Outdoor Focus Summer 2018 - Page 5

Making use of Hamish Brown delves into his cabinet of curiosities... Blackwater Reservior’s Celtic cross Forth ferry port of Pettycur, a name which still appears on milestones across Fife to Newport on the River Tay. To make sure you have arrived at the ferry slip the stone shows, ‘Pettycur, 33...Newport, 0’. My local museum in Kirkcaldy has a collection of furniture made of coal. (Queen Victoria bought some.) But Fife’s best curiosity is Britain’s oldest Via Ferrata (a claim falsely made for some more recent efforts). This has pegs and wires and cut-out bucket steps round the cliffs of Kincraig Point. I’d visions of Victorian ladies in their long skirts and unethical hats on the wires but it proved to be a 1929 creation. The date was finally cleared when an old lady telephoned and explained that she, as a young girl, had helped drag the chains along the sands from Elie. Perhaps my favourite oddity has to be the Great Polish Map of Scotland, a memorial made by Polish people to their wartime Scottish partner. The HQ of their forces was at what is now the Barony Castle Hotel at Eddleston, near Peebles. Imagine a football-pitch- sized oval sunk six foot in the ground containing a scale model of Scotland, the model’s landscape surrounded by water for the ‘sea’. Over the years this became overgrown and forgotten but, rediscovered, has had immense labour by volunteers to see it restored. In May 2018 it has an ‘official’ opening with the Polish Ambassador, Scotland’s First Minister and other bigwigs present. Curious? Go to www.facebook.com/ mapascotland; www.mapascotland.org. Incidentally, taking a gravestone addicted friend to see ‘Mapa Scotland’, I diverted to Temple where the unique ruined Templar Church graveyard had an obelisk to a Rev James Goldie on which his will is described in great detail. And, having started with graveyards, let me end with quite the oddest inscription I’ve seen. Every word of what follows is on a table stone in a wee cemetery below Esha Ness in a remote corner of the Shetland Mainland. I feel quite sorry for Laurence Tulloch. (A few years later he moved shop to Aberdeen.) The stone is to a Donald Robertson who died in 1848. ‘He was a peaceable, quiet man and to all appearances a quiet Christian. His death was very much reg retted which was caused by the stupidity of Laurence Tulloch in Clothister who sold him nitrate instead of Epsom Salts by which he was killed in the space of five hours after taking a dose of it.’ These notes are based on Hamish’s book: The Oldest Post Office in the World and Other Scottish Oddities published by Sandstone Press. Also available from Sandstone Press are his first three classics: Hamish’s Mountain Walk (the Munros in a single trip); Hamish’s Groats End Walk (the first foot-link of the highest summits of Scotland, England, Wales & Ireland, and their 3000ers – a pre-technology period piece now); and Climbing the Corbetts. Most recently published, Walking the Song, collected articles etc from a lifetime of people, places and experiences. He has also edited: Tom Weir, an Anthology for Sandstone Press. summer 2018 | Outdoor focus 5