Rock on …
The small town of Dunbar on Scotland’s east coast is probably best known to outdoorsy folk as the birthplace of John Muir, one of the founding-fathers of America’s National Parks and a co-founder of its Sierra Club. I wonder if he’d be impressed by his hometown’s latest claim to fame?
It arises from an outdoors activity sure enough. Indeed it’s one that’s said to be a contemplative and meditative experience and I’m sure that’s the sort of feeling that Muir would have sought in the peace and tranquility of 19th century Yosemite. But not, I think, by stacking stones on Dunbar’s foreshore (although the results can be rather impressive).
Yes, folks, Dunbar hosts the European stone-stacking championship and this year’s event has just finished.
It was inaugurated in 2016 as The John Muir Stone Stacking Challenge (he’ll be turning in his grave that something so facile has been named after him) and according to the Beeb, Dunbar’s coastline has been declared “rock stacker paradise”.
The Championship’s competitive categories include ‘most stones balanced’, ‘most artistic’ and ‘balance against the clock’ and there are separate classes for both adults and children
The rules are strict. No adhesive substances are allowed and there must be no interference with other competitors’ piles. Neither the throwing nor tossing of stones is permitted, nor is foul language, lewd behaviour or poor sportsmanship. The whole thing rocks!
It also inspires limericks …
In a littoral balancing act
Her pillar of rocks stayed intact.
So she added some more
‘Till you couldn’t ignore
That her structure was truly well-stacked!
Postscript: A few years ago, I came across someone’s stone-stacking effort at Aberdeen harbour and I was really impressed. I took a pic using my phone and thought to return the next day with my proper camera.
Unfortunately, by the next day, it had been kicked over, so here’s my original picture …
… and the Wordsworthian verse that it spawned:
I wandered quietly down the road
That meanders by the River Dee
When all at once I spied a load
Of boulders stacked-up. One! Two! Three …
Astride the bank, above the flow,
I knocked them o’er with one fell blow.
(I didn’t really!)