Friday, 17 July 2009

Gartmore House

Today I had been invited to visit nearby Gartmore House, former home of RB Cunninghame Graham, horse adventurer (and founder of the Scottish Labour Party and later, the Scottish National Party).

It's a magnificent William Adam pile (with later Balfour additions - he was a pupil of Charles Rennie McIntosh). The house has a chequered history - since being Cunninghame Graham's family home, it has variously been army barracks during WW2, a List D approved school, European headquarters of 'The Way' ( a cult organisation who put locks on every room (oo-er), and now used as a base for Christian faith camps and conferences.

It is still simply splendid inside, despite the obvious difficulties and expense of upkeep. Wonderful panelling, leaded windows and magnificent views, too.

Of interest to me as well as the Cunnighame Graham factor was the connection with the Cayzer family (now of Kinpurnie, near Newtyle - near my home) - in fact there were old photographs of Kinpurnie being built on a bare hillside - very different to the wooded policies of today. Sir James Cayzer is still an occasional visitor to Gartmore.

I would have loved to spend much more time there, but as equestrian explorers we couldn't stop Balfron and a couple of days' well-earned rest for the ponies.

The map shows a disused railway line running from Gartmore to Balfron Station. Perfect - except it ran out after three miles or so and I can promise you that diverting onto the nearby A811 is not a good substitute and not for the fainthearted - even the traffic-proof Doogs nearly peed his pants as the lorries hurtled past with inches to spare.

Rather than risk being completely flattened, we took our chances across country (and have the bramble scars and nettle stings to prove it! This worked pretty well with only one or two dead ends, and we arrived at Carbeth Home Farm for a rest, and a chance to catch up on laundry (bit overdue) and a few minor repairs. We arrived to find not one but TWO farriers working in the yard...sadly all I could find for them to do was replace one lost nail! Still, you know the old rhyme about 'for want of a nail the shoe was lost...'

On the whole all the kit is holding up well (so far) although bits of duct tape are starting to creep into our ensemble. I've also been pleased to find that I've not been carrying anything which I haven't needed, yet I seem to have got everything - up till now!

The ponies too look well - definitely a bit tired after the longs days they've done recently, but in excellent form, and still sound. The news from home is also good - Yeoman is now sound, though a few more days' rest is recommended - so he will be joining us sometime soon. I have missed him (although on balance I'd say that Ladybird is probably a little easier!)

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