Tuesday 26 September 2023

The Knock. A Small Hill Above Largs.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

Another week and another walk. We were going to Largs but we went via Port Glasgow, which now has a tourist trail, of sorts, one of the highlights being this colourful mural of shops from the 1950s which used to be here. Only problem of following it is that Port Glasgow is a vertical town built on a steep hillside so some of the attractions involve steep ascents and as we were already planning on doing a hill this low level mural was as far as we got.

We plan on coming back though to do the rest of it as a further day out, which would class as a hill day in its own right. We being myself and Alan, my usual hill walking companion these days.

It's good to see Port Glasgow getting a minor revamp as I've always found it an interesting place with good features if you look for them hard enough.


This is the view looking north towards Greenock from the summit of the Knock. I'm putting this in here to show the route of the scenic single track road running over the high moors from Greenock to Largs, a huge area of empty ground covering Inverclyde , Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, and part of Cunninghame. It always surprises people visiting when you take them over this wild section in a car as it could be anywhere in the remote Scottish Highlands, yet it's not.


It's not all sweetness and light however as it is bordered on the coastal edges by several deprived districts with the usual problem of drugs, crime and bad behaviour.


Mostly though it's very scenic and this is our first glimpse of our chosen hill, The Knock, from the high moor road.



And one from Fairlie Beach showing it's truer profile. On the OS Landranger map Sheet 63 Firth of Clyde it does not have any name just a spot height of 217 metres or 712 feet. I was up this way 12 years ago and back then a path led from the outskirts of Largs near the park boating pond up the minor road past Bankhead. Only a short way up this minor road a stile and a metal pole denoted the path running up through green fields, roughly following a line just below the skyline running left to right. I was looking out for this stile and pole but couldn't see it. Thinking we had missed it due to either talking or high summer vegetation obscuring it I realized we were going too high up the minor road and crossed into the field system at the next gate to find that path. 

 This was a mistake as no path exists now and several barbed wire fences had to be crossed. Long gone are the days when I could jump over most fences without touching them or leap over one handed on a solid post. An ageing tree kangaroo has replaced a champion show-jumper so I picked the easier option of crawling under several fences rather than clambering over them. The last one had a sting in its tail however as it caught my head as I was sliding under, leaving a half inch rip in my scalp. 

 For a small cut I hardly felt at all it bled profusely, within seconds pouring down my face and into my eyes. Doctor Alan came to the rescue however and stuck a wad of toilet tissue on it with compression until it stopped. I was beginning to think the Largs hills had turned against me as that's several times now I've almost came to grief following routes/ paths that used to be there for many decades but alas are no more. It's like learning them all over again... from scratch in this case.


We did get to the summit this way but I would never recommend it. Fields of livestock and more barbed wire fences, several doubled with a five foot space in-between further impeded progress but we were committed now having passed the Rubicon, as it were. The correct way up is to follow the minor road past Knock Castle and Home Farm to link up with the Ayrshire Coastal Path, ascending the hill from its north side then down via  Brisbane Mains. It's a longer route and having a dog with us I was wary of going through farms as they usually have dogs there, sometimes loose in the yard. Lost count of the number of times I've been barked at and occasionally charged at by sheepdogs in farms only doing what they are there for, protecting the property. But it does make you wary going through or passing close to unfamiliar farmyards. I'd imagine most folk climbing this hill would do it from Largs but it's longer and harder now with that northern ascent.

Brisbane Glen hills. Not sure if it occurred during covid lock-downs or just the passing of time but we have noticed that decades long established paths we've walked years ago many times have simply ceased to exist. In this case probably superseded by the long distance Ayrshire Coastal Path dominating and eliminating any other routes that used to be there.

View from the summit looking north west.

And back down to Largs. Golf Course view.

 Rural hinterland above Largs. This looks a very similar scene to childhood wanderings near my old house in Nitshill. Rolling green hills and cattle country.... and sliding under any fences with ease in a much smaller body back then.

Loads of summer flies around the trig but 10 feet away having lunch we were fine. Different story if it was a swarm of midges this thick.

Determined to find the correct way down, but one heading for Largs, instead of north, towards Greenock, we followed an obvious good path down the side of a golf course but this too petered out. We then descended into a small deep wooded gorge beside the golf course which was magical, full of large 50 foot high mature beech trees that seemed out of scale compared to the minor V shape of the gorge. A path had existed here but many of the large trees had topped over in winter gales so this too was an awkward obstacle course of jumping over or crawling under fallen trees.


This ironwork beside Routenburn Farm however at the start of the gully convinced us that it had indeed been a regular path up the hill in past decades. Yet another lost route up this hill.



Back in Largs again at the boating pond. For such a small hill of 712 feet it did not succumb to our efforts easily. Once back in the house I looked at an online satellite map but even that zooming in to full close up did not show any paths leading down in the direction of  Largs other than the Ayrshire Coastal one already mentioned, and even that was hard to pick out from above, zoomed in. Even though I've been walking hills for 50 years it's taught me that you can't ever count on past memory of walks nowadays as many landscapes have transformed completely since I last enjoyed hill walking five years ago. Only The Cut above Greenock remains the same.


Carol said...

I wish they'd ban barbed wire except for the military and their installations! I really don't know why farmers don't just stick to stockwire with a plain wire over the top. I hope the bit which bit your head wasn't rusty - perhaps you should have had a tetanus jab to be on the safe side. But heads really do bleed!

It's the other way around here with walkers. Before Covid, there were 'proper' walkers on the hills but no-one else and paths were still nice. Now, since between every lockdown and forever since, we've been absolutely deluged by people who think they're hillwalkers (but aren't) and the hill paths and mountain rescue have suffered equally! Paths are turning into gullies with 'mountain' bikers (why don't they make their own paths instead of knackering ours?!) and the new 'hillwalkers' won't walk on the paths but just make them wider and wider by insisting on walking to the side of them! :-|

The poor old mountain rescue guys are being constantly called out - like every day of the week and sometimes 3 or 4 rescues in a row in a day - often for more than 24 hours at a stretch. And these callouts are now for things like: "we're cold and wet on the hill" (hills ARE cold and wet), "We're going to miss our tea", "our phone battery has died as we keep playing on t'internet on it and now we can't navigate', "it's misty so we don't know where we are". And the poor mountain rescue guys can't ever be attending their work nowadays as they don't have time.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
That's the reason for two fences feet apart as it's easier and less effort to leave the old rusting one in place and just string a new one across beside it. 30 years ago I could usually jump them without touching but now fences like that are a grandad stopper for sure. Luckily it was the new shiny one that cut me so I just washed it out then rubbed toothpaste into it once I went to bed. Toothpaste works on mouth ulcers (rubbed on but never swallowed as it causes stomach problems) and cuts and thorns on fingers are usually fine after leaving toothpaste on them overnight, once its hardened and harder to wipe off until the next day. I've had scratched swollen red fingers several times from work injuries that could have got worse left alone but toothpaste did the trick so it does work.
Yes, even up here there's more call outs on the mountains.... and higher parking fees in the car parks are happening where once they were free to use. Apparently £9 now at Arrochar for a full day's normal hill-walk so I wont be going back there in a hurry. Scotland is gradually getting like the Lake District

Anabel Marsh said...

Yeah, so I don’t think I’ll be trying out your route anything soon. Was interested in your toothpaste remedy as outlined to Carol, not heard of that. And the shops mural looks good. We did a PG heritage trail a few years ago, but I don’t remember that. Maybe it’s new.

Carol said...

I haven't heard of the toothpaste thing either.

£9 in Arrochar!!! That's appalling! Think how expensive it will be to do Munros and Corbetts in future if, in addition to accommodation and petrol to get there, you have to pay those kind of parking charges all over!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel, off line for a week due to a line fault but back on now. Toothpaste definitely works rubbed on mouth ulcers ( as long as you do not swallow it) swollen fingers, cuts, scratches from thorns etc left on overnight once dry.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, not been up there myself yet to check it out just seen reports online. Probably only the honeypot car parks like Luss, Rest and be thankful, etc seeing increases. Not been up there for years but councils are strapped for cash with Glasgow's brown bin owners now charged £50 a year to empty them whereas they were always free up until this year.