Saturday, 17 October 2015

Upper Clyde Valley. Biggar. Tinto. Broomy Law.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Got a phone call from Alex last weekend who was keen to make the most of the continuing "Indian Autumn" we are enjoying in Scotland at the moment with stunning sunny days, freezing cold nights and thick morning mists hanging in the valleys. He suggested Broomy Law, 426 metres and also a lower hill above Biggar near Balwaiste Farm at 363 metres. Both hills are in the rolling landscape of the Scottish Borders. For him they were two more hills on his lists to capture and for me it was a good opportunity to indulge my own passion, which is capturing great scenery.
This is Tinto, 707 metres, seen above, one of the great iconic peaks of the region but the only one that is busy and popular hereabouts.
Broomy Law summit. The Upper Clyde Valley. Landranger OS Map 72 has long been a favourite of mine as it holds some of the best cycling routes in the country over a network of minor roads with stunning views round every corner. This area covered by the map is very varied with deep wooded river gorges, open meadows, cattle, horses, sheep farming, arable crops, high rolling peaks and a bare windswept plateau region around Shotts and Forth where the sky spreads open across flat wide vistas from horizon to horizon.
Although only an hour's drive from Glasgow it is far enough east to grow and produce a harvest, which doesn't really happen on the west coast anymore to the same extent with its wet climate and permanently soggy fields.
Thanks to Alex, who is always prepared regarding online homework and handy parking spots for his hills we stopped in the quaintly named Candy Mill and found an unobtrusive spot before walking along the old Roman road and up our hill of choice. One of the things I like about this area is that the hills are wild and beautiful yet rarely frequented, mostly untroubled by paths. Views are wide and open and each hill has room to breathe as a separate distinctive peak, not crowded  into a jumble of other surrounding hills.
The mighty Culter Fell, at 748 metres, the high point of a complex rolling landscape that always seems far higher when cycling or walking through it due to flat surrounding lands. We were lucky with our choice as we stayed below the mist level the entire day yet the higher summits of Dollar Law, 817 metres, and Broad Law, 840 metres stayed stubbornly buried under a blanket of thick murk. One benefit of doing smaller hills.
Another benefit of lower levels is remaining in lush scenery which visibly changes from week to week. It should come as no surprise that documenting the changing of the seasons has always been my real passion above anything else. Growing up in lush farmland and playing in the deciduous woods and rolling  meadows of Renfrewshire, just across from my house every weekend, as a child, means this type of landscape will always be my central focus. I love it even more, now we are beginning to fully understand what lies under each forest, enabling it to grow, and the complex web of sophistication running for miles in all directions. The mycelium 'brain.' What lies beneath indeed. Who'd a thunk it! Unseen and un-guessed symbiotic relationships and even a few Spandrels of San Marco thrown in for good measure re- writing the rule books, just like the ever shifting perception of our own universe... and what may lie beneath that unseen.

That's not to say I don't enjoy climbing hills however but I enjoy them more when they are surrounded by such pastoral beauty as the countryside around Biggar. This is our second hill of the day, seen from Broomy Law, but it doesn't have a name on the OS Landranger map. It is just over one km north of Biggar, climbed through a rising belt of deciduous woodland near Balwaistie farm.
A distant Broomy Law from our second hill. This map incidentally holds a minor secret for those who care to look. It inspired me anyway.
A church and graveyard in Biggar from the second summit. As I also like exploring towns, villages and points of interest on our travels as well as hills Alex was happy to visit Biggar itself for a look at this graveyard and get something tasty to eat from its wide selection of independent shops clustered along the main street. Meanwhile, I shot off to capture some of the scenic delights of this interesting and historic small town as I know it well of old. Albion Motors, which eventually grew to become one of the largest truck companies in the world started life here and many other surprising facts lie within this small cluster of buildings. Although small its fairly popular as a tourist destination with more to see and do here than you think, including a handful of diverse museums and a nice small glen/children's play area just behind the town.
The beautiful Biggar burn as it flows past the main street.
The little glen and children's play area.
Uptown Biggar from the church and graveyard.
Tinto from the hill above Biggar. World class Scottish Borders landscape. And just over an hour's drive from Glasgow. 
On the way back we passed through the "warm valley." The deep winding gorge of the upper River Clyde, which at one time produced much of the Central Belt's local supply of soft fruits, apples, plums and pears. Even 25 years ago you could still see orchards on the slopes full of ripe apples, plums and rows of sweet raspberries in season motoring along the twisting A72 before cheaper imports from supermarkets killed any profits. Roadside stalls and individual houses sold fruit direct to the passing public and it used to be a real anticipation travelling along here in autumn. The garden valley.
Although it still remains a very scenic wooded area, and a great drive, a little bit of that extra sparkle has gone and most of the traffic continues past these days, rushing to get wherever they are going. As the world speeds up and technology increasingly removes familiar tangible, tactile objects in favour of virtual storage in miniature containers or unseen drives many of the more human aspects of owning, looking after and ultimately forming a bond with cherished possessions appears to be getting lost in transit.
The Popinjay Hotel. Rosebank. Upper Clyde Valley. Can't beat a bit of Tudor.
An elaborate gate house on the A72. Upper Clyde Valley route.

I'm still exploring the world of games occasionally and this is a perfect fit. A great story, memorable characters, and the fact that it works well as a film in the cinematic play-through version on you tube means this still stands head and shoulders above anything else I've seen in that department. Despite being a game, watched as a 4 hour film in easy 30 minute segments I'd place it in the top five films I've seen in the last 2 years. Great art work, music, and a tribute to the changing seasons as an epic journey across America unfolds the only drawback for me is a slightly repetitive killing infected people scenario but it's still way better and more entertaining than the rest of that genre. Hopefully, this short 5 minute montage will give you a taste of the surprising beauty and quality contained throughout this "game." It's much more that that as I'm noticing additional art features and clever plot details I completely missed first time around. In fact it's better than 80 % of the current film and TV programmes released in the last year which is why I'm mentioning it again. Interestingly, the concept of a virus or spores living within humans and drastically altering their behavior is not as far fetched as it seems with several real examples in nature. Literally mind blowing. 
With half the world's population already infected with this cat parasite and recent research suggesting it may be affecting our behavior or mood more than first imagined it's certainly thought provoking stuff. Look under 'Society and Culture' in the link above.


Neil said...

A nice part of the country. There are quite a few good smaller hills around there and, apart from Tinto, you rarely see anyone else on them. Have you done Goseland Hill, it's a good one.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Yes, it's a great area. Climbed Goseland Hill a couple of times many years ago as it's handy on foot from Biggar and my parents liked that town so I'd drive them there then do the surrounding hills, leaving them the car so they had shelter if it rained or they got tired exploring the place.
As Alex pointed out recently I've done a fair percentage of The Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds, Marilyns etc myself as everyone I know is a bagger and I usually tag along but I'm determined not to become addicted again to any hill lists as I don't have the inclination,time or money to finish them these days.

Lux G. said...

It looks stunning. Somehow so serene.

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

The A72 between the M74 and Edinburgh is a grand drive, Biggar looks enticing - but I'm one of those guilty of never stopping, always on my way to somewhere else. Now you've made me feel even more ashamed.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Lux G. It is a lovely area.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
You certainly get around. Even driving that road travelling the back way into Edinburgh is scenic and special on a nice day. Usually quiet and relaxed motoring.

Carol said...

Richard and I both liked Biggar - it was a really nice little town. It is lovely pastoral scenery around there and you've captured some nice colours - we haven't had the light around here to capture any colour on any trees which have turned. Many trees haven't bothered though and are just dropping dry, dead, grey leaves on the ground.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
When we arrived in Biggar main street to go walkabout I inadvertently blocked folk in by parking in an exit. Luckily, we were not gone long but it must be a common mistake at that particular cul de sac section as even on the return it wasn't obvious you couldn't park there when it was busy as you couldn't see a ring of small bollards behind the cars.It just looked like they could reverse backwards out of it and the exit section looked like any other parking space. Oops, my bad :o)
No sunsets, no dragonflies and now no autumn colours. Must be an east coast thing. I watched Countryfile on Sunday as it was an autumn spectacular from Loch Faskally near Pitlochry. Although the presenter kept saying it was famous for autumn tree colours they were conspicuously absent throughout the programme this year. They would have been better going to any town or city park where the best autumn colours are always found due to the variety of planted trees, often handpicked in Victorian times for a nice display.

Carol said...

Yeah, I think your Glasgow Autumn photos are always best for colours...

blueskyscotland said...

Spooky stuff Carol as that's the next post title. A Glasgow Autumn. Number 400 as a post entry so a milestone of sorts on the blog.