On Wednesday 10 July 2013 I joined artist Stuart McAdam to explore the former route of the Portsoy to Cairnie Junction Railway. It was closed in the late 1960ies as a result of the Beeching report, which recommended to axe many of the railway link in Britain.
9.15 am Rachel drops us on Portsoy High St. Two men, Doric sppeakers, I try my doric, its hard, French is easy, Dutch and Spanish too, but Doric. Anyway, I try. One is a Potsoy loon, the other an outsider. He is from Findochty. But he lived here 40 years now. Still and outsider. They both remember the trains. Meet Charles Burnett, and Aileen, they had promised buses to replace the railway, she said. She used to go shopping in Aberdeen with the train, but no more. We go to the harbour, visit the Salmond Bothy, the Beggars Belief, the Marble Shop. Meet Dale, a craft maker who lives along the line. Off we go: 11.15 am, stretch from harbour, heavily walled, Portsoy station, now Scouts Hut, too big for the Canon viewfinder, take pic anyway, on via path, get to gate of a large house, with sticky name plate, to main road, round gardens, through garden, back to the redundant bridge, could be good for abseiling?, along path, get to track across road, here it is, lets go, march march, march march, chat chat, check map, wood now gone, reach remaining wood, first obstacle, loppers out, and secateurs, cut, cut, on we go, through pine forest, who does it belong to?, soft ground, reach barbed wired fence, left, too much, straight, lets cut, steep down, loppers out, saw out, cut cut, cut cut, the gorse stings, must have funny oils, duct tape, more Stewart says, more duct tape, over fence, left, along the wheat, green waves in the light wind, right, gate, over road, gate, field, embankment, lets cut, cut, cut, nettles, next time I need long sleeves, need to tell people, long sleeves, must remember, cut cut, saw saw, big stones on slope, keep going, ok enough, cross fence, along the fence, along the wheat, on on, little house, nice couple, old fence, they retired, they love it here, especially today, with the sun, her dad was brought up here, was a farm worker, he closed the rail gates when he was little, walk on, along fence, along wheat, get onto embankment, horses, I like horses, Stuart not, and there it is, Tillynaught Station, the house, the platform, lady with long grey hair, and baby, lots of toys, do we need them?, all this stuff, do babies need them?, think of Nancy, and Kayla, Stuart has been here before, shows me a stretch of railway, the man dug it out, wanted the metal, but now keeps it here, we sit on them, with our sandwiches, and chocolate, eat too much of it, like always, I never learn, always do that, feel stuffed, we walk on, past the doctor’s house, past the horses, past the orchard, past the railway bridge, without the bridging bit, fields, unseeded, lets cross them, till we reach the wheat, cant do that, need to stick to our policies, no damage to property, fields are property, and so is crop, just imagine the track, go right, to road, then left, here it is, house of Dale, and her craft shop, painted stones, workshop, Dale does art classes here, she did not like art school, she says, they made her do still lifes, and portraits, she did not like this, could she paint Beeching’s portraits?, souvenirs, of the railway, on pebbles? move on, along the track, track merges with rail track, for a while, but then not again, along field again, on, along the wheat, reach burn, cross burn, walk through more burn, sun burns too, why is a burn called a burn?, up the embankment, those damn stinging nettles, scratchy, sting, sting, cut more, reach road, reach bridge, without the bridging, pee, yes, Cornhill station, beautiful, like a Mississipi house, in New Orleans, here in Moray, all wooden, and colourful, the platform, lovely. Through the garden through the gate, clock stopped at 9, noise from the big shed, more growth, more nettles, more barbed wired fence, over it, but field, wont manage, shame, sad, get back, over barbed fence, nettles, growth, past the other station shed, nice too, on the road, to Cornhill, like Railway children, Cornhill, see a former shop, tailor, grocer, everything in one, but there is a chipper, the first one ever, a man says, a crowd queues, should do chips, not art, to get the crowds, on we go, on the road, march, march, its wearing, wearing, Gordonstown, not the school, where Prince Charles went to, where posh ones go, no, just that Gordonstoon, the rail embankment always in sight, then Glenbarry, pub long gone, then right, there it is, in front of us, pristine like a new motorway, ready to be inaugurated, the path, just in front of us, stretched South, march, march, march, two riders, a gate, cut through the Beeches, no nettles, whose ground is it?, Knock distillery, must contact David, Knock platform, grass on it, moss, flowers, almost missed it, cross road, move on, move on, sun tilting, fields left, fields right, and there is a castle in sight, a castle? What castle is it? Never heard of it?, three people on the horizon, a man, a woman, a child, they say hello, its Sharon, Sharon, can’t believe it, what you doing here? I live here, come walk with us, reach the castle, its still being built, a combi between Fyvie and Corbusier, bang on the junction, the route to Huntly goes through the new castle’s garden?, what makes a castle a castle?, the shape, the function?, the destiny?, embankment to Keith, full of cows, we follow, there it is, the main railway, Great Northern Aberdeen-Inverness, lets go to to the pub. 9 pm.