Principal Cairns eBook

John Cairns (Presbyterian)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 154 pages of information about Principal Cairns.

Beautiful as the Pease Dean is, it has this drawback for those who live in the vicinity—­especially if they happen to be anxious mothers—­that it is infested with adders; and as these engaging reptiles were specially numerous and specially aggressive in the “dry year” 1826, it is not surprising that when, owing to the cottage at Aikieside being otherwise required, John Cairns was offered a house in the village of Cockburnspath, he and his wife gladly availed themselves of that offer.  From Cockburnspath another removal was made in the following year to Dunglass Mill; and at last, in 1831, the much travelled family, now increased to eight, found rest in a house within the Dunglass grounds, after the father had received the appointment of shepherd on the home-farm, which he held during the rest of his life.



The Lammermoor range, that “dusky continent of barren heath-hills,” as Thomas Carlyle calls it, runs down into the sea at St. Abb’s Head.  For the greater part of its length it divides Berwickshire from East Lothian; but at its seaward end there is one Berwickshire parish lying to the north of it—­the parish of Cockburnspath.  The land in this parish slopes down to the Firth of Forth; it is rich and well cultivated, and is divided into large farms, each of which has its group of red-roofed buildings, its substantial farmhouse, and its long tail of hinds’ cottages.  The seaward views are very fine, and include the whole of the rugged line of coast from Fast Castle on the east to Tantallon and North Berwick Law on the west.  In the middle distance are the tower of Dunbar Church, the Bass Rock, and the Isle of May; and farther off is the coast of Fife, with Largo Law and the Lomonds in the background.  The land is mostly bare of trees, but there is a notable exception to this in the profound ravines which come down from the hills to the sea, and whose banks are thickly clothed with fine natural wood.

Of these, the Pease Dean has already been mentioned.  Close beside it is the Tower Dean, so called from an ancient fortalice of the Home family which once defended it, and which stands beside a bridge held in just execration by all cyclists on the Great North Road.  But, unquestionably, the finest of all the ravines in these parts is Dunglass Dean, which forms the western boundary of Cockburnspath parish, and divides Berwickshire from East Lothian.  From the bridge by which the Edinburgh and Berwick road crosses the dean, at the height of one hundred feet above the bed of the stream, the view in both directions is extremely fine.  About a hundred and fifty yards lower down is the modern railway bridge, which spans the ravine in one gigantic arch forty feet higher than the older structure that carries the road; and through this arch, above the trees which fill the glen, one gets a beautiful glimpse of the sea about half a mile away.

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Principal Cairns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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