Sunday 3 December 2023

A Walk around Neilston in Renfrewshire.

                                                    ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

With minus 4 temperatures and a recent dump of fresh snow at street level in Glasgow I though I'd escape back into summer instead. Neilston's former Cotton Mill, above. The walk started here by following this lane along the side of the old mill wall. Further on a step through hole in the wall leads into woods then a banana shaped path curves around a meadow to Holehouse in Neilston then another path takes you past Brimstone Bridge, following the Levern Water some of the way, then Neilstonside Farm via a minor road. Living in a northern country I always appreciate Spring, Summer, and Autumn for its greenery and hopeful heat. Summers not too warm as yet but not cold either. Perfect in fact.


Renfrewshire is dairy cattle country so this is a scene very familiar to me although the cattle here appear to have been gathered in for something but the general setting is much the same. Five minutes walk from my house between the ages of five and fifteen, black and white dairy cattle munched in fields very close to my front door and even better the fields were large with mature hedgerows separating them. Unlike here, photo above and below, you could usually avoid any cows in a large field and even if you couldn't... skipping into any adjoining field was easy via numerous gaps in the hedges. There was always space to walk along the edges even in a field of crops, which, of course, we knew not to touch. Simple for children or teenagers to squeeze through  between fields if the cows got too close but not for the cows to escape and follow us. (We/ us being various friends.)


So I always look at cows... and tenements... with fond affection. Possibly because I didn't have to muck out winter concrete farm buildings at any point although I've seen it done many times. All that area used to be like this when I was growing up but now it's been swallowed up by various housing estates. Darnley, Parkhouse and Southpark Village. We didn't harm the cows in any way but I'm ashamed to say we did collect birds eggs found in the hedgerows back then but I only needed one egg from each common bird. Egg collecting being my first real obsession. A reason to go into the countryside in the first place and something of an addiction, like any other hobby. With no adults or TV / media around to teach us it was wrong my personal lifelong interest in wildlife/ nature started right here. Back in the 1960s Africa was still something of an untraveled continent for anyone other than rich explorers... the world was unbelievably vast and apparently limitless, tourists still had stay at home holidays in the UK, mainly because most families were poor and had a limited two week's off work in summer plus foreign tourism was just starting to catch on for the better off..... And nature was thriving. Still plenty of fish in rivers and  oceans: No global warming or climate change to think about and hundreds of birds nests in the hedgerows to choose from. A childhood myth going around being birds could only feel three eggs, a middle body egg and one for both wings so we always left those three behind, even in a nest of four eggs. Probably a parent told someone that on hearing we were collecting although it wasn't frowned on then as much as it is now from what I remember. For children exploring the area it was just something that was accepted they might do, like trainspotting. (The more upmarket harmless hobby not the film.) We also collected small fish, caterpillars, tadpoles, frogs, mice, butterflies and newts... keeping them at home for a few days or a week to study them close up before releasing them again. Climbing bushes and trees only added to the excitement of the hunt as a fall could be fatal.

Only a small percentage of children were egg collectors or even explored outside their own estate into the countryside so we were unusual. When I was about twelve to fourteen however I gradually stopped collecting and the enjoyment/addiction faded away because I realized it was cruel, I had enough eggs, one for each species, a box of 25 or so, and wildlife, however plentiful, had a right to exist as well. Life in the estate could be very cruel for humans so it took a while to gain a proper sense of compassion for other things, especially with other, harder or older children tagging along, offering advice. The usual peer pressure. Looking back, although we did some damage to bird numbers.... a few years later they ripped out the hedgerows and covered many of the best fields in tarmac, roads, and housing estates which would be an even bigger loss to any wildlife that remained I'd imagine. Also domestic cats kill over a million small birds/ animals every single day in some large countries to put my own small contribution towards species decline into context.


So the countryside around Neilston reminds me of what my own area used to look like ( Dams to Darnley Country Park that is) back in the 1960s. With a network of quiet scenic roads The Barrhead Plateau Escarpment Uplands remains ideal for cycling. On this occasion though Alan and I were on foot heading for Neilston Pad via these minor roads and paths, The highest summit in the area at 260 metres, 856 feet, is a hog back grassy top instead of bog and tussocks.


Still lovely country here. A path near Neilston that we walked.



Near the flight path but no overhead engine noise. A few zoomed shots.

Red plane.


Scottish Loganair plane.


Easyjet plane.

 Arran Ridge visible on the ascent.



...and finally Neilston Pad itself. You can do this hill from the small car park immediately below it in 20 mins or so but the way we did it gives full value to its modest height and provides a longer more interesting ascent of a few hours which also explores the town and a small rock climbing quarry as well.



Neilston from Neilston Pad showing part of the route walked.


The start of the Scottish Highlands from the summit.


As usual nowadays we came across several outdoor shrines to loved ones, either Covid related or  post Covid deaths.



Lot of artistic people out there. Painted pebbles.


A small lochan near Neilston.

Decorated tree.

A wind turbine.

 The beauty of the Renfrewshire Ridgelands. This is more like the large fields, cattle numbers and hedgerows that used to exist where I grew up. Classic Renfrewshire landscape.


The City of Glasgow in the distance.....   And as I type this in my frozen hovel, with snow lying outside, trying to minimize any extortionate heating bills. ( I have the money to pay them but I 'd rather spend it on other things I need more so it's strictly rationed to one hour morning and night to stop the pipes freezing.) 


Large exotic poppy in Neilston garden.

So, I can honestly say I miss summer.      P.S. to make amends for past misdemeanors I always feed the birds in my garden daily, especially during the  winter months and give them fresh water to drink if it's frozen solid, like now. And I bet all the outdoor animals, birds included,  hate ****** winter as much as I do!


Rosemary said...

Missing summer here too, but I would still love to see some snow photos if you venture out.
Are those those first hills the Campsie's on your photo showing the start of the Scottish Highlands from the summit? We used to look out at them from our house in Milngavie. They always looked spectacular with a topping of snow.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary. I have some snow photos but just the local park and golf course for now. ( the one time when you can access golf course land is when it snows.)
Yes, it's the Campsie Fells and Luss Hills.

blueskyscotland said...

Campsie and Fintry Hills on closer inspection. Had a Luss Hills photo as well but missed that one out apparently.

Anabel Marsh said...

Don’t know this bit well at all. Have not been enjoying the snow!

blueskyscotland said...

Neither have I Anabel. I don't mind at all if it's a mild winter. Suits me just fine. Had to relent today and put the fire on for an hour mid afternoon but I'm also aware that's like tenners flying at speed out my wallet towards energy companies pockets and as I don't keep it on constantly it soon cools down quickly.
And I'm hardy so I'd hate to think what ordinary folk are paying, Mums with babies, The very elderly, folk with health problems, etc who do need it on constantly in the winter months. The extra O.A.P money helps though. Never mind, meant to turn milder again after Wednesday. 7c degrees above I can handle no bother. Almost tropical. Watching Box sets of Lost also helps as it's set in sunny Hawaii while I shiver here. Heat by proxy through the television.

Carol said...

I bet they hate winter even more than we do! And I hate it with a vengeance. Being cold is just so depressing.

Cows don't get mucked out by people nowadays - it's an automatic scraper. I love cows too - one of my favourite creatures. And I find them very friendly, the dairy girls anyway. The beef cattle are usually too timid to come over.

We've been the coldest County this month - -7 to -8 or 9 being pretty constant for the last couple of weeks. I'm fed up of ice everywhere and am anticipating another broken wrist or worse this year :-(

If it's a gas fire you had to light in the afternoon, it cost b***r all to run so don't worry about it. It's electricity we pay through the nose for! And that's why the government want us all to go all-electric.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, Gas central heating but electric fire. I find the opposite going by my monthly bills. Meant to be minus 13 up near Braemar come Wed night but after that mild weather arrives for a week then cold again. Never Mind, only 4 months to go before Spring arrives again :o(. Watched a wild swimming club in the sea at Gourock a few days ago. Presumably mostly a middle class activity where they go home to a permanently warm house as swimming in the sea in December is the last thing I want to do. I do cold water living instead. Cold shower every morning saves all that faffing about with wet gear afterwards. No need for a wet suit. Supposed to be very good for you.

Carol said...

Gas is around 10p per unit whereas electricity is more like 40 p per unit so gas is 4 times cheaper.