Category: Farming


Droving shelter?

On an old OS map of Abington, there’s a cross shaped cluster of trees on the lower slopes of Fagyad Hill (NS917219). Over time the trees escape the enclosure (after which it’s marked as Gastonend Wood) and the current Google map shows the trees are mostly gone and only part of the wall is remaining.

It minded me of an Flickr image of an enclosure used by drovers. The cross-shaped walls provided protection to sheep outside the enclosure. The trees only grew after the drovers stopped using it. Is this the same at Abington? Was it a stop on an old droving route?

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There are certainly drove roads around, with one ending at Roberton further north, plus plenty of Roman roads leading from Crawford which might have been used by the drovers, but that’s purely supposition on my part.

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Grab it while you can

Going through Strathaven today I was stunned to see a building site at the corner of Todshill Street and Kirk Street where the Castle Tavern used to be.  The whole building was gone. I’ve passed it hundreds of times and now it’s completely gone. A bit of research turned up the information that the building, which dates from 1820, was “beyond repair”. What a shame.

I’m hoping that I grabbed a picture of it on one of my wanders around Strathaven, but I’ll need to hunt through a lot of pictures. And it’s not the only time that’s happened recently – the Strathclyde Hospital site in Motherwell is wiped clean too. A lesson in grabbing photos when you can, because you can’t keep up with everything.

And I should know already! Apparently when I was wee I asked about some fancy walls that we would pass on the bus to and from Glasgow. At the time Mum said that there used to be a big house there, but I don’t think anybody actually knew much more about it. The bus routes changed, the road system changed and I had no reason to go there, so they were forgotten. Years later a restaurant was built there and the walls were kept around the car park.

And then the retail park was built and they wiped away everything for the sake of a few extra parking spaces that I’ve never seen filled. There are still four or five large beech trees that must have part of the grounds, but that’s it.

It never occured to me to take a picture, despite being into local history, archaeology and photography. Without a digital camera, taking photos was always saved for special occasions, but there’s no excuse now.

But then, how often do you pay attention things before they’re wiped away.

Incidentally, the walls belonged to Nook or Neuk House or Farm. Most of  what I’ve been able to find out is from maps. Its first appearance seems to be on the 1750s Roy map as Neuk. William Forrest’s early 19th map shows Nook, belonging to Mr Barrie, and it appears as Neuk or Nook thereafter. More recently, maps  from the late 60s still show the house and all its out buildings, but they’re gone by 1971-72, although the drive and paths are still shown.It’s all vanished on 1976 maps to be replaced by a Depot.

Its only claim to fame is that a balloonist called Captain Spencer had to make a forced landing there in 1895 (Niven, 1965, p232). It doesn’t seem to have a very important place in the whole scheme of the world, but it was there was a long time. It’s also just a wee bit more interesting than a retail park, and it would be nice to add a picture of the place to go with my mental picture of those old walls seen from the bus.

All roads lead to the farm

We caught up with a brilliant programme last night called All Roads Lead Home . Basically, natural navigation expert, Tristan Gooley, teaches Sue Perkins, Alison Steadman and Stephen Mangan how to find their way about without maps or compasses or satnav, but instead use clues from the sun, buildings and natural phenomena. It was absolutely wonderful and we spent all day today working out our directions from tree shapes and keeping an eye open for animal poo 🙂

Since it was raining, we headed undercover to the National Museum of Rural Life at East Kilbride. This is a wonderful museum, with lots of hands on stuff, tractor rides and of course the working farm of Wester Kittochside.

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We’ve been here a few times. The ride in the tractor trailer is a big pull (sorry) and today the driver pointed out the blue skies on the horizon,

looks like the weather’s improving, it generally comes in from that direction

The natural phenomena appear to be stalking us …

Anyway, he was right, which meant we spent a fair bit of time wandering around the farm. The calves were desperate to lick any hands that came near them. Son rushed about collecting hay and baaing at the cows – he reminded me of an English speaker trying to make himself understood overseas by sp-ea-king-more-loud-ly-and-sl-ow-ly – while Daughter just giggled.

The farmhouse is kept as it was in the 50s, so it looks a bit like my granny’s house. I even recognise some of the furniture :-).

Torrance House to Flatt Bridge

A gorgeous day crying out for a walk, so dragged the family out to Calderglen and wandered up to Flatt Bridge, part of the Calderglen-Langlands Trail.

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Calderglen Country Park comprises the old estates of Torrance and Calderwood Castle, and while  I love walking through Calderglen, it’s always been a minor annoyance that the history of the park is a minor aside to its natural offerings. EK has never been inclined to save its past if it can get a nice shiny new future – which of course, doesn’t turn out to be so shiny after a couple of years – but in an online age, it would be so easy to share more of the history of the estate. Guess it’s down to the amateurs.

So here’s the first bit of Calderglen history. You can clearly see the old farming rigs on Torrance Golf Course if the sun is right. Must make the roll of the ball quite interesting.

Flatt Bridge was built in the early 19th century, and carried the Strathaven Road until New Flatt Bridge was built. The old bit of the road is still there, complete with the old chevron signs warning of the sharp bend leading down to the bridge,  although the grass is starting to peek through the tarmac. It looked absolutely spectacular in the snow.

It’s just a shame that there’s not an easy route from Calderglen up onto the bridge, because there are great views. [Photos to follow]

Hunter House Museum, originally uploaded by JenthePen

The Hunter Brothers were renowned doctors of the 18th century, born at Long Calderwood Farm in East Kilbride, which is now an interactive museum dedicated to their life and works.

William was famous for his work on obstetrics and anatomy. John was more famous as a surgeon. Both were collectors. William’s collection became the basis of the Hunterian Museum and Gallery at Glasgow University; John’s was bequeathed to the Royal College of Surgeons, England.

Hunter Brothers Memorial, originally uploaded by JenthePen

The Hunters are also remembered in East Kilbride with this memorial (sculpted by B Schotz, RSA, erected 1937, the Hunter Health Centre (constantly under threat of demolition) and the former Hunter Primary and Secondary Schools (the latter now totally demolished).

Of course, now that the economy is being systematically destroyed, the council want to close the whole Museums Service.  It’s not exactly huge, and it’s a typically short sighted suggestion from the council.