DRIVE: FORD FIESTA
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