‘Yestreen the queen had four Mary’s’ ‘The nicht she’ll hae but three’ ‘There was Mary Beaton and Mary Seaton and Mary Carmichael and me’. According to my history teacher that verse was sung by Mary Queen of Scots while on her way to place her head on the block back in the year 1568.
Poor Mary was a Stuart and as such was a threat to the throne of England held at the time by ‘good queen Bess’ who left our Mary to rot in the Tower of London for several years. Even incarcerated in the Tower our Mary was perceived to be a serious threat so it was a case for the ‘final solution’ and ‘off with her head!’
I was following in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots today when I walked from Dundrennan Abbey where she had spent her last ever night in Scotland down to the burn foot where a boat was waiting to carry her over the Solway Firth to England.
Dundrennan Abbey —
It wasn’t the usual route south but Mary had more enemies than friends and I doubt if there was a safer alternative for her. The well-supported queen of Scotland had spent overnight at Rutherglen castle and was on her way to safety in Dumbarton castle with her escort of up-market Scottish gentry to await further reinforcements from her supporters from the north. Her advisers should have known better than to travel by the south side of the Clyde and her team were ambushed by a bunch of hairies at the Battle of Langside, a few miles south of Glasgow.
Mary’s lot lost the Battle of Langside which is now commemorated – as is customary by Scots – with a fine statue —
We tend not to commemorate our successes but to idolise our noble failures – the greater the loss – the higher the statue. Don’t believe me? Just look at the Wallace Monument above my old workplace near Stirling.
The Wallace Monument —
and a last look back at the ruined Dundrennan Abbey —
Part of the route to the shore goes over what is now a military firing range but with no red flag flying today it should be safe enough —
As long as I don’t touch anything. Walking on a carpet of leaves makes it hard to tell what’s underneath in these days of IED’s (improvised explosive device) but I didn’t go ‘bang’ and enjoyed my walk through what must have been a well kept estate in it’s day.
Carpet of leaves —
There were trees of every variety and this old yew may have been here when Mary passed by —
she may even have rested her weary bones under this old oak —
but I doubt if the bamboo had arrived from the far east in her time —
I managed to slip and slide the rest of my way down the steep muddy bank on my butt for these pics of the burn well below the track —
but it was worth it —
All too soon I was at the foot of the burn where I found a picnic spot in the sun —
Here the burn meets the sea – not much of a harbour but enough for a small boat if your life is at stake and secrecy is important —
It all made for a lovely walk —
and I even caught a nice shot across the Dee on my way home —
The Fourth Mary