On Monday night I had the pleasure of leading a lovely group of people on a guided walk around the Corehouse Estate which is the part of reserve on the other side to New Lanark. This walk was the first in a series of walks hosted by the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership for their Spring Walks Week. The Corehouse Estate has a wealth of interest from castles and mansions to ice houses and walled gardens.
One of my favourite features is the ha-ha which is a rather understated and minimalistic feature but so very clever in its execution. Imagine you are in your mansion looking out of the window and you are admiring the general splendor of your estate, you don’t really want a big wall or fence marking the end of your garden from the surrounding fields. So what do you do to stop the sheep and cattle from getting in and nibbling your rose bushes? Well you build a ha-ha! A ha-ha is recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier whilst preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond. The design includes a turfed incline which slopes downward to a sharply vertical face, typically a stone wall. The name derives from the unexpected moment of discovery when, on approach, the vertical drop suddenly becomes visible!
A ha-ha is not why everyone came on my walk though; the main attraction was being able to go inside Corra Castle which is usually locked. Corra Castle looks rather small on the outside but is in fact rather large on the inside with three rooms still relatively intact that you can walk into. There is also a hole that leads down to what may have been a storage area and possibly oubliette or bottle dungeon which can only be accessed through a hatch in the ceiling.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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