(This story is a follow-on to the Lost Mattress Mystery by Eric Rayson, so go there first)
A quick look at the map showed one possibility, suggested by C Company member Jim Lavery in Simcoe, Ontario. Jim insisted that he remembered exactly where the mattresss lies, and that investigation on the ground would reveal the actual rusting springs!
In Jim’s scenario, the miscreants may have headed up the hill from Kidlandlee towards Peat Law, intending to swing around the top of the forest in the burn below Wholehope, (this was quite a substantial wood in the 1950’s, despite the depredations of the hostellers when coal was short).
In the bad visibility, the lads may have missed Wholehope because they kept too high, passing near the top of Peat Law before descending between Wholehope Knowe and Saughy Hill, then eventually coming to farly level ground and descending slightly, finally dumping the mattress somewhere near OS grid reference NT 895103.
If followed, this route would have lead them around the back of Wholehope, hence no ‘light in the window’ would have been visible, even if they were looking in the right direction.
This sounds OK , because after dumping the mattress they headed downhill until they ‘came to a river’. Following the fence line down from NT 895103 eventually leads to the Usway Burn, just downstream from Batailshiel Haugh*.
In the dark and cold of that memorable night, the steepness of the hills on both sides, plus the noise of the burn in spate, would certainly have helped to demoralise anyone already in the early stages of hypothermia, but continuing the walk downstream and crossing the burn would almost inevitably lead back to Alwinton, and alcoholic refuge in the back room of the Rose and Thistle.
Sadly (inevitably?), Jim’s theory has been confounded on the ground by Bill Storey and his two black Labrador buddies. Bill reports: “Searched the crime scene, took some photos of the area, no sign of any mattress remains, back to Jim for Plan B orders”. Does anyone else have a theory?
The fence line they followed?
The Usway burn
Journey’s end – The Rose and Thistle
* Batailshiel = Bataile Schele, a shieling belonging to the Bataile family)
Map images on this page are courtesy of the Ordnance Survey Get-a-Map scheme