Sunday, 2 October 2011
The Dark Farms - this time I really found one
I've been back to the Galloway Forest, exploring for places bearing signs of change. This is the farm at Glenhead. In 1901 S R Crockett described his arrival there with a fellow traveller.
'Placid stillness without as we ride up - a broad straw hat lying in a friendly way upon the path - the clamour of children's voices somewhere down by the meadow - this is Glenhead, a pleasant place for the wandering vagabond to set his foot upon and rest awhile.'
Crockett goes on to describe the coolness of 'the narrow latticed sitting-room - where there is such a collection of good books as makes us think of the winter nights when storms rage about the hill-cinctured farm...' Later they follow 'the slow, calm, steady shepherd's stride of our friend, as he paces upwards to guide us over his beloved hills.'
In 2011, as you can see from the photograph, Glenhead is empty. Unusually, in fact, it's actually bricked up. I walked along the overgrown track where once Crockett noticed the fallen straw hat, and I leaned on an orchard gate and stretched out my hand for a small but sweet apple. The yew tree pins together these two times, as do the heavy erratics which form the bank around it beside the track. Working my way through bracken and brambles to the house, I could only sense loss, and disturbance. There's something uncanny about a house shut up. I thought about the sitting room and its shelf of good books, a space enclosed in permanent darkness now.
You can still hear the burns running. Damselflies flitted like sparks through the reedy grass. I was glad to leave.