Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Glengonnar Camp

I came across some old postcards at an antiques fair recently. These triggered some memories!

The images were of the Glengonnar Camp, near Abington. This was one of five such camps built in 1939-40 in Scotland as a Department of Health initiative aimed at improving young people's health by giving them an opportunity to live for some months in a healthier environment than in the city. Because of the war, it was not until 1947 that the Scottish National Camps Association was established. The history of the Scottish Outdoor Education Centres can be found here. Still in existence now as a charity, the website is here.

Through the years, the camps have been used by a variety of organisations. My memories of Glengonnar are of a Scripture Union Inter-School camp one Easter holiday. Previously I had attended a similar camp at Dounans, Aberfoyle - my first ever 'adventure' away from home.

The West Coast Main Line passes Glengonnar, and when I first moved down here to Skip I would look out of the train window when travelling from Lockerbie to Glasgow, across the river, and see if I could pick out the wooden huts through the trees. Then one day, I realised they were no longer there, and I learned that the camp had been demolished.

Passing Abington in my car recently I stopped off with my camera.

There is little trace now of Glengonnar camp.

The oil tanks give a clue to what was here before.

If you listen closely, walking around the site today you can still hear the sound of hundreds of children enjoying the outdoors!

The base of one of the huts.

One of the postcards had been sent to an address in England in 1955. It says, "Dear Aunty Ruth. Having a great time here. Weather is very changeable. The food is not very good."

My own memories are of having lots of fun in a variety of outdoor activites, an abortive attempt to walk to the source of the River Clyde, and taking part in the camp concert in some discomfort, having staved my thumb taking part in a 'wide game'. On arriving home, my parents took one look at my hand, and a short time later I was waiting in Accident and Emergency at the Southern General Hospital. Yes, my thumb turned out to be cracked. My first broken bone!

The whole Glengonnar site is currently for sale, in five lots, see here.

Original photos are © Skip Cottage

Sunday, April 02, 2017

At the re-opening party

Friday lunchtime. The barriers were up, the cameras were in position. Something was about to happen at Carlisle's Citadel Station.

The hard-working media were on hand. BBC Radio Cumbria's reporter was finding out how far people had come to join the party!

I have my hands full with one camera. Here was someone proving that men can multitask!

"The train now arriving at Platform 1 ..." was a steam hauled special to celebrate the re-opening of the Carlisle-Settle line which had been closed for more than a year following a landslip at Eden Brows, the traction provided by No 60103 Flying Scotsman.

It was an important occasion.

 Music was provided!

It is difficult to convey the excitement which Flying Scotsman generates!

Those who had been on the train itself had begun to party early!

Cumbria's finest were on hand to ensure suitable behaviour.

Having parked the rake of coaches, the locomotive and the support coach reversed through the station, on its way to turn using the Upperby triangle.

An hour or so later, Flying Scotsman was back to collect the coaches.

I always have a special thought for the member of the support staff whose job it is to couple up the coaches.

With the masses corralled behind barriers by the 'event staff', the 'Reopening Special' sets off south.

Waves from those lucky enough to be on board.

Lots of enthusiasts were out in the countryside to see Flying Scotsman traverse the line. Examples are here and here. See it passing Eden Brows, the site of the landslip, here, and going over the Ribblehead viaduct, here. And here's a taster of what it was all like from the train!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, March 27, 2017

Morton Castle

This is a beautiful spot - Morton Loch, a little ways off the A702 between Carronbridge and Durisdeer.

And it's made even more picturesque with the ruins of Morton Castle.

I had the place to myself when I stopped off here on Saturday, returning cross-country from Ayr. There could have been no better picnic spot on a perfect spring day.

There's probably been a fortification on this spot since the 12th century, with the earliest features of what is standing today dating to c1300. The round gatehouse tower (above) is impressive. The matching tower was apparently destroyed in the 14th century. According to the Historic Scotland information board on site, "... a treaty with England in 1357 to release David II from captivity took its toll on Morton. Part of this treaty called for the destruction of several castles in the SW of Scotland, and Morton was one. The demolition was not total but it may explain the loss of one half of the gatehouse."

More on the history of the castle can be found here.

Inside what would have been the Great Hall.

From the loch side.

My lunchtime companions were these Greylag geese. There were several 'courting couples'. It was interesting to observe all the interactions! I rather liked the reflections made by these two as they swam close by.

Pix © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Yellow

It is back to winter today, but just a few days ago there was spring in the air at Skip.

I just love the yellow of the daffodils at this time of year.

Even the name brings a smile - 'Jetfire'!

More yellow. Forsythia is a favourite shrub.

 Aside from the daffodils, the little Chionodoxa is my favourite spring bulb.

On the road near Skip, these double daffodils are out, with the standing stone in the background.

Hopefully some real spring weather will be on the way soon!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On the platform

Last Saturday I spent an enjoyable few hours at Carlisle, with the prospect of meeting up with a couple of steam locomotives. First to arrive was LMS Royal Scot Class 7P 4-6-0 no 46115 Scots Guardsman pulling the Railway Touring Company's 'The Midday Scot' from Manchester to Edinburgh.

The locomotive was uncoupled from the coaches and reversed into a siding to take on water from a tanker. Here it is being passed by a TransPennine Express EMU from Manchester.

Lots of interest as it runs up platform 1 to rejoin its rake of carriages.

Sing along with Wayne Fontana here.

Here we go, "Pamela, Pamela, remember the days ..."

Off we go! Note all the scaffolding in the background. Carlisle's Citadel Station is undergoing a huge refurbishment at the moment. Read about that and the history of the station here. By sometime next year, after a £14.7 million spend, the station will have a new roof and platform upgrades.

To see Scots Guardsman working up from Beattock, unassisted, check out this video. Wonderful!

Built in 2008, this class 66 diesel locomotive carries the name Stephenson Locomotive Society 1909-2009.

Some of the Cumbrian Coast passenger services are currently DRS loco hauled, or pushed, trains. It's like a heritage line! No 37409 Lord Hinton dates from 1965, and was once called Loch Awe.

There was time for a walk downtown, have some lunch and pick up some shopping, to get back to the station to see LMS Jubilee Class 6P 4-6-0 no 45690 Leander slide into the station with a West Coast Railways charter from Scarborough. Leander pulled the Preston-Carlisle leg.

This class 47/7 no 47746 was on the rear, and would haul the tour on its return. The locomotive dates from 1964 and was named Chris Fudge 29.7.70 - 22.6.10. Who was he? Story is here.

Back at the front end, I found myself in position to hear one side of the conversation between train crew and the signallers. Fascinating.

Now you see it, now you don't!

Leander and its support coach pulls away.

Backing back under the bridge and onto the middle road through the station.

Passing a southbound Pendolino standing at platform 4.
Pix © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The castle I see from the train

This is the River Clyde at Crawford. In the distance are some of the many turbines of the Clyde wind farm, and you can see a Virgin train running alongside the river on the West Coast Main Line. I use the line often, and, from the window, I've noticed some ruins as we pass Crawford. "One day I must investigate these further," I've said to myself on more than one occasion.

That 'one day' turned out to be last Sunday. I was driving back from Edinburgh in the afternoon, it wasn't raining, and I did have my camera with me. The ruins can be accessed from the little road that runs up to Camps Reservoir from Crawford.

There's not much left of Castle Crawford. You can read its history here and here. The castle ruins stand on a large artificial mound, probably the remains of a twelfth century motte. The visible ruins are of a structure built in the early 1600s, but abandoned at the end of the eighteenth century. Apparently much of the stone was used to build the nearby Crawford Castle farmhouse, which explains why so little remains.

This doorway suggests past grandeur.

Looking south, one can appreciate the importance of the site, defending the route north from England.

Ruins do hold a fascination! Not to be explored closely on a stormy day, I advise.

On walking up the road towards the castle I noticed this little gate. I could so easily have walked past, but something made me stop and look closer.

A fairy gate, complete with fairies. Made my day!

Photos © Skip Cottage