The Herald Magazine - - NEWS - BY ANDREW MACKAY

WHEN I first read about and saw pic­tures of Craw­ick Mul­ti­verse it re­minded me of the hol­i­days I had in Ayr. De­spite it rain­ing ev­ery day, I was to be found on the beach build­ing sand­cas­tle towns with moats and bridges. My ear­lier ef­forts did not take into ac­count the in­com­ing tide and they quickly dis­solved in the gen­tle wash of the waves.

Build­ing on higher ground was much more re­ward­ing and my cas­tles of sand were truly splen­did af­fairs. I thought they looked ev­ery bit as good as Culzean Cas­tle down the road and the judges, for I had en­tered a sand­cas­tle com­pe­ti­tion, thought so too and I was awarded a gi­ant box of liquorice all­sorts.

And so to Craw­ick Mul­ti­verse where sculp­tor Charles Jencks had taken a piece of land that is owned by the Duke of Buc­cleuch and on a grand scale with the help of bull­doz­ers, gi­ant dig­gers and dumper trucks cre­ated a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of land art.

My com­pan­ion for the jour­ney was the hum­ble but hugely suc­cess­ful Ford Fi­esta that since its ar­rival has been at the top of the sales charts. It is the coun­try’s favourite car. This new model was in Ti­ta­nium spec­i­fi­ca­tion, a pop­u­lar choice. It lacked top-end lux­u­ries such as heated seats and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion but its pas­sen­ger cabin was nev­er­the­less a pleas­ant place to be.

Un­der the bon­net was a three-cylin­der, one-litre EcoBoost petrol en­gine that had an out­put of 100ps, linked to a six-speed gear­box that drove the front wheels.

Go­ing south on the M74, long sec­tions of the road rise steadily and I was plagued by lor­ries mov­ing out to over­take at a snail’s pace. I had to change down reg­u­larly to keep up with the flow – the car’s sixth gear could eas­ily be made re­dun­dant.

I left the M74 at J14 and headed for El­van­foot where the road takes a turn for the vil­lage of Lead­hills. The road is twisty and up­wards, but the views and gen­eral scenery is worth­while and in the ab­sence of peo­ple there’s plenty of sheep on the road to keep me com­pany.

Af­ter a few miles, I ar­rive in Lead­hills, rest­ing in a high val­ley in the Lowther Hills. It be­came best known along with its neigh­bour, Wan­lock­head, as a ma­jor lead min­ing cen­tre. Lead­hills was also the birth­place of Wil­liam Syming­ton, who in 1787 patented an en­gine for road lo­co­mo­tion and built a sim­i­lar en­gine for a boat fit­ted with pad­dle-wheels.

I can well imag­ine this vil­lage be­ing in Switzer­land where alpine lodges be­decked with tum­bling flow­ers would meet the eye. It would be vi­brant with trav­ellers and skiers. Alas, de­spite there be­ing many tidy and well-kept houses there is an abun­dance of di­lap­i­dated, sor­row­ful build­ings that have suf­fered years of ne­glect.

One hour from Glas­gow and the Cen­tral Belt, this place is wait­ing to be pop­u­lated. And, if you play golf, the nine-hole course will give you coun­try mem­ber­ship for £40 and no join­ing fee.

In­ter­est­ingly, in Lead­hills I came across reg­u­lar sig­nage against the build­ing of more wind farms while in the car park be­hind the Hopetoun Arms ho­tel there was an electric car charg­ing point – present meets fu­ture?

Just along the road at 1531ft is Scot­land’s high­est vil­lage, Wan­lock­head. It has a much more pros­per­ous air to it and ap­pears to have been much sharper in its method to

The Craw­ick Mul­ti­verse is a mod­ern land sculp­ture, above. The new Ford Fi­esta sets out to prove why it’s the UK’s most pop­u­lar car, left

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