Saturday, 14 May 2016
"Fairest of a Thousand Shires." Knapps Loch. Kilmacolm. Glen Moss. Quarriers Village.
Renfrewshire is special because, like Glasgow, it is covered in drumlins. These are low hills of glacial enhanced construction left over from the last ice age that create a rolling landscape of open meadows, sheltered wooded valleys, small kettle lochs and rugged small escarpments on gentle ridges. I've been coming here since I could travel on my own four paws and I never grow tired of it. The first time I set eyes on the sea was from a hill around here and that thrill has never left me. It is completely unique and there is nowhere else like it in Scotland- probably Britain. Summed up perfectly in the line "A shire like no other, neither highland nor lowland but placed somewhere in-between - resembling the rolling waves of a mighty ocean calming down slowly after a day of storm."
A Scottish glimpse of Arcadia or far off Byzantium perhaps, where the drumlins roll freely, uncluttered by housing, ridge after exquisite ridge merging into a blue distant horizon where all dreams are possible and just within reach of wildly straining fingers. A mere eight hundred years ago Glasgow must have looked very similar to this with a small ecclesiastical village straddling an open hillside around a tiny High Street and modest church perched below a higher Drumlin. The birth and beginning of the mighty Drumlin City of the future which would eventually come to dominate sea borne trade, ship building, and locomotive production across the globe from the 1700s on-wards swelled by refugees from the highland clearances, which gradually transformed that area into a Victorian theme park, game reserve and sheep farm, a situation that still continues to this day, more or less. The unfashionable but prolific workhorse of the British Empire had its numbers swelled further with refugees coming over from Ireland looking for work as an alternative to starving on the streets there during the famine years of the mid 1800s.
By way of contrast Renfrewshire is easy, delicious and delightful like a really nice fruit sundae with
three flavours of ice cream, cherries, strawberries, sliced bananas, seedless sweet grapes then topped with sprinkled crushed chocolate flake, nuts and raspberry drizzle on a hot summers day. It is that good.
Kilmacolm village seen above.
In short it's relaxing and enjoyable, just like exploration cycling and can even be euphoric at times.( head down, full throttle racing cycling is a different game entirely and not for me)
Knapps Loch above.
If 'King' Arthur did exist as a real person he might well have visited here before he died as many southern Celtic tribes were forced into the extremities of Britain by successive waves of overseas intruders. It's no coincidence that Cornwall, Devon, Scotland, Cumbria, Wales and Ireland all have shared Celtic roots as these remote, often mountainous, places provided a refuge for displaced tribes fleeing persecution. An early form of Welsh, (Brythonic) was spoken in this area then and Merlin gets a mention visiting here in an ancient account of the period. Arthur, Merlin, and even Camelon crop up as old place names through the Borders and Central Belt regions although its impossible at the moment to attach any value to them unless new evidence is found, which is not likely to happen. The "Fort of the Britons" is still impressive today and a visit to the castle is a memorable experience for those able to ascend its steep walkways to reach both summits. A low level path runs around the base of the rock to the overhanging north facing cliff that contains some of the hardest rock climbs in Scotland.
For Camelon see link below.
Especially in late spring/ early summer, with the sweet spicy infusion of richly scented gorse all around and shimmering heat of 26c degrees (not that common in May for chilly old Scotland) every special kaleidoscopic inch of ground should be savoured to the full. Well, you don't gulp down ice cream and assorted fruit pieces, do you?...or jump around frantically in a deck chair. It's that sort of day here. A gentle, slow, lascivious and luscious pace, taking it all in, soaking up the heat in this sheltered magical hollow.
Winnie the Pooh could not have been happier with his hairy head stuck in a honey jar than fat old Bobby on that modest summit taking in the panorama below.... teeth deep in a succulent red berried tart. Every vampires dream.
Although a circular walk exists around this small loch we headed downhill to pick up a farm track leading up between a golf course and green fields to bring us out at Lawfield Farm , a minor road and the nearby Lawfield Dam fishery pond which was busy with anglers dipping their rods in the water.
From here we walked along this quiet tarmac ribbon for a short distance past the golf course then took a signposted right of way through it to bring us out at Glen Moss, a local nature reserve of ancient bog and watery swamp.
Here we walked along the cycle track for a short distance then cut down to the right on a grass covered path to pick up the old green-way track, which is not as busy with cyclists and brings you out past North Denniston fishery and the B788. We then regained the cycle track following it down into Quarriers Village. A very special place indeed.
With such a colourful post it requires a suitable video to match it. I've been a fan of Kate Bush since her first album came out in the late 1970s but I prefer to discover new music and bands that I haven't heard rather than stuff I know well. A few years ago I stumbled on these fan made videos appearing on You Tube and immediately thought they were excellent. If the guy that puts them together (the highly talented Mr Marrs) doesn't work in the visual arts field already someone should snap him up as they are better than the artist's official videos put out with large bags of cash behind them.
Fascinating images spliced together to perfectly match the lyrics of the song, sumptuous beauty, sparkle and elegance as a given, seem to be his trademark.
A real joy to watch even if you don't like her music and a poem prologue courtesy of Alfred Lord Tennyson, (The Coming of Arthur) one of the inspirations for the Ninth Wave segment about a passenger swept overboard then struggling to stay conscious and afloat in a vast empty ocean.
Best watched full screen from the start. Now this is 'Art' as I understand it and better than 90 per cent of modern conceptual art , highly priced head scratchers, or pretentious gobbledygook, hanging in galleries today. If you only watch one video on this blog in your lifetime let it be this one, viewed full screen.