Rural Notes 02



On my rounds, I frequently pass a series of roadside telegraph poles and often as not, I see a very splendid looking Buzzard perched atop one of them, looking every bit the lord of the manor, surveying the surrounding fields and verges it considers its dominion. Every time I make a sighting, I am reminded of a most extraordinary bird of prey I once examined.

A few years ago, the practice received a call from the Wemyss and March estates office at Gosford. Usually this meant that Tony Falgate was worried about a sickly calf or lamb, but on this day it was the factor Martin Andrews with a bigger headache. The V&A museum in London planned an Ancient Greek sculptures exhibition and Gosford House is home to an invaluable 1st century AD Greek marble sculpted Eagle which they were keen to borrow. The snag was that the insurers required a sculpture expert to confirm the statue could travel. The expert was concerned by a crack visible near the base of the tail, and insisted upon X-rays to establish the depth of the crack and thus the risk. Our mobile X-ray proved itself adaptable. This patient was considerably more co-operative than our usual equine subjects and within hours the images had been sent to the expert who concluded that this bird had flown its perch for the last time. So it never left or was imperilled which was a great relief as I had then learned that it is considered one of the greatest Greek animal sculptures in the world.

Gosford estate is such a treasure trove in so many ways. Although the home herd now resides near Peebles, the grazing remains used by neighbouring farms and includes Zwartbles, stunning black sheep with white noses and feet. The estate hosts wonderful riding stables at Harelaw where mounts ranging from towering Irish Draught horses to wee Shetland ponies cater for riders of all sizes. The Gosford Bothy is an innovative farm shop and café and an inspired way for Bob Webster to promote his Wild Boar which are raised roaming within the Gosford woods. Thousands of free range hens provide many of the local hotels and restaurants with home bred eggs and poultry. The estate developed Craigielaw Golf Club, open to members and visitors alike and boasting some of the best views in the county. They are now adding 20 bedrooms in time for the 2013 Golf Open at Muirfield. The mansion house itself can be hired as a function venue, and is truly stunning. The pleasure gardens behind the house are possibly the prettiest in the county, and welcome visitors to explore their vast secretive acres. All told, the estate provides around 200 jobs.

I find it a relief that in a world where many things appear to change too quickly, there is a local estate which has had the same ownership for nearly 250 years, quietly adapting but thriving, and playing host to a marble eagle almost 2000 years old!


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Glen Watson
Partner at Links Vet Group