Sunday, 17 November 2013

Going Back In Time.

Today's plan was a cycle up to Whittingehame where I spent a lot of time when I was young, my grandad was a worker on the Whittingehame estate & his brother too worked there at Holt school which was the former estate mansion house.
 I always loved going up there, it was a place that seemed to me like it was frozen in time with all the old buildings overgrown with ivy, trees that had grown through windows & old vintage lorries & farm machinery lying abandoned & again ivy growing over & through them, for me it was a real place of adventure. 
The last time I was up at the estate walled garden where my grandad had his workshop & bothy was soon after he died 19 years ago, so wondering where to  go for a cycle I thought that it would be great to go back in time for a look to see how much it has changed...


Heading out of the village to take the scenic hill route, such a crisp clear wind free sunny day, perfect :-)



Passing by the Brunt estate & spotting just off the roadside a trap to catch squirrels, people can't see past the cute bushy tail but the non native grey squirrel is a real pest, it's amazing how much damage these little rodents can cause to broad leaved trees.
The floor of the glen covered in frost where the sun has not yet reached & I could really feel the drop in temperature when I got down the bottom.

Climbing over the Brunt hill with it's amazing views, stopping to say hello to Hee & Haw the donkeys.

Days of old :- mail post box & fingerpost road sign, lots of fingerposts on this trip I can't help but take pictures of them every time I pass one.


Stunning autumn coppers, bronze & golds.



Going through Meiklerig wood emerging just above the village of Stenton with Traprain law in the background.

This road was recently closed for vehicular access as the walls are starting to become insecure. It's a very strange road cut into the land which twists & turns for about 100 yards or so & I don't know why there is a  bridge above the road I can only think that maybe this was the original driveway to the Whittinghame house as there is a tree lined avenue which is from the house & is in line with this bridge so possibly you might have came up this road then round in a loop to go over the bridge then up the tree lined avenue to the big house ? That's my guess I can't find anything on-line about this & it's times like this that I wish my grandad was still around ! He knew every nook & crannie of the estate & would of knew about this walled road & bridge which I think was called the dry arch ?


Whittingehame House was completed about 1817. It became the family home of the Balfour family & the birthplace of the Prime Minister Arthur Balfour & the scientist Francis Maitland Balfour.
 Between 1939 & 1941 the house was converted into a school for Jewish refugee children coming to Britain through the Kindertransport. The school known as the Whittingehame Farm School, sheltered 160 children between the ages of 7 & 17.
 Having passed through various hands after the Balfours at one time it was a private school- Holt School but it closed & the property lay dormant. The A-listed house is now divided into private apartments.


Yet more autumn gold on the grounds around the estate with the leaves falling into the Whittingehame burn which cuts it's way through the estate.

 This old bike is beyond repair now I think, but has now been resurrected as a house name sign at the bottom of someone's driveway.








Whittingehame church has it's origins as far back as c 664. The original site was near Luggate half a mile north-east of the present church, in a field which to this day bears the name Kirklands. A new church was built in 1225 but by 1721 that building was in a ruinous condition.
The present church was built in 1722. Historical continuity is preserved in the bell, dating from 1610 & two silver communion cups which date from 1683. At the entrance to the churchyard are three stones brought from the older graveyard which date from 1650, 1651 & 1668.
I've put up a few examples of some of the headstones with their carved detailing, I am gathering research to do a post on the graveyards around my area with the meanings to the carvings so watch this space !






The area where I most wanted to see as this is where I used to come with my grandad & I can't believe how much it has changed ! The whole area has been cleared of trees & all the overgrown ivy, old scrap motors etc.
The old arched building with the glass sides is where my grandad was always tinkering with his old Morris 1000 vans, It was a real aladdins cave of old machinery & estate tools, from what I can remember this building during it's estate heyday was a peach/apricot house & would of been glass roofed aswell, it is south facing so would of caught maximum sunlight.
The row of buildings have all been done up, I remember them with rickety old pan tiled roofs, dirty spider web covered windows with old & past their best doors & old broken cast iron rain gutters. These were the potting sheds from the old estate days but I remember them as my grandads old workshops with again old fashioned tools & it was also the estate workers bothy where they had their breakfast & dinner breaks.



The walled garden with nothing in it apart from weeds ! In it's day this would of been crammed full of produce.
The top picture is the adjoining wall to the potting sheds & when I was a kid there were greenhouses from end to end & it was in these greenhouses I remember where my grandad used to cut his logs with an old diesel powered saw, there greenhouses were all run down with nothing but stinging nettles growing in them, broken window panes & there were chickens running about ! But most of all it's the smell I remember of the freshly cut wood that I remember & my grandad miming at me as it was so noisy to get away from the saw as I must of been getting too close.




At the east end of the walled garden is this building with an avenue of lime trees leading to it. I have no idea the significance of this structure but it must of had some sort of importance to it.





An old lodge house & entrance to the Whittingehame Tower, now used as a holiday home but as you can see by the photos it was a grand entrance & would of had wrought iron gates & railings, again an avenue of trees leading up to the Tower.




Reaching the top of the drive rounding the corner to see the Whittingehame Tower which was built on the lands belonging to the Cospatrick Earls of March. In the 14th century the lands were aquired by the Douglases. During the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, they were held by James Douglas 4th Earl of Morton. The property passed through the hands of the Setons, Hays, & Balfours of Balbirnie who still occupy the castle.







A lot of history behind this yew tree, in 1567 the Earl of Morton the Earl of Bothwell the future husband of Mary Queen of Scots plotted murder under these branches.









Like all old estate grounds there is an abundance of exotic trees from Acer's, Eucalyptus, Monkey puzzles & of coarse all the usual traditional species like Lime, Oak, Beech, Yew & Sycamore.


On the way home I thought I would pop in & see my friend Davie a mechanical wizard & starting to look like one too for a mug of tea, this time he was at home & he came up trumps no choccy biscuit today but a Christmas mince pie my first of the year.

Fed & watered now & heading through the Biel estate with these Roe deer posing for a photo.

It's amazing the things that you come across when out on the bike, an iron bench seemingly in the middle of nowhere in a wood & a piece of old plough metal built into a wall !

The Biel burn one of my childhood fishing haunts.


The old Belton estate pigeon doocot, sad to see that this one is so run down these old doocots are a work of art, but with this one mother nature has got her claws in & is destroying it with ivy bursting through the walls & breaking the walls apart, a real shame I love old doocots.

No clay pigeon shooting happening when I cycled through luckily, I would of made a good moving target !
Nearly home & the last finger post of today's travels.

Another great wee find for my cider making project next year a quince tree, I had to taste one & it was delicious.
Last wee trail of the day through Thurston caravan park & that's that !
Today was quite a nostalgic day seeing all the sights & memories from my childhood but at the same time quite disappointed at how much things have changed as everything does through time us included & thinking to myself if only someone could invent something that taps into the human brain & records everything that your eyes have taken in throughout your life onto a memory stick or something ??
Anyway I hope you enjoyed
'Going Back In Time'
Thanks again & cheers for now.