World Outwith Words

I took the day off writing yesterday, and took the train instead with D, down to Dunbar, half an hour out of Edinburgh on the East Coast of the country. A cold damp day under a white sky.

John Muir, the man who helped mobilise the creation of national parks in America, was born here, and there is a joyful statue to him on the high street. Here he is, as was his habit, throwing socks into the air:

He didn't care a wit for dirty laundry, what interested him was nature

We wandered to the harbour to see the ruins of Dunbar Castle, an old cliff-top fortification dating from the 1100s, variously besieged and defended (most famously by Black Agnes Randolph of Dunbar) but in the end, was ordered dismantled by an act of the (ancient) Scottish parliament in 1567.

That stack, along with some visible brickwork lower on the cliff, is all that remains in place, after the ravages of storms and local builders

The harbour, though not what it once as (berth to 500 fishing boats at its peak), is still a working harbour. The clutter of fishing gear was here and there on the piers and on nearby buildings, artfully arranged:

Pile o' Creels (lobster catchers)

Bright Buoys and an old creel

It smelled of seaweed and Spring seemed a long way off, down by the water. We headed into a pub – though when we entered the conversations ceased, and it felt as if all eyes where carefully trained away from us until we finished our drinks and left. Warm enough in one way, we made for the John Muir coastal walk, named for where Muir in his boyhood had learned his love of nature (so the tourist signs said) by picking about among the rocks.

Nearing high tide, so we were not able to see if there really were, as the signs claimed, eels and edible crab lurking in the pools

Red sandstone cliffs above a red sand beach

We came to a large, walled field on the top of the cliff. A rugby ground and a putting green, in it, this old clubhouse(?) sat derelict:

But it was not a gloomy space – a crowd of three greyhounds dashed and frolicked about, coming to nose our hands once or twice before leaping away again. Oystercatchers trilled to one another, hunting for worms on the grass. It was good to be outside, then, despite the gnawing air. Broad, calm outdoors.  Something D and I will be trying to get more of, each weekend that we have free. Seeing the country, or what is easily accessible of the country, taking things slow, setting the pressing tasks aside for a little while. Relishing the weather and the day and the small beauties, and the moments of the unsettling, unpredictable, life.




Filed under 2012, Scotland, The Now

14 responses to “World Outwith Words

  1. Looks and “sounds” like a wonderful weekend. Thank you for sharing it with us. 🙂

  2. So wonderful to see and read your “travel diaries” Helen. I like the experiences and glimpses in(to) your part of the world.

  3. CJ

    Getting out into the world replenishes the pen and those pictures again make me want to go to there too.

  4. macdougalstreetbaby

    Throwing dirty socks in the air?! I love this John Muir. A man after my own heart.

  5. When the conversation ceased in the pub…what an impetus for a story. All of those people and their stories, the outsiders not privy to them. Little did they know they had a writer in their midst. Or maybe they did and that’s why they stopped talking…

  6. karina

    the red beach picture (2nd from last).. what beach is that or where is it located??

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