Saturday 18 March 2023

Rubbish. The Good The Bad and The Ugly.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


This is a walk taken during the height of late summer last year in the afternoon from Old Kilpatrick to Duntocher and back.  I did it with my friend Anne as it is one of our favourite local walks near Glasgow. I've always loved spring, summer, and autumn for the colours and lush vegetation (and hopefully the heat) and this particular outing occurred during a heatwave so late afternoon was a perfect time to go out being still pleasantly warm but 8 degrees cooler than peak mid-day temperatures.

The bugs were enjoying the heat as well. Soldier Beetles here. The grass, flowers, and surrounding vegetation appeared at its tallest and most verdant... waist to head high in places... July and August....the nearest Scotland gets to a tropical paradise.

Shimmering heat haze over the golden cornfields conjured up a distinctive Wizard of Oz vibe in my imagination... and did I not have my (sometimes faithful) Dorothy and Toto marching right beside me here... no hint of a tornado yet. So....everything was perfect in Munchkinland.


Or was it? I say this as it struck me on several short winter walks recently around my local area that the Central Belt... hedgerows, canal foot paths, lay-bys, grass verges, small wooded strips.... must be one of the world's dirtiest locations. Fact. In summer all the rubbish of beer cans, energy drinks, glass bottles,coffee cartons, dog shit, etc is thankfully hidden and we can pretend we all live in a beautiful serene scenic country. In winter however it is laid completely bare and I could spend an hour in any living room sized section of hedgerow or layby near me picking up dozens of individual pieces of litter and handfuls of cans. No exaggeration. I will take photographs next time to prove it. Sadly you could pick it all clean and in one month it would be back again as bad as ever. Scotland, (and the UK in general) has fantastic scenery- one of the world's most varied landscapes, but it is very, very bad for litter. World class in fact. Rightly famous for it as an incredibly dirty nation. Normally I can ignore it in the main but post pandemic, this winter, it seems to be worse than ever before. Especially with the spring flowers bursting out surrounded by a cheerful garland of used nappies, half empty beer cans, vomit, and wine bottles. Might make an apt eye catching poster for the new SNP elections.



Anyway, back to the dream time heat of Oz and the euphoria of  mid summer where everything is hidden again. A pleasant path leading to the village of Duntocher.

 Back to beauty once more.

 Poppies in a garden.

 Summer at its finest.


An unusual flower. Nature always does its very best to cheer us up with beauty but a percentage of humanity seems to delight in desecrating it instead. How hard can it be to put litter in a bin or take it home with you?

Even the weeds do their part to hide the sea of rubbish left behind by thoughtless or evil individuals. Rose bay willow herb here.

 Pink thistles and soldier beetles getting jiggy.


The walk follows the route of the Antonine Wall in places. Even a percentage of Roman recruits stationed in the various forts presumably tossed litter around here. Five percent? Ten percent? Fifteen?

It's now a children's play park. Since childhood I don't leave litter around and always carry anything I bring with me on any walk back to my own house bin or find one along the route so who are these people that continually drop stuff out of cars or toss it away as they walk along. Do they want to live in a world with rubbish knee deep?  Aren't smart phones supposed to make us smarter... not turn us into idiots?

 Signpost to Rome. Only 413 leagues to walk? That actually sounds achievable! After all, they did it one thousand years ago in crap heavy gear.

In not very well padded sandals or boots as well.. maybe even bare feet for some.

Path up Golden hill.  


Golden hill summit view.


The local burn. A shady cool place under the trees in the heat.

 The local park in Duntocher.

 Same local park.

 The euphoria of high summer vegetation. It hides many sins. Unlike humans, animals have to live here. This is their home and we continually destroy it. No wonder insect, bird, reptile, and mammal populations are crashing when you see what they have to live in, at ground level, in winter.


Farms in the Kilpatrick Hills.



Even the walk back along the A82 is beautiful at this time of year with a variety of flowering weeds. I should point out this is not a walk with an overabundance of litter on it. We both like it because it is one of the better ones, being semi rural. But over the last few months of winter and weekly walks elsewhere, with an absence of vegetation to hide it all, the current levels of rubbish in every city verge, wooded margin or canal towpath I walk past is a national scandal and makes a complete mockery of all the 'green credentials' we are supposed to be meeting. In summer I can usually ignore it and pretend all is well but during the bleak winter months it is a disgrace. How can we expect to fix climate change when we crap in our own basket.... repeatedly. No one I know leaves litter lying around but it must be someone doing it as there is so much of it. Normally I focus on or highlight the beauty that surrounds me and try to ignore the rubbish at my feet but any overseas visitors must be appalled and disgusted. Fact. The UK has one of the most varied and beautiful patchwork quilt landscapes anywhere on the planet, the envy of other countries that can only dream of such varied complexity of terrain, with every few miles offering a totally different geological feature or completely different views round every bend, yet we routinely and increasingly trash it like this... week in week out. Hopefully in the future we can develop an army of tiny garbage robots picking or eating all the litter up as the UK seems completely incapable of doing it itself. Not every country is like this though. I now carry a separate bag with me for used can collections on my travels . It's a small start against a tsunami of junk.


Kay G. said...

We used to have a TV ad here, "Keep America Beautiful".
I think you had posters saying "Keep Britain Tidy". We need to bring that back!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
A better way that would actually work is an embedded chip in each human or an asbo type ankle bracelet that delivered a taser like shock anytime anyone dropped litter deliberately. That would soon get the message across.

Anabel Marsh said...

We were just remarking the same yesterday - mid-afternoon on St Patrick’s day and beer cans etc everywhere. Who knows what it would have been like later in the evening!

Carol said...

You need to be very careful indeed of picking up other people's germ-infested litter! I won't do it - I would perhaps if I had plastic gloves but otherwise, no!

Smart phones definitely don't make people smarter - dafter, stupider maybe, but not smarter. If they were that smart, they'd look up at the real world sometimes which they literally never do.

Who are the people leaving litter? they're the new generation of people who've suddenly started going out 'walking' since the lockdowns.

The ones who've caused all the problems supporting puppy farms and then chucking the pups out to animal shelters shortly afterwards. The ones who see the outdoors as somewhere to 'party' - not somewhere of peace and quiet where, as you quite rightly point out, wildlife has to try to live! The ones who encourage their dogs to chase pregnant sheep and worry them. The ones who call the mountain rescue every five minutes as they can't be bothered to learn what to do in the hills and they've suddenly got into some knee-deep snow (even though the hill was white-over and the snow had been much publicised).

I could list many more...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Never even knew it was St Patrick's Day. I was focused on other things. Not something I've ever celebrated I don't think in past years and you don't notice it happening on the outskirts of the city. I was more meaning the kind of everyday litter that seems to exist in the undergrowth year on year and never gets lifted rather than any one day event, as my next post should show.

blueskyscotland said...

Yep, there's a lot that's wrong with society at present Carol yet things that could be fixed easily with a minimum of effort. Like not dropping litter and putting it in a bin instead... or taking it home if you brought it out.

Carol said...

But that's the point - the take-away scoffing, chain-smoking, heavy drinking, 'party animals' who are now coming out into the outdoors can't be bothered with all that clearing up after themselves - they're 'entitled' you see! Basically, they don't see why they should.