Ace after ace

I’ve written here before about my love of maps. The other day I went for a walk along the Ayrshire Coastal Path between Maidens and Culzean. It was a great walk on a beautiful but bitingly cold day. Anyway, the following day I was looking at the Ordnance Survey map for that particular locale. I spent ages visualising the area as my eyes darted across the map, giving language and putting names to my visual impressions and memories. That particular part of Ayrshire isn’t one I know well. Indeed I hadn’t been to Maidens before but I had been to Culzean a couple of times. It helped to solve little mysteries of what that headland was or what that interesting ruined building used to be.

Culzean Castle
Swan Pond, Culzean
Looking towards Maidens. Using an iPhone hence this photo is darker than it actually was.


On my bedroom wall is the OS Landranger map for Duns, Dunbar and Eyemouth, covering from North Berwick and the border as well as most of the Lammermuir Hills. Every so often I spend a while looking at it, putting names to places and visualising those dear, familiar locations too. It also springs ideas of places to get to next time I’m in the east. One that’s percolating in my mind is the waterfall at Bilsdean, not far from Dunglass Collegiate Church, which I visited just before Christmas. Bilsdean is a quietly lovely, twinkly, dingly dell sort of place, usually deserted despite its beauty and being within 300 yards of the A1. It’s also not so many miles from a road I often follow on the map, the moor road from Coldingham that ends up high on the cliffs over Pease Bay with that view to Torness, the Bass Rock, the May and Fife beyond. I was just thinking about it the other day since the road from Culzean to Dunure is very similar with its dramatic views towards Arran and the Ailsa Craig. Sometimes it’s good to think back to those places you’ve been and like in Norman MacCaig’s poem ‘Two men at once’, cut:

the pack of memories

and [turn] up ace after ace after ace’.



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