Monday, 3 October 2011
Stronend.Culcreuch Castle Estate.
There are not many hills I,d do again and again but this is one. I,ve been up Stronend a dozen times over the years since I first discovered it.For my money its the finest hill in both the Campsie and Fintry ranges and for its size (511 metres) its one of the best within fifty miles of Glasgow.
Its hard to describe what makes it so good exactly but I,ll try.
The drive out past Killearn and Balfron is beautiful past the popular and almost as good Dumgoyne with its lay by stuffed with cars and walkers then round to the much quieter and serene Corrie of Balglass. For once I,d deliberately picked a Sunday outing trip in poor weather as I fancied something different for a change. Heavy intense showers were forecast throughout the central belt of Scotland mingled in with scattered bright periods.This was during our so called Indian summer heatwave which never really happened except in England.It was very warm though and a risk of thunder was a possibility.I like a good thunder and lightning storm me. What I can never work up a passion for is dull ,drab weather and grey skies,lifeless with no energy.If I go out walking on days like this I always feel the same. I never really enjoy them.
This though was different.The morning had a brooding, pulsing edge to it that had my senses tingling.The animals could feel it too.
As it wasn,t fork and boom time just yet though I hugged the trees myself all along the lane then walked up past the estate loch where several fishing tents and poles were sticking out,owners snuggled deep and safe inside the canvas while they fished.One of the reasons I,d picked this walk was the shelter it offered throughout this lovely estate.
Culcreuch Castle is an upmarket hotel ,one of the oldest in Scotland.Its fairly popular with wedding couples getting photos taken in the grounds.You are still allowed to walk through them though and they are a delight,full of mature Oaks,Giant firs and Redwoods,beech, Ash, Sycamore and Horse Chestnut.A circluar tour of the main path through the grounds,up past the castle then on down the long western entrance towards Fintry Cemetery is a popular local walk as is a pint or a coffee and meal in its restaurant dungeon which is open to the public.Dogs would have to be kept on a lead though until well up the hill due to the numbers of sheep and cattle roaming around,both in the fenced grounds and free on the open hillsides above.Unless they were well trained.
Maybe the main reason I like this hill so much is the different levels you pass through at each stage.
Lush woodland walk....then open grassy meadows...then this.....
It doesn,t feel like a Scottish hill at all,more like a Limestone peak transported to here.A fantastic hill and luckily the good sunny spells matched in with the summit push given a little extra time wasting in the woods with my mushroom guide on my part.I dont eat them as I dont like the taste or texture but I like to know what they are just in case it comes in handy.You never know.
I,ve not changed that much folks.I,m still not going to climb a hill in the pissing rain :0)
A vast flock of geese passed above me close to the summit.Think they were either pink footed or greylags going by the pale breasts and black wings. They look like storks here though.Wierd!
Back at the car I headed up over the Muir toll road which crosses the Campsies,bleak high and empty in yet another sudden downpour.Above Lennoxtown however the rain eased off so I waited a while and I got my best photo of the trip.
Lennox Castle and its Woods boiling in sunshine with mist slowly rising in the evening light.
The icing on the cake was this sunset just entering Glasgow,s Suburbs once again..Every three or four years you get one as good as this where the clouds seem to roll like slow motion ocean depths above you.