Ruin in a Galloway forest

The rain stopped this morning, for a brief time, and me & B took advantage and drove out into a nearby forest.
A couple of weeks ago, Son had been to a small outdoor rave there. It was a beautiful spot, he told us, by a loch, surrounded by forest. It sounded attractive, so we decided to have a look at the place for ourselves.
Son was right. It was wild and remote, a flat meadow on the edge of a loch that was a mile up a forest track that was itself off a little-used rural road. Some small rowboats were chained to a landing stage nearby, but that was the only sign of civilisation.
Except for, off to one side, some ruins half-hidden in a beech grove; I love exploring ruins, so I went over for a look. My first thought was that it was an ancient ruined kirk; it was built in the old style, with rough granite walls. Moreover, it had a semi-circular gable-end. But inside there were two smallish rooms with fireplaces and chimmneys – it was clearly a cottage.
Or rather, had been a cottage – it was completely roofless. There were other building behind, all similarly roofless. One was clearly another cottage – again two rooms, both with fireplaces. A third building, with five rooms, seemed to have been storerooms or stabling – there wasn’t any fireplaces, or a chimney.
The buildings were clearly old, but bore signs of relatively recent occupation. A couple of exterior walls were pebbledashed and held hooks for guttering; the chimneys had been modernised, with metal flashing showing where they had adjoined the roof; one fireplace had been rebuilt with modern bricks. Finally, at the front of the first cottage, a tyre hung from a tree by a length of old blue plastic twine; at some point within the last couple of decades, a child had been playing here.
I started wondering about the history of the place; the two cottages could have been shepherds’ or crofters’ cottages. They could equally well have been a pair of Victorian hunting lodges – common enough all over Scotland. And the modern renovations? Perhaps a group of 70s hippies, come here to pursue a dream of self-sufficiency? I walked around to the garden area and looked for signs of vegetable gardening.
There was none – no overgrown fruit bushes, no plot outlines, no greenhouse base, no shelterbelt shrubbery. Moreover, the stone wall surrounding the place was only about three feet high; barely high enough to keep out sheep, let alone deter hungry deer. So – no self-sufficient communards, then. More likely, somebody’s holiday home.
There was something nagging at me – I went back to look at one of the buildings and saw it. Or, rather, didn’t see it – there was no sign at all of whatever roofs had once been there. No fallen beams, no jutting props, no roofing tiles, clean edging on the tops of the pebbledashed walls; at some point, all the roofing had been deliberately removed. Had the owners made the place uninhabitable after evicting squatters? Or had they simply decided that it wasn’t worth paying council tax and maintainence costs on a place that they never used?
Aty that point, B found me – he too had been exploring and and wondering and visualising. But where I had been deep in the past, he had been to the future.
“Over here” he said, and led me to a stream – small, but fast and deep. “perfect for a water turbine, wouldn’t you say? Especially if you put in a little dam about here…”
I smiled – “What we would do if we won the lottery” was something that we often indulged in. Now it was “What we would do if we won the lottery, bought this place and rebuilt it”. We walked back to the buildings.
B continued. “We could turn this building into bedrooms and a bathroom; this one could be a kitchen; we’d join it all up of course, with covered walkways…” To the building with the curved gable end: “This could be the main living room – that would be a splendid view….”
I joined in, seeing it all. “This bit outside could be a big conservatory – just think of sitting here on summer evenings watching the skies change colour over the water…”
“And we could put a wind turbine on the hill out there, cover the place with solar panels, have a diesel genny for backup in that space outside the kitchen, a wood store in the room alongside, wave bye-bye to the bloody power companies…. ”
“Some trees would have to go – that conifer is already leaning and I’m surprised that that beech hasn’t lifted that wall….”
“‘Course, we’d need a bloody big 4-track to get to and from town, even just to get up and down the track in winter weather – doubt if the postie would come down this far, so we’d have to have a postbox at the gate…. a caterpillar-track would be useful, if we were getting our wood from the forest…”
We stood there a while more, dreaming, and seeing what might be. Then the rain started spattering down and we ran for the car.
And went back home…..