Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Antonine Wall. Duntocher. Clydebank. Drumchapel.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Shortly after the Drumchapel walk I had to put my car into the garage at Clydebank for a few repairs. As this would take a good few hours and I had the rest of the day off anyway I decided to walk along part of the Antonine Wall which starts on the west at Old Kilpatrick then runs through Duntocher via Goldenhill Park then skirts high Drumchapel taking in Hutcheson Hill and Castle Hill. Although not much remains here of the actual wall (in reality a deep trench and earth raised banks beside it) it does run through some nice farmland scenery, most of which was new to me and I'm always on the lookout for new walks, especially now I have a pet project on the go, part of which involves finding the best underrated or little known walks in my local area.
A link for those who like nice interiors.
Above is the Titan Hotel Complex and next to it, in the grounds of Clydebank's new catholic secondary school, are several large circles of wild flowers. Poppies are the most obvious, but daisies and several other varieties are present too. This is what gave me the idea of wild flower meadows in the vacant brown site plots of the big estates. Many of these areas have been lying vacant for over a decade and they could be used as wildlife havens in the meantime until new housing or other plans are forthcoming. I'm not suggesting such concentrated formal circles for Drumchapel  and the other empty plots in the big estates but a lighter sprinkling  of various wild flowers and the odd scattered shrub (like fushia bushes which flower from May/ June right through to early November) would help birds, bees and butterflies and give these drab, almost forgotten, blank areas some colour and life. Yes, you will get some damage and children already seem to have run through the middle of these poppy circles  but that's to be expected as its directly on a school route and hopefully they will survive once the novelty has worn off this new addition to the landscape.

Anyway, back to the Antonine Wall. During the Roman Conquest of Britain things progressed relentlessly, mile by mile, in a slow but continuous push across flatter terrain, and local tribes were either crushed underfoot or bribed into submission to join the Romans until they crossed the central belt of Scotland and arrived at the edge of the Highlands. The Roman system of fighting preferred flat or at least open ground for large scale troop movements but once in the steep mountains and trackless forests of the north they were vulnerable to ambush and attack.
 Even today you can see the mountains squeeze down close to the coast at Old Kilpatrick, and Dumbarton Rock with its formidable defensive properties is not far away. The photograph above of the Duntocher Burn Path is the route I followed between Dalmuir Park and Goldenhill Park, which is a pleasant walk through mature woodland then runs beside the stream. Interesting history and scenery. It is signposted where it crosses the main roads and is fairly easy to follow once you see the route here. Parts of this were new to me yet I've been in Duntocher many  times but usually for work purposes. The might of Rome stopped at Old Kilpatrick although the Romans were able to penetrate further north up the easier and flatter east coast before meeting strong resistance.
Goldenhill Park is nearby and is situated on a lovely little hilltop with great views. Being a high point The Romans had a large base here where the troops could live and sleep until required. Attacks and raids on the wall were common as the hill tribes knew the landscape north of here would shelter them from the worst of any reprisals as they could just fade into the forests and mountains again.
AD 142 to 165. Although it stretched right across Scotland they held it for less than 25 years. The most far flung, heavily defended barrier in that vast empire. A combination of rugged mountain landscape, warlike tribes that fought in fast surprise attacks rather than meet head on in full scale battles and trouble in provinces nearer the Roman heartland meant an early end to this barrier and they retreated back behind Hadrian's wall in Northumbria before finally abandoning Britain altogether. The Hunterian Museum in Glasgow has a fine collection  of decorative stone work and artefacts gathered from the wall.

View from Goldenhill Park looking towards Faifley.
View from the park towards the Kilpatrick Hills, Duntocher, and Drumchapel Amateurs Football ground. See "Douglas Smith" link on the previous post.
At neighbouring Hardgate, Cleddans Road is taken into farmland following the route of the Antonine Wall. (usually marked on OS Maps as a dotted line)
Another minor dead end road I hadn't explored and a nice surprise to find it was scenic. It runs up beside the golf course then past Cleddans Farm.
Looking the other way in the direction of Drumchapel. It doesn't actually go into this scheme/ estate but passes nearby before going over Hutcheson Hill and Castle Hill.
 A view of Faifley and the forest beyond. Large areas of Scotland in Roman Times would have been covered in forests, swampy bogs, or trackless tussocks so building a wall across the landscape would always follow low hills and easier marching ground.
 Hutcheson Hill Area and the grasslands around Drumchapel. A network of paths snake through this area proving some locals still like walking and exploring in the vicinity. It might be just my preference but I always find any stress, grief or problems throughout my life have been lessened by an enjoyable walk outdoors. It never fails to cheer me up... and the fact that it's free has been an eternal bonus.
Castle Hill. Still on the Antonine Wall route and a major station for troops before the pleasures of the Roman Bath House at Bearsden, the foundations of which can still be seen there. As I was on foot and getting tired by this point and still a good distance from my house I cut down here back through Drumchapel to meet up with the Garscadden Way again and the long walk home.
                     Path/Cycle Track through Garscadden woods on the Garscadden Way.
This full route can also be done by bike as it is mainly on good paths, minor country roads and lanes over undulating but not too taxing terrain. Any rough sections can be walked rolling the bike beside you for short distances. An enjoyable outing in an area I've largely taken for granted... or ignored...until now. The things closest to you are often hidden in plain sight and that goes for relationships as well.
   Dusk over Clydebank.. Although it didn't rain several large dark cloud fronts swept over this area.
Which was great for photographs when I eventually got my car back.
More poppies to end the trip. Normally you have go to the drier East Coast of Scotland to see such a fine display.

I wasn't enough of a fan to have more than a greatest hits Lynyrd Skynyrd album in my collection but two of their songs are classic anthems that are right up there with the best. I learned all the words to Sweet Home Alabama years ago but if you were an aspiring hot shot rock guitarist in the mid 1970s and 1980s this was the one guitar solo you really wanted to master.
It's years since I've seen this but one thing is still obvious. These southern boys really know how to play their instruments. Spank that plank son! Many young guitarists in bedrooms tried hopefully but few succeeded to reach these heights. Apart from a great evocative song its one of the finest guitar combinations of all time at the end and the piano and drums are not too shabby either.


Kay G. said...

Interesting history and scenery.
That is an understatement! I love your circles of wildflowers! The photos of the poppies, my goodness, I can't tell you how much I love them.
You would never guess that in the 70's, no matter what band was playing, everyone would hold up lighters at the end of a concert and yell "FREE BIRD"! That is how popular that song was!!
And Richard saw Lynerd Skynerd in the 70's with Golden Earring, and they were great! (No offense to Golden Earring!)
Oh, and you know I can't correctly spell the name of the band! :-)

Carol said...

Didn't know anything about the Antonine Wall - in fact, until very recently, I had no idea the Romans had ever tried to penetrate further north than Hadrian's Wall!

Your wildflower meadows idea is a great one for brownfield sites - like you say, they don't have to stay completely empty just because there are no plans for them yet. Last week's Countryfile was talking about having handed out loads of free wildflower seeds to people to re-wild some areas for the wildlife, especially bees and butterflies.

Freebird is wonderful - I've got a couple of Lynyrd Skynyrd albums and they're great.

The Glebe Blog said...

You seem well up on your history Bob. My problem is one of retention, I think my brain might be suffering from shrinkage. One thing I've retained from my history lessons (I got third prize once)is the name Mons Graupius, I think there was a battle there during the Roman occupation.
Some great pictures when viewed full screen.
Now there's a coincidence, I've just heard Sweet Home Alabama on the radio. Free Bird truly is an anthem, I make a lot of compilation C.D's for my driving and I think I've got it on five of them.
Looking forward to listening to this on Radio 2 or the Iplayer on Monday the 25th.

There's also a lot of good riffs on this Youtube playlist.

The Glebe Blog said...

P.S. I first heard Bo Diddley by Buddy Holly in the 60's. It was only after it's success I learned that Bo Diddley himself had recorded it back in 1955. After hearing the original, it's been in my all time top 5 forever.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
Poppies really cheer up the place. I had a drivetime CD for playing in the car on long journeys and both L.S. and Golden Earring were on side one. Good for travelling up north.
I had to look it up as well as it's not spelt how you expect it to be and the greatest hits album is long gone.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yeah, we fought them as well. Bloody English, They always like to take all the credit for everything :o)
Actually, there is a school of thought that the "King" Arthur myth actually dates earlier,from around the time of the Roman occupation of Britain and that he may have been a warlord from the area between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall (so Scottish Borders Region)They used to speak Cumbric or old welsh across Southern Scotland and Dumbarton Castle was a major power base as the local tribes of Britain were slowly pushed back into the remoter parts of Cornwall, Wales and Scotland by the advancing Romans.
"King Arthur." A film with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley alludes to this as it is set around Hadrian's Wall and snowy Scotland instead of the usual locations which place him much further south although K.K.s posh London accent as an arrow shooting warrior Pict from the north is a bit off-putting. Fine actress but I don't think the Picts sounded like that somehow :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
Same here. A lot of the stuff I managed to learn in school is outdated anyway. Countries etc. I bought a full set of ex schools Encyclopaedia Britannica a few years ago for £15 in a book sale and even that is now obsolete to teach children in schools probably(early 1990s edition) which is why it was so cheap. The internet is also handy for checking half remembered facts and can make a blogger appear more intelligent than I actually am :o)
Mons Graupius was the great battle between the Caledonians and the Roman Army when the northern tribes were supposedly forced at last to meet head on as their vulnerable winter grain stores were threatened with destruction but no one really knows where it occurred, ranging from Perthshire to the Grampian Mountains near Aberdeen.
Will look up the riffs on You tube.

Carol said...

You want to hear all the bloody posh accents around our parts of Yorkshire nowadays - really p***s me off! :-( Bloody offcumdems!

blueskyscotland said...

To Carol.
Easy solution. The north of England should join with Scotland to form an independent kingdom, cutting Britain in half, or we could erect a barrier between the Severn and the Wash and have limited entry.
If Scotland does go for Independence(and I'm honestly still undecided cos that wily bugger Salmond only provides spin rather than a concrete list of facts and if it all goes pear shaped it's the ones at the bottom without a nest egg that will suffer the most, as usual.)
England will need to store the nuclear weapons somewhere remote, like say Northumbria,or Yorkshire :o)

Carol said...

We already have plenty of nuclear waste in poor ol' Cumbria so I guess we'll have to stick the nuclear weapons at Whitehaven or somewhere on the west coast. But I agree the north of England should join with Scotland and leave the softie southerners behind! ;-)

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio said...

History of Accents-

Latin, c.700 BC accentus c.

700BC- Roman Accent

100AD- "The Hebrews spoke, in truth in their own accents, very pleasantly and with much grace." Simplicius of Byzantium, Travels

1912- “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him”.- George Bernard Shaw, PPygmalion.

1999- "The United Kingdom is probably the most accent-obsessed nation in the world. With countless accents shaped by thousands of years of history, there are few English-speaking nations with as many varieties of language in such a small space."- John Richardson

Accentism in Contemporary Britain
"Do accents still matter? Last week Dr Alexander Baratta from the University of Manchester spoke of 'accentism,' where people are discriminated against because of how they speak, and likened it to racism. In a study, he asked people why they changed their accents and how it made them feel. A third of those questioned said they were 'ashamed' about flattening out their accents. But what was the alternative? We all want to get ahead; for the most part, the best way to do that is to 'fit in.' Still, there is a price, the professor says. Facing the world with a voice that is not your own can 'undermine your sense of being.'"
(Hugh Muir, "Do Accents Matter in Modern Britain?" The Guardian, July 14, 2014)