Many years ago, as a small boy, me and a chum went hiking. We hiked in
the wild moors between Mugdock and Strathblane, and got very wet. A
group of roadside workmen took pity on us, gave us shelter in their tiny
curving corrugated hut, and soon we were sat on a wooden bench with cold
hands cupped around hot tins of tea. It must have been in the days
before tea-bags were widely used, because I recall experiencing a
certain amount of horror in finding something bobbing around in my tin.
I imagined there might be some sort of workmen's joke afoot where a
large toad had been placed in my tea. But I needn't have worried; these
guys looked after us.
In the years since then, things have changed. The countryside has been
shaped by newcomers and weather and generally altered by the hands of
time. But it's not changed much. For today, you can still visit
those same wild moors or frolic through fallen forests. You can stomp through mud
and care not one jot, skin your knees and scrape your shins, and
experience the excitement that comes with being free in a big green open
The countryside around Strathblane is full of stuff to stomp and scamper
through: primeval woodland within whose dank swampy depths dinosaurs
still lurk, and crumbling ruins where spirits lie in wait. And paths. On
these paths I don't so much walk as immerse myself in the past and
become once again that small boy in an intriguing world of wonder.