lines.( the heart of Edinburgh city centre with its history and grandeur) yet past Mendick hill they grow wilder, more isolated, and much more untamed ( think Wester Hailes, Pilton, and Muirhouse :o)
The Campsies as a whole are much rougher, with a covering of long tussocky grass and rough outcrops- with deep, dark, hidden gullies like Finnich Glen.( the most popular post on this blog by the way with over 3000 hits but South Nitshill -then and now, will pass it soon. Who would have predicted that.) The Campsies- in your face, more direct, yet honest in manner. Look closer though and the Campsie Fells are equally beautiful with many tranquil beauty spots round unexpected corners. Personifications of Glaswegians and Edinburgh folk perhaps?
Most of my posts have an underlying theme so this is it.
Another view from Mendick Summit and another isolated shapely hill. No doubt about it. The Pentlands have the better figure with superb curves in all the right places. Posh city - better diet?
Always like the girls on Princes Street under Edinburgh Castle. Both are pricy attractions though!
Even the lambs are sexy here!
Mind you I soon put them through their paces. Young 6-66 here looked a bit flabby and I like my lamb chops without any fat on them. Fresh asparagus, lamb chops, and slow stewed apples are one spring luxury I do splash out on but I like my meat to be in prime shape when I buy it.
"Hit the deck solider! Give me 40 press ups at the double!"
 As you can see, the meat complied. I have a way with animals :o) Yum yum. Come to Daddy. Ah, yes, spring is a wonderful time.

Staying with the themes of beauty, grace, and the quest for unobtainable goals here's a suitable video.
European females on sun kissed golden beaches or perched on roof tops but done in the best possible taste, of course. (I  would not try jumping off though with those wings.).No wonder we go on holiday abroad and leave rain lashed Saltcoats, Ayr, Musselburgh and Portobello behind!


The Glebe Blog said...

You're certainly waxing lyrical in your posts these days Bob. I am a total ignoramus as far as the classics go.
I like the idea of the First Religion though, no blood spilled in anger there.
You've captured spring right enough, put's some of my pictures to shame (not all of them though)
Every-time I head over to Fife, I tell myself I'll pull off today and visit the 'Helix', but for some reason I never have. Maybe, one of these days !
I've driven up the A702 many times, but I never leave myself time to stop. Nice quiet walking area, again maybe one of these days (there's no such thing is there ?)
Like the lambs, you've reminded me I've a Colman's Lamb Hotpot that I intend to use this week. Unlike you though, I like to leave some fat for the taste.
Not sure about the music. For some reason I thought of Little Anthony and the Imperials, but that's a totally different kettle of fish/bird.
Got your book, but haven't got very far yet. I've still to finish " Torhousemuir: Memories of a Wigtownshire Crofter 1935-1945", for the walk I'm leading around that estate this coming Saturday.

Carol said...

Very imaginative your comment about how the hills above Glasgow and Edinburgh match the cities below - never thought of that but you're right! ;-)

I used to like Autumn best of all the seasons but we don't get the colours now and I'm now a convert to spring. It really is a symbol of hope after a miserable winter each year. Doesn't always turn into a glorious summer as promised (in fact, doesn't often nowadays), but there's always that hope! I can never wait for the trees to start coming into leaf and all the flowers appear.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
Just trying to think of something different to say after five years at the helm. The Helix horses are probably better appreciated in the off season when it's quieter anyway with the crowds gone.
It's obviously not a page turner then :o) I was hoping for a blend of straight memoir plus outdoor hillwalking Para handy type characters(slightly altered to protect the guilty but based on real people and real events in my life)crossed with classical reoccurring elements down through the ages and a touch of Famous Five thrown in. You cant fault me for ambition :o)
I've started my next book already which is a straightforward travel guide so should have a more reliable market hopefully.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, Never thought about it either until I looked at the photos and realised the difference in shape and grass types. Hardly a single tussock on the Pentlands- hardly a smooth grassy slope on the Campsie Fells away from the paths.
Maybe it's an age thing as I used to love the winter season when young- now I'd gladly skip it each year. Mind you it's the only thing keeping the bugs at bay. Stung by a wasp today in the garden and still finding sheep ticks on me in awkward places from the Easter weekend hill near Oban. Isn't nature wonderful :o(