A large chunk of my weekends, as regular readers might be aware, is usually dedicated to walking our dog. And Sunday afternoon tends to be a fairly large one. Yesterday’s was no exception to this rule.
It was bitterly cold here – the only frost that thawed was that touched by direct sunlight for multiple hours – but the sun was out and the world was shimmering. Perfect conditions for a nice long stroll.
We decided that we hadn’t been to Blackness in a while, and with its grass, beach and woods it’s a great place to walk, play frisbee and take in the countryside air. And with all the frost, an excellent place to take photos.
Located on a little outcrop jutting out from West Lothian into the Firth of Forth (about 15 minutes drive west from the Forth Road Bridge), Blackness Castle was built in the mid fourteenth century. It has had many functions in its time, being the port for Linlithgow, serving as a military stronghold and a state prison (most notably holding Cardinal Beaton – Archbishop of St Andrews) for, as the Historic Scotland website delicately puts it “those whom the reigning sovereign wished to see safely out of the way“.
On this occasion we weren’t visiting the castle, but more it’s grassy ‘lawn’, beach and woodland that links it to the Hopetoun estate. The grass was pretty solid today, so in a departure from the dog’s usual prowess in catching the frisbee, today she slid about two metres past it every time. It was hilarious. Although not quite as funny as her discovering – the cold way – why we were telling her not to walk over the icy puddles. Even by the time we’d played with the frisbee the sun was already pretty low, which bathed everything in a golden glow – especially the frost.
About half a mile of beach and trees later we came across a gap in the trees that, combined with the slight incline we’d gone up, allowed us to look out over the glass-like Firth of Forth. The small container ship sailing down looked as though it was being slid along the smooth surface, the only indication that it was still water was the splash a bird made as it landed. Perhaps the almost perfect image for peace and something verging on tranquility.
Despite walking almost twice as far as we’d originally intended – the weather was good and we weren’t rushing to get back – we timed it almost perfectly and got back to the Castle just as the sun was setting. Now, I’m a big fan of these already, but today’s was pretty special. I thought it was good when we walked back across the field (below), but the sight that greeted us by the car was worthy of a post on its own.
We had, what can only really be described as, a great winter walk. The only things that made you doubt the calmness of location were the remains of the large number of trees that have been blown down during the recent spate of gales. But even those couldn’t really take the glow out of the sun as its final rays glittered on the frost. All in all a perfect day for frisbee, frost and photos.