She of a Thousand Eyes

roe deer

Roe deer buck  © Copyright Rob Burke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
I arrived in Scotland to snow flurries and weather which changes dramatically. One minute your enjoying the sunshine then the skies darken in a pelting of hail then just as quickly it’s back to clear skies and white fluffy clouds set against a brilliant blue sky.
I love this changeable weather which was still at play as I began my walk up the steep road from Bonhill which takes you up towards Carman Hill. Halfway up the road a Roe deer suddenly stuck her head through the hedge,  then on seeing me she bounded off back through the fields. What a start to my walk as I ‘ve only ever seen deer on these hills a couple of times and never at such close range.
As I walked up the rest of the road the hedge was a boundary between me and another world but as I stepped off the tarmac I stepped  over a threshold leaving the world of towns, traffic, roads and the humdrum of everyday life into a wilder world of skylarks, of gorse in bloom and echoes of a far older time.
big clouds dton castle
I have walked these hills many times, through different ages and different lives all within one lifetime. Across this threshold everything feels different. The wind wild and silent roars when it weaves its way through the rowan tree branches. It blows the cobwebs off taking away worries and concerns that also sink out through my feet to be dissolved in the dark peaty earth.
I followed  the dry stone dyke up the hill and half way up my ears heard a much missed song – that of the skylark (click here to hear the Skylarks song).  The stories of the land are here. There are only loose threads left in the folklore – yet there are holders of other threads in the song of the skylark, the flight of the seagull, the unfurling of the bracken and held in the rocks of the wall.
carman rock
I love the moss filled cracks in these rocks at the top of Carman Hill. I often wonder if these rocks are part of the bedrock or carried here by great ice sheets. Are the markings striations from ancient ice glaciers – although I heard another option that they might be cracks caused by a fire which was set in celebration of the wedding of Queen Alexandra & the Prince of Wales (later King Edward) in 1863.  Seemingly this fire cracked several of the big rocks badly but must have been quite spectacular as it was said it was seen from several surrounding counties.
As the clouds shape shifted and raced over the landscape a circular patch appeared like a great eye looking down on me. The great third eye of the Cailleach in fact her story is knitted into everything around me and she watches from a thousands eyes. From the eyes of the Roe deer who stuck her head through the fence, to the eyes of the calves in the field as I walked by the farm. She watches me from the eyes of the Scot’s Pine trees, from the bright yellow eyes of the daffodils, from the snails and the rocks of the crow and the buzzard. She watches behind all the eyes of this place.
clyde estuary
Looking out towards the Clyde Estuary
rain on carman
 The skies began to darken as the rains came in, clouds like great skirts of rain – shifting and morphing like a dance, the dance of Clutha an ancient diety of the Clyde and all the local water forms.


As i turned around and headed back leaving this wild world and over the threshold the sun came out and I was treated to a rainbow which turned into a double rainbow through which one of our first summer visitors, the swallow, flew through singing her chirpy song (click here to listen to the song of the swallow).


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