After the cocktails, fancy dress and formal dinner party, I thought we should take it easy on the last day. (Well, actually, I had wanted to go potholing, but even my climbing-partner Hannah had vetoed that idea. Sigh.) So I went for a more civilised option, and got hold of some shotguns.
We spent the morning clay pigeon shooting on the Hopetoun Estate. I’ve used air rifles and shotguns for target practise, but I’ve never aimed at a moving target before. People are often fascinated by guns, even if that fascination verges on fear in countries like ours where the gun laws are prohibitive, or on fetishisation as in the States. Knowing that the object in your hands was designed to kill changes how it feels; how you hold it. The First World War poet Wilfred Owen wrote a poem titled Arms and the Boy, in which weapons and ammunition are anthropomorphised and made sentient. They “are thinly drawn with famishing for flesh” and “blind, blunt bullet-heads… long to muzzle in the hearts of lads”. Owen seems to blame the evils of war on the weapons themselves, rather than on God or man, but this seems like taking the easy way out to me. We certainly had fun, and the beautifully crafted shotguns we were using were tools to respect and admire, but not to fear.
The boys definitely came into their own on this challenge, though Hannah turned out to be the most natural shot (mind you, she did sneakily spend the previous weekend practising!) Our instructor Bobby and his team were lovely (they did laugh at us girls, but that was to be expected). An hour and a half’s shooting was just the thing to start the day, and afterwards we had lunch in Queensferry overlooking the Forth Road Bridge, huge concrete pillars rising into the mist like the legs of a giant army. We were intending to spend the afternoon walking across the Pentland Hills, but the mist had become a thick fog, shrouding all features of the landscape.
Hannah and I, trying and failing to be serious as usual.
I’m not sure what Hannah is doing here, but whatever it is I love it
The boys. Trying to look menacing I think, but looking more like a crap 90s boyband.
Having fun with a gate.
Withnail and I
After messing about in the fog for a while we headed back to Rosslyn, explored the dungeons, then tried to find some caves in the woods. We didn’t find the promised caves, but the woodland was absolutely beautiful. Full of wild garlic, moss and ferns, with a twisting river running through it. We’ll definitely be returning to Scotland – hopefully the Highlands next!
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