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The mystery cross, a fox, a kestrel and a castle


This is a story about a walk a had a few weeks ago which I went to check out something strange near my house I'd seen on the satellite pictures on Google Maps. But it was such a great walk that I saw tons more so I'm going to write about all of it.

I use Google Maps a lot on the iPad to look at new places to walk and explore near my house. I wrote about it here. Google Maps is good for finding new woods and old buildings, but it doesn't have contour lines so you need a map as well. Here is what I found and wanted to explore.

From the air it looks like a giant cross, like a giant pirate had buried treasure there. Dad planned a walk so we could go and see it, but when we drove up to the start place it started to tip down with rain. It looked like it was going to be a very wet walk but we waited in the car ten minutes and it eventually passed away. When the rain stopped, we started off and saw a kestrel hovering above the fields.

Then as we walked up we saw this grey heron flying off.

The first part of the walk was going straight up a hill where the Highland Spring water comes from. We walked up to one of the Highland Spring wells, then turned to walk along the hill. I was looking out for roe deer, and I saw this buck to the north of our path. 

He had a grey face as if he was older, but his antlers hadn't fully grown this year:

A bit further on to the south there was another roe buck which ran off barking. Its antlers weren't perfect either. But the hind stayed behind, and I think there were maybe her fawns hidden in the grass that were too scared to move.

After a while the path turned back up the hill. It was an overgrown farm track with long grass either side of the wheel tracks. Then suddenly a fox appeared in front of us, going in the same direction. I think either it didn't see us, or it wasn't bothered by us. After a while it stopped because it had seen something in the grass to the left.

Then suddenly it pounced on it with its front paws !

When it came down it almost disappeared from sight. I didn't see if it caught anything. 

Then all of a sudden the kestrel appeared over its head again ! I think it was on the ground a way away and had been startled by the fox.

We went first to an old farm, then navigated up to where the cross was on the map. The cross only appears on my 1:25,000 map, not the 1:50,000 ones. This is what it looked like when we got there.

It was just two long dry stone walls about four or five feet high.

At the end of the walls, they curved round a little bit almost at a right angle.


Even though I was up there it was still a bit of a mystery. It could have been a shelter for sheep, but it would have been easier to build a smaller bigger wall, or a small hut. It could have been a place where a shepherd rounded up the sheep, like one about two miles away on the moor which is a circle. But here the sheep would have just run away. 

Dad thought maybe it was a German swastika from when the moors were used to practice for the D-Day landings seventy years ago. But it doesn't really look like a swastika. I think it was a signal to bomber pilots who were practicing. About eight miles to the south west there are other signs on the hillside used to direct bombers. I wrote about them here (scroll down to the Mysterious Arrows).

There was one more thing to see on the way back. It was the ruins of an old castle nearby.

The castle was completely ruined and not very big at all. Only the corners were left. The view was nice though.

To get back to the car we followed a stream down. By the side of a fence I noticed this baby bird which had died. (Update: Sophie in the comments thinks it's a wren)

A few yards further on was this dead sheep with its head bent underneath it. It was bloated with all the gases from the rotting, but it was only a few days dead.

The flies were already laying eggs. The eggs turn into maggots which eat the flesh.

This is one of the best walks this summer, but it's been a rubbish summer in Scotland with lots of rain. It was really nice to see the fox and the kestrel too, but the mystery cross is still a puzzle to me !

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Izzy said...

Yes I agree that cross is very mysterious.
I went on a walk yesterday to a place called Robin Hood's Stride. Surprisingly I didn't see much wildlife except for a few annoying ants and a dead rabbit. The rabbit looked as if it had died mid-leap, or something, as it didn't look as if had been killed and the back legs were all scrunched up like it had been jumping. Do you have any idea what happened to it?

Jake said...

Hi Izzy,

It might have moved to that position after death. Often with deer you find them on their side and the head is pulled right back, either because it was in pain just before death or it's just how the muscles went after death.

BagshawSophie said...

i thought that you may want to know what that baby chick is, its a wren. i have been watching some wren parents bring up their young in my neighbours garden they are so small and cute.

Izzy said...

Cool I didn't think of that Jake

Jake said...

Thanks Sophie ! I've updated the article.

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