Sunday, February 08, 2015


A 'pilgrimage' to Carsebreck has been on my bucket list for a while. You see, this is where the Royal Caledonian Curling Club constructed a large pond (more like a small loch) in 1852 to hold its big bonspiels. Twenty-five Grand Matches were held on this loch in the years to 1935. You can watch a marvellous video of the last of these, on December 24, 1935, on the Scottish Screen Archive website here. Just wonderful!

Carsebreck these days is a much quieter place. The area is now an important nature reserve. I had heard that the going underfoot could be really wet, and I had been looking for a clear cold winter's day, with hard ground and some ice on the loch, and perhaps some snow to give it the atmosphere of mid-winter. Well, last Thursday was splendid. Little snow, but otherwise a perfect day for a visit. The sun beamed down!

I began my walk from the north, on the Braco-Blackford Road. In the past the curlers would have arrived by train, or from what is now the A9, to the south.

What's this about a missing bridge over Allan Water?

Sadly, Carsebreck farmhouse is derelict.

This is the south west corner of the loch.

The loch is drained by this little stream, and there would have been a sluice hereabouts to regulate the level of the water.

The Allan Water runs south of Carsebreck Loch. Here's the missing bridge, or here it isn't, as you like. The railway line runs where the trees are, and it's here there were platforms, and sidings at one stage, to let off the curlers arriving by train. You can see photos in this article.

What is not apparent from the map is how large the embankments are which run along the south and east of the loch. I don't know just when these were constructed, but it is safe to say that there have been many changes to the pond and its surroundings over the years.

Walking along the top of the embankments is the driest route if you are trying to get right around the loch.

And how appropriate to find broom growing on the embankment. In the nineteenth century and earlier this provided the material for the curlers' sweeping implements - broom cowes.

Looking across the loch towards Carsebreck farmhouse.

The scene in December 1935.

Looking to the south west.

This photo from 1935 was taken from roughly the same point, and shows the scene on the loch at the 1935 Grand Match.

Don't forget Charles Martin Hardie's 1899 painting of a Carsebreck Grand Match. The National Galleries of Scotland's version of this can be seen online here.

Photos are © Skip Cottage, except that from the Scottish Screen Archive, used as the introductory still from the video of the 1935 Grand Match, and that immediately above which was published in a French magazine in 1936, and entitled 'Un match monstre de curling en Ecosse'. Its attribution is to 'Keystone'.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating Bob - you know I have driven past this bit more times than I care to remember and I didn't even know it was there . . .