Yippee! Summers here.
Now its really going to be a challenge weather wise. Ironically, from past experience, the next couple of months "the so called Scottish summer" may well be the hardest time yet to avoid a soaking and find long hours of sunshine on the hill.
Due to an increase of heat and moisture in the air the mini monsoon season usually kicks in around now making sudden thunderous downpours a possibility anywhere as 16 unlucky bullocks found out on Sunday (killed by lightning sheltering under a tree near the Lammermuirs.)
Give me a winters day anytime for finding stable dry weather.June,July and August can be a nightmare to predict if its sultry.
Alex being on hoilday in the U.S.A (lucky old sod) for the next two weeks I roped in Gavin as my good companion for the day ( his dog Millie was elsewhere)
We were planning a little boat adventure but it was fully booked so a last minute alternative was needed.
Seen forecast,phoned Gavin and suggested Dumbarton Castle,the Lang Craigs and Doughnot hill instead.This was an area he`d only been to as a climber on the famous rock itself but had never visited the castle or the Kilpatricks behind.
I was sure he`d be impressed as this is yet another overlooked but cracking area for walkers.
So, 10.00am. Visited castle first (£4.60 entry fee) on a grey, misty Saturday as better weather was predicted to creep in soon.Spent a pleasant hour wandering round the castle,visiting both rocky summits,learning the history of this impressive fortress of the Britons,one of the oldest fortified strongholds in the UK,occupied since the 5th century.
Its worth a visit and a great place for views and photographers passing the time while the weather steadily improved.
When hazy sunshine burst through we set off for the hills.There are several starting points for this walk.You can drive up from Milton and park at Overtoun house itself where there is a tearoom in summertime.
Having local knowledge of the area I parked discretely at the lesser known back gate posts, halfway down Campbell Avenue which is left at the top of Garshake Road. OS 756418.
Soon we were walking through mature,high canopy, woodland on the track up to the big house itself.This is an impressive structure built in the era of great estates (now run by a christian group I believe) but this still beautiful house and grounds are fairly run down and underused, money being in short supply in West Dumbartonshire.
Paisleys Gleniffer Braes country park is in a similar condition though like here is every bit as scenically splendid as the money rich mugdock park above Bearsden.
Having said that, its easier to escape people here than in crowded Mugdock and after hearing whats proposed for the Loch Lomond wallabies if more money was forthcoming it would probably just change things and first to go might be one of the wonders of Overtoun.The feral spreading glory of the upper rhododendron forest.
At this time of year it is a splendid sight,all the better for being wild and unchecked.
This is where we headed next as I had my eye on a steep little gully, an obvious gap in the southern edge of cliffs.
The Lang Craigs are the real jewels of this walk.Not high but if you can find a prettier escarpment anywhere I,ll be surprised.
An easy ascent through a maze of flowers brought us to the mouth of the gully and we climbed hanging vegetation and a few dripping moss walls to reach the top.
We had lunch here watching buzzards being mobbed by crows, admiring the extensive views over Renfrewshire and the Firth of Clyde.It was muggy and very warm,blue sky in patches mixed with dark lumps of cloud.After lunch we traversed the full line of cliffs before going for a frontal assault on Doughnot hill(no pics of trig or hill just to annoy Alex,Hee hee!) The path through the trees here can be muddy but can be avoided
Views from the top were extensive of high open tableland. a huge area of empty hills only 30 minutes drive from Glasgow.I`m always amazed that this area is so little frequented having criss crossed the Kilpatricks on several
occasions end to end and rarely seen a soul.
You can go to " wilderness areas" much further north and be pushed to find genuine solitude yet I,ve never been disappointed here. Queens view,the Whangie,Duncolm hill and over the Slacks to Duntocher is a real classic day out in any walkers diary and the first sight on a sunny day of the glittering metropolis below after crossing such a void is breathtaking.
We patted the trig for Alex then wandered down Overtoun glen, the promised clear blue skies arrived on cue and it started to get very warm indeed.
A good day out with fine company and a touch of sunburn,painfully obvious when I had a shower later that night.Very weird considering it was the most overcast day yet.Must have been burnt by the sheer beauty of the flowers.