Alec Finlay, Proposal for Dalchonzie
Photograph, Alistair Peebles 2011

Ken & I visited Dalchonzie on our Basho-inspired journey the road north, where it figured as a pair for Kagnuma, ‘Mirror Pond’.

Alec Finlay, 2011

even the great
are acted upon

by invisible

Alistair and I are struck by the combination of water-garden and power source: exemplary mingling of productivity and reflection. It is a philosophy that wind-farms and power stations rarely adopt – and why would they, without the land and view in their possession being held in common?

A sense of purpose changes over time. Now the power station proclaims the identification of water with ‘renewables’.

Alec Finlay, 2011

Time for a change: time to revive the state-planned arcadia of the energy-garden, and extend its potential into a forward-looking vision of walks, woods, considered alignments, so that the short-lived intervention of the wind-farm – after all, what is two decades measured in terms of eras of energy, or hills – will extend into a network of rich habitats, woodland or moorland paths and viewing points that look out from the towers and through the blades.

A rational energy program, integrating reflection and inspiration.

Alec Finlay, 2011

and time


Dalchonzie | Kagenuma

This excursion takes the form of a poem, beginning from an image I sketched on a poem label from my memory of last year's visit, and then extending into a longer reflection on Mirror Pond.

Alec Finlay, 2011


                 a body of




word-mntn (Bioran Dalchonzie)
poem, Alec Finlay; photograph, Alistair Peebles 2011

Alistair Peebles, 2011


Dalchonzie’s mirror
has the spruce-clad ramp
of Bioran Dalchonzie

under arrest
in the day’s best
pool of cloud
aslant in the glass
of the full windows
that crown

what’s mere reflection
below some sky
is disturbed

by the churn
in constant motion

beneath the bridge
of the station
sucking detritus

leaves and twigs
lucozade bottle
and a dead frog

being released
into the inevitable
flow gliding

the smooth tailrace
in a managed current
between banks

hemmed with birch
bound to the
narrow sluice

which rips down
the chute
and meets

a natural end
with the Earn

Alistair Peebles, 2011

Alistair Peebles, 2011


empty with silence
the inner hub
of the station

whatever electricity
there is

in dented turbines
sunk deep
in the hill’s core

screened from view
by Dalchonzie’s
idyllic water-

garden which looks
toward Giverny
in its reflections

Alec Finlay, 2011

Alec Finlay, 2011


this is the power
of the mirror :
to know nothing

of labour
this is the power
of water :

to know nothing
of the forced race
through the blades

have no interest
whether its particles
rest in static pools

or are compelled
through hewn rock pen
stocks and steel pipes

forcing the turbine
to turn
for water

and mirror
may be given
over to reflection

but they never
make production
any of their concern

they remain
amiably careless
of their many effects

whether mirroring
a falling leaf
flooding a glen

or lighting
the quiet streets
of a small Perthshire town

Alistair Peebles, 2011

Alistair Peebles, 2011

The Old Wheel

A mile further on we take a turn around the still wheel of Bobbin Mill, an older wheel, ripening in the sun. The technology is much the same, it's just that Dalchonzie's better geared, smoother edged, capable of absorbing a higher velocity of water through the penstocks – one could even pun that the hydro differ as they fall from a greater head.

Alistair Peebles, 2011

Alec Finlay, 2011





Needless to say this blog is a collaboration with my colleague Alistair Peebles, as much for the conversation we share on these field-trips as the excellence of his photographs.

The pool at Dalchonzie is a conceptual and elemental confluence, where my renewable wind-gardens mingle with his renewable marine gardens. Future blogs will extend these themes and locate them in specific landscapes, such as Rousay and Billia Croo. 


Alistair Peebles:   Brae projects    |    blog

Alec Finlay: alecfinlay.com

the road north: Dalchonzie

SSE Dalchonzie

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