A sortie to find some carved Pictish stones on what might once have been a royal fort, followed by a climb to visit a local landmark, the obelisk to the Reverend Samuel Rutherford seemed like a plan for a late afternoon last week. It was only a three and a half mile walk after all.
What I hadn’t taken into account was that this is rough, undulating landscape, and entirely beautiful. It demands we take the time to stand and stare. So I did.
Trusty’s Hill proved to be a chance for a first viewing of the Rutherford Monument, as well as an opportunity to peer at Pictish carvings. This site was the site of an ancient fire so fierce that the stone there vitrified. The hill might, round about 600 AD, have been a citadel. It was certainly a fine vantage point from which to view what could once have been the lost Scottish kingdom of Rheged.
Onwards to the Rutherford Monument, built by grateful parishioners to honour the memory of a priest who, though an academic, a thinker and a teacher, cared for his flock in practical as well as spiritual ways and who was constantly at odds with the establishment to the extent that he was awaiting being tried for treason at his death. These days, there’s a Millennium Cairn, detailing all the ministers of Anwoth and Girthon since 1560 , and a trig point on two adjacent hills. All three provide splendid views to the Fleet estuary far below and the hills beyond.
Then it was down, down through a wooded trail to reach Anwoth Church, now roofless and ruined, before coming back to Gatehouse of Fleet along a quiet county track.