Friday 28 June 2024

Loch Lomond Boat Trip. Doune Bothy.

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Alan and I fancied another bothy night so we picked Doune Bothy on the West Highland Way near the top end of Loch Lomond. As I'd just invested in a £40 Lidl inflatable dinghy we had the idea to paddle across Loch Lomond and reach the bothy that way. I've walked into it twice for an overnight stay decades ago but it's a fair distance to walk in with a heavy pack. This seemed a much easier option provided we didn't sink. Deepest park of the loch lies at this end. Boats with a motor need to register with the park authority and pay to go on Loch Lomond. Boats without one do not at present.

 Obviously I picked a calm windless day to paddle across. It claims to hold three people but even with two adults and two large rucksacks it was pretty full and sat low in the water.


We did manage to reach the other side though after a 20 minute paddle. Loads of junk awaited us from an abandoned cottage near the bothy.


And we had to get over a razor wire fence... but apart from that it was easy. We found out later, on the return, you could avoid this by walking around the edge of it.


Luckily we were first in as towards evening it soon filled up with folk doing the West Highland Way. I was surprised how many back- packers were doing this walk... at a guess around 200 people passed the door of the bothy and a steady stream of walkers from all over the world appeared then carried on-wards. Luckily only 8 or 9 fancied an overnight stay here.


Quite a basic, spartan, bothy inside and well used I'd imagine but at least this time it had seats and plenty of wooden sleeping platforms so held around ten folk lying down. Midges and biting horse flies were in abundance outside and as usual I was chewed to bits when I got back to the house.

 I had a walk along the path in the evening while Alan started a fire.


Some of the surrounding mountains.


With mist burning off.


This looks like life on a different planet. A bee on a flower in close up detail.


Same here.


Found a frog at a puddle.


West Highland Way path.Loch Lomondside.

 Yellow Poppy.

 And the next day we paddled back again.

Friday 21 June 2024

Clydebank Circular Walk. Forth and Clyde Canal. Titan Crane. New Swing Bridge.

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This is a walk I've not done for a while but I knew it would be good on a nice day in June with summer vegetation at it's peak. I was busy during the morning period so it was lunchtime when I was free and being a lovely sunny day I wanted to catch some of it. A walk of a few hours duration. Got the bus (or train) to Clydebank's Shopping Centre, (seen above) then walked along the Forth and Clyde Canal to West Dalmuir.

 This is a lovely stretch, part of the cycle route to Loch Lomond, but on this occasion I was only walking as far as West Dalmuir. You can also do this walk on a bike or extend it taking in Clydebank Public Park for the views, or start from Anniesland to Old Kilpatrick and back.


The weather forecasters and media recently seem to be obsessed with 'what happened to our summer?' and 'when will we get some decent heat?' but I'm very happy with the last couple of months up here. Not too warm for walking... 16c to 18c, fairly dry, just the odd heavy shower. I don't like it too warm. It can't be that cold as I'm typing this with just a thin tee shirt on and haven't put any heating on in the house since March. Just as well. My gas bill was £10 a month during the winter period yet it's jumped to £40 a month recently despite never putting it on.    ****!!!!! An old Sonny and Cher song springs to mind here and it's not 'I got you Babe.' But maybe that song is applicable as well. And bugger all you can do about it either.


Arriving at West Dalmuir where the Forth and Clyde Canal crosses Dumbarton Road then follows the canal on the other side of this to Old Kilpatrick. I cut off here however at Beardmore Street as I've not been down it for a few years and was curious to see if a continuation past the Golden Jubilee Hospital had been implemented, and to visit Beardmore Community Park.

 Beardmore Sculpture. (A long lane directly behind this sculpture running parallel to Dumbarton Road will be mentioned later.)

 I passed the Golden Jubilee Hospital... and Beardmore Park is just beside it. 

 It's only a small postage sized park with nothing much in it but it does have extensive views over the River Clyde.

 As seen here. The Titan Crane, seen in the distance, is where I was heading next. Alas, they had not built a walkway past the Golden Jubilee Hospital after all so I had to retrace my steps back to the sculpture. (So you can skip this community park extra bit of the walk out if desired.)

 Behind the sculpture is this lane. Not exactly scenic, but better than walking along Dumbarton Road with its traffic noise. At the end of this lane Cable Depot Road takes you to another straight section then a dog leg. Years ago there was a hole in a fence and a jump over a low wall there to get you into waste land beside the River Clyde again. This would be the best option for the semi agile as it keeps you at the waterfront on a rough grass path. This time however I turned up Agamemnon Street before that point then walked along Dumbarton Road. ( A recent similar short cut fence opening across the local golf course had been sealed off leading to a long detour so that probably swayed my judgement. If I'd looked at a map at that point I would have carried on to the hole as the road came back out onto Dumbarton Road again anyway at the far end but my memory of that street layout here failed me for once, thinking I'd have to backtrack again if it was no longer there, which wasn't the case.)

 No matter. I walked past the allotments on Dumbarton Road, Sweet Pea here, then cut across to the other side to pick up this green trail beside the railway line.

 This is it here and it got me away from the traffic. Because it was only an easy stone's throw from the busy Dumbarton Road it reminded me of a club hill-walking trip to Corsica decades ago to do the GR 20. Getting off at the airport in Nice we had a few miles to hike along an arrow straight and very busy road to our hotel for the night, the only one we would stay in, wild camping in the mountains for the rest of it. While my companions marched determinedly along the road in full 90 degree sun with dust and traffic noise a constant presence I found a trail like this one 30 feet away, sheltered by trees. I did shout "Hey, here's a trail here going the same way" but they were totally focused on reaching their destination. The trail only lasted a mile or so but when we met up again I'd seen a cute little gecko, several lizards, and a small blue bird... they'd seen trucks and cars zooming past at 50 miles an hour the whole time. A lot of hill walkers have no deep interest in nature anyway. It's all about the mountains for them. Which is fair enough. Everybody is different.


This was the same so when a bench appeared surrounded by June wild flowers I stopped for my lunch. A packet of crisps and a sandwich.


You are never really alone when nature is your friend. I've been reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn that I picked up in a charity shop recently about walking the 630 mile South West Coast Path and the restorative power of the outdoors. In my early 20s I cherry picked the best sections of it during an extended holiday with my cousin in the South of England but we varied it by exploring some of the small hill groups down there as well. Happy memories.


Even though this was a solo walk I soon had company. A young crow here asking for a crisp... or a crust.


Soon joined by its pal.

The path ended at the railway bridge crossing over the road so I crossed as well over Dumbarton Road and took this path across waste ground to the River Clyde again. This used to be John Brown's Shipyard ... now a large rectangle of empty land... for the moment.


And it comes out here. If you skip over the low wall and through the hole in the fence it brings you out here as well.... after a grass path romp along the riverbank. ( this is why I thought this tarmac walkway might have been extended past the Golden Jubilee Hospital to link up as it's a dead end here but was only constructed a couple of years ago to this point.... giving the impression it was intended to go further onwards at some later date.


Titan Crane came next and a distant view of the new swing bridge being constructed between Renfrew and Yoker/Clydebank.

 Getting closer with a plane coming in to land at Glasgow Airport. This is one of only 11 massive cantilever cranes still existing around the world and four of them are on the River Clyde. Capable of moving extremely heavy loads like lifting huge boilers or steam railway engines into the hold of ships. It used to be open to the public and I've been up it when it took tour groups onto the structure but it's been closed for a while now. Either health and safety, falling tourist numbers, or more likely council cut backs as every public service now has been decimated through fifteen years of austerity with deep potholes left unfilled in nearly every road in the UK the last few years.

 New housing in Clydebank next to the crane. These look OK now that they are complete with the scaffolding away.

 West College. Clydebank. The walkway runs past here then ends at the Clydebank Docks so a back street has to be taken to link up with cycleway/ path again, running past the Renfrew Ferry, Yoker and the new Swing Bridge.

 Looking back at the Golden Jubilee Hospital and the route taken. Quite a distance for a walk of only a few hours duration and pretty varied throughout.

Signpost on the cycle route.

Night scented stock on the cycle path/walkway.

Cycle path / track near Yoker.

 Nearing the Yoker /Renfrew ferry with Renfrew Town Hall and new swing bridge access road being constructed. New houses being built here as well.

Community garden nearby.

Colour splurge...

A nice display.

And a view from the Renfrew Ferry of it's competition.... the new Swing Bridge.  The Renfrew / Yoker Ferry is the last year round ferry on the River Clyde so if you fancy crossing it this is the time to do it. Can't think of any other small passenger ferry that's stayed running financially with a road bridge so close to it but hopefully it will as I enjoy taking it. I still had several miles to walk after this back to my house but this is the main walk completed. The end.


Sunday 16 June 2024

A Train Journey. Part Two. Dams to Darnley Country Park. Nitshill Return.

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South Nitshill from the bottom of the Grassy Hill. I've used this photo before a few years ago as I was driving past in the car heading for Rouken Glen Park to go a walk there and instead this view of wild flowers and a long carpet of buttercups covering every inch of this banana shaped hill blew me away instead. Again it was June when this occurred.

 So I parked in the small trading estate beside the Nia Roo pub and went for a wander here instead. I enjoyed it so much I wandered up the nearby Corselet minor road into the Dams to Darnley Country Park as far as the stone bridge halfway up. There I discovered a brand new path ( to me anyway) and followed it far enough to realise that it was heading in the direction of Barrhead. As I'd arranged to meet my friend Anne later on, somewhere else, I cut it short but intended to come back someday to explore the full route.

 This is South Nitshill, The Valley. Still the same low level houses that I remember as a child growing up. This is where you come out after the first part of the walk described in the part one blog post. From here you walk rightwards to the roundabout.

 And this is the roundabout you come out at. Still in South Nitshill looking at Parkhouse Road. Mostly well kept owner occupied houses. It used to look like this in the 1990s,  just before the tenement estate here was knocked down. Photo below.

 It's now a very different estate, just like the neighbouring Darnley and Priesthill, all also low level new housing stock, many owner occupied. Growing up in the 1960s the fields, farms and dairy cattle started on the other side of Parkhouse Road. An area larger than Pollok Country Park has been lost since then to the newish housing estates of Parkhouse, Southpark, and Deaconsbank. Three times that size if you include the Darnley ( built 1970s) and the new houses going up in Barrhead and Neilston at the present time. So that's a huge chunk of farmland no longer there. Farms and farmers therefore are the guardians of the countryside as once they move, die, or are abandoned housing developments tend to move into the vacated land within a few years.

 Having said that there's still so much to admire in this area and great walking potential.  This is Parkhouse Road/Darnley Road looking towards Barrhead. Anyone missing out the fields section mentioned in the last post and using this pavement from Cowan Park instead will come out here as will those crossing the fields on grass paths as described via the last post. Just across the road from here the path continues skirting behind Parkhouse Estate seen three photos ago.

 This is another view of the same roundabout as it shows exactly where the path is. Where the large pylon is on the far side of Parkhouse Road.

 You are now on the edge of Dams to Darnley Country Park. And the path you will need to follow to do this walk. Entire walk around 3 hours but you can easily extend this by including the Barrhead Dams or walking to Kennishead via a scenic green path/cycle-track between Darnley and Arden which also leads to Silverburn Shopping Centre, via a path beside the Brock Burn, as described in a previous blog post.


Although the Parkhouse Estate is only a short distance away, on the left here, you are hardly aware of it at all and it feels like a wild walk.

 Pastel perfection. A wild dog rose. Easily my favourite scent of any flower, including garden roses. 


What used to be fields grazed short by cattle... or crops like barley or turnips and bordered by neat hedgerows full of nesting birds and small mammals is now almost wild open heath- land with this central path running along a low ridge-line.


Looking towards Barrhead from it you get more of an idea of what it used to look like in the 1960s with a distant field system layout still in place.The whole of Pollok including South Nitshill, Darnley, and Priesthill used to be farms and rolling farmland similar to this with many of the district names taken from long gone farms.

 And a few fields away you can see Barrhead and St John's catholic church spire sticking up. One of the reasons I like that building is the views of it from afar. This view reminds me of early Rupert the Bear annuals. I only ever had three, sent by an Aunt. I preferred Oor Wullie and The Broons. (working class families, like mine, but always black and white strips.) Rupert the Bear was in vivid colour and featured illustrations very like this with the mad professor landing his tiny airplane in a village castle tower. Or scenic cliff tops, smugglers coves, and beaches. Or hills... like the Brownside Braes, above, (or more likely, The Chilterns.) I liked the colour and places featured but didn't like the rhyming couplets with everything, some of the more exotic characters, or the fact they seemed to be detached from the world I knew around me. At that age I didn't realise it was a middle class/ upper class bubble I was gazing into I just knew there was something off about it. A very guilty pleasure to be kept hidden. Like saying to your same aged friends you liked The Osmonds, The Carpenters, or Abba back then. Not cool at all. A talking teddy bear! A sure way to get beaten up. I liked the illustrations though and they definitely made an impact on my psyche.


Another view from this splendid path. Cowan Park. It's playground rides, Dairy cattle. Field system layout for Dubbs Farm... which may be generations old. Unchanged for 70 years at least... Maybe centuries old in the farm's case.

 I grew up wandering with herds of cattle as a child and teenager so nice to see them still here. And fields of horses on the nearby Salterland Road.

 Another view from this path. Without livestock to graze it down the vegetation soon becomes a tangled waist high jungle with small trees appearing on the way to becoming mature deciduous woodland eventually. The natural progress of wild land in the UK, left to itself. Do not know if this is better for nature than the field system layout in the distance but I suspect not. Did not see many birds, butterflies or insects here and a solo Chris Packham programme compared three suburban gardens. A carefully maintained one , a mixed one of short lawn but with wild patches, and a tangled overgrown one. The middle one was best. When you think about it birds have to find food easily when nesting. Very hard in this tangle. I did see loads of butterflies this month on a proper heath-land area not far from here a week later. So the contrast was stark. Although a beautiful walk car parking is hard here so I would always recommend coming by bus or train with the advantage that you can do linear walks from Barrhead to Nitshill, Darnley or Kennishead.

 Another advantage is that it's quiet here. One local dog walker was all I met midweek on a cracking summer day. I've never known it busy at any time in the Dams to Darnley Country Park, Unlike the very popular Mugdock area above Bearsden and Milngavie. This path leads down to the Stone bridge then Darnley Mill and The Darnley Tree. From there you walk along Nitshill Road to the train station at Nitshill.. or I did anyway.

 Another view of the route taken.

 The railway bridge at Nitshill.

 One thing that was new here was an access ramp leading to both platforms replacing the old bridge that used to cross the tracks.

 Replacing this bridge. Now gone.

 Nitshill from the train station.

 Info on the mining disaster in the mid 1800s when 61 miners lost their life down the Victoria Pit. As an ex coal mining village and industrial hub pre 1960s with brick works, lime works and several quarries in the area there used to be about six or seven pubs in Nitshill village growing up. Now there's one remaining plus the Nia Roo on Nitshill Road 10 minutes walk away.

 Still there.

 And a nice war memorial cross at the station.

 A few empty plots of land remain in Nitshill village however. This one used to have a car showroom/garage and other buildings facing onto the street.

 Normally I like waste ground as it's never wasted for me but this project if it's planned for here should plug this gap nicely. I can think of worst places to live. Although still a working class area I'd imagine many of the ex council houses in nearby Dove Street or Cleeves Road are owned now, they look well kept, good bus and train connections to the city centre; plenty of shops 5 mins away. Silverburn close by. Great walks everywhere in this district. Always has been. I went several walks in Clarkston, Williamwood, Cathcart and Newton Mearns with Anne several years ago, all middle class districts of expensive suburbia, and never posted any of them. Perfectly pleasant detached or semi detached roads of houses but boring to walk around and not changed one bit in 70 years. This place still has character. I was not bored here growing up. And houses are probably cheaper than in so called 'desirable' areas. 


 A view from the train station of South Nitshill in June 2024. Although a modest mound, under 200 feet in height, views are great up here in all directions. Winter or summer, night or day. The south side, i.e. here, is also the greenest, most rural part, in all of Glasgow. Woods, streams, dams, cattle, horses, fields... it's got the lot. Low hill ranges only walking distance away.

It could be the nearest you will get to an earthly heaven. It certainly was for me.


 The train back from Nitshill. Under 30 mins to Glasgow Central.

 The line of new Glasgow hotels built along the River Clyde waterfront seen from the train. The end.