Suffice to say that the long, long drive from South-east Essex to Scotland is not an event I anticipate with any degree of relish.... despite this year marking the ninth, consecutive such undertaking. Yeah, a glutton for punishment, me. Consequently it's always a boon to my sense of well being to finally cross the border and feel enabled to switch off the mental auto pilot, to engage with the landscape. Furthermore, my arrival at Junction 12 of the M74 this time around coincides with the usual heavy precipitation seen in this parts being rendered conspicuous by its absence. So, a wee jaunt up the Cairn Table - postponed from last year by the aforementioned rain - it is, then. The mountain... well, at 1,945ft I'm going with that ... overlooks the town of Muirkirk, itself astride the A70. 'Furnace Road', no doubt a linguistic reference to the locality's former industrial heritage, heads past a caravan park to a specially-designated car park at Kames. Upon arrival, a local elderly man duly takes great delight in informing me that the recent fortnight of fine weather is set to end. Rhetorical question.. but why do that, swine that you are?
Miserable git dispatched upon his way, I follow a track roughly south-east toward the distant summit, negotiating my way between numerous derelict quarries and areas of bog... not altogether successfully in respect of the latter. Incidentally should one (for any reason) happen to contemplate inspection of such excavations signs warn, in no uncertain terms, that this really is not a good idea. Veering to the left away from Linky Burn I ascend The Steel, a small cairn situated across the boundary fence residing upon a suggestively grassy footprint. Nothing however upon the map... or Canmore. As I gain height the summit cairns crown the horizon beneath a towering cloudscape. Nearly there, then.
The summit of Cairn Table is a not overly appealing place, thanks to the rusting remnants of a former enclosing wire fence and the sadly anticipated accumulation of rubbish. However this is how things are nowadays, a Scotland the soldiers commemorated by the massively conical War Memorial would no doubt not altogether approve of. Having said that, it's a fine viewpoint, such an assertion supported by the presence of a topographical indicator confirming that, yes, that is indeed Tinto resplendent to the approx north-east. The memorial is a mighty construction sourced from what must clearly have been an even more substantial Bronze Age monument, now sadly, by definition, a mere fragment of its former self. I have mixed emotions... is it better for ancient heritage to be destroyed to facilitate an act of latter-day respectful rememberence than to erect a storm shelter? Could what occurred here upon the Cairn Table in 1920 be regarded as simply moving a cairn from one point of the summit plateau to another? I'll have to give that conundrum further thought.
Thankfully Cairn Table possesses a second, more-or-less intact cairn a little to the east. Yeah, this is more like it, truly a fine upland cairn... probably not as massive as its neighbour once was, but easily substantial enough to compensate. Canmore reckons the monument "measures 16m in diameter and 3.5m in height.... A bronze armlet and ring, found together under a boulder on its E margin, were donated to the NMAS in 1933" (Acc Nos: FA 90, 91). As I sit and take in the horizons, wondering what the next two weeks will bring - I have no real plan, to be fair - the wondrous Tinto begins to exude a 'presence', an attraction far in excess of it's relatively limited height.
Needless to say I end up spending the night beneath it.
Posted by GLADMAN
25th June 2016ce
Edited 26th June 2016ce