Tuesday, 21 November 2017
As I thoroughly enjoyed my day around the Kilpatrick Hills in the last post I thought I might as well walk the rest of this range eastwards- this time starting at Faifley, on the northern outskirts of Clydebank/ Glasgow, then finishing at Milngavie. On another stunning sunny day the following weekend I again boarded the number 2 bus through Clydebank, seen here, to Faifley, a housing scheme on the upper margins of the urban sprawl.
Clyde Coast Path link here with a detailed zoom in map of the route. (and the section covered by this walk can be seen in large scale.)
The Clyde Coastal path travels up the side of the last/ nearest row of tenements in photo above and then heads right through woodlands, across Concho Road then up over farmland towards Milngavie.
As I'd done it before around a decade ago I fancied a sneaky alternative so I headed left on good paths through attractive open woodlands to reach another right of way to the left of the electricity pylons (in photo above) then followed a signposted path through fields to the Jaw Reservoir.
Just beside the car park and Edinbarnet Nursing Home a signposted path is followed uphill then through a gate up the side of fields to gain higher ground and Jaw Reservoir. The route is obvious and well marked.
One of the strangest but most memorable videos on You Tube. A personal long time favourite of mine. What's it about? The eternal battle of the sexes? A comment on religion and traditions? Or on cruelty to animals and people? Very ambiguous, but full of symbolism and hidden depths. You decide.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
Of all the hill ranges that surround Glasgow the Kilpatricks are the only ones where you really do feel like you are standing above the city- looking down on it like a living map. The main reason why Glasgow has a tall, man made viewpoint tower near the city centre is that it doesn't have an Arthur's seat in the middle of the urban sprawl- a high natural observation point where you can look down over the complete city, end to end. It does have dozens of smaller drumlins across the various districts but they are too low to give a proper bird's eye view of the entire city in one panorama. Scotland's largest city sits on a glacial, family sized, egg box carton sea level plain surrounded by low hill ranges. One of the reasons it regularly hits the heights for UK air pollution levels and spectacular winter fog inversions is its geology, Britain's 4th largest post industrial city sits within a shallow bowl. When winds are absent anything within it lingers for weeks or days at a time and I clearly remember, with a few adult males, getting off the bus in the 1960s into thick yellow fog then walking ahead to scope out the road beyond the headlight beams when the driver was completely blinded and could only see yards ahead. An exciting adventure as a schoolboy and the stuff of vivid dreams later on- many nights spent wandering unsighted for hours at a time in my bed through that mysterious yellow realm with a world of half seen structures lying ahead. When industrial and domestic chimney smoke was an issue from the early 1800s until the late 1960s Glasgow, like a lot of UK cities, had a reputation for long lasting smog. One memory bubble that came back to me recently with full impact, like a punch to the face. How could I ever forget such memorable dreams from that time? You always need a catalyst to recall.
The Campsies, to the north, offer a distant view of the city but are too far away to really see much in detail... the Castlemilk/ Cathkin Braes, slightly closer but still viewed across the districts rather than downwards... Brownside Braes to the south west, roughly the same.
The Kilpatricks therefore are the Goldilocks Hills in my mind... high enough and close enough to be just right... and the putrid yellow smogs of my childhood days that killed many thousands in British cities until the clean air acts of 1956 and 1968 made a real difference to health are largely absent today.
Above, moving right to left are Drumchapel Water Tower (white round) A corner of Linkwood Flats (white hi rise, still in Drumchapel) the white and red stripe of Anniesland Tower and the spire of the University of Glasgow. ( in darker shadow)
Most people that grow up and live in cities, towns or villages (unless they change drastically, something happens untoward, or they are just too quiet to live and get jobs in) have a long lasting history and a very real love affair with that place. It is my eternal totem. Although Glasgow changes all the time with new buildings springing up as soon as you turn your back on it and entire districts rising and falling year by year, decade by decade it has always been an exciting lifelong companion to share my life with... and it never lets me down..... so to see it spread out in all its glory across the flat plain below is both a wonder and a joy. Over 2 million people (this includes all the other towns and urban areas all the way to Hamilton) spread out in one vast view makes an incredible and thrilling sight that I never tire of seeing. In the photo above, the Kilpatrick Hills rise in a long escarpment above Clydebank and a faint balcony trail can be found running along its edge. Most folk, being baggers, just head for the two or three highest points in the range further back towards the plateau like interior.. which is great as it means you can easily avoid them.
A situation I have noticed happening on Skye as well as most pictures on TV recently of that famous Scottish island show long lines of cars and churned up lay-bys in summer near any famous outdoor location. The last time we were at the Storr and Quirang on Skye a few years ago, (world famous rock formations used in dozens of films) hundreds of cars lined the road on both sides with the existing lay-bys totally overwhelmed. A growing theme in the countryside in popular places these days. Knowing that and leaving the house late around 10:00am I took the train instead, one way, to Old Kilpatick as I suspected I'd never get a parking place. This proved to be the case. As the farm track up to the high-points looked busy with walkers I picked the alternative option of this grassy route up onto the ridge line. With Scotland's wet climate and hill-walking more popular than ever grassy trails like this one and empty lands without people everywhere are an increasingly rare commodity these days. Somewhat ironically, I've often found the lands surrounding urban areas and in the Central Belt can be far quieter than the traditional wilderness areas- like the Scottish Highlands.
Also troubling was trying to find my intended path through three different sets of high fences placed between Loch Humphrey in parallel lines... seen below...
This video looks like a fabulous coral reef in a shallow sea, somewhere really exotic, but it is in fact the wonders of creation happening inside your own body. After seeing this it should make you wonder about needless wars, death, violence and torture occurring daily around the planet. We are stardust....and part of some great unknown cosmic plan. Amazing visuals.
Sunday, 12 November 2017
The reason I didn't want to do Cnoc Mor in the last post, apart from having done it before and having only limited views due to tree cover, was that I wanted to visit the unique village that is Strathpeffer. In 50 years of exploring Scotland's towns and villages I can report that there is not another place in the country like it. That's not true for England, as Strathpeffer resembles many towns and villages in the Lake District and other hilly, wooded scenic areas south of the border. Gardens, woodland, and architecture wise- it's slightly similar to a Highland Bearsden or maybe rural Kilmacolm in Renfrewshire, but with many more grand hotels. It's these massive buildings that dominate the slopes rising above the main street and give Strathpeffer its unique feel.
This is where black mage and mountaineer Aleister Crowley met serial flirt and recently married then widowed Rose Kelly around 1903. Crowley was of course in full highland dress and cut a dashing figure in his kilt and tartans, even though he probably didn't have a drop of Scottish blood in him but like most Victorian's under their esteemed Queen's influence at nearby Balmoral, the newly cleared Highlands of Scotland were there for the taking as an early theme and game park where they could dress up and party. As Crowley had recently acquired Boleskine House and landscaped grounds near Loch Ness he had taken to calling himself -The Laird of Boleskine, Aleister MacGregor, even in letters to friends ... a practice that continues to this day in many parts of Scotland I've noticed- even if its a newly installed hotel manager from the English Midlands in a highland castle on the outskirts of Glasgow. "The new 'Laird of Glen Gurgle' welcomes visitors to his home." .....all part of the tourist trade.
It turned out the recently widowed Rose had a fever of her own and had not been very good at keeping herself pure in thought and was now being pursued by two ardent suitors she had agreed to marry. Both of them unaware of each other but soon to find out.
Crowley's brilliant solution was to snatch her away from any rivals that same day and marry her himself. Today's society might well label him bipolar or borderline personality disorder as he was often prone to impulsive behaviour. He'd only just met her and she him so maybe they were well matched in temperament... or maybe not... as it didn't last.
And a step further back in time for anyone who enjoys nostalgia for past decades. A likable family go back to the Victorian period and their ability to leave modern living behind completely, makes this excellent BBC series work. The same family, The Robshaws, did the 1950s to the present day in another series I enjoyed more as I obviously lived through that time period as a child so identified with it fully but both are informative and highly entertaining. Filled in the gaps by showing how technological innovations often changed lifestyles overnight, then as now, which I'd never realized happened so fast before watching this. I believe some full episodes are still available to watch on You Tube or BBC i Player... So this is just a trailer.