Sunday 25 August 2013

Ireland. Last Day.Slieve Binnian. Gear Review.

Our second day in the Mountains of Mourne was not as good as our first. The weather had changed with a wet front predicted to move in before lunchtime. Graeme and Sandra did not fancy another hill day with such a poor forecast and suggested a wander round one of the Irish coastal towns instead then maybe lunch in a bar. If we'd still been in Scotland with hills you could climb any weekend I would have joined them but as it was a new area I might not get back to in a hurry, if ever, I decided to seize the day.
'God loves a trier!' I told myself.
The photograph above is a small zoomed section of the Slieve Binnian ridge. A magnificent mountain with close to a dozen separate large tors spread out along it's long central spine. It looked impressive and immediately caught the eye from Slieve Bearnagh the previous day.

Approaching Slieve Bearnagh. What a difference one days weather makes.
After a quick glance at the map when we were packing up the tents the best and quickest approach from the campsite seemed to be to drive round to the Silent Valley. This is the massive waterworks  and reservoir area constructed to supply the citizens of nearby Belfast with fresh safe drinking water, the protective wall of which we'd been walking beside over the summits.
Part of which ( The upper reservoir area I think) you can see here from Slieve Donard.
As it was still early and not too bad a day (cloudy and overcast but still warm at low levels with good mountain views) I decided to go for it and chance my luck. Normally my luck is excellent but that's because I've usually seen the forecast myself  the night before and have a fair idea of how bad it's going to be before I start. This time I didn't have as much visual information to go on. Just Graeme's assertion that the weather would turn bad after lunch.

He was kind enough to drop me off at the gates of the Silent Valley Mountain Park. This is just under £5 pounds to get in with a car so I proceeded on foot up a long straight boulevard lined with trees until I came to the dam itself.
  It's a nice enough spot with a couple of ponds and some woodland trails but what I was after was the start of the track which leads up to Wee Binnian, a prominent low tor on the shoulder of the much larger Slieve Binnian. The track on my map was misleading and didn't seem to exist anymore but just before the dam wall( seen in the 3rd photo above) an obvious path on the right leads over a high wooden style then follows the wall steeply uphill to another style. This is the route.
The Silent Valley overflow. Unusual construction. Wouldn't want to fall down this dramatic deep hole in the earth but it had a strange pull on the mind, daring you to look into it from above. Like a magnet pulling you towards it.  The same morbid fascination bare exposed meter terminals have in a house. You know it will kill you instantly but a small stupid part of your brain says 'Go on touch it! See what happens!' Creepy stuff lurks in the human brain...Well, in mine anyway.
By the time I'd climbed up to Wee Binnian the mist and clag had rolled in off the sea. Motivation went down further when it started to rain. Steady drizzle at first then a constant heavy downpour. As I wasn't that far from the summit slopes I kept on going, glad I had some shelter from the wall beside me. A new side of the Mourne Wall became apparent here. Apart from a handy navigational aid for walkers it also provides valuable shelter for hill folk, local farmers, myself, and numerous flocks of sheep who really treasured its five foot protective security. Huddled right in against its bulk they didn't get soaked, which is more than can be said for me.
The rain and wind grew stronger the higher I climbed until I arrived here. The summit area of mighty tors. Man it was grim up here! Not a soul around, a howling, miserable, rain lashed, half seen unknown jungle of tors. The summit is a tor itself  and I think this is it but I'm not sure. I crawled up this one on very slippery holds then slithered off again on bum, knees, elbows and adrenalin. Even in good conditions granite outcrops are a handful. This time it felt like ascending  an awkward pile of giant oranges lavishly covered in washing up liquid. It felt very exposed  up here as the gusting wind and rain made it hard to see anything.
This is a different tor nearby. I went up this as well then called it a day, returning the same way I'd slithered up.
On a good clear day a better option I think would be to travel up the flat water board road along the floor of the silent valley reservoir then up to the secondary dam. From here the map shows a good path up over Buzzard's Roost then the Back Castles, exploring every tor on the mountain. That would be a spectacular outing but a long hard day best saved for decent weather.
I struggled back down over rocks and grass heaving with torrents of water. Water ran up both sleeves on the scrambling sections as it had been a surprisingly arduous ascent this way over boulders and short slabs of moss and rock. Streams and substantial puddles appeared where puddles had not been before an hour ago. Back down at the reservoir area not a car or a visitor remained in the car park and the rain hammered off the tarmac all the way out to the main road.. I felt like God's lonely man as I walked shivering alone down that mile long straight corridor of tarmac with not a soul in sight as the heavens opened like Noah's Flood.
Graeme and Sandra had enjoyed a pleasant time down at the coast and rolled up just in time to save me from hypothermia. Cant win them all!
A fantastic hill I can recommend on a good day. Fairly grim on a bad one.
Thanks again to Graeme for a truly memorable trip and suggesting the Mountains of Mourne as a hillwalking venue. Amazing range of hills.

Gear review.
It has not gone unnoticed that everyone else on blogs seems to have received free gear to review apart from me despite the fact that I am out doing adventurous stuff nearly every weekend. Maybe I'm not the right sort of person or I'm just not in the loop:) To be honest I've never been that interested in what's the best gear, or reading about it, or surfing though mountaineering or hillwalking forums. Everybody's different. I've always preferred just doing it rather than reading about it. Same with the Tour de France. I enjoy cycling but have no interest in watching anyone else doing it unless it's a tour through the worst housing schemes of Paris I haven't been to yet. Now that would be fun viewing.
So I'd probably make a crap gear reviewer anyway as I'm not that fussed what's the most stylish or elegant as long as it does the job and it's cheap but I do know a bargain when I see one.
As I decided to purchase an Asda Ozark Trail 2 Person Tent  for £25 pounds  and an Asda Ozark Mummy Sleeping Bag for £12 pounds for the Mourne camping trip, and, feeling left out, sniff, sniff, I thought I'd review them instead :)
For £25 quid this is a real bargain for folk who just want a basic, no frills, cheap tent. Graeme obtained this one over in Ireland straight off the shelf for me and it proved easy to erect in a matter of minutes without even looking at the instructions. A few hooped poles, bang in the pegs, and it was up. It's fairly roomy inside and can sleep two people comfortably. Only negative points are that it's not flame retardant so you have to be careful with stoves, campfires, matches or smoking. Use basic common sense really.
It's also too heavy and bulky for enjoyable lightweight back packing but apart from that it's a cracking tent for the price. It looked durable enough to stand up to most conditions apart from severe winds and stayed dry inside even after heavy overnight rain. Other online reviews state that it remained dry after a week long rock festival where it rained most days with an amorous young couple inside, on drugs, humping nonstop every night. That's road testing the equipment with a dedicated approach. Serious competition to the established models of tents I'd imagine. Market forces at their best. Although I use supermarkets regularly for speed and convenience they really are the tiger at the bottom of the garden, eating up any other animal within reach or sight. A full range of camping gear. What area will the supermarkets get into next I wonder? Must be a big worry for any independent business that. They've already slashed the price of new paperback books and DVD,s to  £3 each which is good news for the buyer but really bad news for the creators of the work. Might as well give it away for free at that price by the time the publisher and agent take off their percentage.
Asda Sleeping Bag £12. A three season bag but it was fine and cosy with a consistent thick layer of material. Only negative is one of height. If you were over six foot tall your shoulders might stick out the top as it seems to be just one size. I was fine in it ( 6foot. Tall, dark and ugly.) but I could not snuggle down to pull it right over my head  so for that reason alone it's only three season. Fine for Mid Spring, Summer, and Autumn though. A great deal for the money. At a push, if you're under 5'6 inches, you could use it in winter, just keep some clothes and warm socks on. Both items are perfect for the average sea level camper.
They do a cheap spacious day rucksack as well 45litre capacity £16 pounds  in bright orange and grey/white similar to the tent colours. The whole three items for £53 quid. That's a real bargain for anyone starting out.
Nuff said.

Friday 16 August 2013

Ireland Day Two. Mountains of Mourne.

For our second day in Ireland we headed across Donegal towards the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland by way of Sion Mills and Newtownstewart, passing the Ulster America Folk Park then Omagh and Armagh. All places I'd never been to but already knew the names well enough from media coverage during the troubles.
We parked at a place Graeme had sussed out which was the Meelmore lodge amenity campsite. £6 a night per tent. Situated directly under Slieve Meelmore this has an attached breakfast/lunch CafĂ© doing Ulster fry ups: showers, toilets and picnic tables. It was fairly basic but had everything we needed and has a beautiful rural setting, surrounded by cattle, potato fields and mountains. Great place for children to explore and there were a few families and a couple of mini buses full of well behaved teenagers in the large site when we arrived. The Mournes are popular with Duke of Edinburgh youth groups on adventure treks.
The photo above was taken just as it was getting dark. The midges were bad and biting and I made a joking comment about them to the owner when he came round. It was just an off the cuff remark but he disappeared then came back a few minutes later with a firelog which did a brilliant job of keeping them away. It's sitting on a BBQ stand which was already there. Now that's friendly service for you and totally unexpected.
Another campsite Graeme looked at wanted £16 pounds a night. Wonder if we would have got a free complimentary firebrick thrown in there. Maybe when he heard we were from Glasgow mind you he thought we would rip down all the trees and burn them instead. It's amazing how folk from different cities perceive each other. I knew a friend from Belfast years ago who was slightly worried about coming over to visit me on holiday in Glasgow because he'd heard the city had more gangs than London, a city six times it's size, and that Pollok had more gangs than any other area. (This was only because greater Pollok took in so many separate schemes, around 11 or 12 different dividing lines to be crossed.)
Mind you he was impressed by the brutal, no nonsense architecture of some of the older 1950's tenement estates at that time which looked as if they had been built by the Romans. (Some actually were by way of captured Italian POW's )

This is the view from the campsite in the morning. Beautiful setting. Note the potato fields. You don't see many fields of crops around Glasgow's Central Belt or in the west of Scotland anymore but all over the Emerald Isle the fields are still productive.

A view of Slieve Bearnagh with its magnificent summit Tor. The Mourne Wall is visible here as well, a five foot high wall that is a constant feature of these mountains as it runs in a circle over fifteen different peaks. It was built to protect the Silent valley reservoir and feeder streams from contamination which in turn was constructed to supply nearby Belfast with clean fresh drinking water. Great link to the area here with a  cracking slide show of photographs. The pictures of the ascent of the Devil's Coach Road in here are particularly impressive.
As it was a cracking morning I skipped breakfast and headed straight up the hill around 8:00am.
Some folk like Alex faff around drinking coffee and eating meals and Graeme and Sandra were no different. Fired up for the mountains I arranged to meet them later at a pass called the Hare's gap which is the low coll in the second photograph. I would race up Slieve Bearnagh right away to sample its wonderful summit tor just in case the weather turned nasty later on.

This is the North Tor, which you come to first after a brutal climb. Only problem with the Mourne wall is that it makes a beeline for the summit. No deviations to allow for the steepness of the terrain. A marvellous feat of building but the original maintenance paths tend to go straight up right beside it, without the usual easy gradient zig zags you might expect. In the 4th pic down the path follows the wall. Yep, it is a steep as it looks! Good for the heart.
The summit tor from below.
A different angle.
Bit of a granny stopper this as it's exposed enough scrambling to make this old granddad's legs wobble like jelly. Not sure this is the best ascent route as it was quite tricky.
Back down at Hare's gap I just arrived in time to meet Graeme and Sandra. Graeme had Slieve Donard in his sights, which at 850 metres is not only the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, Ulster and the Mournes but the highest summit in all the northern half of Ireland down as far as Dublin.
We were all very impressed by the Mournes. Formed mainly from granite they are similar to the Arran peaks but cover a larger area. Mountaineering heaven. Loads of rock climbs, distance treks,and outdoor adventures to be had here.
At an easy pace we ambled across the Brandy Pad on a good path before traversing under the curious rock formations known as 'The Castles'.
These stretch in a long line and contain a huge array of free standing pinnacles, walls, towers and granite chimneys so there must be rock climbs here.
Soon we could see the summit of Slieve Donard in the distance looking suitably bulky.
 It was a fair old trek up the side of yet another aspect of the Mourne wall but we made it to the summit.
This is looking down the path towards Slieve Commedagh. It was now early afternoon and the weather had turned by this point, clouds pouring in from the north.
 Can you spot the upward gazing teddy bear here:)  We knew we were in for a soaking soon but it was thunder and lightning we were concerned about. Right beside the summit a small plaque commemorated someone who had been killed by lighting a few years ago at this very spot, at this same time of year probably. High humidity over land coupled with cold sea air blowing off the deep Atlantic Ocean can produce fairly impressive summer storms over the mountains and we didn't really want to be up here in the middle of one.
We had partial views as the mist drifted over the summit.
A zoom of the seaside town of Newcastle from the summit. Like Rothesay or Millport for Glaswegian's this place is loaded with memories for generations of Northern Irish holidaymakers who made this resort their summer playground of choice. Having heard so many people reminiscing about it  I would have liked  to have visited it out of curiosity but we didn't have time on this trip. This was the nearest I managed to get to this seaside jewel. Even from up here it looks nice.
It wasn't long before heavy sweeping curtains of rain fell down on us and the temperature dropped dramatically but the expected thunder and lightning didn't materialize and we returned to the hare's gap soggy but unzapped. This rainstorm only lasted an hour before it passed through then it started to dry up again. By the time we got back to the campsite we had clocked up a long day on the hills. Ten hours for me, nine for Graeme and Sandra but well worth a brief soaking to enjoy such a cracking outing. (The white blobs are bags of sand and rock for path construction.)
Thanks to Graeme and Sandra for great memories and a fun camping experience.

It's been a while since we had a video so here's an absolute cracker. Stumbled across this at random surfing you tube for new music. A world wide dance smash from a few years ago I must have missed. Great catchy tune, great video, sexy band. And lashings of gratuitous Sax. And the best Dominatrix band leader you'll ever see. What more do you want from a song? Only a few years old this video has already been viewed over 23 million times outstripping most established headline hit singles by established acts. Wonder why:)

Monday 12 August 2013

Ireland Trip. Day One. A country walk in Donegal.

A trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland is always welcome. The main problem at this time of year is the dodgy weather in July and August. Sunshine one minute-thunderstorms and heavy rain the next.
It was a mixed forecast but we went anyway.
Graeme had invited myself and his friend Sandra over for a few days. He was already there so this is the fine view leaving Glasgow Central Station by train passing  the Tradeston/Kinning Park area. I lived in a mouldy cardboard box in this district for the first nine months of my life before flitting to leafy Pollok. Onwards and upwards.

I met up with Sandra at Prestwick Airport then we caught the Ryanair flight to Londonderry. They don't have knighthoods in Ireland so Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary hasn't got one but he must be doing wonders for the Irish economy. This is taken near the big retail park in Strabane where we usually go for supplies and messages as it's handy. Very interesting sculpture of giant musicians here. Much better than the pointless wooden structure on the Loch Lomond road at Balloch roundabout.( I've a safe idea that will turn that monstrosity into a winner for very little outlay if the National Park are interested by the way.)
As you cant take anything on the plane apart from a day rucksack under 10 k as hand luggage you have to buy most of your food and drink once you arrive in Ireland. As we intended camping in the Mountains of Mourne this meant any gas stoves, tents, sleeping bags, etc. had to be left behind in Scotland. It's £60 pounds for a second rucksack on the plane so it worked out cheaper to buy an Ozark tent; a 3 season sleeping bag and a carry mat in the big Asda at Strabane. It's also a good place for cheap sit in meals as it has a self service restaurant.
Graeme had already picked me up these items earlier for under £50 quid and they could then be stored at his house for any future trips. It made more sense than paying £60 pounds each time anyone wanted to go camping.

On the way from Derry airport we visited this structure. Grianan Ailligh or Grianan of Aileach, a royal fort first constructed on this low mountain top around the time Jesus walked under sunny skies preaching his influential doctrine.
Tells you all about it in this link. It has commanding views over a large area and looks down on Lough Foyle And Lough Swilly. One of the fertile islands in the near distance is reached by two long causeways.

This is one of them. Beautiful spot.

A photograph taken from the well.
Whenever I'm over in Ireland I like to be doing things as each day is precious here. It was too late to go up a hill and the weather was mixed with heavy rain on and off so Graeme suggested a low level walk in Central Donegal instead between the showers. This is an area of low rolling hills and quiet country lanes. Pretty rather than spectacular but it was perfect for the conditions as rainstorms swept the surrounding heights above a thousand feet while we stayed in the sunshine.
Rain over the Mountains. Sunny at lower levels.
Peaceful lanes and great views of farmlands. Very easy to get slightly lost here though as few of these numerous minor roads are signed to anywhere and we didn't have a map.
Dark thunderheads building quickly told us when it was time to seek shelter again and there were some amazing cloudscapes throughout this trip with fluffy white teddy bear cotton wool types mixed in with jet black storm types. Fun to watch if you made it safe under cover before the next deluge. Very humid as well though highly atmospheric.
A good first day in the Emerald Isle.

Saturday 3 August 2013

Darnley Country Park.Barrhead Dams. Duncarnock.

This is part two of my epic post on Pollok, Nitshill and the wild romantic lands beyond the wall.(See previous post.) In reality I grew up within a large forest which just happened to contain a scattered collection of fairly tough housing schemes. In part one I highlighted the negative aspects of living there. This is the other side of the coin. It was an upbringing of extremes. On the one hand you had gangs, occasional stabbings, graffiti, drink and crime but to balance that out you also had this...
South Nitshill in 2013. As you can see it is mainly trees in this view. During my youth and teenage years all the houses in front of the four story new build tenements on the middle right didn't exist. Corncrakes, water rails, badgers, hedgehogs, roe deer, linnets, yellowhammers, ring ouzels and water voles did though and could be found not far away. Many of these once common creatures are now gone from here. Huge flocks of starlings used to roost in the trees around the Darnley Hospital at the bottom of the hill.
This recent photo of the Mearns area is more in keeping what it used to look like then. It was all cows and pasturelands stretching upwards to the horizon, a patchwork landscape dotted with hedgerows and yet more woods of deciduous mature trees. In neat straight lines several rows of three and four story tenements starting from where the present tenements stand today in the first photograph ran in an unbroken wall from right to left. This was and is Parkhouse Road where as a child of six or seven I played beside the overgrown tramlines,  metal rails still visible and gleaming before they lifted them up as unwanted relics of the recent past, running up past the still operational local Fire Station at the bottom of this road. In the large back garden the firemen would grow rhubarb and strawberries and seemed to spend as much time guarding these irresistible treats from us as they did fighting fires. Remember Trumpton? It was that kind of fire station. Mind you, for cartoon fireman they sure could run fast out that building in pursuit of rhubarb thieves.
I also remember a primary school outing in the early 1960's to visit it and getting shown the large safety pins which the firemen always carried to pin the tongue onto the cheek of unconscious victims of smoke inhalation during fires to stop them choking to death while they worked on the flames.
Maybe this was real standard practice in those days or they recognised us and were just trying to scare us away from their soft fruit garden but it certainly worked for me as an impressionable child. I decided then and there never to get involved in any fires or fall unconscious. Ever! It was a finger sized safety pin and looked massive to a six year old waved two inches away from his eyeballs. Thank you fire service. The station closed down shortly after our visit. Another relic of the past.

At the other end of South Nitshill where Willowford Road joins Nitshill Road (See photograph above) a marshy pond lay in a hollow between the current steps and this sign. Just a round dank pool of fetid water and a circle of a few stunted trees. In those early days this 'Grassy hill' was not the smooth landscaped slope you see today. It was much wilder, uneven and rugged with a shallow canyon on the left halfway up the steps, some erratic boulders and visible lava flows. We found dozens of fossils here in this small canyon which we took into school to show our teachers. For a while they were on display. That primary school is gone now. They are building yet more houses for sale here where our old school once stood. Ironically although people are paying up to 300,000 pounds for a house in this district it sounds like it's gone right back to when the first tenants moved in during the initial building of Pollok. No local schools, no local shops, very few facilities in reach without a car in those early days. History does repeat itself it seems, spiralling down into tomorrow. By the way, I'd like all my fossils back now, please Sir!

If memory serves Murray Pipeworks used to store large pipes here out in the open along the bottom of this hill in the early days until local children clambering over them caused a rethink and they were then placed behind a purpose built compound on the other side of the road.( Cant find out if this was the start of Sir David Murray's metal empire, Murray international metals. As in Rangers former owner. It would have been his dad's business then surely if it was as he was born in 1951) Sir David Murray is listed as a director of Murray Pipeworks Ltd, Edinburgh Branch today. Maybe it was a buyout or a takeover then? Or a different company altogether? Anyway, a brickworks, a chemical works, several low lime hills of discarded waste, a small flooded quarry between the Nia Roo pub and the Darnley hospital (now a nursing home) completed the picture. I also seem to remember two waste coal heaps sitting on this grassy hill between Woodfoot Road and The Nia Roo pub which we used to slide down on bread boards then come in black and happy covered in coal dust. I was really young then though. They were removed pretty quick too before I got to know them better. Maybe  after the Aberfan tragedy in 1966 or even before that although they were nothing like as large or as high. Nitshill used to have extensive coal mines. (See link on last post for the Victoria Pit.) The abandoned  remains of the Darnley Lime and fireclay works lay up the Corselet Road on the left not far past the World Buffet restaurant.

This was a great area for exploration with several trenches of deep mud and liquid tar to jump over. Lost a few eager troops there too sadly. Short legged types mostly. Poor at jumping the distance required. It was a tricky place to grow up in the old days before everything dangerous was made safe for inquisitive children. Kids today have it lucky. No stinging lime dusted eyes for them or grey asbestos tattered boards the only material around to make a den hut with. Happy days.
 Even Lord Darnley almost came to grief here. This is reputedly the tree that Mary Queen of Scots nursed him back to health under. Old Sycamores like this one can live over 400 years. Pollok boasts a few famous folk. Miss Cranston of Cranston tearooms had a house in Househillwood, Pollok and Charles Macintosh of well known waterproof rainwear fame formed a partnership with Charles Tennant in a large house near the top end of Corselet road where they experimented with commercial bleaching of sheets and fabrics. Tennant would go on to form St Rollox, the largest chemical factory in the world near Sighthill.
Which brings us neatly to the Dams to Darnley Country park. This area of wild flower meadows and thick grasslands running along both sides of the corselet road used to be neat farmlands with fields and cattle. The World Buffet restaurant above used to be a working farm, Darnley Mill, with herds of cattle munching the grass short enough to play cricket on. This is what the landscape looks like without farm animals to do the work of a lawnmower. Good for wildlife though. Most of the damselfly post was taken here as I knew what a gem this area is for nature.
Parking is still a problem though. I parked at Rouken Glen Park's main public car park and cycled down on quiet, pedestrian free pavements and industrial estate back streets. Easy enough.
Rouken Glen itself is a smashing park with its pond, waterfalls, grasslands and gorge. Yet another place we went as children, just over an hours walk away. There was so much to do in the area we grew up in we knew we would never run out of new places to explore.
Still Rouken Glen.
Rouken Glen again.
Dams to Darnley. This cycle track/walkway is ten minutes on foot from my old doorstep. It leads into unparalleled countryside. This is the start of Renfrewshire which stretches from here all the way to the sea.
A book that made a big impression on me in my youth was Andre Norton's science fiction/fantasy classic 'Witch World'. It evolved into a series which became the Harry Potter saga of its day. In it the main figure in the book is a hunted individual who escapes into another world by using the 'Siege Perilous' the ancient stone portal of Arthurian legend which reputedly reads a person's soul then delivers them into a world they would find best suited to their talents and desires.
I was already surrounded by legends of the past and could climb the same tree that Mary, Queen of the Scots, once touched. I did not think of this book as a fantasy.
The main character finds himself propelled into a world of rival, warlike, small kingdoms, each of whom hate the other. Check.
I had Priesthill, Lower Nitshill, Darnley, Carnwadric, Pollok central, Dormanside and Arden to contend with. All of these areas had to be passed through with caution and held many dangers for the unwary traveller. Yet it was a beautiful rural land with woods, fields, meadows and lakes.
My own personal waterworld. The Barrhead Dams. No other area around Glasgow has this on the doorstep. Just one small part of the unique tapestry of varied landscapes here.
The fantasy world, in the book, also had traces of previous civilisations within it, many centuries old.
Duncarnock. 204 metres high. Two hours cycle ride uphill from my house and a commanding presence above the Barrhead Dams. This volcanic plug was once a main fort of the Damnonii tribe, a second Century Celtic people who seemingly co existed with the Romans during their occupation of Britain in return for quelling other unruly tribes. They were the dominant local force in Southern Scotland at that time and worth getting on your side. Similar to the Gurkhas and British Army of today I suppose. Each had something to gain from the other.
Another view of it with the beautiful Glanderston Dam below. This is an amazing viewpoint and one I treasured as a child.
The view north towards Glasgow.
 North west towards Paisley and the Kilpatricks.
West towards the Gleniffer Braes above Paisley. Another of our destinations for adventure.
The view inland. The rolling, rugged mini hills of Renfrewshire. The fairest of a thousand parishes indeed. By the time I acquainted myself with the Lord of the Rings in my early teens I was already living that world in my own pages. A new adventure every weekend. If I wanted danger, orcs and goblins I stayed within the various housing schemes. Plenty of dark forbidding towers there. Priesthill doubled for Mordor as anyone who visited it then will testify. I miss that huge water tower, so much a landmark in my memory and dreams and the catalogue of grim deeds that happened underneath it of an evening.

I'd been placed unknowingly, by lucky chance, on my very own 'Siege Perilous' at birth and I'd dropped straight into 'The Shire'. My Shire. Sorting hat perhaps. Similar thing?
I cannot think of anywhere else in the world I would have enjoyed more as a child. It still has so much to offer locals living near it today.
Wonderland. Arcadia.100 acre wood. Sin City,The Magic Kingdom. It's all here.
I wasn't aware of it at the time but I realise now, looking back, I grew up in Heaven yet had access to Hell. Acquainted with both worlds, side by side, for many years. One visited during free weekends, the other lived in through the week and at night.
The things I have seen. Some beyond belief.
I have walked this earth with devils and angels beside me. Sunlight and Obsidian unleashed in all their radiant glory. My soul has been dipped in both honey and quick lime. I've discovered dead, lifeless bodies of humans and animals in gardens and rooms over the years, felt sad, then played with vibrant insects that gave birth to fairies. A life less ordinary indeed. Cant wish for more than that.
A link to my comedy novel Autohighography Bob Law. £1:14 pence Digital on Kindle or £9:39 paperback. 500 plus pages and photographs. First three chapters free to read by clicking here. First chapter on Nitshill, Pollok and Glasgow.