Sunday, 8 December 2013
Fairly easy to get lost here if you wander onto the further away back trails as its pretty featureless. For first timers when you arrive out the forest onto the shoreline one loch looks very much like another.
Granton in particular was slightly larger and grander than expected, a Victorian resort town with a substantial feel to the buildings and we had a good wander round the shops and down the main street. Not as touristy or as in your face as Aviemore. Traditional and attractive in a low key manner.
Driving back down the road towards Glasgow we hit some strange weather effects.
Just before Stirling we ran into a line of Mammatus clouds forming but we were past them before I could capture the full effect. These usually indicate a storm brewing and can form into individual eggs or an entire egg box patterned sky. Udder clouds building and a dark threatening sky yet at Stirling itself, just a few miles down the road it was clear and sunny again. Weird.
The Wallace Monument below.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammatus_cloud Good link here to an effect I've only witnessed a few times in Scotland. Once before a really ferocious winter storm that hit the next day and almost blew our bothy down, with trees toppled everywhere in the morning with the strength of the wind.
It was no surprise therefore to enter Glasgow and witness a scene similar to a biblical apocalypse with dark swirling clouds above the city and what looked like a mini tornado attempting a touch down over East Kilbride. Heavy rain but no cars or wind turbines flew into the air. Good effect though.
An enjoyable weekend made possible by staying low. Even managed to improve my tan.
As it was too early to go back to sit in the hut Alex decided to join me for a tour of this walkway (signposted trim trail) but in wet conditions like these you certainly wouldn't want to stride out. As parts of it were sloping, soaking wet and covered in leaves it was like an ice rink in places and no pushover to walk along. Great fun if you didn't fall in as there were no handrails to grab when you started to slide. Be easy in summer though. Due to the floods parts of it were six inches to a foot underwater but that only added to the enjoyment. A magical little place with plenty of scenic interest.
Rainbow. I don't see many of these normally as I'm not usually out in the rain in the mountains.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
Were they grateful?... Were they F....
finding the hill to their liking?
Hard to tell. Lets just say they were not enjoying the views as much as me, probably wishing they were higher up in the grim stuff instead of basking in bright sunshine, good views, and gentle winds. I was quite happy to hose them down with freezing water back at the hut then beat them both with a big stick if they could only enjoy themselves when their bodies were being frozen, tortured and abused but only if that took place in a dry sunny spot of course.
A view of Pitlochry and Ben Vrackie on the journey up.
Monday, 2 December 2013
Luckily for me the weather on this trip was ideal. Snow storms, low cloud and strong arctic winds on the heights which put even the normally keen hill walkers down a notch. This is Andy, Julian and Alex, unhappy at not getting a big peak but resigned to the fact that my alternative suggestion to visit the Craigellachie Nature Reserve behind Aviemore main street was the best suggestion for a low level dry walk. The wooded hill above is part of the reserve but we are going the wrong way here as we missed the turn off a hundred yards back.
Hopefully you can see the route from this map. Follow the access slipway road off the A9 into Aviemore where it goes round the roundabout next to the top photo above. Before you enter the main shopping pedestrianized area proper there is a sign for the youth hostel on the left. This minor road leads up under an underpass into the reserve and is signposted. We parked the car just off the main street about 50 yards past this youth hostel sign where there is an empty square of parking, next to but not part of the first outdoor/clothing shop on the left, facing towards the north, driving into town. Graeme who was driving preferred to read a book here and stay in the car. The others swithered a little, debating whether to hit the shops then decided to follow me, mainly because it was the cheaper option I suspect.
Motivation's a funny thing. Sometimes they can be having a great time in grim weather yet I'm bored because there is nothing to see or photograph.
Cant believe I've not been here before and was very impressed. Great alternative when the heights are out due to bad weather, strong winds, or if you just fancy a more pleasant sheltered option.
I've never been on that either. Cant see it happening now.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Bugger that I thought. Let's run to the sun instead and visit the warm valley.
This is the garden valley. An area of wooded slopes and fertile meadows carved out by the mighty River Clyde in its upper reaches where its waters in the distant past have been broad and fierce enough to bite deep into the surrounding landscape creating a sheltered, warm, oasis. A deep winding, trench running for many miles through the soft geology of this part of Lanarkshire.
Monks were the first to realise the potential of this area, growing apples, plums, soft fruits and berries on the warm, usually frost free banks during the short Scottish summer. Orchards were planted and thrived. Later arrivals grew strawberries and tomatoes here on a large commercial scale, and it earned several new names. The 'Glass Gorge', the 'Fruit Basket of the Central Belt, The Garden Valley.
http://food.list.co.uk/article/54556-the-clyde-valley-is-home-to-leading-firm-of-scotlands-tomato-industry/ A good link here with a brief history of the produce and new blood continuing the tradition.
One of the most remarkable facts about this fruit growing trench is that it lies at the same latitude as Hudson Bay in Canada and is further north than Newfoundland, and the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia. In summer it can get hot and humid down here with lush vegetation, including bizarre meadows of wild course rhubarb coating the riverbanks and in winter the gulf stream ensures its temperate climate.
Taking the M74 out of Glasgow, then the scenic A70 as it follows the river along the floor of the trench I soon arrived and parked the car in the village of Crossford, where there is a medium sized car park, public toilets and a handy information board/map of walking paths in the area.
The Clyde walkway runs through here and follows the far (left )bank of the River back towards Motherwell and Glasgow, though they both seem very distant from here. From the car park walk up the main street until you can cross the bridge seen above ( B7056 Braidwood Road ) From here a pleasant walk takes you along the flat embankment in a north westerly direction then climbs gently to offer superb views over the district.
In the hard world of adulthood anyone who still holds onto a flicker of that inner child when they grow up is lucky indeed as the world will always seem a wonderful, unexpected place viewed through their eyes.
'In a hole in the ground there lived a.....
No doubt growing up on the edge of this deep trench with a birds eye view of the sliced landscape below him cut by the river and its numerous tributaries running off the surrounding uplands inspired him to take an interest in geology and the formation of natural features from an early age.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carluke and famous for its jam. Great tale in here under another notable resident Thomas Weir, the Warlock of West Bow, reputed to be one of the inspirations for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde after his self confessed spectacular fall from grace.
Just watched 'Nina Conti- A Ventriloquist's Story: Her Master's voice' on BBC4. I already knew Nina was talented with bags of sparkle as I've seen her act a few times over the years but this was a different level again. A worthy winner of best documentary as it explores the strange love/hate partnership that exists between ventriloquist and dummy/creation at a deep level. Heart warming, moving and watchable it gets better and more bizarre the longer it goes on. Well worth catching on i player in this link or whatever medium you can see it on and should do her career no harm at all in an age when ventriloquists are not seen as 'cool or radical' enough. After this unusual insight into the realms of the psyche she could get a side job as a director. Never thought I'd have a lump in my throat over a puppet's fate.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jv1yr The two minute video in here with granny swimming underwater( The OAP nightdress clad dummy) should give you a taste of it. The i player repeat has now ended but the five minute video 'N.C at the Edinburgh fringe' is still there.
There's only one music video that's a perfect fit for this post. I've been a fan of Kate Bush since 1978 but my favourite song of hers is this highly personal offering which I don't think she'd write nowadays as you become more guarded in your outlook due to the intrusive nature of fame. Perfectly combined with a poignantly sweet video that should remind adults everywhere of that inner child buried deep but still alive in their soul, squashed down under the painful realities and practical struggles of everyday life. A garden( song) for a garden( film) for a garden (blog post). Perfect ending.