Monday 26 September 2011

Arran Ridge.Casteal Abhail.Ceum Na Caillich Horseshoe.

It shows you how mediocre a summer it's been weather wise when the last time we did any islands off the west coast of Scotland occurred months ago.It's been the dullest and coldest summer since 1993 apparently. Obviously, we are only going to do them in fine conditions but even single good days on the mountain ranges of the west were few and far between despite watching the forecasts expectantly every Friday evening for a quick weekend dash across. A return to Arran was always on the cards but dull predictions gave us little hope.
After slogging through the usual mile of trackless knee deep heather on ruggedly good but  unspectacular Beinn a Choin with Alex last week I was almost howling when I reached the summit.  Arran and the Paps of Jura were in bright sunshine."Why are we here when we could be over there?" I asked him."We`ve missed a great opportunity to get back to the islands again"
"If it's good next week we`ll go ."Alex said,a bit peeved himself as its years since he`s been on that golden ridge.

Sunday dawned cold and wet.It didn't look too promising after heavy overnight rain which was slow to clear.It was freezing on the ferry over but the forecast said it would start to turn into a fine day by 10am so we could only believe that and hope for the best.

Bang on time the clouds started to drift apart and Brodick came into view along with this wind turbine ship.They would look rather fetching scattered all along the ridge line and would  attract  more tourists to the area as a result. Better not joke about it too never know :o(
We departed the ferry and quickly caught a bus round to North Glen Sannox as we intended to do the sweeping horseshoe of jagged peaks from Sail an Im round Carn Mor then Caisteal Abhail and then the tricky ridge of Ceum Na Caillich (the infamous Witches Step) back to the glen.I`d done Caisteal Abhail myself from Glen Rosa not that long ago but apart from the summit slopes of that peak all this route would be new ground for both of us.

I  never need an excuse to go to Arran anyway. It's my favourite mountain ridge by far,even beating Skye (for me at least ) which is harder and good fun but doesn`t have the same variety or sheer beauty of  combined elements.(I can hear the howls of disbelief already :)
Nice waterfalls in the glen were soon replaced by a deep roaring cleft then round boulders of granite and a faint path weaving upwards onto the ridge.We had several stops for me to have a munch of something and Alex to rest his foot.

All being well this will be our friend Brian's last Graham over there...or so I was told by the groaning one. I only feel some sympathy for him as he could be doing great cycle rides or easy coastal walks which would not hurt his foot as much but recently he`s taken to doing the most rugged, ball breaking, knee grinding, out of the way Corbetts he can find instead. (Punish that foot boy give it hell!) I have nothing against Corbetts as there are many fine ones I`ve really enjoyed but a few of them are a tad uninteresting it has to be said...After miles of bog slog and effort just large grey lumps of tussock, rock, holes and heather. Certain parts of Galloway springs to mind here. At this time of year with the vegetation at its most rampant and deep it's very heavy going underfoot as there is little in the way of paths.Alex soldiers on though. A driven man. . I tag along....slightly less committed.

By contrast the Arran ridge is a joy to walk along. Sharp sweeping ridges....little sparking clear pools of water tucked in hollows between the boulders or just sitting in deep potholes on bare rock....short grass, golden in colour when the sun shines on it.....enormous strange shaped rock towers rising out of a flat plateau.  Towers so sublime and ornately stacked it's hard to believe nature made them at`s just special...  It`s.... it`s..............its.......quick nurse the screens!

On a full days ridge walk we only met other folk on two occasions.This  happy group passed us on the ridge early on and then a fit looking guy who was an even keener bagger than Alex. When my companion explained to him I wasn't counting Corbetts they both looked at me sadly as if I had an unfortunate condition to overcome. A short time later we reached the summit of Caisteal Abhail which must be one of the best summits anywhere.

You can`t go wrong up here photography wise. Just point and shoot which is why I know Alex will have a different set of photos to me. Normally I might take 80 shots on a day out and have ten clear best ones but I took over 200 on Arran and most are worth  posting. Cutting it down to only a few is the hard part.

So far it had been delightful but easy walking.Then came the Witches Step,a deep notch in an already jagged ridge of Pinnacles and rock towers. Scrambling on Arran granite is not easy. It's like a beetle climbing a stack of oranges sometimes if there are few holds available to help you climb these smooth rounded lumps.

Alex made a better job of this than me.The boy has still got it.

This descent into the notch was not as easy as it looks.The rock down here out the sun was still wet and slippy,also granite erodes into round marbles under your feet on the ledges and the  easy route was backwards down this rock groove to where Alex's feet are. I had a worried moment here until I discovered two small one finger jugs then a foothold. Luxury!
We had a look at the direct upward line on the pinnacle itself but it looked hard and neither of us were that keen so we took the easier option of the rising left traverse seen in the full pinnacle photo above.This was hard enough for me as it was cold and damp down here and the sun had been replaced by dark angry clouds by this time. It's amazing how your mood and the surroundings can change in the space of five minutes with just one big black cloud  hanging above you.The rest of the ridge was without problems and we made it back down to the road around six o,clock in the evening.
A fantastic day out.
Walking along the road towards Sannox we met some of our club who had been doing the Five Ferries tour on bikes.They also had been blessed with a smashing day.  Brodick round to Lochranza then ferry across to Claonaig on Kintyre..then Tarbet to Portavadie ferry then round the Kyles of Bute to Colintraive ferry,across to Bute then Ferry from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay.They were doing it in reverse and were on the last leg.Although 56 miles and a lot of hills later they looked fresher than us.We were older and cream crackered ,Alex with his foot, me with painful knees.
A good Samaritan  passing in a car took pity on us hobbling down the road and took us into Brodick.(thank you kind Sir) This meant we had time for a takeaway supper from the chip shop at the pier before getting the ferry.Mine was a steak pie,Alex's was a sausage supper I think.The seagulls enjoyed his leftovers as usual as he never likes his yet keeps buying the same one.(punish that stomach boy- give it hell!)
Got the bike team back over on the ferry and arrived back in Ardrossan  in the dark.A bit of a shock as that`s the first time for many months it's been dark while we were still out after a hill day.You just get used to it then... bam...winters round the corner again and the land starts slowly shutting down preparing for the long sleep ahead.
As usual I`ll be avoiding that fate for as long as possible,hugging any pockets of green warmth and lush growth I can find like a limpet :o) Forth the old frost dodger!

The bike team.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Loch Lomond.The Islands.Camping Trip.

I am lucky enough to know a family who own a boat.Occasionally,if there is space,they are kind enough to invite me to tag along.One such trip happened this spring when we went on an overnight camping trip to Loch Lomond.
The family consisted of Gail, John,their  teenage daughter Morven and her same age friend Jennifer.
It was a  family geocaching trip so it was a magical mystery tour as to where we would go or where we ended  up.
At 23 miles long and just under 5 miles wide at the southern end Loch Lomond has plenty of space to get lost in.It also contains a stunning archipelago of  23 named islands,some big some tiny but all  different and unique.A few are flat with wide sandy beaches,others are high and rugged,covered in thick mixed woodland of Caledonian Pine and deciduous trees,mainly oak,alder and silver birch.A couple of the islands have working farms with fields, meadows and cattle.There is even a seasonal pub on Inchmurrin the largest Island with a notice that says...."no wet suits at the bar".

This is the village of Luss seen from the loch.It used to be famous for the  highland  TV soap"Take The High Road" but even though that's long finished its still a popular and pretty village that pulls in the tourists in huge numbers.
We parked at Balloch and set off from there as thats where the  main slipway is.All motor craft have to be registered and given a number before they can sail on the Loch.I think kayaks and canoes are ok though as I never had any bother when I used to explore here but that was before it became a National Park.
The geocaching went well and we found a couple of  little boxes hidden over the length of the loch and on islands.As far as I understand the rules you find  little waterproof boxes filled with either trinkets,toys coins,notes etc.If you take any away to keep you have to leave one behind of your own with stuff of a greater or equal value.Its like a treasure hunt  with different levels of difficulty of hiding places depending on  personal ability as caches can be placed halfway up a mountain, on a rock climb,in woods,swamps and even underwater.In the USA a few people have even disappeared permanently, lost out in the wilderness still looking for boxes.Its very popular worldwide and can be quite addictive ...or so I`m told. In a lot of national parks they are not allowed.

From my point of view it worked out well as we set up  the campsite in the middle group of  larger islands  seen in the first photo then headed off towards the northern end of the loch.This is narrower than the south end and is much deeper going down to over 600 feet in places.It only has a few small islands dotted around but as we had to search the mainland banks for hidden items we thought we might as well  pay them a visit too.This was an  unexpected bonus for me as I managed to then bag the last remaining islands not reached by kayak  from years ago.Felt good to collect the  full set at long last.

Inveruglas Isle has the remains of MacFarlanes Castle on it, reputedly destroyed by Cromwells troops in the 17th century.The same unfortunate clan also had a castle on nearby Eilean I Vow but its the same story there...only a  sunken dungeon remains which you walk down steps to enter.Its a lonely little place remembering past glories buried deep in its stones.

Being spring loads of Canada geese had nests on both these islands so we didn`t want to disturb them,just a quick in and out to touch the beach in the case of Inveruglas.These birds are not slow to let you know they are upset though.You can tell this one is a bit peeved.

Next up was Eilean I Vow which sits at a narrow part of the Loch.Its almost a perfect circle,covered in dark yew trees,juniper and ivy.Very green and it has a slightly creepy feel at night.I`ve slept in the dungeon  once years ago during my kayak years.

This is the boat with John the sometime skipper (driving is a family enterprise with everybody taking a shot at the helm) It was actually a great time to be on the loch.Being spring It was fairly quiet boat wise as it was overcast most of the weekend but didn`t rain.On a lovely sunny day during peak season it can get too busy at times,boats jet skiers  fishermen and campers all trying to find a peaceful bay to call thier own.
We bagged a third island,Wallace Isle then headed back via Rob Roys Prison on the West Highland Way,a well hidden cave only found because it has CAVE in large letters above it.If it didn`t you would never find it which was rather the point when Rob Roy  used it.

This is the popular Inversnaid Hotel,reached by a narrow twisting road which the tourist coach drivers must love.
It was a great evening. Not too cold for sitting out by the tents, clear with only a few midges soon removed by a small  fire as loads of drift wood lay around on the sands nearby.The family had a good BBQ dinner prepared by Gail which looked lovely and I as usual  had my favourite standout of  smoked beechwood sausages,pineapple chunks,tomatoes and  onions  grilled over the coals on sticks.Perfection.

This is some of the family meal prepared by Gail and the girls.Yum Yum.Its making me hungry even now!!
After a pleasant evening of watching boats drift by,stars come out and  then a hanging lantern and candle show set up by the girls we adults broke out the wine, cheese,nuts,crisps and beer.A couple of  hours or so later it got too chilly for the girls so they went  off to bed .John I stayed up  talking by the fire,had another couple of cheeky beers, munched crisps and then a plate of  burnt leftovers found nearby (as good as a kebab) and generally had a mellow time.For me it was a nice feeling  just being part of an extended family group for a short period,a  rare novelty as all my close relatives stay  over in Australia.Most of the time I`m happy on my own but its nice to compare the difference occasionally.

There`s always something really special about camping on an island and it felt a lot further and more remote than 20 miles from Glasgow with a surrounding population of two and a half million souls.Its best explored in spring and autumn though when its empty and wild like this.A great trip.

As Tom Weir used to say."You only know Loch Lomond properly if you visit its islands".
Inchmurrin and Inchcailloch can be reached by small  ferry boat or hired rowboat.(take plenty of rowers,its harder than you think) I believe there is still a post boat service operating some days from Balmaha and several " tour the  central  island trips" run  in summer from Luss for those interested. £9.50 a head plus concessions for OAPs and children. My choice would be the Luss tour round the central islands (not landing but scenic or MacFarlanes boatyard which has a choice of options available.The larger tour boats tend to be £££.
Wildlife you might see if you are lucky include ducks ,geese ,ospreys,buzzards,capercallie (five left on Inch......? I think),fallow and red deer and wallabies.
Yeah....some still survive for now.Support your local  jumping pouch puppies.Furry  introduced children of the 60`s.The capercallie can bugger off to some of the other islands.Keep the trapped tail bouncers.They don`t need any money spent to save them they do fine by themselves and are much loved by many people.Furry love beats feathers any day :o)

Off  now for some well deseved home made pizza.Over and out.

Monday 12 September 2011

Banton.Kilsyth Hills,Colzium Estate.

When I go a walk ,As most people probably know by now,I,m  just looking for a  variety of habitats and surroundings.I no longer feel that need to throw my poor floppy body up the highest  mountains every time if its just a solo walk,mainly because that same poor body will suffer in the process and I can have as much fun lower down.(Mind you I still like reading about other people suffering pain ,thirst and starvation on the mountains as long as its not me.Oh Yes ,Even today as the wind from the remains of Hurricane Katia rocks the house I think of brave folk on holiday struggling up the hills in the rain enjoying the 80 miles an hour winds...  take a long sip of fizzy orange and munch another cream scone. Happy days!) I was actually suffering high myself last Sunday on a Corbett but as Alex usually posts these I,ll wait  for now.If I had to pick my perfect solo day however it would be one with contrasting scenery,good weather conditions,loads of interesting nature and hopefully a new area to explore.
If I had to pick my best  buy in an OS map It would be the one of Glasgow.Forty  tattered years later I,m still finding new areas to explore on it.
I actually discovered the pleasant little village of Banton  for the first time on a cycle ride last year but it was just in passing.I did notice this rights of way sign however.When I got back to the house I had a  close study of the map as if seeing its potential with new eyes and promised myself a future visit on foot..One of the benefits of all the new signage around these days is walks that before were the preserve of locals only are now more obvious to everyone else.
Banton is a lovely wee place.It still has an old mill building  in use as a modern base for two companies.In the old days according to another handy sign it was a weaving mill and the Girls from Kilsyth used to Walk the Lade trail to Banton to get to work.Most of the men in the area then worked down the nearby pits.
I parked at Colzium House as its good parking in this Estate and as their local park its a great asset to the surrounding Community.Hopefully that will continue into the future as new housing nibbles its edges and cut backs everywhere means less money available for upkeep and maintainance of parks and gardens.It looks splendid just now though.
The round monument commemorates a victory for the royalists under the command of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose who defeated a larger army of Covenanters in the vicinity of Banton Loch.Old relics and objects from that time are still being found occasionally in the fields around the loch.It can get boggy in the marshlands near here but this is something else again!!!  When digging the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal an unlucky trooper was found trapped and preserved in  a bog from that time still astride his horse.What a sticky end.What a Bog!
A good trail leads from the park along the south shore of the loch then into Banton itself.Dragon flies and damsel flies danced around reedy margins and it still felt like summer though it had been a chilly morning.This little snail is enjoying the sun while it can.
I kept going and was soon climbing up to high Banton then through two green gates just before the entrance to Glenhead farm which took me into the open fields and onto the Kilsyth Hills.This was new territory for me.An obvious track on the map leads to Berryhill farm via the ruins of Drumnessie.It was a pleasant walk ,warm with good views over towards Cumbernauld and the upland plains Alex and I were cycling on a few weeks ago.
Smashing scenery and just below the clouds enveloping the higher mountain ranges around in the distance.
Apart from cattle and sheep roaming around its a fine lonely walk with an open feel about it.The route brings you out high on the Tak ma Doon road from Kilsyth to Carron Bridge,a favourite for keen bikers as its a killer of a climb when peddling.
Luckily I was descending so it was fairly painless.There was a local woman riding her horse beside the golf course and I couldn't resist a photo as it summed up what a smashing wild area this is.I was hoping she would break into a full blown gallop but she just managed a trot.Shame.Horses galloping against a dramatic landscape is always high on my photographic tick list.
Did manage another long held photo tick though.I,ve lost count of the number of insect photos I,ve taken where the background is not right ,the subject flies off ,or its out of focus.I don,t have the patience or willingness to set it up under controlled conditions to get that perfect shot as  I like the spontaneity of the moment as it happens rather than the technical aspects involved.If I get it fair enough if not ..there,s always a next time.
Quite pleased with this though as bumble bees never stay still for me when the camera has to be right in their face to get a decent shot.
Ended the walk with a stroll round the fabulous walled Garden at Colzium estate.For its size (its tiny) it has to be the best use of planting and paths I,ve seen in a walled enclosure of this type in Scotland.
One thing I did notice on the way back from this area was a place outside the estate.Inside the estate  there was this good example of a stream system in full summer bloom.

A natural enough scene with a good habitat for wildlife.
then again  there  is this.....
Although it looks beautiful in flower and was first introduced as a garden plant for that reason Japanese knot weed was soon seen to be an extremely aggressive plant outside of its native homeland where it has naturally evolved insects and predator controls  to keep it in check.Left unattended anywhere  here it can grow through roads ,concrete,cover vast areas quickly and spreads even faster if you cut bits off it or dig it up and throw it away.The last ten years I,ve noticed every river system in Scotland become a breeding ground for another beautiful but invasive plant... Himalayan or Indian Balsam.This seems to have started out in Kew gardens in Victorian times then escaped into the wild.Its taken a long time to arrive up here but every summer it blocks out more and more of the variety of riverside plants til it becomes the only species left.In winter, when it dies down ,you get a bare riverbank which is then open to erosion.A lot of people  don't recognise them near their house til its too late.There have  been extreme cases of Knotweed even coming up through floorboards.
If you want to know what real life triffids look like...... here they be.

Coming soon to a location near you..........

Monday 5 September 2011

Dams to Darnley.Barrhead.South Nitshill.

While Alex has been resting and getting measurements made for his new screw on plastic feet I`ve still been active at weekends.On mediocre days weather wise I`ve no interest in struggling up hills just to get a misty invisible soaking so I stay below the cloud level and find different, unusual or long forgotten places to visit instead during this poor excuse of a summer.
Last week it was the turn of yet another beautiful area, that, for one reason or another, is often overlooked, few people apart from locals willing to explore its delights. That is the great walking publics  loss as it has a wealth of history, great landscapes and a network of paths stretching over a wide area.

If the newly created Dams to Darnley wants to succeed as a proper country park however it really needs to
develop a better park infrastructure like toilets and safe access car parks to encourage folk to visit and explore this area properly. Compared to the welly booted crowds descending on Mugdock Country Park above Milngavie every weekend (admittedly an affluent area with more money available to it) this place is a ghost town. Which is a shame because it is just as scenic and has great potential.....or is it only rich people that bother to go walking these days?
It`s a semi serious question  Glasgow and the West of Scotland at least. Mugdock above Bearsden...heaving every weekend with families. Barrhead, and  Paisleys braes, Darnley's open fields, woods and dams ,Robroyston Park, Balmore and Kelvin walkways, Havoc grasslands and Levengrove Park. Overtoun Estate. The Kilpatricks. Great areas for walking but all  lie largely empty. Its always puzzled me this.
Maybe they are perceived as being rough and unsafe somehow though the number of times I`ve been close to injury by being knocked down by speeding mountain bikers, galloping horses or had my prize assets stomped on by muddy pawed dogs in  crowded Mugdock suggests otherwise. Maybe its the lack of facilities needed to attract family groups in numbers.
All I know is the only person liable to attack anyone in these areas is that person themselves as they will be the only ones in the vicinity at present.

There are several scruffy small laybys used by fishermen on the minor Aurs road leading up through the dams between Barrhead and Newton Mearns and a large purpose built car park on Balgraystone road above high Barrhead.(this is always empty ,desolate and forlorn looking any time I`ve been there and would need to be busy with other cars and walkers before I'd leave my own vehicle there for any length of time.
Luckily ,knowing the area well, I parked at the large retail outlet complex on Nitshill road right beside the Darnley. They are also building a  Dams to Darnley car park at the Newton Mearns entrance (2012) which should really put it on the map as a walking venue.
Setting off, first stop was a short distance along Nitshill road, right opposite the Ashoka restaurant operating in what used to be the Old Darnley Mill.
Across from this is the object and history that presumably gives the Darnley its name.
The famous (but ironically almost unknown to the public at large)  Darnley Sycamore. Now surrounded by a fence. How its survived the gangs, troubles and traffic over the generations is a complete mystery. I remember climbing it as a boy when it was just another big tree to have an adventure in.

When I was growing up around here it was all a wonderful if dangerous playground for children. I remember a still working fire station on the corner of Nitshill road and Parkhouse road; a set of abandoned tramlines which used to run past South Nitshill to nearby Barrhead; another abandoned rail line just behind the Darnley hospital(still open as a Nursing home) the crumbled remains of Arden lime works; deep tar filled pits which we used to dare each other to jump across; lime spoil heaps which made your eyes burn like anything (weeping, red  eyed boys were good for playing zombies with!) a flooded, abandoned quarry which was rumoured to be bottomless until several drowning victims proved otherwise: two coal bings opposite the Niaroo pub (reverse it) which we used to slide down happily on bread boards into the oncoming traffic: a brick works down towards Nitshill where a feared and  bigger rival gang lived (our numbers kept dropping due to the tricky surroundings) :and best of all the ruins of a large estate house slowly disappearing into the woods of the deep, swampy and special Waukmill glen which we loved. Nearby was what we assumed to be a curling pond of the big house but I've recently found out it could have been used for other purposes.( a bleaching pond) At the time it was a wonderland of constant surprises. Like the day we stumbled on several deep concrete trenches hidden in a forest nearby. What could they be we wondered .They were around eight to ten  foot deep, six wide and ran for a good distance across the  stunted woodland.Someone said they had found a gas mask and old gloves. Hundreds of large, green glass marbles were discovered near here which made a satisfying thud when you hit anything solid with them, including rival gangs. Thereafter we called this area 'the lost world'. We didn't know what it could be but in our childish minds we knew something important had happened here. It took me a long time to figure out what they were really for. There were a lot of puzzling structures, half  buried, all over  this  fascinating  wooded landscape. Each slowly removed  by the authorities as more and more of us intrepid young  explorers discovered the dangers involved in simply finding them.
A lot of interesting information about the big house and details about the trenches here. at  / On the dams to darnley site click on rifle ranges down the left hand side.

Anyway, I set off again on my trusty bike ,taking the back path behind the Ashoka where several old bridges sit half buried in trees just off the path, some dating to the 1800,s. A couple of reedy ponds were passed ,offshoots of the brock burn (an old name for badger) before I reached the white bridge and the halfway point on Corselet road.
From here the walker has two options. Straight ahead up the  tarmac ribbon of Corselet road to the Dams ,or, trend diagonally right on a broad grass path towards deciduous  mature woodland with the burn still on your right hand side.
Not far from here, on the edge of these woods ,at an old iron gate, the curling or bleaching pond still sits, invisible under a thick coat of brambles. A large flooded quarry used to be here as well, a favourite haunt. Full of newts and tadpoles it were. Steep muddy sides made it very easy to fall in and never get out again but the newts were a powerful attraction. Hundreds of them lived here. Although very deep in places it too wasn't exactly bottomless and captured its fair share of drowned youngsters until it was filled in after parental protests.
The bike was rolled and carried along through a canopy of beech trees and memories until I regained the minor road again not far from the water chute overflow for the dams.

Its always a great sight after the steep, deep confines of the glen to pop out onto the flat open world of water, seen above. High summer and I had it all to myself, just one local  boy and his father fishing near the upper waterfall. A world of scented clover, skylarks, butterflies and bees.
From here a flat tarmac strip leads under the red  railway viaduct to Neilston, curving between dams to reach the Aurs road. On the other side of this a good track bends round the largest Reservoir, Balgray, taking you to that empty, purpose built, facility free car park mentioned earlier.
This is the view over Balgray reservoir. There are five separate bodies of water in the dams area built at great cost. ( Before this complex was built they used to draw the drinking water for the city of Glasgow straight from the River Clyde near Dalmarnock.) Hard to believe.  Walkmill glen reservoir, Ryat linn, balgray itself, and two smaller offshoots exist, cut off and stranded by  minor roads.
Considering the scenic quality of this area, a few locals fishing is as busy as it normally gets.
I was still feeling fresh so decided to keep going round the side of Balgray then up past Glanderston mains with the volcanic plug of Duncarnock looming above, ancient fortress home of a celtic tribe. A good  brief history of the area here for anyone interested.  . .
The Barrhead Dams history is also contained in here under Gorbals Water Works. Its a fascinating account of the  Victorian construction of this huge catchment area supplying half of Glasgow with fresh water up until  fairly recently. It also highlights the grim drinking water in Glasgow which killed thousands in the 1800,s.
Kirkton road and Dam were passed before I rolled into Neilston (a former cotton and textile town as was Barrhead) then a spin out across the high plateau towards Uplawmoor, all on quiet minor roads with great views across to the table top summit of Neilston Pad, one of the highest summits in the area and a distinctive landmark from far afield, seen from many parts of Glasgow.
Great cycling out here.

Legs were starting to tire now however, so reluctantly I headed back, still along a network of minor roads via Barrhead, Parkhouse road and the Darnley.
A fairly hard day out but plenty of shorter options available for the walker. A hugely underrated and underused area in my humble opinion. No rain here though I could see the  higher  mountain ranges around getting a liberal soaking from time to time. Hint of thunder in the air too at times.

Barrhead Museum..... and below, a close up of the tower

Update. For the past two years I have been writing a book. It is set in Pollok/ Nitshill, where I grew up, with chapters on Arrochar, Arran, Loch Lomond and Glencoe, and many other scenic and unexpected parts of Scotland. Part autobiography, part novel, part travel guide, part unusual love story it concerns a Glasgow hillwalking club and their humorous adventures over three decades. Relationships, love affairs, falling outs and weekends in caves, up mountains and rolling ups and downs to reach Scottish islands in kayaks and boats.
Each chapter is illustrated by colour photographs like the one above (56 in total) and the book is full of vivid characters, quirky surprises, and unexpected locations throughout Scotland. You can read the first few chapters here for free by clicking on this kindle link.
If you like the style the full book is £1 .85. Cheaper than a scratch card but with  greater odds of a laugh. It is full of surprises, just like life itself.