Wednesday, 17 May 2017

West Lothian. Bing Lands. Ridge Lands and Golden Treasure Hunt.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
May is a fantastic month in the UK. Spring at it's height with a world reborn anew-full of dazzling colour. Rhododendrons and wild garlic here.
Around about this time of year I always leave the soggy west coast and head for the much drier east where a very different landscape and plant mix awaits. Lower hills, half the rainfall, and a different feel altogether despite being only 30 miles apart. The UK as a whole has a very varied landscape for its small size and even travelling 30 miles from region to region you will see dozens of landscape variations within that zone. West Lothian is a good example of this. Cairnpapple Hill here and a view from its summit. I was up here looking for that illusive crop that only grows well in the eastern districts. Planted Gold.
It changes around year by year so you have to be determined and hunt for it... like an old time prospector. One spring it will appear over in the centre districts in a massive cluster the next season it will be scattered thinly in strips miles apart. -just like real gold seams- huge glorious nuggets on the ground or slim veins hidden from view and hard to find.
As the highest hill in this area Cairnpapple Hill at 312 metres or 1024 feet high offered not only a panoramic view of the region but my best chance of seeing the topography from above and where I should be heading next. It's also one of the most important prehistoric burial sights in Scotland and several rings of ancient graves dot the summit like a current studded bun.
Sure enough I could see some small pockets of treasure in the distance near Bo'ness at the coast under the Ochil hills but they were mere patches only in the landscape- not the vivid blast of yellow gold I was after. I had my bike with me so I wanted to cycle around and completely immerse myself in a tank of gold- like that famous bond girl... and why not. Small squares here and there would not do for that driving ambition. I wanted a full deep ocean to dive into!
Wild Garlic. Silver would not do either. I wanted a sea of GOLD!!!!
Luckily, this time, away over in the direction of Livingstone and the Pentland Hills, I found my desired sea of yellow treasure. Abundant waves of beautiful flowing opulence. My heaven on earth for a primary colour addict. Oilseed fields and loads of them in a blinding profusion of dazzling uniformity that demanded dark sunglasses on just to observe their glory close up. My own Fort Knox to cycle through.
Soon I was happy in a world of brilliant yellow, blue skies above, and warm sunshine. The wicked wizard of the west had rediscovered OZ- as I did every year. Never failed to find it waiting yet.
I also had my familiar backdrop of the shale oil hills near Broxburn- both by-products of a sought after commodity. Paraffin in the shape of the shale oil heaps left behind after the manufacture of this once useful product and oilseed rape fields currently in vogue and used to make various cooking oils and other materials... but I didn't really care about that too much... for me it was the visual zap between the eyes that most attracted me.
Red and yellow and...

pink...
and green
Orange and purple....

and blue.
A rainbow cycle trip.
The landscape around this district resembles large waves, rolling in sweeping swells north to south with sizable climbs then dips if you cycle across them in that direction.
But if you cycle west- east or east- west you can stay mostly level and enjoy some great flat cycling along a rectangular looped network of minor roads between Torphichen and Kirkliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh. This minor lane further south was a find as it dissected two large fields like a knife through butter.
It also cut a path from the village of East Calder down onto a high viaduct... and a whole new cycling adventure....
But I need another post for that....
as that part of the journey was very special as well....
instead of big skies, open flat fields horizon to horizon and red/pink bings doubling as hills and viewpoints I found myself in a very different location...
dropping abruptly from the stone viaduct into Almondell and Calderwood Country Park and a lush deep tree filled gorge to explore....
To be continued....
Edinburgh and the east coast districts have had similar rainfall levels to London and the south east this year- normally dry areas getting even less water than normal following a dry, almost snow-less winter.. and you could see that in the fields... still growing crops but very hungry for rain.
That would change abruptly as well...


A highly nostalgic video of past times. I vaguely remember trolley buses as a child on the streets of Glasgow and although this is Sheffield it could be any large British town or city from that period going by the transport, thriving town centres, and the casual dress code... with ordinary looking folk pre- fashion, pre-plastic surgery, fake teeth, fake tans and computers. A different world and bygone age. Wonder if we will sit, as internet dependent permanently connected cyborgs, 60 years from now and look back at today with the same evocative bewilderment and sense of strange longing for supposedly simpler times.














6 comments:

Linda W. said...

Those golden fields are stunning! Yes, it amazing how flora varies from one area to the next. Our mountains are still receiving snow, but the low elevation Columbia River Gorge the wildflowers are going crazy.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
yes, I always try to catch them at their best and the shale oil bings do remind me of the rich desert landscapes in the USA and Australia.

Linda said...

It is hot and humid here in Montreal today, and as I look at your beautiful photos, I feel soothed and cooler. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anabel Marsh said...

I love the golden yellow fields too. We visited Cairnpapple Hill a couple of years ago - I can't believe we'd never been before. Great views from one coast to another, and the fascinating tomb.

I was at uni in Sheffield in the 70s so I could recognise some, though not all, of that.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
We are not too bad here- two weeks of sunshine but an always present cooling breeze to go with it.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
It's a lovely spot, as is Cockleroy Summit, the flat but varied walk around Linlithgow Loch and the Korean War Memorial garden in the same area but you probably know them already if you've been up Cairnpapple Hill.