Friday 24 May 2024

Johnstone Castle Walks and William Wallace Monument.

                                      ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


When Alan and I were on a winter walk on the Gleniffer Braes, months ago now, we were intrigued to look down at a park like area, obviously open to the public, as we could see paths and dog walkers on it. This was an area of ground neither of us had ever visited before so we were determined to put that right. The photo above is of the Gleniffer Braes, under the pine plantation, where we were standing looking down... only in reverse. Now we were the ones looking up.

 Although I couldn't find that much about the area online it did confirm you could walk there so a week later, in early spring, we set off to explore it. On the Landranger OS Glasgow Map Sheet 64 Johnstone is just on the left hand edge of it so we walked from the Johnstone Castle area up through woods to Windy Hill. A good path network and various trails take a gentle uphill course going towards the Gleniffer Braes, through an area known as the bluebell woods but too early in the year to spot any.


Instead it was snowdrop time.



Some steep bits through pleasant woodland but mostly a fairly gentle ascent.  A small car park exists at Windy Hill, used by locals, but not many places for cars there. About a dozen spaces maybe.

Because it was a new area we did enjoy it, despite a damp cold day. But it would be much better later on in spring or summer with the leaf canopy out and lush undergrowth to look at.


It's mainly deciduous woodland with a few open meadow areas, seen here, but enough walking potential for a few hours.

 Mostly it was a dull day but the sun did come out now and again.

 On the way back down into Johnstone we had two extra treats in store and both of these we had been to before, though not together... and years apart.

 Johnstone Castle, once owned by the 5th Laird of Johnstone. It's now completely surrounded by a pleasant enough  modern housing estate but in the past it would have been surrounded by typical grand estate landscapes, some of which you can still make out on this walk.


When I first visited here decades ago I was amazed by this old castle ( now a private residence) completely surrounded by a council estate ( now many of them also bought presumably) and even more so by its famous visitor who stayed here briefly.


This info board explains why.


As it's nearby and on the way back we also stopped off at the Wallace Monument in Elderslie.  Street parking available at castle and monument.


Unlike the film Braveheart where Mel Gibson supposedly grew up in a highland glen village then ran with his men over dramatic mountain ranges the truth is more mundane and far less spectacular to a cinema audience. He either grew up here or in Ayrshire ( being the son of a minor knight his early history is vague before he got famous as it was never recorded... he wasn't important enough then. But this is where he grew up and most of his battles, except for Stirling ( The edge of the Scottish Highlands) were lowland battles in scenery much like this walk. No real mountains at all. In the Scottish Highlands clan chiefs still ruled their territory with an iron fist, fighting with other clans mainly and not much interested in a young upstart or problems far away.

 The carved panels are really well done.

 Close up detail.

 The empty helm... Another good walk.


Carol said...

While it would be kind of nice to live in a castle (albeit probably cold and draughty), I'm not sure I'd want to live in it surrounded by council estate housing!

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting, I never knew Johnstone had a castle.

blueskyscotland said...

No. Even the one in Pollok, Crookston Castle, despite being an uninhabited ruin, managed to keep a sizable green space around it Carol so one so closely surrounded by housing on all sides must be unusual.

blueskyscotland said...

We did see signs for a second castle in Johnstone Anabel but never went there as it was off route and someone told us it might be a golf course now on the site of it with maybe no castle still existing. Not a bad walk but only if you've run out of better walks elsewhere. Another walk we did recently in Renfrew was even more bizarre.

Rosemary said...

I was previously only aware of the Wallace Monument that sits on the hilltop overlooking Stirling.
I was recently reminded of it following a visit made a couple of weeks ago by Paul Murton on his BBC2 'Grand Tours of Scotland's Rivers' - love those programmes, do you watch them?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary, yes I have seen them. The Elderslie site is supposed to be where W.W. grew up on a farmstead. Stone foundations still there. I've been up the W.M in Stirling as well. I've also been watching the latest Race across the World series with the final leg this Wednesday. They did the same in the recent film about Mary Queen of Scots- had her galloping around high mountains when in reality it was Nitshill. Pollok, Darnley Shawlands and Edinburgh. I can see why they did it though. More spectacular than the Central Belt district.