Every so often, after the clocks change and until there is light in the sky again, the Wednesday evening training run is changed for a night run – sometimes themed. Also starting at 7pm the runs are in different locations around Edinburgh, with a convivial meal afterwards in a convenient hostelry.
Older night runs archive (pre 2014)
Night run diary
|Halloween Night Run||Penicuik||Willie|
|Xmas Pub Run||Dec||KB 7pm|
|West Linton||Gordon Arms Hotel here||Gordon Arms Hotel http://thegordon.co.uk/||Ross Christie|
|Vernal Equinox Run – Linlithgow to Cairpapple||March||Linlithgow Railway Station at 7pm||Star & Garter||Mike Lynch|
Next night run – when the clocks change again
The new season of night runs is being arranged. Traditionally starting with the Halloween Night Run.
Previous night runs –
|When you are out round halloween
strange ghoulish runners can be seen
So watch for ghosts in every Neuk
Especially round Penicuik
We all gathered after dark
Into the woods all in the gloom
Then quickly off across the grass
|Then past the stable the Moon shone bright
The Ruined house came into sight
118 years ago
This massive house was all aglow
Destroyed by Fire it’s now a shell
toward the gate we all then hurried
We cossed the Esk above the weir
|In fear we dashed along the track
with out a thought of looking back
The bravest three of us were sent
To scale the Ramsay Monument
We headed on towards the gate
And then enthused, the group departed
The Autumn Equinox Run is well established now (and what a hoot it is!), so I thought it would be nice if its young upstart the Vernal Equinox could get in on the act. So I organised a run. My thoughts when doing this were that by the time it came around on Monday, 20th March, we would be looking at warm sunlight uplands, possibly going topless and sipping sparkling mead (that did happen) under birdsong. However the weather was Baltic (but it stayed dry, to be fair) and the next day saw snow blanket much of the north of Britain, so maybe we angered the Gods somehow. Digby had also pointed out (in his imitable style) that the clocks weren’t going to change until this Sunday, so we’d be better to delay it a week. But I was keen to make it on the day of the Equinox.
I decided on Cairnpapple, as it one of the most important Druidic sites in Scotland, and has an impressive structure on its top to prove it. More of that later. My only experience of the hill was running to its (almost) summit with Neil B when we did the comically-named Bathgate Highland Games Hill Race. I remembered it as basically a road race that had a bit of a climb. However, run leader Lisa assured me we’d be getting all down and dirty through woods and stuff, and so it proved.
I had hoped that someone from the Druid community in Scotland might come out to the hill to meet us, but they seemed very shy, but Jean, a lovely lady from the Pagan Network Scotland got in touch and sent me some words, which I read out on the run:
Most if not all of these belief systems celebrate the “ Wheel of the Year” which encompasses 8 festivals beginning on 31st October with Samhain/Halloween and ending with the Autumnal Equinox around 21st September.
The significance of Cairnpapple to most Pagans is that it is a burial mound. As modern day paganism is based on pre-christian beliefs, most Pagans would view Cairnpapple as perhaps a place to commune with the spirits of the pre-christian peoples whose remains are buried there. It was obviously a special place where the ancient people of Scotland may have held celebratory or funerary rituals. Pagans cannot and do not claim to know the exact format of these rituals, they can only guess. However the site has quite clearly been a fairly important one in pre-historic times.
And so to the run.
Lisa led the way up the hill from the Station into the wilds of the Linlithgow suburbs. We came to the edge of Beecraigs Country Park, where things got more interesting. There was lots of (gradual) climbing and it wasn’t long before we stopped to regroup and found ourselves pretty high, with good views over West Lothian.
Given the distance and time involved we were swithering at this point abut actually making it to Cairnpapple, as it’s a fair stretch from the start, but Jeff had stashed some sparkling mead in the gorse bushes near the summit that lunchtime, so that clinched it. In the end we adjusted our route to take in Witchcraig and Cairnpapple and we missed out Cockleroy.
The running was a mix of hard-packed trails through the woods, country roads, but also some minor hill climbs and mud. A good mix and Lisa kept the pace high. I think we all felt that we’d had a good workout by the time we sat down to eat. The Star & Garter were very accommodating and the food and service was good. A great evening and it’s been suggested we re-run the route in the summer again, perhaps taking in Cockleroy this time.
Some notes on Cairnpapple:
Cairnpapple Hill is a hill with a dominating position in central lowland Scotland with views from coast to coast. It was used and re-used as a major ritual site over about 4000 years, and in its day would have been comparable to better known sites like the Standing Stones of Stenness. The summit lies 312 m above sea level, and is about 2 miles (3 km) north of Bathgate. In the 19th century the site was completely concealed by trees, then in 1947–1948 excavations by Stuart Piggott found a series of ritual monuments from successive prehistoric periods. In 1998, Gordon Barclay re-interpreted the site for Historic Scotland.
Neolithic rituals began about 3500 BC with signs of small hearths, and precious objects left on the hill, presumably as offerings, including fine pottery bowls and stone axe heads imported from Cumbria and Wales. Probably around 3000 BC a Class II henge was constructed with the hilltop being surrounded by a bank outside a ditch about 12 ft (4 m) wide cut over 3 ft (1 m) into the rock, with wide entrances from north and south. Inside this an egg-shaped setting of 24 uprights (thought to have been timber posts, or possibly standing stones) enclosed an inner setting of similar uprights.
Some time later a Bronze age ritual added a small stone and clay cairn just off centre inside the monument, with a 7 ft (2 m) high standing stone to the east and a setting of smaller stones. Also aligned to this cairn were sockets for three upright stones at the centre of an arc of seven small pits, six of which contained cremated bones and two contained remains of bone skewer pins. Under the cairn traces were found of at least one burial, with wooden objects (perhaps a mask and club) and beaker people style pottery which indicates a date around 2000 BC. This cairn was later covered by a second much larger cairn about 50 ft (15 m) across and several yards (metres) high, with a kerb of massive stone slabs, which incorporated Bronze age burial cists, one of which contained a food vessel pot. Subsequently, more stone was brought in to increase this cairn to about 100 ft (30 m) diameter, enclosing two cremation burials in inverted urns and now covering the original ditch and bank, making the whole site a tomb monument. Lastly, inside the ditch to the east four graves considered Iron age are now thought to be early Christian because of their east-west alignment, and are dated to around 500 to 1000.
Interior of modern cairn:
The site is open to the public April to September and has a small visitor centre. The 1940s excavations have been partly covered by a concrete dome replicating the second cairn (although the dome is much higher than the cairn) so that visitors can go inside what was once a solid cairn and see the reconstructed graves, and outside this the surrounding post holes and graves are marked by being filled with colour-coded gravel like an archaeological plan, with the red gravel indicating upright pits, and the white gravel denoting the alleged Christian burials. The current display attempts to show all the main phases of the site at the same time.
Cairnpapple Hill is the 445th highest Marilyn (sub 2000′ peaks) in Scotland (Out of 571 total Marilyns)
Derivation of the name
Although there is still some confusion about the origin of the name Cairnpapple Hill, or the alternative Cairniepapple, its meaning can be guessed to a certain extent. It is uncertain whether the name comes from a Brythonic language, related to Welsh, a Goidelic one, such as Scottish Gaelic, or a mixture of the two. The first part, cairn- means cairn, either from Brythonic (e.g. Welsh carn) or Goidelic (e.g. Gaelic càrn or càirn). The second part -ie-, means of the, as in Welsh y or Gaelic a’. The third part is the most problematic, possibly meaning any of tent (Welsh pabell, Gaelic puball), people/congregation (Welsh pob(o)l, Gaelic pobull), or even eye (compare Old Welsh pubell). Thus, Cairniepapple is most likely to mean Cairn of the tent, Cairn of the people, or Cairn of the eye. Another meaning, put forward in the documentary Before Scotland (written and presented by historian Alistair Moffat), is Priest Rock.
Chronology (a different interpretation in a nutshell)
Late Neolithic: cremations (placed in an arc)
Copper Age: beaker burials and henge
Early Bronze Age: food vessel cairn
Middle Bronze Age: enlarged cairn with large cinerary urns
Early Iron Age: inhumations
A quick scramble up next to a waterfall brought us out on a small rocky ridge on the lower slopes of Mount Maw. After a pathless trudge up the surprisingly dry hillside we hit the track leading to the summit trig where we regrouped and looked over one of the less viewed vistas of the Pentlands back towards the Kips and west towards the Cairns and West Lothian. The drop from Mount Maw to the dam at Baddinsgill is one of my favourite descents in the Pentlands, the dry, grassy trail at a perfect angle makes for speedy running right down to the reservoir.
We raced up the grassy embankment to the waterline and trotted over the dam to the road leading back to West Linton. We made a quick stop for food orders before following the Cross Borders Drove Road all the way back to the Village with a speedy last kilometer on a dirt road right to the door of the pub. Great food and beer at The Gordon Arms, I think the pate with tattie scones was the highlight of the night for more than a few people!
Thanks to everyone who made it down. There is one more night run to go, Cairnpapple Equinox on Monday at 7pm – see you there!
7 o’clock on Wednesday night saw some 26 runners shivering outside Clippers in Penicuik where we were destined to eat later, but at that time we were waiting for the off to do the Cuckoo Waltz. No, not to play Jonasson’s Swedish accordion tune but a designed Willie waltz (ooer) around the designed landscape of the Clerk’s Penicuik estate.
Penicuik means the hill of the cuckoo but in the early stages it was more hills of the suckoo as gripping mud sucked at our shoes. As the estate covers some 500 acres but the run was 5 miles only (food was awaiting at Clippers remember), we clipped along a somewhat concentrated but enjoyable route firstly following the south bank of the Esk, ascending steadily through the aforementioned delightfully splashy mud to the remains of Ravensneuk Castle. As is often the way with old buildings this 16th century castle was robbed out in the 18th century to provide stone for the Bastion Wall bolstering Penicuik House – amongst others.
Another bast*** wall meant clambering over a double barbed wire fence behind a dry stane dyke (excellent if assisted somersault Moira) before we cantered round to the Ramsay Monument, built in 1759 a year after the respected poet and wig maker’s death. (The Clerks were friends and patrons of the great man). One of the great pastoral poets Allan Ramsay is well remembered in Edinburgh with a statue at the corner of the Mound and Princes Street and a bust included as one of the carved heads of only 16 poets in embrasures on the Scott Monument. You can of course admire the magnificent and colourful Ramsey Gardens built around his town house as you look up from Princes Street towards Edinburgh Castle.
To our left the Hurley Cave (1740-1748) is now closed and the old bridge is gone so we didn’t venture any further south (although we’ve ventured close to it several times in earlier Eskapade Runs). A swift descent then took us down to the Eskfield Bridge constructed in 1796. This and the earlier (1763) walled garden and Garden House at Eskfield to the west of the bridge are also well remembered features of the long running (in many senses) Eskapade Runs. There’s a path up to Penicuik House from the bridge curling left of the bridge but we diverted downstream to the Curling Hut at the lower of the Black Pools by the engraved Standing Stone. Then it was down the riverbank until we reached the recently restored “Centurion or Roman Bridge” – not Roman of course but built in Roman style between 1737 and 1741.
Turning off by the bridge we followed the track up the hill to arrive at the “Chinese Gates”. Originally installed in 1758 these replicas match the originals beautifully. Ahead through the broad avenue of lime trees (wherein lie some curious grave markers worth checking out) lies Penicuik House, but we swing left to run along the top of the Bastion Wall to arrive at the rear of the house to visit the perhaps appropriately named (given the name of the night’s leader) “Wee Willie Fountain and Well” before skirting round the conserved remains (a roofless but still imposing shell) of the beautiful Penicuik House to climb and stand on the still magnificent pillared portico. Built between 1761 and 1769 to designs by Sir James Clerk and John Baxter the Elder to replace the earlier Newbiggin House, sadly (in May I think) of 1899 a serious fire broke out in the house and although most of the paintings and furnishings survived (even if only to find a new home in a some more humble dwellings throughout Penicuik) much of the fabric of the building including the roof was destroyed.
From 1900 to date the Clerk family who still own and manage the estate live in the converted stable block we could see dimly in the darkness to our left. Acknowledging the Clerk’s curtilage we avoided going any closer. So, down the main driveway back towards Penicuik before making the steep ascent up to the Knight’s Law Tower, another whimsy or folly of the Clerks built between 1748 and 1751. Then down through the trees watching out for treacherous tree roots disguised as shadows to regroup on the driveway before we skirted the Spear Gates and Lodge to head round and up to the radio mast looking over to the lights of Penicuik down below. Not only the lights of Penicuik but food and drink beckoned and so we cantered downhill to cross the stile and run the last couple of hundred metres to well deserved pub and grub, conversation and conviviality before (for me anyway) a bracing cycle back to Edinburgh. Thanks to all for the good company and craik and to Willie for leading and to Joel for setting it up.
||With Joel, the run organiser, away on business. I was drafted in to lead the run.
Joel had arranged the food at Clippers and after a reccie on Saturday there was nothing left to do but turn up.
So about 25 of us with an age spread of over 55 years gathered outside the restaurant at 7pm. Mark appeared from the doorway with a load of poppadoms to give us a taste of what was to come.
So off we went down the Peebles road to Pomathorn and headed up South Bank Wood and stopped to regroup at the site of the 2007 landslide. The Penicuik landslide, Midlothian, January 2007, (paper written by a past club member). then on to the Top of the Hill –
– where we looked over to Penicuik House and then we ran across to the Ramsay Memorial,
“The Ramsay Monument is set on top of the Cauldshoulders Ridge, marking the end of the vista from Penicuik House as you look down the south-east avenue. An ashlar stone obelisk, pierced by three oval apertures on an arched base, it was built in 1759 by Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet, in commemoration of the poet Allan Ramsay, a frequent visitor to Penicuik House”.
Richard and Bill carried on along the wood track and we regrouped at the top of the hill. A swift run down the track led us to the Bridge and then we had a quick visit to the “Low Pond” and the climbed to the house. Along the raised walk and under the bridge by the well and then we went to view the house. The house was burnt down in 1899 leaving just a shell we gazed through the windows into the shell and then headed of down the drive.
At a fork in the road we took the steep off track route to The Knights Law Tower , at the tower Bill turned up Map-less having dropped it on the way up. Steve headed back to retrieve said map as the rest of us ran through the woods to the radio mast and after a final regroup we took a quick deviation to add on a few hundred yards before heading down the hill to Clippers.
We had a lovely run of just over 5 miles which left us ready for the lovely curry (and Beer) that followed.
Thanks for the idea Joel!