Saturday, 24 May 2008

Ideal renovation project

This may look like a pile of stones but it is in fact the remains of a cottage that once stood in Oak Bank. The bright green strip above the trees pointing to the top of the hill is what we call North Face Gully, very steep and the source of one of the streams that runs alongside our boundary.
The hill beyond the trees is all ours, its actually common land but that's just a technicality.
The gully isn't on the north face either, but its sounds more dramatic saying you have been up North Face Gully rather than saying you have been up West North West Gully.
The field is work in progress, in 2006 the field looked like the rest of the hill, hard work, a sharp machette, a box of plasters and a brushcutter coupled with lots of perseverance has turned it into reasonable grassland, all be it littered with anthills and fallen trees. There is a lot more to be done, the soil is a bit on the acidic side so this weekend I will be scattering lime over it and cutting back the new shoots of bracken.
You may have read previous entries where I mentioned that this is valley has been inhabited for a long time. Rock HQ dates back to around 1750, thankfully a few improvements have been made on the original cottage, its been extended up and out. We have the paperwork for the cottage dating from 1887 which are interesting to look at but impossible to read. Amongst all the parchments is a curious document referring to another cottage with the same name as Rock HQ.
This was sold to the owners of Rock HQ in 1906 for the princely sum on ten whole pounds. For that they got the cottage and the grounds, approximately two acres. The inhabitant, an old lady moved out to live with relatives in the next village. Times have changed since 1906, ten pounds wouldn't buy a door lock yet alone a cottage and two acres. The cottage has also seen better days but its repair is on the to do list.
Not that it will be restored to an actual cottage, the stones will be used to create a dwelling like The Black House in the Outer Hebrides. The blackhouses of the Highlands of Scotland were byre dwellings in the tradition of ‘long houses’ which have existed in Northern Europe for over a thousand years. Originally blackhouses had no chimneys or windows and were built with locally-found materials - stone, turf, thatch of reeds, oats, barley or marram grass. The animals lived one end and the people lived the other. Ours will be used as either an animal shelter or a bunkhouse for walkers. More likely it will be used by me as a play house for living history days. Until I get fed up and wander back down the track to a house with plumbing, a roof that doesn't leak and comfortable beds.
The way the current jobs list is being raced through this project should reach the top of the list in about 2016.
Patience is a virtue.

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