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The Dog, Ben Braggie (Ben a' Bhragaidh) and Me

Ok I know Bosie The Dandie Dinmont Terrier isn’t in the photo but she was last week. I could fill up my whole blog with pictures of her but I think one occasionally is enough even for her. This picture was taken from a walk not far from here, Skelbo. When the bairns were younger we used to race branches down the golden burn. Then they would hide behind the ancient trees and admire the wooden craved sculptures dotted along the path. A lot has changed since. Now when we walk Bosie the paths are wider and more clinical. More sculptures have been added which help encourage children to carry on until they find the next one. Instead of sticks thrown enthusiastically, Bosie tests the water carefully, in case something is in there just waiting to jump out at her. The view across to Ben Braggie hasn’t changed though. It is a bit of a hike up there especially if you have wee stumpy legs but what a view you are rewarded with when you get to the top. If you look closely you can see something on the summit. A thin dark tall object. Not so wee when you see it up close. It looks more like something you would find in a city square rather than on peak of a very large hill. In fact it is a total pain, standing right there in the middle just where you want to be, to swirl round and around, arms outstretched and take in the sights. It is totally in the way and you can’t avoid it. Bosie is not sure of it at all. Backing off from this structure that lords and looms over everything. You just want to shove it out of the way so you can revel at natures wonder without the hindrance of this man-made object. It is said it was placed there by ‘his grateful people’. That would be the grateful people he chucked off the land during the clearances; under the cover of improving said land. Rule number one; in undertaking this great adventure, firstly get rid of the people. Some have given the structure a gentle nickname, a rebranding if you like, as if that somehow stops it representing a dark time in our history. Others say the anger they feel when they see it each day is enough to stir their blood and know they are alive and still there; honouring their ancestors by surviving and staying put. None of this controversy stops Bosie enjoying her walk on the wild side so why should it matter? After all, rabbits, foxes, hares and many other scents are there to be relished. Yet, there have been calls to pull the statue down. What, why would you want to do that then, what harm is it doing? (Ah, people know your place). As Bosie would testify if she could talk, the walk is long and steep and takes you up and out of the ordinary, amidst trees and eventually bracken. But what would happen if it did go? Would the view be any less appealing? No I don’t believe it would, the water and the heather would be still be there. The views to the east, west north and south would be the same, so no ill effect from that. Would Ben Braggie lose some of its dominance over Sutherland and Ross-shire? No, I don’t believe the Ben would some how shrink over night. Would it lose come of it’s character then? No, I think nature has allowed for loads of that. Would people and dogs stop walking up there? Not a chance, maybe even more would walk since there wouldn’t be encountering such an unsuitably placed statue. So what would Ben Braggie lose then? Well a lie for a start. If you want truth and actually a far superior statue you don’t have to look further than Helmsdale, where the sculpture ‘The Emigrants’ is breath-taking in its appearance and what it stands for. As for Bosie, well as long as there is a walk, me and hopefully a treat then all in her world is right. So no reason for her then as a dog to question ….

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