Roadender

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THE visit to Ecclsgreig Castle, planned for February 21, did not take place because the owners advised that the snowdrops were not yet at their best.

Instead the Brechin Monday Walkers went to Stonehaven and walked to Dunnottar in poor weather.

The history and geology are always interesting around Stonehaven which is the eastern end of the Highland Boundary Fault.

Dunnottar Castle itself is built of Old Red Sandstone, just like Brechin, but it sits on a promontory of conglomerate rock, or pudding stone, which consists of pebbles bound together by metamorphic rock which is usually harder than the pebbles.

We went to Ecclesgreig Castle on February 28.

The weather was fine and we appreciated the owner’s advice because the snowdrops were at their best.

We walked to Eccesgreig from St. Cyrus by a circular route.

We parked the minibus at OS ref 747640 on Landranger Sheet 45. We walked along Ecclesgrieg Road for about 200 yards and turned left on a minor road that goes to Lochside and on to the Hill of Morphie.

At 728651 it becomes a farm track with pot holes and this leads to a reservoir, where we had coffee with good views.

The farm track continues to Morphie and crosses the Den of Morphie to reach Canterland Farm.

It gets back to the side road at Mill of Criggie. We turned right there and walked to the drive of Ecclesgreig Castle at 727654.

We ate our lunch in sunshine in the parterre garden of Ecclesgreig and then walked through the snowdrop woods towards St. Cyrus.

On Monday March 8, we decided that we had stayed away from the hills for long enough.

So, went up Glen Esk to the very end where there is a car park at 457804 on Landranger Sheet 44.

The weather forecast was not that good but, in fact, the weather stayed fine and some of us headed for the summit of Mount Keen, a Monroe.

Most of us settled for a gentle walk to Glenmark Cottage just beyond the Queen’s Well.

The burns feeding the Water of Mark were in spate so there was a risk of wet feet for those heading to higher ground.

The Roadender attended a lecture recently on Walls in the Landscape and this made me observe the use of stone on both sides of the Highland Boundary Fault.

The Old Red Sandstone south-east of the Fault is easy to dress (shape), while the granites and other metamorphic rocks, north-west of the Fault, are very hard and difficult to cut and shape.

So, one would expect to see many walls in the Mearns and Strathmore.

In fact there are very few away from the towns and seashore. While St. Cyrus is entirely Old Red Sandstone, as is Ecclesgreig and the farms along our 28 February walk there are no Stane Dykes to be seen.

In Glen Esk, there are a few sheep enclosures made of randomly piled field stones but no walls marching to the skyline as one sees in the Borders and in the Pennines.

This surprises me as I have been told that Scotland was so short of timber in years gone by that tenants took their roof timbers with them at the end of a tenancy. Stone was plentiful and cheap but timber scarce and expensive.