Held at Dirleton on the 13th August 2000
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This map, from his book 'Footbridge to Enchantment' published by B & W Publishers Edinburgh, shows, in detail, the area where Nigel walked every day as he wrote. The articles in 'Footbridge' are a collection of essays that first appeared in 'The Scot's Magazine' and are described in the foreward as 'a marvellous evocation of the landscape that has inspired him'
In these few words and photographs I hope to convey something of this area and what it meant to Nigel.
Nigel's first view every morning of 'his' terrain where every day he wrote 1500 words. In 'Footbridge ' he writes, "As the spars creak and drum beneath my feet a sort of ferment starts within me, an eagerness, an anticipation." The shear strength of this comment suggests the enthusiasm and excitement with which he approached the daily task of writing. It also shows clearly just how much this bridge meant to him.
Looking back across Nigel's 'Bridge to Enchantment'.
From this viewpoint, on the 'Enchantment' side of the bridge, Quarry House is situated about one hundred yards to the right of where the cars are parked..
Once Nigel set foot on this side of the bridge he entered another world, living in a past time and virtually becoming the hero about whom he was writing. He spent so many years steeped in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, writing the 'Bruce Trilogy', that he must, over that time, have thought himself deeply into the character of Bruce. I know that he once said to me that, in a way, he was glad to move on to someone else. To a new challenge.
Aberlady Bay is a Nature Reserve within the meaning of the act. In 'Footbridge' Nigel describes it as " No artificial sanctuary, no man made preserve, no enclosure of any sort; just an unspoiled stretch of our island littoral left that way, with access free as the winds that blow across it." This view is typical of the sand dunes and the seashore type of terrain across which Nigel walked once he left the footpaths.
The remains of one of the two miniature submarine wrecks, put in place sometime during World War II for target practice.
They feature in 'Drug on the Market' (1962) a tale of cannabis smuggling ( Or using Nigel's 1962 terminology Indian Hemp ) in and around the mouth of the Firth of Forth. Philip, the hero of the story, realising that the watertight bulkhead of the submarine hides the cache of cannabis prises open the hatch with great difficulty and squeezes inside. His friend Trish accidentally closes the rusted hatch when she leans on it and, with the water level rapidly rising, Philip is trapped inside. ------------------------.
At that point I will leave you to read the story for yourselves to find out how it ends.
To further explore Nigel's special area go to