Rural Notes 03



One of the routes I take to work follows a series of roadside telegraph poles and I reckon I have a better than evens chance of passing a very splendid looking Buzzard perched atop one of them, looking every bit the lord of the manor as he or she surveys the surrounding fields and verges. It is not always the same pole, although some appear more favoured than others, but the entire dominion which this raptor considers his own, runs to almost a mile of roadside. Every time I make a sighting, I am reminded of the largest and most valuable bird of prey I have examined.

A few years ago, the practice received a call from the Wemyss and March estates office. Usually this meant that Tony Falgate was worried about a sickly calf or some such problem, but on this day it was the factor Martin Andrews with a bigger headache. It appeared the V&A museum were exhibiting Ancient Greek sculptures, and Gosford House boasts an extraordinary treasure, in the form of a 1st century AD marble sculpted Eagle. The snag was that the insurers required a certificate from a sculpture expert to confirm the statue was fit to travel. The art expert was concerned by a crack visible in the sculpture near the base of the tail, and insisted upon some X-ray images to establish whether the crack ran deep and presented a risk during transit. Our mobile X-ray was bought with horses in mind, but proved wholly up to the task of adapting. With the patient as still (as a statue!), the X-rays were actually far easier to take than normal, and within hours the images had been sent to the expert who concluded without hesitation that this bird had flown its perch for the last time. So it never did journey to London, and as I later learned that it is considered by some to be the greatest Greek animal sculpture in the world, I am relieved it was never imperilled in transit.

The Gosford estate is such a treasure trove in so many ways. As well as their own home herd, the estate hosts a wonderful riding stables at Harelaw where mounts ranging from towering Irish Draught horses to wee Shetland ponies cater for riders of all sizes through the estate. The Gosford Bothy is a great farm shop and café and an inspired way for Bob Webster to promote his Wild Boar which are all raised within the Gosford woods. There are now free range hens providing many of the local hotels and restaurants with home bred eggs. The estate developed and owns Craigielaw Golf Club, whose restaurant and bar boast some of the best views in the county. They are now adding a 20 room hotel to help ease the county’s hotel bed shortage. The pleasure gardens to the South East of Gosford House are probably the most visually stunning in the county, and visitors are welcome to explore their vast and secretive acres. I think it’s something of a relief that in a world where many things appear to change far too quickly, there is a local estate which has been in 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