Monday, 10 May 2010

The Antonine Wall.By Bike!

This is actually May bank holiday,s Sunday trip of the 2.5.10 but I`m running a week behind being single handed and manning the helm while Alex has family duties which He`ll post himself next week sometime.
I fancied a bit of history with my Sunday adventure this time.Years ago I used to race up north to the highlands of Scotland bagging Munros on public holidays like this but times change.Today I put the bike in the car,took some painkillers for my overworked legs and went to......... Kilsyth.
Whats up? Hey. No midges, dry, warm, sunny and low petrol consumption for one guy travelling in a car. A done deal.

Auchinstarry quarry car park to be precise.This was the starting point.A popular spot on a dry day for fishermen,rock climbers and cyclists.A network of canal paths and bike routes start from here.The best stretch of the Forth and Clyde canal runs along here winding its way beneath Bar Hill,Castle Hill and Croy Hill.I intended to go over all three on a bike following the crest of the ridge line along the Antonine Wall.
So.Cycled easily along the canal bank til Twechar then up through the village on main road til this sign.

Heavy panting up a steep landrover track past farm dogs and a gate led to more open pastures with great views over to the Campsie hills.

My reward was Bar Hill Roman Fort and the remains of the Antonine Wall (a big ditch now really) which still runs visibly along the lenght of this chain of small hills.

These are smashing hills, wild and unfrequented except by the occasional local dog walker or village worthy.A May Bank holiday and I passed three people in total on the ridge.Danced my bike over a couple of gates and walked it through the ground level remains of Bar Hill,a very pleasant open wooded area ideal for a picnic though I don't think that's the intention.

The more windswept Castle Hill lay beyond with a steeper open summit on which gleamed a trig (Hi Alex) and an Info board about another fort that existed here til the Romans built their own.Funny that.

Don't know about you but to me a trig is not worth ticking unless you've dragged a large hunk of metal up it.

Yeah! Go Bobby!
A large grassy ribbon runs off this hill marking the ditch of the wall.Lower down a bike friendly track leads at an angle into the ex mining village of Croy.For its small size A lot of top class professional boxers came from here and the nearby Moodiesburn.Todays youngsters seem to be more interested in trail and quad bikes though.
Soon passed them as they stuck to the area round the village and was once more alone on the ridge.A huge man made hole in the ground lies to the south.Its still a working quarry and its massive.
This hill,Croy, is a sprawling mixture of natural semi wooded rollercoaster slopes and old vegetated spoil heaps giving it a crumpled look.Its a lovely hill.A good network of single track paths snake through and over the contours some on the edge of the drop over looking the canal below.
Spaces in the trees let you peer down god like on the folk below.This god was knackered so sat down for a spot of lunch.A girl on a horse went by giving me this surreal picture of the pylon.

Lunch over made my way down to the canal and just caught a lucky shot from the bridge.

Next up was Banton loch where a good wide track runs along the south bank to the neat and compact village.From there followed a white road marked on map intending to cut along the north bank of the same loch.When will I ever learn about white roads on OS maps.....
This one started off OK but then disappeared completely for over a kilometer leaving me to vault a collection of fences and tramp through some very boggy marshland to get this view back towards Croy hill.I think it must have been surveyed by plane by Mr Magoo's blinder brother on an off day.A lot of white roads are a real adventure.
I was quite impressed I`d cycled over this.Croy Hill.A bit of determined portage as we say in kayaking circles got me back on a track cycling towards Colzium house and its small but lovely walled garden.
This house and grounds acts as a park for Kilsyth and has some nice glen walks,kids playground and pond.Followed the canal like lade back into Kilsyth then up over the incline on cobbled streets back to the car.Not a long day mile wise but action packed none the less.Back home for a big feed and an excellent DVD." Pennies from Heaven.... the original British TV one.A boxed set for a fiver.What a bargin Eh?.

Auchinstarry showing quarry car park and boat basin.Its well worth a visit to this unfairly overlooked area. Bags to do here.


The Glebe Blog said...

Those wires look to be hanging really low on your pylon pic Bob, or is it just an optical illusion ?

Anonymous said...

Didn't realise there were other "visible" sections of the wall other than at Bonnybridge. Must give this a wee visit. Just passed by Kilsythg today having driven over the interesting Tak-ma-Doon Road from Carronbridge. Great viewpoint over the Central Belt from that road.

blueskyscotland said...

Its just an optical effect Jim but it looked quite funky.A very enjoyable day out as it had a bit of everything.Adventure off road cycling,History,Canal life, horse riding and rock climbers.Got to take advantage of these couple of weeks solo as I love cycling but Alex is not as keen.Back to hills soon I expect but I,ve got another wheel day to post in an even more unlikely but worthwhile area.A real favourite this next one across the true roof of Scotland.

blueskyscotland said...

The Tak ma doon road is a bugger to cycle up.Only acheived it once when I was fitter..... never again.I passed by your town on sunday ken to do my other favourite cycle route in the mid central belt.You,ll probably know the area of this next post coming up fairly well.You can probably see it from your house:o)
"There lies a forgotten lady in the deep woods,hidden in her temple within a ring of stone." Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Ohh....a puzzle...goodie!

No idea (lol)

Will have to think about that one Bob.

vally said...

Bar Hill is a nice wee walk isn't it? A few years ago went up there from Auchinsatrry with the wife and bairn on my back :-)

blueskyscotland said...

To Vally.
WHAT!!Do you diss me just cos I is old?
Implying I can only do baby friendly routes on my bike these days.I,ll put a cap in your ass to go with the snip at the front you young pup.Where,s the respect these days?
Soon as you take a well earned rest in a shady hollow someone starts shovelling dirt on you.Who had a tricross bike first with 10,000 miles on the clock? bob.