Friday, 31 May 2019

West Lothian Part Two. A Gallery of Wonders. The Lost Photo File.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
The day myself and Anne went cycling around the West Lothian uplands we both enjoyed it but it was not that great for photography. The weather was hot, humid and sultry so any distant views tended to be fairly hazy or limited... or washed out grey. Looking at the back archives however I discovered a folder that I'd never been through from 2015 on a solo cycle ride and they really show the true beauty of this wonderful landscape better than the Anne and me day recently. There is much more to West Lothian than the iconic yellow oil-seed fields as this collection now shows.
Deep in the Bathgate Uplands. I was pulling Anne's leg about this area of small gorse encrusted hills by calling them the Bathgate Alps....
But it's not that far off the mark in this photo. Certainly cycling around this upland area can be challenging so I tried to keep to minor roads that stayed mainly flat- i.e. the ones running down gentle valleys or along ridges- west to east. When I was cycling with Anne here I had dozens of previous trips to draw on to pick the best routes, making it as easy as possible to do a circular tour while still seeing the best views this area has to offer. Binny Craig  and the distant Pentland Hills in the background, above.
In some ways this area reminds me strongly of Renfrewshire, the part around the Brownside Braes, Castle Semple, and Bridge of Weir as it has a similar landscape of fertile rolling farmland, cow dotted slopes, gentle valleys and wooded ridges. A magical landscape I spent the first 20 years of my life exploring, on foot and with bike. I can't think of any place better to grow up as a child... but this district comes close to it.

When I first visited here, in the 1990s, it was with a similar joy of discovery and even 60 and 30 years later, retrospectively I'm still enthralled with both places. And who wouldn't be... given scenery and views like this one.
Looking across at Fife here and the Firth of Forth.
and over to another of the districts small hills- Cockleroy. Going at an easy pace we managed to bag all four summits in one long day consisting of Cockleroy,278 metres, seen here, Cairnpapple hill, 312 metres (1,023 feet) or thereabouts....
seen here,... or on the way, cycling towards  it.... 
Cairnpapple. The highest point for miles around and an ancient burial ground at the summit for the ruling tribes. A special place indeed. " Look at that incline." I enthused. " A Lothian Glastonbury Tor." ( This was our last hill of the day, late on.)
" Jesus save me- let me die. " was Anne's only take on it. (We ended up walking a stretch of it anyway as the cycling legs had gone for uphill endeavour and pushing the bikes by that stage felt much easier.)      I know how to show a women a good time. Unforgettable in fact.
Binny Craig, 220 metres, and...
Greendykes Bing. They may be smaller hills but the height and distance cycled and climbed adds up- ---probably around 3000 feet of ascent and descent  in total at a guess or maybe more. Felt like it anyway.  No wonder we were fooked by the end :o) But a great trip. Took 8 hours but with plenty of stops, long lunches etc. Did it in 4 hours years ago but I was much fitter and younger then and this time was more fun with good company and laughs all the way round. Thank you.
A cyclist on the minor road network looking across at Greendkyes Bing and Arthur's Seat above Edinburgh.
One I took on a clearer cooler day. Edinburgh's suburbs, Airport and Control Tower/lookout.
Evening light from the bing-lands plateau looking across at Broxburn industrial estate, and the Eastern Pentlands, another of my favourite Central Belt, lesser hill ranges.
Cairnpapple Hill. Cattle herd looking northwards.
West Lothian farmland.
Although full of arable crops, livestock, and field systems it also has plenty of little woods, pretty hamlets, farms and some wild upland areas. Not many lay-bys though and only certain right of way paths lead up prominent summits so best reached by bike or in a car to do them rather than walking long distances on foot between them... but even that is ok given such fantastic scenery. No pavements obviously but cars on the quieter road networks are very few and far between.
Lush vegetation and flowers cover waste ground under the bings.
Tropical Scotland in early summer.
The green lagoon. Big bing country.
Cattle on the open range. Riccarton Hills.
West Lothian and the Kingdom of Fife view. My Gallery of Wonders. The Bathgate Alps. An 'off the beaten track' location. Yet any one of these overlooked landscapes could easily grace a Scottish pictorial calendar and not look out of place. The Scottish Highlands may be wild and untamed but I like these areas as well which have a much greater chance of sunshine, shelter, and heat and a larger variety of wildlife, history, distinctly different population groups, and landscape management over centuries- all subjects that fascinate me now so that I keep coming back to learn more.


Kay G. said...

So beautiful! I had to chuckle over that remark from your friend, Jesus save me , let me die! Also, how easier a walk was in years past...ah, youth and the energy that went with it! I really want to see Scotland! Hope I can while I can still walk.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
We enjoyed it but we were both thinking if we could afford the luxury, electric bikes would take a lot of the pain out of those punishing hills. I used to think of them as an exciting challenge to conquer on a bike but not any more. Ten years ago I also climbed all the summits with the bike slung over my shoulder just for the fun of it, carrying it all the way to the top... not any more... wah!

Rosemary said...

That's a luscious display of red campion on the first photo, and in fact all of the photos are well worth clicking to see them in the large.
You may not be able to climb all the summits with your bike slung over your shoulder, but at least you are still very active which is something to be ever grateful for.

Anabel Marsh said...

I’ve just looked back at my comment where I said I didn’t know the area very well and discovered that the three things you suggest I had actually done! But only once.we went to Cairnpapple a few years ago and I was amazed, as someone interested in history, that I had never been before. We didn’t know about Cockleroy or the Korean War Memorial but happened on them the same day. I think we got wet but otherwise I remember it being great.

Carol said...

I always walk up hills with my pedal bike - that's why they're called a 'pushbike' surely? I only have 3 gears on any of mine anyway. I'd love to see a professional ride my old, heavy 1955 3-gear monster - I'd love to see how they got on!

I love 'Bing country' (we call them slag heaps here) - we used to play on ours a lot of the time as kids and I still like to have an explore of them.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I always set the photos up thinking people will click on each one individually or at least as an interesting slide show, each post containing the best photos I can possibly take and I'm happy with, so it never occurred to me that viewers wouldn't click on them full screen :o)
I also photograph, through personal inclination rather than deliberately, in districts other snappers rarely visit or spend the same amount of time trying to capture and frame as I do so I'm conceited enough to think some of my photos are completely unique as I've been one of the best- or at least most active- photographers, (amateur snapper or professional),capturing images in the Central Belt, Glasgow and Edinburgh for the last 10 years. Or maybe not......:0)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I had to look up getting wet in the dictionary as it's been so long since this event has happened to me :) Other interesting walks you may like are South Queensferry (great place, car park) then out along the paths and beaches of the Dalmeny estate to Cramond and back. (Don't have to go the full way.)Bo'ness- (interesting place, train museum, Steam train ride), and paths west from there towards Grangemouth along the coast through a reclaimed nature reserve and lagoons. Muiravonside and Almondell Country parks- both have river gorges, stone viaducts, woods and meadows with a range of paths through them and other places to visit nearby. Happy Walking.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
having been passed several times now by electric bikes purring effortlessly ahead while panting up hills I can see the attraction. They are heavier and more expensive, also more of a theft magnet, but it does look a better, more comfortable, experience the older and fatter I get.

Andy said...

Some great photos there especially the one's looking down over Edinburgh and the airport

Ian Johnston said...

"Big Bing Country"....I love that!