King was almost fleeced by Crawford shepherd

Royal occasion...Abington Station gets ready to welcome King Edward VII
Royal occasion...Abington Station gets ready to welcome King Edward VII

BATTLES over new windfarms apart, we tend to think of Abington, Crawford, Elvanfoot and Crawfordjohn these days as sleepy wee corners of our rural Upperward.

Despite what some think is recent scarring by the huge 21st century turbines, this area remains amongst the most scenic and downright beautiful in the whole of Scotland.

Now it is the subject of the latest Stenlake `photo-album’ local history book, yet another masterpiece of well-researched and highly informative captions under a large selection of very well-chosen images of the past.

The four latest villages to get the ‘Stenlake Treatment’ do so through author Raymond Hood who introduces this volume by relating how evidence has emerged of this being an inhabited part of Scotland since the Iron Age.

The Romans and the Normans then came and went, leaving behind the ruins of their fortifications and castles around which the villages of today were built.

Over the centuries the local economy has mainly depended on agriculture but there have been more dramatic gold and silver rushes in these hills and their burns.

The area was also very popular with the Victorian and Edwardian ‘high-heidjins’ with their sporting estates and grand country houses, the latter mostly - and sadly - now vanished.

The Caledonian Railway came to the area in the 1840s, making travel there for a holiday in the fresh air possible for the huddled masses in polluted Glasgow and Edinburgh but it also bore, 60 years later, a far more illustrious ‘tourist’, King Edward VII.

There are, of course, various pictures here of His Majesty’s 1906 Royal Visit to stay with friends Lord and Lady Colebrooke at Glengonnar including shots of Abington Station decked out in bunting and a floral arch of welcome at the entrance to Crawford.

This was where the grand occasion nearly all went wrong; the King’s motor cavalcade from the station to Glengonnar was to pass through Crawford and it was preceded by a bicycle squad from the Lanarkshire Constabulary to ensure the Royal road ahead was kept clear.

However, one village shepherd wasn’t going to let something like an imperial visitation get in the way of his routine and he duly drove his flock onto the route just minutes before the King’s car arrived. There was a lot of panic and the shepherd was persuaded to divert his fleecy charges off the Loaning and into a field with just seconds to spare.