(3) The Start
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The Lovers Walk
Before! And after! Note the difference between these two photos. One taken a few weeks ago, and the other taken I know not when, but as it is a postcard and the postage on it is half pence, it was taken quite a few years ago. The subject is the same, "The Lovers Walk". Used for generations for that purpose. To walk along with your wife or girlfriend, oblivious to everything around you except the one that you are with.
Has it changed much? Not a lot. The trees are a lot taller and thicker, and there are more of them In fact there are that many beech trees on the right of the stream that it was impossible to get my photo to match the postcard exactly as the branches were over hanging. The biggest change is the bridge across the stream which led to a pedestrian path to Barone Park farm, and this has long since gone. I used this bridge and path for many years as I was friendly with the tenant farmer and his family, and as I have said in my story about the" Broon Slide", (I have since been told that the next generation new it as "The Devils Slide". I wonder what its next name will be.) This was my stamping ground in my youth. I can't remember the fence and gate that are in the old photo, but then when you are very young these things meant nothing to you. What is missing is the roofed shelter in the meadows. This had a seat which had a swivel backrest on it, which meant that you could move it over and sit and face south or north. There is very little left of this seat, just the metal framework that held the whole thing together. It could be restored, but I doubt that it will as the shelter on the whole has been repaired and re-roofed many times and does not stay in good condition for very long.
Next is the season of the year. The couple walking along the walk have no coats on, in fact they look as though they are out for a summer stroll, yet there are no leaves on the trees which would signify that it was taken late autumn or into wintertime, and as there is not much water in the stream it would appear that there were having a dry spell. And in the new photo, we are also having a dry spell the walk looks fairly level in the old card and the stream appears to be deeper, yet when you look at the new photo the difference is amazing. The ground has taken a good deal of hammering due to flooding, and the waters have eroded the walk that much that there is a big dip in it where before, it was level. Where the bridge was is the narrowest part of the stream so it is the place that has silted up over the years. What with ditches being dug with diggers it means that the water flows much faster and in turn brings down sediment and small stones which pile up at the narrowest points, which in turn heightens the base of the stream, and so it can't cope with the heavy rainfall that we have been getting. The flooding of the meadows is not a new thing, it has been flooded many times in my days and we had great enjoyment when it did so. Unfortunately the floodwaters soon subsided, leaving us to look somewhere else to play.
Next on our list would be the "Curling Rink," which was to the left of the photos. I have only ever seen curling played here once, and that was many years after it had been abandoned. A group of men cleared away the branches and leaves on one side, giving them an area to play on. It was the first time that I had seen curling as there was no T.V. then. It was very interesting to watch but also very cold, so we didn’t stay long. It has now virtually disappeared under years of debris and fallen branches, and more recently a large tree on the walk was felled and landed on it. It must have been rotten inside so it had to go. It is better for it to lie there as it will soon be a source of food for the birds as it will be covered in insects for them to feed on for many years to come. The rink I think will never be used again as, although it is in an ideal position as far as avoiding the winter sun that would melt the ice, the winters are too mild for much frost to give them constant games on a daily or weekly basis. Indoor rinks are the thing now, except when heavy frost freezes the Greenan loch, then it is good to see the locals taking advantage of the situation and showing the rest of us how to be budding gold medallists.
First Published in the Buteman 10-01-2003
PS, since writing this article the shelter I wrote about has long since gone, and the one at the other end of the meadows has no roof and very few slats to sit on.