Doune to Dunblane: Auld railway walk

My fon died in the Moray Park, Doune. Hates the cold, fuck this I’m closing down. You can take this two ways- ‘aw naw ma fons deid how will I cope?’ or ‘I’ll get some peace noo’. I chose peace. Nae point in stressing.

Ma cars in the Doune garage and the dogs have been to the Doune vet (Kuro lost 3 kg!). Job done. Now we’re ready to walk home. Along the old railway line which opened in 1858, closed in 1965, two years before I was born. The old line is now a smooth tarmac footpath, used by cyclists, dog walkers and joggers.

Its a lovely winter’s morning as I wander past the Doune allotments. Reminds me of the Gaelic blessing “May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face”. Theres fresh snow on Ben Ledi though.

Wander on through a railway cutting, the low sun disappears. The Dark Mile (Mile Dorcha) am thinking, shiver. Back out into the sun, sheep in the field to my right, grass bright green (new growth in January?!). The motocross circuit to my left, quiet today but can be very noisy wi the bikes.

Turn round to see Kuro the black lab 100 yards behind. Come on ya fat git ! Ominously, Ben Ledi has disappeared, replaced by a black curtain. Rain incoming from the west maybe but the suns dazzling.

On under two road bridges, the woods blocking the sun now. Theres a shelter in these woods, too big to be a kids ganghut, maybe a homeless persons bed for the night poor soul? The kennels are up on the hill to my left, in the sunshine. The dogs barking puts Shitzu on edge.

At Argaty we leave the railway and walk along the road, over the Ardoch burn. Used to camp there in the summer in the ’70s by the burn. We cross the main road and walk up to join the original Old Doune Road.

Kuro is now way behind, sniffing at a gate to a field. “Mon Kuro, ya nosey bastard!” I shout. The wind catches my words, flings them away towards Dunblane. I have an image of someone walking out of Dunblane Tesco and hearing a ghostly voice in the wind .. ” ya nosey bastart!” Looks around, startled, shakes head, walks on.

Walk past a pink harled Greenyards Cottage and then the farm, three horses feeding on some hay. Kuro was born here. I took her back years later to meet her maw, thinking animal instinct would kick in but there was nothing, fuck all. They just looked at each other. Meh.Burst ma bubble.

The rain had arrived by now, liquid gold in the low sun. A huge double rainbow appeared to the north, black sky behind. Rainbow weather, minds me of Harris. Shitzu was looking droont but Kuro was in her element, walking through the puddles. Almost home noo, Shitzu, I say.

A final tale of the walk from Doune to Dunblane. An auld boy, let’s call him Jackie,had left the pub one night and was walking home to Dunblane in the face of a gale. At Argaty he stopped to light a fag but the wind was too strong. He turned round, using his body to shield the match and lit his cigarette. Triumphant, he marched on…back to Doune!

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