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Reworded: Journal of a Nation: A Fresh Beginning for These Aged Mountains | Tom Allan
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Reworded: Journal of a Nation: A Fresh Beginning for These Aged Mountains | Tom Allan


As I approach the low formation of grey sandstone, I catch sight of the recently installed turbines. Located just five kilometers from the hill I am ascending, construction is currently taking place on 11 turbines at Pines Burn, in close proximity to the town of Hawick.

The edifices tower over the thinly inhabited Borders terrain, resembling futuristic white columns. The tallest reaches a height of 149 meters, casting a shadow over everything in its vicinity: the rugged hills and the rows of sitka spruce trees.

Since autumn, the 65-meter blades for the turbines have been transported by truck. They are loaded vertically to reduce their impact on the road and require a police escort. The layout of roundabouts has been changed and roads have been widened to accommodate the arrival of the blades. Residents use an app to avoid road closures during each delivery, which can only happen on calm days due to the blades’ ability to capture wind. In November, one truck’s tires were damaged while parked off the A7. Many residents of Hawick are frustrated with the disruptions caused by these deliveries.

I continue my ascent up the hill, with half of it still towering above me. It’s not quite a summit, but I push onward, navigating through uneven sheep paths and smooth grassy slopes. When I reach the trig point, I take my usual break, leaning against the strong winds coming from the north. Below me is the familiar barren land of my childhood. To the south and west are the orderly rows of forestry, with dark sitka trees and clear-cut brash. Above them, the modern white towers stand tall. To the east lie the rolling Cheviot hills, where sheep farming has been a long-standing rural tradition.

Upon starting my descent, a lone meadow pipit takes flight and moves away from my presence. It is the initial avian I have encountered on my journey. I lower myself to the ground in the area where the bird departed from. From this perspective, the hill does not seem as even or level as it did from above: the towering, pale grass stems – known as windlestrae (or windlestraw in English) – create haystacks, acting as barriers against the wind and also serving as shelter and potential nesting spots.

I lower myself once more and startle a snipe as it flies out from a group of rushes. It darts back and forth through the valley, emitting an alarm sound that resembles a wet squeak, similar to a dog chewing on a rubber toy. The sound lingers in the air for a brief moment before fading away.

Source: theguardian.com