It is a dreich day, fit to watch the Rugby but the cattle need fed and the Nog walked – and besides, I’ll enjoy it more with a gulp of air in my lungs. I drag myself to the tinker’s stance by the Nog liftgate. Here we cross the road to the gate that breaches the perimeter deer fence to Cluny Estate, once run by Sarah Justina.
Her obelisk is in clear view from here, imposing, but beckoning upwards. So we choose to the direct route, not the quarry path round the crags climbing beside the burn. The Nog reacts excitedly to the change in routine attacking the slope with sudden energy and turning to jump jigs as we climb. It is raining lightly so the slope is slick but I traverse safely across flows of moss and blaberry plants between dripping rockfaces.
Immediately below the summit supporting the monument, the Nog and I strike into a valley-end scooped from the rock as if from a feedsack. The floor is green and kind while the walls are sheer on three sides. The cliff is stacked in seams of granite folded on each other like damp towels petrified by ancient forces. Filling cracks between courses of black, seams of aggregated quartz and silica curl.
At the apex there is a hollow under jutting crags, creating a small dry space. Dung of sheep and deer testify that I am not the first to use it. Sitting here, the little steep gulley funnels away on either side opening out to the east where the wind blows from today.
The jagged sheltering stone is close around my head like a hood, or rather like the beaten metal turrets of a crown.
It feels like sitting in a cockpit – or an entrance beyond the rock.