Saturday 27 August 2016

Rouken Glen Park. Barrhead Dams. Newton Mearns. A Photographic Gallery.

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A solo bike trip to Rouken Glen park and a photographic gallery of an area I know well in South West Glasgow. Growing up in Nitshill- Pollok, this was the nearest large (and more importantly,  interesting) park to my house and was just within walking distance once I passed the age of ten... a bus ran here as well, which was an occasional treat if my parents paid the fare but usually reached on foot.
Purple Loosestrife, seen here, is a common feature of practically every park pond in Glasgow nowadays, probably UK wide, as fashion trends in gardening, like everything else, tend to be an inclusive, ubiquitous movement. When I first observed the re-wilding project of park ponds a few years ago  I thought this plant was amazing but it tends to loose its shine a little when you start seeing it everywhere. Still nice for photography though and good for wildlife.
Built at the height of Edwardian splendour Rouken Glen used to be and still is one of  most prestigious parks in Glasgow. Formally looked after by Glasgow City Council it now lies within Eastwood and has been under the care of East Renfrewshire Council for decades. Like many city parks of yesteryear the pond used to have small boats on it which you could hire then go off exploring the islands in the middle. As you can see it was a perfect day for walking or cycling and the park was mobbed but luckily I arrived fairly early to get a parking place. It does have ample parking but everywhere is busy now on a sunny weekend and you have to arrive reasonably early to get a space. The large duck is plastic with a warning not to feed the birds bread products as many shallow park ponds these days have a real problem in summer with algae and fast spreading blanket weed and uneaten bread soon tends to contribute to an unbalanced pond situation.

 It was looking pretty good this time with only a few patches of dense weed cover obscuring the surface but someone informed me the entire pond had been drained and cleaned recently as I've seen it far worse in previous years. Usual collection of ducks, geese and other pond life on show. I think this might be a young moorhen going by the beak.
Although the park was my starting out point it was not my intention to stay here, hence the bike. I don't mind crowds normally but it felt good to reach the quieter areas of the park, cycling along the track that runs down the boundary of the nearby golf course. Cloudscapes were amazing the entire day with great examples of wispy feather-like clouds similar to the start of spinning threads of candy floss in the old rotating machines at funfairs.
Beautiful light for photography. As usual I noticed changes every time I come here and the old clubhouse has been replaced by a David Lloyd Centre. Likewise more new houses being built along Stewarton Road but this means you can cycle uphill on empty pavements with a bike as everyone normally has cars in these upmarket cul de sac developments and you rarely see anyone walking about.
Kennishead flats from Rouken Glen with one getting demolished. Glasgow can be a very green place, especially on this side of the city.

I was delighted to find a small new park/ landscaped recreation area just below Patterton and had a go on the zip wire running down a slight slope as that was empty as well. We are all children again when there's no one else around to see and I couldn't resist a shot :o) It was good fun.
A view of the city of Glasgow in the distance as this route climbs steadily uphill from the park towards Newton Mearns and then takes the back road through the Barrhead Dams. The upmarket enclave of Newton Mearns has been gradually expanding as long as I can remember since childhood and they are still building new developments here 50 years later.
Greenlaw village shopping centre is just a few years old and they are still adding new developments around the edges. A large Waitrose sits in the middle of this project like a statement of its aspirations (or a crown, given its royal seal of approval) along with this horse's head sculpture which looks like Andy Scott's work, probably a display model built to carry around and promote the much larger, full size structures at Falkirk built on the canal there.
Although interesting enough to visit in passing I was soon cycling away from Newton Mearns and down quieter back roads to reach the Barrhead Dams. This is really the true land of my childhood memories and I spent a great deal of my free time here for the first 25 years of my life. Balgray Reservoir is the largest of five separate bodies of water in this area. We just knew it as the 'big one' and it still lives up to its name. Unlike Rouken Glen with its adjacent parking and crowds of visitors this area is much quieter and still exceptionally beautiful- mainly thanks to a lack of parking places and a more unsafe reputation as it used to be surrounded by fairly rough estates. I lived in one of them but it was no hardship at all staying there with this incredible water world on the doorstep. In truth, I grew up in Heaven on Earth.
Birdlife here was and is more exotic than any city park. A Great Crested Grebe with what looks like a fish or eel. The largest grebe in Europe and noted for its stylish and elaborate courtship displays. Several young could be heard out on the water and a minute later they appeared, rushing to be fed by the adult birds.
This is it handing over its prize to the hungry young. The reservoirs were built at great expense to supply Glasgow with fresh drinking water after several heath epidemics in the city caused widespread death due to polluted water. Before these catchment areas were built the city's water supply came from the River Clyde near Dalmarnock. Not surprisingly, given that location so near the city centre, water supplies drawn off there were not always of the highest quality.
History and Dams to Darnley Country Park info here. Rifle Ranges. POW Camp and Darnley Bleach fields show a surprising international history inside this link.

As a child I wasn't aware of any of that I just knew it was a fantastic place to grow up and grabbed every opportunity going to explore this magnificent playground on my doorstep. The largest reservoir was the furthest away from my house, much nearer the town of Barrhead, but the rest were within walking distance of our estate/scheme. Although not as magnificent and unspoiled as it once was, with numerous housing developments constantly nibbling away at the edges  it's still a lovely place to visit and I still enjoy coming here. Ironically, on this latest visit, a large fresh water pipe was being sunk across the surrounding countryside which involved carving a wide muddy trench over numerous fields and through woodlands but in a few years time you will hardly see the scars as luckily nature is great at hiding man-made disturbance. It might even be a water supply for new developments in Newton Mearns- but not sure of that as yet.
Luckily, it avoids the best sections of the country park but it represents a microcosm of what's happening around the world today. If they did built excellent parking facilities here and family friendly walking opportunities that might spoil it as well  as part of the reason I like it here is that it is still quiet and undisturbed in the main.
Grey Wagtail sitting in an overflow channel.
Duncarnock 204 metres high, and the Victorian Railway viaduct from the dams.
Glasgow to Neilston train passing. A scenic line and another way to visit the Barrhead Dams as, if you are energetic, you can walk from Neilston train station along minor back roads to climb Duncarnock then down through the Dams to Nitshill train station or bus home. Around 14km total distance and an adventurous full day outing of around 5 to 6 hours easy pace unless you are really fit and hate stopping for views. Arriving at Nitshill or Darnley by bus is probably the nearest public way to reach here for a few hours easy walking, exploring this area.
A juvenile great crested grebe. Different body markings from parents until it grows up. The mottled look makes it far harder for predators to spot it in the reeds.
Natural rafts of vegetation on the reservoirs. Unlike the park pond examples which smother oxygen supplies these are very beneficial for wildlife and one of the reasons the grebes like coming here.
Buzzards are also found in this area of water, scattered woods and farms. As a child I used to think a buzzard circling in the sky directly above me, calling out in its plaintive tones, was a friendly greeting but it's probably just bird speak for "**** off humans! Go away!"  It certainly is in this case.
Great views over the city from certain selected spots here. Buzzard surveying its kingdom. It was at this moment I noticed I'd accidentally parked my bike on top of a wasps nest in the woods as I returned to find the frame and saddle covered in angry stinging wasps. A great delight to see them thriving.. and so energetic!!!!
As was I for the next five minutes, retrieving my transport then beating a hasty retreat from vast numbers pouring out an unnoticed hole in the ground. Isn't nature wonderful?
Looking towards Moss Heights and Dumgoyne in the Campsies.
Late evening shot to end. A great trip, mostly on minor roads, through countryside, parks and on empty pavements to avoid any traffic. Allow 4 to 5 hours to explore fully at an easy pace. Half that time if speedy. Very enjoyable on a scorching hot day like it turned out.

A brilliant video to go with it from a fellow enthusiast of the area that traces some of my bike route. I know every inch of it on foot but I've never seen it from the air before. Fascinating. Best watched full screen. Looks like they are extending the car park here or its for water pipe purposes as that's where I spotted it going in. Shot in winter so a nice contrast to the photos.

Monday 22 August 2016

Kayaks Down The River Clyde. Renfrew. Newshot Island. Erskine Beach.

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Another kayak trip with Alan down the White Cart Water, setting off just upstream from the Renfrew Swing Bridge before reaching  the point where the White Cart and the Black Cart merge into one larger river before entering the mighty River Clyde itself downstream from the Renfrew ferry. This is kayaking down the White Cart, above, with Clydebank and Dalmuir spread out as a backdrop.
As usual large planes passed over our craft as the ever busy Glasgow airport lies nearby and poor communities scattered along the flight path in the surrounding urban areas can watch rich communities fly off to various destinations around the world they will never  enjoy themselves unless they win the lottery. But on the plus side they do have Braehead Shopping Centre.... :o)
I include this link here because over the last few weeks I've heard a couple of folk mentioning the proposed new bridge over the River Clyde, which seems to be gathering momentum. Interesting that some of the reasons for building it appears to be to get faster access to Glasgow Airport and the nearby Braehead Shopping Centre.
As I live on the west side of the city near Anniesland I've been to Braehead Shopping Centre occasionally at weekends and the place is always packed solid with people and cars, as is Silverburn Shopping Centre in Pollok and Clydebank's retail park and indoor shopping arcade. They are the last places I would think of going to at weekends due to the hassle of finding a parking place and general traffic chaos surrounding them every Friday and Saturday/weekends. When my sister came over on holiday I took her across to Braehead for the shopping experience one Saturday but we had to park on an upper car park on the outskirts half a mile from the shops and I couldn't wait to get home... stuck in traffic most of the way back. Not being a shopping person the only time I do visit these places I'm in and out quickly once I've got the item I went in for and the main reason I like them personally is the cycle tracks and new parks and riverside walks that have been created with their development. These outdoor and free attractions I do like exploring. On foot or by bike they make a great outing coupled with other riverside walks in this area.
An Icelandic  plane, above. Using the current road infrastructure (driving across the Erskine Bridge mainly) I've never found getting to Glasgow Airport all that difficult or time consuming outside of weekday rush hour times when all the roads are packed solid anyway although leaving your car there while you are on holiday can be costly. What I have noticed is a definite movement away from free council run facilities like swimming baths, public toilets, day drop in centres, libraries and other public amenities we used to take for granted but are now closed or closing due to endless cut backs in spending and a mentality edging ever closer towards a life spent indoors, looking pretty, in the form of gyms, tanning establishments, indoor "training centres" and other such places where you pay to enter.

I get the feeling we are all being conned into paying for things we used to get for free. And this in a nation (The UK) that has jumped to the 5th richest country in the world... during a deep, so called, recession. Rich lists and "the economy is doing well " are things that mean nothing to the average punter struggling to pay bills in an ever increasing two level society where the rich get all the breaks going, usually at the expense of the tax payer and ordinary folk in the street.
Really worth a read. and its not just one sector... it's everywhere... and we, the mug public, usually foot the bill. What F********** AUSTERITY?     Only for us it seems... as always... forever.

Maybe it's just my age and cynical outlook but to me keeping fit and enjoying myself is usually free and takes place outdoors yet I heard recently some young guy on TV who was described as "extremely sporty" yet didn't seem to spend any time outside at all and it was all indoor work he was into and actively promoting...i.e. looking good, lifting weights and  building a perfect six pack body with a fake tan to match and thousands no doubt spent on sculpting his appearance to look more like the celebrity generation he was obviously influenced by. Outdoors was far too dirty and dangerous for this individual but what got me was the general acceptance that this was the new normal for many. I've cycled past dozens of indoor enthusiasts paying a lot of money to ride static bikes or run on a treadmill in antiseptic surroundings behind glass but I fail to see what they get out of it except a date with someone inside possibly, or an emptier wallet. A growing modern theme seems to be that you have to pay someone money or go on a supervised course to enjoy yourself outdoors or just to keep fit. Walking for free exercise is becoming an outdated concept. It's yet another con powered by a billion dollar industry geared to selling you stuff that will probably lie in a cupboard unused after a few months.
Obviously boxers, professional or amateur sports people have to spend a lot of time training indoors, which was always the case, but the main motivation in this instance seemed to be one of advanced narcissistic drive towards physical appearance, with any health benefits, fitness or enjoyment largely unimportant compared to a desire to look like every other cloned celebrity out there. It all made me rather sad.
 On another matter entirely... why do girls always pout in selfie shots? Why does every single shop assistant or check out person say "See you later" when you leave the shop. They never used to say that but now they all do..every single one... like robots... The few times I have taken them at their word and turned up later at the end of their shift to drive them home at night and perhaps see if they were real underneath police have been called :o). Maybe it's like saying "tell me about it?" which always seems to mean the exact opposite to what they are actually asking. Like "extremely sporty" in this instance.
Meanwhile, back in the real and sometimes unpredictable and dangerous world outside, we kayaked into the River Clyde just in time to watch a large ship passing down the deep water channel. It was going slowly so the wash off it's bulk was not too bad but something to bear in mind as a potential hazard. Assvik, seen here, is a general cargo ship of 90 metres length but ships 3 times that size and height travel up the river into Glasgow's heart occasionally so it will have to be a high bridge at Renfrew... or one that can open fully.
We set off from Renfrew an hour after full high tide and I'd recommend a high tide start as it is a shipping lane and you don't want to be anywhere near one of these big beasts when they pass by. At high tide there is plenty of room on the river to either get to one side out the way or beach the craft on the bank and get out until it passes depending on size, speed and height of wake. At low tide you do not have that option to escape the main deep water channel and thick mud getting out anywhere will be a major problem unless you use a proper slipway to exit. Ships will not take kindly to a stupid kayaker in the way but under normal circumstances they are going slow enough to be well out the road before they even approach your position, as happened with this one as it was obvious from a half mile distant it would be passing us.
The same large ship heading downstream towards the more open Firth of Clyde. We had also picked a calm day as wind out here would be a factor, leading to face spray, higher waves, and an increased risk of falling in. As with the Paisley kayak trip posted a couple of months ago on here the urban kayaker should not fall in or taste the water in any way. It may well be safe for quality testing issues but there was a distinct odour of human waste coming from a large outflow further downstream and over 2 million citizens clustered along its banks would suggest otherwise. Although we had intended riding the outgoing current downstream with the departing tide that's not how it turned out and we had no major pull in the direction we wanted to go, even while static. Numerous cross currents and choppy water within the deep water channel, plus several large outflows discharging treated water meant we had to paddle all the way to Erskine and in places it felt like pulling against a tide moving upstream rather than the reverse, yet I had checked the right tide times for assisted passage downstream using the outgoing current.
Coastguard Helicopter. Not there for us but heading for Glasgow Airport.

Clydebank's Titan crane. Now a visitor attraction and high level viewing platform for the town where John Brown's Shipyard used to be. There are four of these giant cantilever cranes dotted along the Clyde, each capable of lifting weights in excess of 100 tonnes. The others being Greenock's Titan, The Barclay Curle Crane at Scotstoun and the one at Finnieston, near central Glasgow. Only eleven of these massive cantilever cranes this size still exist around the world today and we have four of them on the Clyde. You can just make out people on top of the crane in the above photo.
A cargo boat collecting scrap metal at a breakers yard in Renfrew. Most of this ship is hidden in a deep water dock behind piles of scrapped cars. Judging by the number of different boats found here scrap metal is a highly profitable industry now in an area that used to manufacture goods and send them to every corner of the planet, including Singer sewing machines, world famous large ships and early textiles. Building ever larger shopping centres and spending money on things we don't really need to make us internally happy seems to drive our economy now... which is just as well.... as London and the South East produces most of the wealth in the UK these days. Maybe that's where 'the economy' is... cos it sure ain't here.
Passing Clydebank and Dalmuir with the Radnor Park high rise flats behind. Like many others this area has suffered badly with the loss of it's industrial heritage and has witnessed decades of decline, social problems, and no real growth apart from shopping outlets and further education. The new totem poles of the modern tribe.
A flotilla of small craft moving upriver past Newshot Island.
The full width of the River Clyde just past Newshot Island taken at high-ish tide. Newshot is not actually a proper island but a low-lying peninsula prone to flooding and marshy conditions all year round. It is a bird reserve and wildlife habitat with its own feral herd of inquisitive cows who usually come over to give you an inspection. It is also home to vast amounts of gulls, and we waited until the young chicks were almost adults before attempting this trip. Despite this we still got the usual gull treatment of dive-bombing parents and splatter tactics, even though we just paddled by and didn't attempt to land, staying well out from the bank where the gulls were gathered.
Being easy targets out here gull shit hit me numerous times while taking photos but it did add another interesting feature to this memorable and highly enjoyable trip.
Dive bombing gulls and the Golden Jubileee Hospital at Clydebank. This is one of my regular cycle runs along the canal and a small detour down to here brings you out at a tiny local park and section of walkway offering great views over a wide looking river. A favourite stop for lunch on the benches here beside the hospital looking across at the now un-populated Newshot Island. At some point in its past it may well have had a few humans living on it as several ruined buildings can be found in it's swampy interior and an old abandoned causeway leads onto it from Erskine.
At the shallow inlet where the underwater causeway is situated ( a former small harbour perhaps) lies an eerie graveyard of sizable boats, rotting and long abandoned and from information gathered online some of them might well be "Mud Punts"as Newshot Island was largely created from the mud, debris and silt dredged from this former packed and busy river from the late 1800s right up until the 1960s. I can still recall the metal bucket dredger scooping mud from the river when younger as you could always hear it squeaking away when the rusty buckets turned and lifted the silt. These 'mud punts' may well have carried such waste at high tide to be dumped onto Newshot Island although the ground underfoot is reasonably firm now, if somewhat lumpy and barren. Probably the main reason why it's still a bird reserve as if it was prime land it would be built on sharpish and the birds would be evicted elsewhere. With far less river traffic these days an independent modern dredger is probably just hired on a year to year basis to keep the main channel clear of silt.
The ancient lava flows and volcanic plug summits of the Kilpatrick Hills form a backdrop for much of this journey down stream and make an impressive natural wall keeping the river from meandering too much. Even at that and a total distance covered of around 10 km we were glad to see Erskine Beach loom into view after a 4 hour paddle. Somehow, it felt harder than paddling across a loch.
The Erskine Bridge is an impressive sight from any angle but this is the first time we have passed under it in a kayak. Still amazes me how such slender support pillars can keep up this massive structure although I know most of the load bearing comes from above.
Alan passing under the Erskine Bridge. Erskine incidentally means "high marsh". Great walking and cycling opportunities exist for easy day trips along the river in this area. Info here.

An old abandoned shipping marker. Alan informed me he'd climbed this as a kid when the ladders to the top were still in good repair.
And our exit near Erskine Bridge and slipway after 4 hours paddle, exploring every nook and cranny on the way. Another fascinating trip into the almost forgotten history of the river. We did paddle slightly further downstream from here but soon returned as arms were starting to tire, the mud getting out was appearing deeper with lower tide levels, and we thought we'd done enough for one day.

If you are doing this trip by kayak it's better at high tide, probably best if you don't capsize anywhere, wear a life jacket or suitable buoyancy aid as currents are strong in mid-river- pick a calm day with light winds, and watch out for other river traffic... and thick mud if getting out anywhere. Even inside the kayak it is fairly easy to get stuck in the shallows around Newshot inlet yet with deep mud all around there's no chance of leaving the craft without danger of sinking in. Another tip to bear in mind if it happens to you and the tide is running out. Better not strand yourself paddling in too shallow surroundings... that would never happen to me :o) 
Other than that it's good clean dirty fun.


Wednesday 10 August 2016

The Cheviot, The Dip and the Black Black Mud.

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A 5:00am rise saw me having breakfast in the dawn light before driving across the city to pick up David then both of us switching into Graeme's car for the two and a half hour run down from Glasgow to The Cheviot. This is East Kilbride in the early hours, above.
It was a lovely drive down through great scenery as we took empty back roads that see little traffic via Carluke, Carstairs, Peebles (seen above) then Kelso.
This is the impressive ruins driving into Kelso with a fine sunny day ahead of us. Just Graeme, David and I as Alex had bagged The Cheviot a few years ago. Kelso looked an interesting and colourful border town with the River Tweed a scenic feature running right beside it and a spacious central square framed by handsome buildings.
A snapped view of Floors Castle on the outskirts as we motored past, hence the blurred foreground vegetation. All the above photos were taken as a car passenger as we kept to a steady pace and stopping to take numerous photos of the scenery would only increase our travel time. Handy link here to Floors Castle where they filmed Tarzan, and an additional link inside to The Cheviot, including a location map of the district.

Although most of the Cheviot Hills summits lie over the English Border in Northumberland they can also be reached from Scotland via a couple of minor roads. This is Yetholm village shop and a very pretty little place it is. Although this route has quiet but good roads all the way once you pass Wishaw reasonable navigation skills and road map reading are required due to some convoluted minor junctions but it's straight easy progress otherwise. (unless of course you use Sat- Nav which might not take you this particular route to the hill.)
After passing through Town Yetholm we took the minor dead end road to Cocklawfoot Farm where there is a grass lay-by for half a dozens cars at most, just before the farm buildings and ford across the stream.
Doing The Cheviot from this direction does feel a road less travelled and there was only one other car here. As the occupants inside went elsewhere we had the hills to ourselves and lovely grass paths once clear of the farm tracks.
As we climbed higher expansive views opened out across the other Cheviot Summits. The Cheviot Hills straddle the Scottish/ English border and form a large part of the Northumberland National Park with the mighty Cheviot itself at 2,674feet, 815 metres, being the highest mountain in Northumberland.
It did feel like a real adventure, especially as it was a latter day raid into England. David and Graeme enjoying the sunshine. This entire region used to be notorious for cross border raiding parties. Scotland and England are still separate today with different attitudes and values. Most of Scotland would never vote a Conservative government into power, unlike England, and recently we voted to stay in Europe whereas England voted the opposite, as usual, and dragged us out of the EU with it. However Europe may well implode anyway with the numbers of new economic migrants and refugees arriving every year and no real solution to stop it.
Our first close up view of the upper slopes was this one with the obvious rugged gorge of Hen Hole just past the Auchope Emergency Shelter. You can just see that wooden hut here, above. Like most of the Pennine Way, England's first long distance footpath, there is very little natural shelter on this moorland plateau route and this small modest hut without a fire is still a real lifesaver in grim conditions.
It's not a bothy, just a refuge but we met our first other hill-walkers in here- a guy with a small dog passing through and a National Park volunteer warden who popped in to check the condition and tidy up.
It has wooden benches and a visitor notebook inside but the main reason it is here is to provide a water and windproof dry shelter that in winter or vile conditions could save a life. The hut lies just within the Northumberland border so we have entered England here by the unguarded back door.
At this point I decided I had to go up through Hen Hole as it was the most interesting feature on this side of the mountain with steep rock walls and several waterfalls. David and Graeme were happy with the normal path up the ridge so we split here, agreeing to meet up on the slopes above.
Although I enjoyed it in retrospect  it was not the easiest ascent I could have picked. A very faint path, often obscured by rock fall and knee high tussocks and other vegetation hiding deep holes where every second step was a slip or a stumble. Add to that an exit at the far end up steep knee high hanging gardens of lush foliage ascended mainly on hands and knees had me cursing my choice of an extra add on. It wasn't particularly hard or exposed anywhere just extremely draining at what turned out to be the start of an unexpectedly long day. With a 5:00am start I only had two hours sleep as I've never been someone that can just switch off if not tired so I ended up reading to 3:00am, wide awake. Although a nice feature down here among mainly rounded hills if it was placed in Scotland it would be just another mountain gorge and not particularity noteworthy.
I met up with the others on the vast plateau above and we were soon making our way across the moors and bogs of the upper levels. As with Cross Fell, another Pennine Way summit posted on the blog back in June 2016 a long flagstone pavement stretches for miles leading to the high point. This must have used the entire National Park budget for years to come I suspect  as many of the flagstones were so heavy they could only have been lifted into position by helicopter. Apart from limiting erosion of the surrounding bog I presume a major incentive for laying them must be for walkers safety.
Plenty of signposts telling you where to go across this featureless terrain. It was only when we arrived at the connecting paths leading up from the English side that we started bumping into other hill walkers. Even from here it felt like a surprisingly long way to the final summit over numerous false tops
In some places, like here, deep thick mud appeared on both sides of the flagstones. I never really thought too much about this but in one place under Cheviot summit the flagstones were missing altogether, about 3 or 4 gone, leaving a 12 foot gap. Maybe they had just sunk as there was no sign of them in the vicinity. The gap had been bridged with 5 or 6 thin springy planks spanning the mud which bent down under the surface for several inches when you crossed and didn't seem to be supported from below. Being nimble I made short work of that and even tossed my walking pole back to several others behind at this bottleneck to steady themselves across. No drama occurred.
We could see the sea and a large chunk of Northumbria from the summit with its sizable square stone plinth, trig pillar placed on top. Although the Pennine Way detours to take in this high point many long distance trekkers miss it out altogether as it's a long 29 mile section already on weary feet.
As it was such a dawdle crossing the gap on the ascent I was a bit too cavalier and lighthearted coming down and ran across the thin boards using balance alone without the support of the pole...
and promptly slipped off into the bog.
Normally in Scotland you would only go in knee deep but I immediately sank in waist deep in under a heartbeat but luckily the grass edge was near and I grabbed that  to pull myself out. It was all over in a matter of minutes and apart from muddy trousers I was fine. What I was worried about was water damage to my wallet interior and car card reader but they were fine too. No harm done except to my pride.
It was only when I thought about it later I realized my feet had not touched bottom and I was still sinking when I grabbed the firm edge. Nowhere I can think of in Scotland after 40 years of exploration has soft peat been that deep or so much resembled thin porridge so either it's a peculiar feature of this hill or as I suspect it's been aggravated by generations of Pennine Way walkers sinking in and general popularity making natural conditions far worse. I could see now why the flagstones are so essential to safety. I'm six feet tall and some of the bog is 2 metres deep in places or 6 foot 7inches deep before you hit bottom. A young child, sheep or a dog would have little chance here of being saved if their owner or parent wasn't nearby to pull them out as it was just like falling into water with the same speed of descent. Yet it was mud and just as reluctant to let you go once sunk past a certain point. I'm not exaggerating- it was that dangerous yet it looked deceptively benign and if I hadn't fallen in I would never have expected it to be that deep and fluid a surface to drop into.  And I've crossed thousands of peat hags everywhere else so know that type of terrain well to walk across.  Unlike the 4th photo up it had no standing water on it just flat mud. A lesson learned as disappearing below the surface in an instant is usually confined to bad horror movies. Even an adult backpacker might have trouble getting out again if they couldn't reach firm ground with the weight of the pack dragging them down if alone. Having seen the rapid growth of new long distance routes all over Scotland recently I look forward to finding out if any tourist income and economic benefit will be gradually eaten into by continuous long distance path maintenance and repair given our rain drenched climate. Before the heavy duty slabs were laid there was a boardwalk here.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and I soon swapped muddy trousers for clean waterproof bottoms and trainers back at the car. Driving back down the glen we noted just how prosperous looking this farming district was with abundant mixed livestock in every field, hundreds of young pheasants scampering about and a real need to go slowly to avoid hitting them with the car.
We managed to avoid them all, even though they had suicidal tendencies, insisting on diving in front of us at the last minute but we saved every last one of them for the estate guns instead.
A young male pheasant just getting his adult plumage in. We got back to Glasgow around 10:00pm after a quick stop in Galashields town centre for chip suppers. As luck would have it we appeared in town at the same time as a bus load of girls dressed as naughty nuns and St Trinian schoolgirl types which provided a surreal but highly decorative backdrop to our chip munching as we sat on benches nearby watching them disembark in a giggling flurry of black stockings, tiny skirts and high heels.
A view of Tinto.  2,333 feet or 711 metres high.
 An 18 hour day in total- 6 hours walking 5 hours driving. (Being further away I got in at 11:00pm) Thanks to Graeme and David for being great company as usual- many thanks to Graeme for the hill suggestion and driving... and thanks to Cheviot itself for showing me what a sheep dip really feels like. An unforgettable experience and a genuine first for me :o)