I arrived just before dusk on a slate-skied, biting afternoon. A mixture of sleet, hail and snow began to fall as I made my way up the paths that spiral around the hillside. The light – dim to begin with – grey steadily darker as I wound higher among the monoliths and monuments of the place.
Three redpolls and a redwing flew over my head, no doubt looking for somewhere to roost, though they would have more luck down in the shelter of the mound than at its summit.
Was it spooky? Perhaps a little, but the lights of the city, multiplied at this time of year by those of Christmas, were close by. And the venerable stones themselves seemed, with their solidity, to offer something almost comforting.
I was drawn, in particular, to one classical structure – the Aiken mausoleum – with its pillars and portico, half-hidden by tangled ivy and creepers. Peering through the wrought iron gates that locked across its front I could just about read some of the words on the memorial plaques inside. More disconcertingly, in the darkness, I could also make out a rectangular hole that presumably marked the steps down to the graves themselves, though the paltry torchlight from my phone could not show any detail.
Dusk was moving on fast, the wind picking up steadily. It was time to stop walking around graveyards, and to go and get something to eat.