Friday was a funny day.Squeeky bum time weather wise.Very warm but with frequent heavy showers forcast over most of the hill ranges until the afternoon.
Solution.An adventure in Renfrewshire,one of Scotlands best kept secrets as this an area competely, utterly and wrongly overlooked by most hillwalkers mad scramble for the greater ranges of the west coast.An overrated mist and midge ridden shit heap of hills that at least serves to divert the masses from these beloved pimples like a crowd of flies whizzing past a fallen angels face.
In my childhood, after reading the Lord of the Rings,I always associated this landscape with Tolkien`s mythical Shire. Indeed I grew up close to here,a tall man surrounded by the proud hobbits of Neilston and Barrhead,and have walked and cycled these hills in splendid isolation all my life.Watch the first film with scenes of Hobbiton,visit this place,tell me I,m wrong!
It is a land steeped in history like a beetroot is steeped in pickle.Iron age hillforts, numerous Druid stones and sites,varied industrial heritage.A land worth a visit.
So, picked up Alex at his house and soon we were under the volcanic basalt core of Duncarnock in the lovely green hill country above Barrhead.Access to this ancient hillfort summit is via Glanderson dam(os sheet 64 grid ref 564500)
We soon had this steep little wonder ticked off as the first bump of the day.For such a modest hill the views are sensational and panaramic. Cows knee deep in the loch to escape the coming heat(how did they know).Sun already pounding down like a prizefighters fist.The entire length of the city of Glasgow spread out below like a 3d pop up book.
It turned out to be the hottest day of the year yet for the blue sky guys.Magic stuff.Shame it rained over most of the west highlands that day.Poor old shit heap hills.If we,re not careful Global warming will wash em clean away!
A short drive with boots still on took us to the second hill range of the day.Walls Hill and North Castlewalls(trig for Alex).Gained by the right of way to Howwood ( verylimited parking at Mid Hartfield farm) this iron age seat of the Damnonii tribe is best reached going round the old reservoir(now a field)then up to the ruined farm.The frontal approach still beats off invaders as it has its moated protection still in place. Stunning views from the escarpment over Johnstone and Paisley.
Our last hill group of the day was the 200 metre trio of Cuff, Lochlands and Brownmuir .Modest bumps it is true but plastered in yellow gorse,wild flowers, rocking stone and butterflies of every decription.Here also views were exceptional. The waterfilled trench containing Lochs Semple, Barr and Kilbirnie on one side and Barcraigs reservoir on the other.A real contender for Scotlands prettiest.Despite this Alex passed on this final summit(brownmuir) of the day(no trig) as he`d forgot his hat and the sun was kissing his hairless cranium like a blow torch.
To the victor the spoils.
All in all a great unique day for little hills that deserve some acclaim. It was holiday friday yet they maintained their usual wonderful solitude contrasting with the lego land of tower blocks and massed housing below.Where else would you find a secret kingdom all to yourself during a may bank holiday.This is not an area that can take many car visitors(shortage of laybys) but for those few who make the trip.
Welcome to the Shire.