Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Finnich Glen. Full Gorge Traverse. The Last of Us.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
It has taken me 35 years to do the wetsuit traverse of Finnich Glen on the OS Landranger Glasgow map. I have used this map more than any other as it has more walks and cycle rides on it than any equivalent Scottish map.  Finnich Glen, on the road to Drymen, and not far from Queen's view and the nearby Whangie just creeps in on the northern edge of this map and scout groups, girl guides, outward bound, team building courses, and mountaineering clubs have traversed it for years.
A first for us though and a chance to use our wetsuits again.
I think this is where they shot the final battle scenes in "The Eagle" a Scottish film based around the missing Roman legion who  marched deep into highland Scotland and were never heard from again, presumably killed by the Caledonian Picts, a warlike race who controlled north Britain in ancient times. Many films and TV productions have used Finnich Glen as a scenic backdrop, including Outlander I believe.
I've not visited this glen/gorge for a few years and the access path is harder than ever to climb down with the wet summer making the red mud very slippy. Luckily, some ropes have been tied around a fallen tree or it would be a graded climb in its own right. Dull Red and Moss Green are the dominant colours once ensconced deep in the belly of this dramatic chasm.
One of me in my wetsuit looking slim and youthful. John and Alan were up for this unusual trip. In places it felt like wading up a river of blood with deep red pools and shallows.
"Never done it but it looks around waist deep." I commented on the way up to the gorge. "Not more than chest height anyway. A fun trip. I'll be a dawdle."
With the recent rains however it was in prime condition. Waterlogged in fact.
"Might need a bit of swimming action here boys but not more than a few strokes. Ten foot deep pools in a couple of places."
Alan in full swimming mode.
Like a lost world.
Fallen trees submerged in the gorge make things tricky underfoot.
The midway section of the gorge.
Getting past the first waterfall.
Swimming the second deep basin to reach the crux waterfall.
Getting up the waterfalls. Like a leaping Salmon!
The beauty of Finnich Glen gorge.
The Devil's pulpit.
Sliding down a riverbed into the gorge.
The road bridge. The traverse was so good they opted to do it again in reverse. 2 to 3 hours in duration but a mind blowing experience. Very different.
                                                                 Garden of the Gods.

 For a winter view of the gorge see Dec 2010 on this blog,   .http://blueskyscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/finnich-glenthe-devils-pulpita-spooky.html

And so is this... I don't play computer games normally but meeting someone much younger recently opened my eyes to the giant strides in this genre. Compared to early versions of Lara Croft the artwork,sophistication and ambition of modern games is staggering. In another 15 to 20 years you will be lucky to tell the difference between the cyber world created and the real one you are living in.
Having been disappointed by a few recent films she suggested this instead. "This" is as entertaining and gripping as any film, with great characters developing into a memorable double act to rival any icons in the film world . A brave new frontier to send panic though the entire traditional entertainment industry methinks....
After the excellent Breaking Bad finished recently on Spike there has been a hole in my nightly TV viewing until I found this. The complete edit of " The Last of Us" as a film. I'll start with Part Three as it doesn't spoil anything yet stands on its own but it's all available on You Tube for anyone wanting a cracking and surprisingly emotional and gripping journey through a destroyed America. The ending can be viewed without joining. I watched "The Road" a few years back and didn't think much of it as it was far too grim and serious as a visual journey. This animated "Game" works far better as a film than that one, full of unexpected beauty, wonder and interest as it develops, with memorable lead performances of Oscar winning quality. 5 out of 5 and well worth watching in full.
Is this the future of film? Reminds me strongly of John Wyndham books in its warmth and humanity shining through despite a bleak surrounding environment. Better than many recent, much hyped big budget films. A few swear words and probably a 15 rating but this modern classic is a real game changer in every way. The point when games grew into enjoyable films in their own right with believable "living" personalities capturing our hearts as much as any real actor.


Linda W. said...

Wow - that gorge is beautiful! Looks like a very adventurous hike!

Carol said...

That's an amazing gorge - I had no idea it existed. I used to like doing (dry) gorges in the Middle East but not sure I'd have managed to get UP that one. Isn't it much easier going down it? I can't imagine how the first person (the one doing the pulling) got up those lusty waterfalls? Wish I'd come with you.

Quick question about the wetsuits though - do they have 'feet' or can you put anything you like on your feet? If so, what did you wear?

Neil said...

Wow! I've passed that way many a time but didn't know that gorge existed. Looks great but not for me- can't swim!

Tom said...

Only found the gorge a couple of years ago.

Always wondered what the lay by was for and we pulled over one day, walked down beneath the road bridge and thought that was it. Was impressive enough to see that, on the road you have no idea just how high you are.

Lickily just as we were getting back in the car somebody appeared through the fence over the road and directed us to the good bit. Really is one of the most impressive sites in glasgow area.

I had thought of wading it before but wouldnt have gone prepared for a swim, so glad i saw your post!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
Yes, it was something very different.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
John had a drysuit on (the red one) and Alan and myself had wetsuits. I was wearing a pair of waterproof open toed Marlin flip flops with boot style treads for grip that I've had for years, John had drysuit boots on and Alan had waterproof rubber dive shoes. Ordinary trainers would get ruined unless it was an old pair you could toss away afterwards as these never properly recover.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
There's a few deep hidden gorges in the central belt that most folk don't know about but Finnich Glen is the best for great scenery.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Tom,
It was in spate when we did it but most of it is around knee to waist deep apart from a few deep pools under the waterfalls, two of which proved hard to climb with the force of the current. A great outing though. I did a winter traverse of it a few years ago when most of it was frozen solid and it is very scenic then as well. That central descent path is turning into a real mudslide though.

Bill said...

Hi Bob

glad you are 'still game' :)

I know you like music videos - http://www.morayclub.co.uk/2015/02/the-devils-pulpit.html

The video was taken last year - 2014 - we had DRYsuits on - don't fancy wetsuits, too darn cold, especially this wet summer... you must still be quite hardy.

Great place to spend a few hours

Will no doubt bump into you one of these days,we are still out and about, lots of easy cycling now, no big hills days - getting on a bit!

Tell Alex we were asking after him


Kay G. said...

Wow, that trek through the gorge looks amazing. I must have watched too many science fiction movies, I can just see a giant monster trying to grab you in that deep water!

Carol said...

Which are most grippy in the wet? Drysuit boots or rubber dive shoes?

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Bill,
I liked your gorge video and your trip down the River Leven.
Can't afford a drysuit for just a few outings and it is too warm for summer kayaking I'd imagine as even our wetsuits were hot to wear on the last kayak trip two weeks ago.
As you liked my club articles I seem to recall, your club may like my book Autohighography. Bob Law £1:14 on kindle bookstore if you haven't read it. As much about relationships in a mountaineering club as it is about climbing, hill-walking,kayaking,caving and island bagging in the early days. I tried to make it a classic of its kind but it's not exactly jumping off the virtual shelf at the moment, which is a shame as it's easily the best thing I've produced in the last 40 years.
I'll tell Alex you were asking after him when I see him next although he still reads the blog from time to time and may have noticed your comment already.
Cheers and best regards... Bob.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
Funny you should mention that as at one point someone stood on a submerged branch and the far end of it shot up in front like a giant snake rising slowly from the depths. Fairly put the wind up us for a second or two until we realized what it was. Luckily, Scotland is free of dangerous creatures in its rivers.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Drysuit boots probably but a dry suit is expensive and cheap dive shoes are not and do the job. Aldi and Lidl sell wetsuits and swimming gear from time to time and that's where I got mine years ago and also my early plastic inflatable boats. My Marlin 45 waterproof but open toed shoes have a great tread on them and are OK for walking and exploring islands over a few miles. Drysuit boots or dive shoes are not as comfortable away from the water.

Carol said...

Thanks for such detailed advice! :-) We do have an Aldi fairly near us I think but I never get to it. I gather they do sell decent outdoors equipment though as I know quite a few people who only buy theirs from there and don't bother with the gear shops! Just a case of waiting until they stock what you want!

Lux G. said...

I'm not much of a gamer not because I don't like computer games but because I know myself and I know that I will actually be addicted once I start. :P

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Lux G,
I've only ever played three computer type games. An early Lara Croft, a car racing game, and Age of Empires- all of which I got free with either the computer or as a promotion in a magazine. The Last of Us cinematic play-through really does work as a film though and due to its success they are supposed to be making a film version. It would need to be different from this game though as this is special in its own right and I found the story as enjoyable and compelling as Breaking Bad, The Hunger Games, or The Imitation Game and far better than the woeful "Wild," or Anna Karenina. Two films I've watched recently and was bored to distraction halfway through.