Monday, 18 May 2015

Doughnot Hill. Lang Craigs. Overtoun House. Dumbuck. Anti- Social Behaviour.

                                            ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A view of Arran from Bute and a photo left over from the Bute trip that was too good to miss out.
The post today however takes place in the hills above Dumbarton where a cracking walk of a few hours can be had along the Lang Craigs Escarpment, (ancient lavas flows) then up the gentle slopes of Doughnot Hill to return down the beautiful Overtoun Glen and House back to the car. Alex and Alan had never been along the Lang Craigs escarpment before, despite much urging from me, but they finally succumbed and agreed to join me. Mainly because Doughnot Hill had a new trig for Alex although Alan seems more open to going anywhere interesting.
We arrived via the minor road at Milton off the A82 and parked in the car park at Overtoun House. I used to be on my own parking here ten years ago and you would rarely meet anyone else but now its firmly on people's radar. Cloud Altas was filmed here (the old folks home sections) and several other films. In the last 10 years I've noticed a huge increase in the number of cars going to places like this and on good sunny weekends it's becoming increasingly harder to get parked at beauty spots, Munros, country parks etc unless you arrive early. One of the drawbacks of everything being easily accessible in minutes on the internet I suppose. Another drawback of this I will highlight later. I suppose I'm as much to blame as anyone by doing this blog but I,m sure if I didn't someone else would take my place as there are hundreds of books, magazines, blogs, and accounts about the great outdoors nowadays. Changed days since Tom Weir, Hamish Brown and a few others had it to themselves as outdoor writers spreading the word about still remote and almost unheard of areas up north.
Immediately above Overtoun House, next to the suicide bridge for dogs, the Lang Craigs escarpment rises in a wall of shattered cliffs two kilometers long. Just to the right of the car park a stile leads over a wall and a faint grass path is followed to an obvious grassy ramp splitting the line of cliffs near the right hand end. A large detached curved finger of rock should be obvious sticking out from the cliff on the right once you climb higher on this grassy ramp. This leads you to the top of the escarpment then head left along the edge on a faint grass path.( well, it's still grass at the moment)
Alex and Alan near the top of the escarpment. This entire area is a jumbled mass of volcanic plugs, lava flows, geological oddities like the tiny Lot's Wife,and signs of glaciation.
Good and interesting link to the Clyde Plateau Lavas below. There are over 60 volcanic plugs between Dumbarton and the Scottish Riviera sunshine coast at Dunbar. Many of them were used as hill forts by the most powerful tribe in the area, the Damnonii, who ruled this district and much of the central belt when the Romans came and the remains of their defensive walls are easily seen in this great area for geologists and interested visitors. Many of them are photographed here which includes much more info than Dumbarton Castle itself. I love the title Gates of Sodom!
This is Dumbarton Castle from the Lang Craigs escarpment. Stronghold of the Damnonii then later the Britons. It may be no coincidence that the Roman advance up west coast Scotland halted at Old Kilpatrick just before they came in sight of the main seat of power -Dumbarton Rock. Reading accounts The Romans seem to have treated the Damnonii much like the Gurkhas today. Fierce and committed fighters so better to have them on your side rather than as an enemy.
I was also saddened to notice that the carpet of Rhododendrons that covered the ground below the escarpment has been halved in size to make way for deciduous woodland trees by a conservation body. I,m normally all for woodland trees but in this area I think it will obscure the open aspect of the glen once they get taller and the magnificent carpet of Rhododendrons was a sight to behold that attracted thousands of bumble bees and insects when in flower.
This is the area which has been burned and cleared. Photographed last year. The black marks are bumble bees.
Thankfully, some of the remaining rhododendrons sit higher up on the escarpment on rough, shattered ground and hopefully they will be left alone to continue.
This is the higher band. Please ...LEAVE THEM ALONE!
Normally, I'm on the side of conservation bodies but sometimes official policy should be relaxed in certain cases. Rhododendrons are seen as a pest nowadays but I can think of far greater plant species that pose much more of a threat. Indian Balsam and Japanese Knotweed to name a couple that spread far more aggressively than Rhododendrons.
Drinker Moth Caterpillar in the open grasslands. The adult moth of this UK species looks like a little furry teddy bear when its wings are folded. Check it out online if interested.
Think these are wood anemones though they are flourishing in open grasslands under Doughnot Hill every spring.
Doughnot Hill trig. 374 metres, with extensive views.
This is a lovely area as is Scotland as a whole but it is in danger of being swamped by a far greater threat than Rhododendrons. There is a small reservoir and dam just below this hill and it seems to have become a magnet for the outdoor drink and drug crowd. I don't actually mind that as it means they will die much faster than healthy people:o) What I cant understand is why, if they carry all their drink and rubbish up full and heavy... they cant carry it back down again when its five times lighter and empty. Many of my friends in the various clubs I've been in over the years liked a drink and a party but they still tidied up after them and carried any rubbish back to bins or house.
On the path up to the dam we followed a teasing trail of empty two litre cider bottles, the usual tossed away empty MD 20/ 20 and old favourite Buckfast and found this pile at the end of it in a modern day treasure hunt with an  all too familiar outcome. Several large scorch marks had been burned on the short grass which used to be a favourite for picnics years ago and the remains of disposable barbeques were left lying around. I've seen this before at this spot and according to Saturday's Record the Bonnie Banks around Loch Lomond are in an even worse state with frequent stag parties and groups going up to get pissed on the cheap with cases of supermarket drink and park rangers threatened. I used to enjoy a good swally myself when I was younger on weekends away into bothies and camping but I always put any rubbish in bins afterwards and never caused any trouble. Mentality is one problem but another is really cheap tents, sleeping bags, camping gear and alcohol. Years ago tents and sleeping bags were far too expensive to leave them behind, even if you were that way inclined.
A typical roadside verge last week. Beauty spot UK anywhere. Rubbish just flung out of cars when driving along minor roads which you really notice cycling on a bike. Empty bins and lay-bys easily available nearby. I'm glad I,m the age I am and will die fairly soon. The human race needs help... or extermination.
From what I've read and the pictures I've seen recently Glen Etive has gone the same way every summer and the Loch Lomond park authority is talking about strict new regulations which is yet another case of the minority spoiling it for the rest of us as they will simply move the problem elsewhere. Meanwhile, over at the Hamilton Mausoleum the massive sleeping lions that generations of children enjoyed getting their photographs taken beside are now locked up behind high railings after vandalism to the monument. During the last prolonged summer heatwave we had a few years ago most of the grasslands surrounding Glasgow were set on fire deliberately which at least burned the mountains of fast food takeaway rubbish left scattered in the grass as well as all the wildlife too slow to escape the inferno. I, the fire brigade, the landowners, and most nature lovers I,d imagine, were very relieved when it started raining again after almost a month of dry weather.Truth is, a warm dry summer is not in the the United Kingdom's best interests. We need all the rainy days we can get to deter certain groups going into the outdoors who seem to treat nature as a toilet or a rock festival where someone else will clear up the mess left behind. No wonder a sizable percentage of the planet's wildlife is facing extinction in around 50 years time, kept alive only in zoos. The dirtiest, litter dropping nation in Europe? Shithole Britain. What's the answer? When will the culprits stop? When it's knee deep? Waist deep? Over their heads and they have to toss it upwards to get rid of it? When we are all swimming through lakes of human waste to reach the hills?
And the main summer season hasn't even started yet.

I normally try to highlight what's good about this country but the amount of litter I've seen recently this spring is already reaching epidemic proportions and Scotland and the UK rely on the tourism industry for a major slice of income.

Dropping down the glen after doing the hill. The second summit we climbed is above Alex's head. Another volcanic vent: Dumbuck, which is still a working quarry.

Mr bagger here decided to climb the other volcanic plug, a small hill beside Dumbuck quarry and we were quite happy to join him. Gorse bushes and other scented shrubs making it feel like full spring here while snow still wrapped the high peaks in a chilly blanket. I,m never in any rush these days to go back up to winter again on the mountains as it will come soon enough and spring is such a brief season before the annual disappointment of a Scottish Highland summer.

Dumbuck arete from an unusual angle.
Looking down into the working quarry. On the way back we witnessed a freak vehicle accident that could have easily killed the person involved and it could have been any of us if we'd been a few minutes ahead. Don,t want to go into details too much but it was one of these random events that could be totally life changing and came out of nowhere. Much like the van that ploughed into me at speed a few years ago when it went straight through a red light. "What's for you will not go by you." my granny used to  say. How true. The only time I wonder fleetingly if there is a God is moments like these. Luckily, the person involved was OK.

Video this week is one I promised to post a couple of weeks ago about anti- social behaviour. I like this band and it's a great classic song from the 1990s that's had almost 40 million hits but as soon as I watched this one on Top of the Pops years ago I thought "some nutter is going to copy this for real" and sure enough a few weeks later there was a spate of similar incidents with gangs running over a parked line of cars for fun. Not so funny if you had a repair bill to pay afterwards. I also remember a certain well known gang doing this with swords and knives in a busy city centre street at lunchtime with shoppers scattering for cover but they paid the price and got long jail sentences. Hope it was worth it. Not picking on this band as such as I like their music and the lyrics are good but this video did seem to raise the bar on extreme behaviour and many other "Rebel bands" hold similar anti establishment, F*** you attitudes. I know it's all part of the game with rock bands  since  the 1950s but I wonder if they would feel the same way if someone smashed their property up and had a bigger more threatening approach than they did and raised the bar even higher as has happened frequently with gangster rappers getting shot.Is this the world they want for their own children? Does that encourage ordinary people in the street to follow suit? There are enough nutters in society already without media endorsement and I seem to have encountered more than my fair share of them over the years. I,m not suggesting a Cliff Richard approach as I like edgy subversive music myself but what happened to being decent and reasonably polite in real life and more importantly, being creatively subversive rather than in your face aggression all the time?


skyne dog said...

The litter is becoming an increasing problem. drove up the west side of Loch Lomond a few weeks ago and it was the worst I can ever remember

blueskyscotland said...

Hi skyne dog,
Normally I take a bit of litter for granted as you will never get rid of it completely but recently on certain minor roads around Glasgow you can hardly see the grass for all the crap lying around and it's not even summer yet.
One of the worst has got to be people that pick up dog dirt, put it in a plastic bag.... then leave it dangling from a fence post or hanging off a small bush for curious young kids to find as it's usually just placed at their eye level if the parents don't catch them in time.

Carol said...

Those groups and gangs are only anti-establishment until they finally have to settle down and pay for things - then they soon go off the idea. Unfortunately, there's by then another rabble taking over from them :-(

You're spot on about the litter buggers though. I'm getting truly sick of such folk and keep wishing they'd now ban takeaways of any kind.

"spring is such a brief season before the annual disappointment of a Scottish Highland summer"

Great quote - you could make that northern summer though - it's just as bad here and I have the same feelings every year. I spend all winter looking forward to spring and summer and then keep wondering if summer has arrived yet? I'm generally still wondering around September...

Robert Craig said...

I can remember back in the early noughties a pal telling me the Bridge of Orchy hotel decided to do something about anti-social Weegies so they... stopped selling Irn Bru nin the bar!

Litter seems to be a bigger problem in and around Glasgow than on the east coast. The main problem here is dog shite. The Water of Leith path is particularly bad around Murrayfield.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Cheers. Too tired to say anything else :o) I could fall asleep on a pile of bricks tonight.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Craig,
I did notice Edinburgh was cleaner than Glasgow.