One of the great pleasures of winter at this Scottish estate is ice skating and other ice-related activities. That’s all done on the Mill Pond, made possible by the restoration of the mill dam for generating low head hydro power some forty years ago. Before that, it was possible to skate there but the good ice was extremely limited. Now there are acres of skating available.
The Mill Pond runs nearly two miles from the dam to a series of falls. We stay a quarter mile away from the damn, as the ice isn’t safe near the it and we err on the side of extreme caution, as falling into open water in winter is death within minutes if we can’t get the person out of the water. I remember a news story where a worker on a coastal Estate was skating on tidal ice that was thought safe but he fell through it and died by drowning. That will not happen here.
It’s cold here in the winter, very cold at times, and even the most energetic skater needs a way to warm up. That’s why we built a very nice warming yurt. It’s got power, courtesy of solar panels, and heat from a Russian stove, essentially an entire wall of stone that retains heat very nicely. We built the it so that it has an outer circular opening, so the heat stays in it even when the outer door’s opened.
That also means we can make hot cocoa and other goodies even late into the night if need be. It’s certainly nice to sip hot cocoa with friends as you watch the Northern Lights overhead!
Not that we don’t build bonfires as well, and for that we built a stone pit with a three foot high bench wall for sitting on. It’s a safe way to enjoy a roaring fire. Yeah, we’re into being safe as well as enjoying ourselves.
Oh, and it’s a great place for both curling and ice hockey. Ice hockey in Scotland sounds odd until you known that Swedes, such as my wife, are avid hockey fans, so I and other Estate workers have been doing pickup games for decades. We’ve even hosted several tourneys of like-minded amateur teams over the years.
So if you visit us in the winter, bring your skates and be prepared for some great skating!