Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Eskfall, Mavisbank and Hamish

A recent walk along the River Esk revealed extensive landslips. For a coupe of hundred metres, just downstream from the prehistoric prominence of Maiden Castle, the steep left bank of the North Esk has slid into the river.


I expect these happened when November's heavy rains caused a similar set of landslips at Mavisbank, one of my favourite local walks along the River Esk. Mavisbank was featured on the BBC TV programme Restoration, and my first visit was to see this derelict but architecturally notable ruin. However subsequent visits revealed Mavisbank's true glory - its overgrown, semi-wild parkland and pond, with ducks, coots, heron, with fox, rabbit, deer, badger, horses and the occasional dog walker in the grounds, kingfishers, wagtails and wild garlic along the river, and elderflowers, brambles and holly berries in season. Now when we visit, the house barely merits a second glance.

Mavisbank house:

Accessing Mavisbank is difficult as the paths leading to it are muddy and have no parking on the minor roads on the estate boundary. It currently works well as a green lung for in-the-know locals, with those who care for Mavisbank doing so on an ad hoc basis, cutting back branches and digging ditches in an unco-ordinated but benign anarchy. The Mavisbank charity linked to above seems mainly concerned with the house and not the true glory of the place, the wildlife-heavy estate.

Plans are afood however to improve access to Mavisbank. Although this will involve restoring the house, I suspect it will be the end of Mavisbank as a special place for wildlife and people, and the estate will be marred by litter, vandalism, dog mess and crowds. I hope not, but time will tell.

To cheer myself up, tomorrow at 18:30 I will be attending Hamish Brown's illustrated talk on the West Highland Way in Edinburgh's Blackwell's Bookshop. Like all such events this includes a modest amount of free booze (a penniless lush could, even in these days of austerity, water themselves well on book launches, art exhibitions, university debates and other such events), and as I got a book token for my birthday, guess where it is going! With the death of Tom Weir, Hamish is now the granddaddy of Scottish hillwalking, so it should be a good evening. Maybe I will see you there!

Hamish's new book:


blueskyscotland said...

I'll certainly keep Mavisbank in mind for a walk in the near future.
Being over on the west coast the green corridor of the Esk is one area I haven't explored properly yet. Thanks for the info Craig.
Good to see Hamish is still active
these days. I've got a couple of his books on the shelf.

Robert Craig said...

Thanks, enjoyed Hamish's talk, though for the first time ever in my experience of literary events there was no booze! Hard times.

Your best bet for a walk along the Esk is the Roslin gorge, I wrote about it at: http://loveofscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/roslin-glen-adventure.html

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Craig.
Already done Roslin Gorge four or five times though not by the abandoned path under Hawthorden Castle you described and have always bailed out at Polton. I like the sound of Mavisbank though.