Around the time I started the blog I became aware of an East Lothian Council on-line consultation about ‘Special Landscape Areas ‘. My local authority has a matchless record of giving people a chance to make comments and then either ignoring them or losing them..
I discovered that the initiative behind this comes from Scottish Natural Heritage , and has the following rationale..
At the local authority level, landscapes should also be valued
because of the contribution they can make to sense of place and local
identity. Such landscapes may typically provide the setting of
key settlements, or are judged to be strongly representative of, and distinctive
to, the area (Guidance on local Landscape Designation, SNH, 2006)
(at least on P18 of 32 it does..)
I had decided to ignore this even before I read it – attempting to define intrinsic value of natural features has a long and dubious history ( I did a course in Countryside Planning at Uni). To summarise beauty IS in the eye of the beholder, but if you are educated, and you can use words like ‘intrinsic’ and ‘heritage’ with confidence that eye is much more likely to be yours..
So in the spirit of the NME Indy chart (which we followed in the 1980s because we knew the official chart was rigged) here are my own Landscape Areas for East Lothian.
I’ve picked them for their capacity for submerging into ‘profane illumination’ (see Triangulations post), and of course to annoy the Council planners – which means quite a lot of them sit in the Edgelands of East Lothian – the unofficial countryside, which is unrecognised and usually zoned for some other activity.
My list also mainly avoids areas which already have some kind of environmental designation (or at least one that actively protects its development.. In the tag line I’ve tried to imagine how I might one day advertise these on TripAdvisor..
Bramble patch, fields below Wedderburn Drive, Inveresk (NT347716)
I pick brambles for jam here each autumn. What could be more important about a landscape than gleaning?
The Gloup, Canty Bay(NT 584853)
A tiny (and only occasionally) active blowhole – acoustically wonderful if you catch it
Reedbed, Blindwells (NT425737)
A unique and surprising survivor amongst the open cast renovations. I am hoping to disembargo a piece about Blindwells soon – classic edgeland site
Little Ox, Morrisons Haven (NT368738)
Seal basking site betwixt the Pans.
Sedge marsh, Pencaitland railway walk, nr Cousland (NT378692)
Home to sedge warblers and reed buntings
Yew tree, Saltoun Big Wood (NT468664)
Where you can hide under the overhanging foliage – as per photo at top of article
The Badlands of East Lothian. See the video ..
Sandy Hirst, Tyninghame(NT636797)
Sand spit out into the bay. ‘The Zone’ of East Lothian , if you’ve seen Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’
The Mount, Yellowcraigs (NT517857)
A tiny and overgrown sylvan volcanic stump
Fossil beach, Kilspindie foreshore (NT450804)
Find the creatures of an ancient ocean
Gullane Point (NT463831)
A place to look out to see.. (Rafts of scoters).
The Council have promised to publish their findings in June – I am not holding my breath. In the time since I submitted my suggestions the Sedge Marsh and the Reed Bed have both been denuded by development , and although Fairy Glen is an SSSI – as you will see from our video – when last visited was being eroded by a herd of cows. This is often the fate of edgelands sites .
Given the ELC plan to build large numbers of houses in the West of the county and/or along the A1 amenity areas are going to be increasingly prized – which I suppose can justify the consultation exercise.
The point I want to make is that encounters with wildness are more likely to happen in the edgeland areas close to home and where people do things , and that that is where a sense of belonging and cherishing which make up ‘value’ is most likely to develop.