Sunday, 13 June 2010
'My' hill fort
Took a walk today up to the little hill fort between Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. It had just stopped raining and the day was very fresh, with water dripping from the leaves and into the sun-dappled undergrowth. Trees have long since covered the fort and when you walk through them it's a bit like being in the cloisters of an ancient abbey; you feel immensely close to the people who once lived their in the huts that are now only shallow overgrown pits in the earth. While I was there I went a little further, to what I think of as the King's Grave. It's not marked on any maps but if you look closely you can see a perfectly round, slightly raised mound encircled by large stones, some of which are now missing. I couldn't help thinking that two or three millenia ago people had gone to a huge amount of effort to ensure that the man or woman who was buried here would never be forgotten, yet their name hasn't been spoken for at least two thousand years. The life they lived and the landscape they lived in is gone forever, apart from a tree-covered hill that's now shared by rabbits and badgers, and an almost invisible shadow in the bracken that marks their final resting place. One day, maybe I'll try to tell the story of this haunting place.
On the way to the fort I watched three soaring buzzards being harassed by a single angry crow in a kind of aerial dogfight that felt like having a grandstand seat at the Battle of Britain. The crow would fight for altitude and then come bombing down its target, which would turn in mid-air to meet the attacker with its hooked claws. Time and time again the bird came back, but the buzzards went serenely about their business with just the occasional shriek of outrage.
A little later I spent fifteen minutes in a staring match with two roe deer, a buck and a doe, in the field next to me. I'd spotted the doe easily enough because of her red colour, which at first made me think she was a fox. The buck was perfectly camouflaged against the brown of the patch of bracken he was foraging in. Eventually I moved and the buck gave three barks and the pair of them went racing across the field in elegant bounds and disappeared into the trees.
The gentlemen who own this land want to turn it into a golf course, with the obligatory hotel and the housing that means that when the golf course and hotel go bust in twenty five years they'll be able to have the whole hill zoned for residential use. They've allowed perfectly workable fields to run wild so they can claim that the land is no longer economic for farming. At the moment it's a paradise for wildlife and walkers but in a few years you'll only be allowed on it after you've paid your green fees.
Isn't it a joy to watch market forces at work?