Saturday 14 October 2023

Kilsyth. Kirkintilloch and Croy Hill. Auchinstarry Quarry.

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As a change from west coast hills Alan and I decided to head east this time. Kilsyth to be precise, where Auchinstarry Quarry resides.( See photo above) This brought back loads of memories for me as it was a favourite day trip rock climbing venue. Not as midge infested as Craigmore, ( a small crag to the north of Glasgow), very scenic, and with dozens of  good routes up the cliffs here at all grades. Being higher it can also feel more exposed with a mountain scale to some of the climbs.

Red Lead 27 metres at Very Severe VS and White Slab 27 metres at Hard Severe HS, (both seen above on the blank looking wall directly above right side of left hand bench) were club favourites along with Walk on the Wild Side HVS. Not only was it a scenic and fairly adventurous place to climb with a scramble down the cliff to reach the 20 to 30 metre high climbs ( 60 to 100 feet high) then a shoreline traverse above deep water... it was also a place where you could occasionally look down and see 2 to 3 foot long pike gliding beneath your climbing shoes when balanced on a thin ledge halfway up the routes. Unique in that respect.


This black smooth slab looks like Walk on the Wild Side HVS although its 25 to 30 years since I last climbed here. A different person entirely to the sad old duffer gazing thoughtfully at it just now. Out of curiosity I looked at the current online UK guide and many of the routes are still the same grade, some have gone but new ones have appeared to take their place from Diff to E6.   HVS/E1 was my upper limit here though.

See link below with climbing photo gallery and grade list.



Our purpose this time though was just to park here and walk up the nearby Croy Hill. I do not remember this replica wooden fort for children to play on when we used to climb here. A more modern addition, though a good one.



From the car park, seen here with the promontory cliffs, and Auchinstarry canal basin you can either walk along the north bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal or take a path through woods on the edge of Kilsyth to reach the same bridge near Shawend.

Auchinstarry canal basin/ marina and the wooded slopes of Croy Hill. This is one path, along the canal.


A view of the other path from Croy hill which follows a minor road, seen here at the first white houses, to cross the same canal bridge. From the bridge various paths lead up through woods onto Croy Hill. The eastern end of the Campsie Fells seen above the town of Kilsyth here. See above.


 Horses below part of Croy Hill. Even though it's pleasantly wooded good views along this long ridge-line and several grassy meadows make it an enjoyable and effortless ascent.


The minor road with the Campsie Fells behind.


This sculpture was not here either. Most English folk, unless they have a good interest in history, only think of Hadrian's Wall stretching across North Britain from sea to sea but the lesser known Antonine Wall, running across Central Belt Scotland did the same job for a single generation until it was abandoned. The furthest flung northern frontier of the Roman Army. An extra ditch, turf and wooden barrier and fort network against the constantly raiding barbarian tribes to the north. The history of both walls re-imaged for Game of Thrones and various films like King Arthur (2004 Clive Owen) and The Eagle. (2011) Unlike the well preserved Hadrian's Wall, built of stone blocks, the ditch and turf layout of the Antonine Wall has vanished in many places altogether but on the nearby Bar Hill and in Falkirk's Callendar Park you can still see evidence of its existence. This head is at the east side of Croy Hill.

 Croy Hill and Bar Hill. Pleasantly wooded rolling countryside. The long distance John Muir Way, 210km 130 miles 10 to 12 day hike runs through here from Dunbar to Helensburgh, across Central Belt Scotland from coast to coast. Having done most of it on day outings decades ago before it even existed as a long distance route I would recommend it. Beautiful scenery throughout. Either in one go or on day trips. No high mountains to climb here but plenty of scenic interest and local history.


The descent off Croy Hill. Typical Central Belt scenery on the John Muir Way.


We also had great views over Kilsyth, the full Auchinstarry range of climbing cliffs laid bare and the canal boat basin.


Signpost near Croy village.


We could have continued on to do Bar Hill but we wanted to avoid the notorious rush hour slow crawl along the M8 motorway back so we had a quick visit to Peel Park in Kirkintilloch instead. Never been though Alan knew his way around here.

 A small park on a small hill but a good one. Roman fort influence again.


Peel Park. Postage stamp size. Not much bigger than this shown here although plenty of local walks, linked to this town run through it.


An enjoyable day out with good company. Three to four hour walk. With sky high energy bills I'm not looking forward to the winter months of darkness, dampness and cold mornings very much. This was probably the last warm day of T- shirt hedonism for us before the big chill of winter and shorter daylight hours sets in. Dark here by 7:00pm now. People that love winter must be rich enough to laugh at big heating bills dropping through their door. On the plus side bed bugs hate cold houses... so I'm OK. Any bugs better have four season sleeping bags to crawl into indoors cos that's where I will be. Wah! Missing pleasant summer days already!

Thursday 5 October 2023

Lunderston Bay Walk to Inverkip Marina

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 A flat walk on a lovely day of a few hours duration. Lunderston Bay lies between Gourock and Inverkip. It's a popular day trippers place so although it's a large car park, on a good sunny day better to get there before  10:30am- 11:00am to bag a spot. Once parked, or coming by train to Inverkip Station, you walk the coastline path between Inverkip Marina and Lunderston Bay. A path also leads inland through the Ardgowan Estate for the circular return leg.


It's a walk of great variety with views of the mountains and the Firth of Clyde plus any passing ships or pleasure craft. Container ship bound for Greenock docks here, above.


The path is also a good one and after last weeks encounter with missing hill trails and barbed wire fences ripping into me everywhere outdoors an easier straightforward day was much appreciated.

It's also very scenic with sandy beaches, mature deciduous woodland and grassy meadows once inland.

Boats passing each other.


Cosmos border. An increasingly popular flower these days.

 Red Admiral butterfly feeding.


Natural sea sculptures on pebbles gathered in under a minute on Inverkip beach.

 I love a good beach walk as long as it's not too busy and this one was not, just me, my friend Alan, and a few dog walkers. We have done most of the hills in the Inverclyde area now so this was a change from uphill walks.

 Beach view from Lunderston Bay.

 Large ship heading for Greenock.


The old stone pier at Inverkip. Ruins of a building/house here as well near the shoreline so maybe predating the marina construction.

Inverkip Beach.

Inverkip Marina. Felt like Italy or France with the sun and heat. I'll miss that warmth now were are into much cooler temperatures. Scotland should be well placed however in a warming world... rarely above 26c in summer... and hopefully milder winters given the current increased domestic heating bills.

More Inverkip Marina. This part of the walk can look semi tropical with this blue lagoon effect and the lines of boats

Kip Marina bar and restaurant. Was only in this once, many years ago.


After a last few views out to sea the path travels inland through the Ardgowan estate. The few times I've experienced midges this year they have been very bad so maybe this explains midge nets for the estate horses. They do drive humans and animals to distraction.


Horse midge net in action.


They have introduced alpacas since the last time I was here. Summer cut coats for the last three hot months.

They have five or six in a paddock. Nice to see.

Cute and funny.


Sweet chestnuts. Introduced by the Romans to make flour (polenta I think) but it's usually too cold in the UK for them to ripen fully. Maybe not this year though.



Acorns in Late September.


A colourful, pleasant and very varied day out.


More Cosmos borders along Greenock's esplanade. 2 to 4 hours depending on speed and lunch stops.

  PS. much, much harder to leave comments on wordpress accounts now. Still rejected after leaving my email, phone no and two different verification codes sent to me. They want me to change to wordpress now. **** that!