When I was younger I went potholing – though in my part of the world it was more commonly called caving. For years I spent most of my weekends underground, which is probably why I still can’t tell one end of a football team from another (that, and the fact that my school didn’t have its own playing field and the council couldn’t always find one for us to borrow, so ‘sport’ was almost unknown to us). What you don’t know about, you don’t miss.

The potholes we have in Scotland are quite different. In the last twelve months motorists have reported 25,000 of them and councils are spending a fortune repairing them. A few miles from where I live about twenty of the things appeared over a few days, a row of small but very effective tank traps. Driving past them I was baffled by the way some drivers swerved to avoid them regardless of whatever else was on the road, as if colliding with something coming the other way or squashing a cyclist was a mere trifle compared with the consequences of bouncing in and out of a small hole (or even a BIG hole).

However, help is at hand. In rush hour the other day (okay, joke. In the bad old days it really was rush hour, 8 to 9 in the morning and 5 to 6 in the afternoon) I passed two elderly roadmen equipped with shovels and a council lorry. They were darting (not that anyone that age can dart, especially when carrying a shovelful of asphalt / blacktop / Tarmac) between passing cars in an attempt to fill the potholes. They were in no danger whatsoever, as the motorists using this stretch of the Queen’s Highway (can I say that in Scotland?) are well-used to avoiding things (see Para 2, above). My personal belief is that they were a strategic reserve, a potholing Dad’s Army, called in by the council to sort things out (think New Tricks).

What I did not know, and as a geologist I am ashamed to admit, is that Scotland has caves/potholes other than those that plague our roads. See this.

[Photo courtesy of AG. That ridiculously large light on my head was powered by gas (acetylene, which gave a brilliant white light) and the outsize reflector got in the way, clanging against rock and hurting my teeth. If you don’t understand, try it.]

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  1. Pingback: Kevin McCloud: HOME | Richard Whittle______PlaypitsPark

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