Today's dyking excursion was to Cubbiedean in the Pentland Hills, once again with the Friends of the Pentlands, or with two of them (Neil and Hamish) at least. And in a return to my usual form, I forgot to take a before picture. So if you could imagine the below with a lot more tumble-down wall where Neil and Hamish are, and three old rusty gates stretching from the fence posts in the foreground down to the wall just visible on the left of the photo, I'd be much obliged.
This is the same spot where Richard and I did some repairs when we were visiting nearby Bonaly about two months ago. So if I'd remembered to take a photo then, that would have been a good 'before' shot for today. But I didn't. Anyway, this is the bit of wall we did last time (the lighter coloured stone is the bit we repaired).
The idea was for us to repair the wall along the top, which was much fallen down, and to carry this on down the hill where the old gates were and join up with the wall at the far side. The site was much overgrown, and the gates were held in place with very rusty twisted wire - Dave had brought along some shears and wire cutters, and one of the park rangers showed up just after we started with a couple of sickles, so first we cut away the unwanted grass, nettles, thistles and ancient ironwork. We decided to leave the big fence post in the corner in, partly because it looks quite nice, but mostly because it was very firmly fixed down.
The cheek-end of the existing wall was quite nicely done and it seemed a shame to have to take it down, so we decided to make a small lunkey, or gap, against it for badgers and the like to get through.
However, this presented us with a problem, as we then couldn't tie in the stones bridging the gap without taking down the old cheek-end anyway. So we decided just to build another cheek-end butted up against it, and build our badger lunkey a bit further up the hill.
We had a great day for dyking - sunny, but not too hot, and with enough of a breeze to deter the midges. We were also close enough to the path to exchange pleasantries with walkers and horse riders, and the view was fantastic.
I headed home at four, leaving Hamish, Dave and Chris were still hard at work (Richard and Neil having had to leave earlier).
I don't think there was enough stone to finish the repair, even if they did feel inclined to carry on until eight (which is when, according to Dave, it gets too dark to work at this time of year). But the rangers can drive another load up for us, and we'll probably be back in October to finish it off.
Wooplaw re-re-visited, or whatever it is now ... we go there often enough that I should probably just say "Wooplaw" and leave it at that. So - Wooplaw.
Yesterday we went back to Wooplaw to do some more work on the walls around the stone bridge (see posts of 20th ult. and before). I'm happy to report that this time nothing had been pushed over, and it was all pretty much as we'd left it.
Mike had got there early and made a start on digging out for the foundations for the main wall - now re-routed a bit further from the ditch, in the hope that it now won't fall into it again.
Having had a bit of a think about the way the parapet could join on to the wall, I'd kind of decided that as long as no-one objected, I'd like to curve the wall around and join it on to the parapet that way. No-one did, so Stephen and I set about doing just that. Meanwhile Mike got on with continuing the 'main' wall down to the bridge.
The parapet isn't big - only a foot and a half or so tall - and we built the curve down to meet it, so it didn't take long to join the two together.
Dave from the Wooplaw group turned up after a bit, and gave Mike a hand with the big stones for the foundation of the main wall.
And there was another visitor taking an interest in our wall - less helpful, but still very welcome ...
By lunchtime, we'd finished off the coping on the parapet.
And by the end of the day, the main foundation stones for the wall were in place as well.
I may well be (well, more like definitely am) biased, but I think the stone bridge is really starting to look the part.
The Pentland Way is a new walking route, running from Swanston, just south of Edinburgh, to Dunsyre in South Lanarkshire. To mark the start of it and to help publicise the route, the Friends of the Pentlands decided to erect a plinth with an information board. And seeing as they thought it might be a good idea to build it in stone, the asked us to give them a hand.
The walk starts just above the village of Swanston, near where we previously built a memorial seat to Donald Graham, a former president of the Friends of the Pentlands. Two pallets of stone had already been delivered, and the turf cut away.
This job had a few differences to our more usual builds: the dimensions were more critical (as it will need to fit the information board which is to be mounted on it); the sides were build without batter, i.e., vertically; and the whole thing had to be mortared together (so, not really a 'dry' stone structure at all - but built on dry stone principles anyway). The stone was old building stone, which was good for this job as it was mostly pretty well squared off.
There were quite a few of us there (three SESDSWA and four FotP), but as the plinth was quite small (84 by 59 cm, to be exact) only one or two people could really work on it at a time. So I didn't feel guilty about taking some time out (and my family, who'd tagged along) for lunch up at the Donald Graham memorial seat. There was a heavy shower just as we got there, but it soon cleared, and the high back worked as designed, sheltering us from the breeze.
After lunch we walked up the hill to visit the 'fairy dell' - an old quarry, probably for the (now collapsed) dry stone wall that runs across the hillside below it. There's another dry stone seat there, built by ourselves and the FotP two years ago (and repaired last year). One end had once again started to collapse.
So I put it back up again.
When we got back down, the plinth was nearing completion.
We put sloping stones were on the top, where the information board will be mounted.
The forecast had predicted heavy rain between three and five p.m., and sure enough at five to three, it started to come down - I just managed to grab this shot before we had to run for cover.
I'll pop back at some point after the board's been fixed so you can see the finished result.
This blog, and the rest of the site, are produced by Donald McInnes, treasurer of the SES DSWA (I'm the baldy one, sometimes in a saltire hat).