Next community to visit was Findhorn situated right in the north of Scotland. To get there entailed two days on the train. Luckily a member of Lancaster Community has an apartment in Glasgow and as it was only fifteen pounds a night, two nights was affordable providing a much needed day off to slow down and stop all the talking.
The train journey started from Lancaster, went through Charnsworth – the home of Harry Potter’s train – on the Cumbrian Line around the West Coast, through some beautiful countryside and the mountains of the Lake District National Park and along the coast.
The sheep here seemed happier with their long tails. The cows and horses seemed furrier. Saw a deer beside the track too. At the station of one little town the trees were full of very active crows nests – nests alive with Spring chicks. The Cumbrian train crossed the Derwent River with a view to the west of a still, light and summery sea. Beyond the faint horizon was the Isle of Man and beyond that Ireland.
The train crept around the coast – sometimes a bit precariously
– through sweet little villages and also past their nuclear plant
which is apparently being decommissioned. Or was that recommissioned? Either way expected to take a thousand workers over ten years. Then past where the Trident submarine is likely to be built, past the place where the radioactive waste from Japan is ‘stored’ and past the old coal mine which is no longer in use. Looking somewhat vulnerable there were little houses built down on the actual beach right below the railway track.
We passed by countless land-based windmills and glimpsed some huge, ghostly structures barely visible out on the misty sea. Amazing.
The bus from Carlisle took us over the line of Hadrian’s Wall although there was nothing to be seen from the road.
The apartment was in Glasgow’s lovely West End not far from The Ubiquitous Chip – a great place for a local beer on a hot afternoon.
Many, many galleries in Glasgow … the fourth largest city in Britain I was told … walked into one Gallery and came face to face with 3 works from the 1500s by Albrecht Durer and some exquisite wood prints by Paul Gauguin. And an exhibition on Climate Change which is travelling the country and receiving some interesting feedback.
After a day and a half catching up on emails, resting and seeing around a little bit, eating a whole punnet of locally grown blackberries and visiting the botanical gardens, we caught the train all the way north to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The squat, rounded mountains shaped millennia ago by massive icebergs, have been rendered almost completely bare by humans since – less than 1% of the original forest exists today. Although Spring was evident with flowers, especially vibrant flashes of yellow gorse, some hills still held beautiful patches of snow, more prevalent the further north we went. In April – this year – the Scottish landscape is still cold.
Getting to Forres involved changing trains and being met met at the station by Graham Meltzer. A New Zealander who lived in Australia for thirty years Graham is now a permanent resident of Findhorn. His name is well know in cohousing and intentional community circles in Australia for the research he did and the book he wrote on communities in Australia Sustainable Community. Graham took us to the guest-house – called Godfrey – and then on a tour of Findhorn. WOW! What a long history and what they’ve achieved.
More to come on Findhorn.