Sunday, 14 February 2016

Calibration



 
Some of you probably have a local walk, or part of a walk which you use to estimate your relative level of fitness after a long lay-off or period of illness. I have several. After having been hors de wombat for about three months, my expectations have been low, and confined to walking up the village to the shops. On Thursday I made it up to the Co-op and back without having to stop for a breather. This was a triumph. Joy was unconfined and the peasantry celebrated in style. Canons were fired, commemorative coins were struck, and prisoners were pardoned ( but not by the canons – they had been fired, remember ?)

This, as I told the reporter from the Karachi Press and Journal at the press conference, is only the beginning. I have my mind set on the mighty Dumyat (by the direttissima – Warlock gully) in early summer, before the bracken gets too high.

Thereafter, the world is my oxter. In the meantime, I am working for a couple of days next week. This will not involve much walking. I shall travel to the Weege by train , and, on arrival, someone will call me a hansom cab.  I will then spend a couple of days trying to create an impression that is more gravitas than Dignitas. Ah well. And so it goes (KV)

 

One of my favorite Spider John Koerner songs sung by 12-stepper Bonny Raitt complete with Koerner’s trademark footstomp.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

A note from his mum



“Please excuse OM from walking and blogging. He is proper poorly at the moment (since November, actually) and he’s all swollen up with yon fluid.

He seems to be getting a bit better, so I’m going to let him  out to play next week. No rough games, mind you. Just some gentle strolling about the town. Perhaps some of that “anti-photography. I hope this is alright with you.

His Mum. (Her mark) “

 

Thanks , mum. That should fool them. They don’t know you’ve been dead for ten years. Here’s one of your favourite wee tunes
 
 

Friday, 1 January 2016

A message

At the end of a year which has seen the country ravaged by threats of international terrorism, natural disasters, and Jeremy Clarkson, a nation turns it's weary eyes toward someone who can provide a message of hope for the coming twelve months. A beacon of light and promise in............
Oh just fucking get on with it. Ed.
OK.

Happy New Year

 
 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Do'nt go down the mine, Dad



Alighting from the bus, I looked around for someone from whom to ask directions. The only person in sight was a little old lady carrying two shopping baskets apparently containing only Pringles, Rizlas, and chocolate bars. I asked her how to get to the museum, and her response was “ Wow. Yeah, the museum. Cool. Might be over that way. Hey. Cool,”
Yes, I was in Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland.



I soon located said  “Museum of Lead Mining”, and registered for the mine tour. At its peak, there were 47 lead mines and several copper, gold and silver mines in a two mile stretch between here and the neighbouring village of Leadhills.The lead mainly went to the Low Countries by way of Leith.
 

A lot of work has gone into re-opening this mine and making it suitable for visitors.


 
 
 

The galena ore was dragged out on these sledges by wee boys, You had to earn your X-box in those days.


  The remains of the smelter
 
 

 
One of the deep mines. Some went down to 600 ft below sea level. Big deal ? Well yes, if you remember that the surface here is 1500 ft above sea level.
The spoil heaps are a mecca for mineral collectors

 


The beam engine - unusually operated by a water-filled, self-tipping bucket at the opposite end from the pump.

 

 
 A lump of Wanlockhead galena.

 

A good day out, including a wee rail trip from Glasgow to Sanquhar  I realised that I hadn’t been in Ayrshire for a ridiculously long time and resolved to remedy this at the earliest opportunity .


I think Liege and  Lief is in my Top 5 albums

 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

BLOGOF !





Yes, for a limited period only, it’s “Blog one – get one free”

(Terms and conditions apply. Remember, hillwalking can go down as well as up. By reading this blog your house may be at risk.)

In an attempt to further increase the popularity of this blog, I am including details of two (not one – TWO ! Count them.) recent  walks, or bimbles, if I may borrow a mot juste from the lexicon of Professor Sloman.

First up, we have a wee wander up to the Bracklin Falls at Callander.

Callander is an unlikely conglomeration of chip shops, ice cream parlours, and shops selling tartanoiserie, which owes its popularity to its position a mere charabanc  excursion distance from the great city of Glasgow. Its situation at the edge of the Highland Boundary Fault (OK, I’ve already done all the culpability jokes on this),  allows the day-trippers to admire the glory of the Dalradian metamorphics without exposing themselves to the risk of altitude sickness.
Now, you can drive up the hill to the tourist car park- if you’re a wimp. However, regular readers know that I am made of stuff sterner than a German magazine, so I walked up. This went well – nothing spectacular, but quietly pleasing.
From the car park the path contours round the hill and then drops into the gorge at the falls.







 Some vertical bedding which may be of interest to those of you who sleep standing up.


The original bridge was swept away some years ago and replaced by this award-winning structure.

 


Heading up the gorge

At the top of the gorge I crossed over and returned down the farm road. I was looking out for the unsigned path off the road which led to this.

 

One of many Red Wells or chalybeate springs where people used to come to drink iron oxide infused water long before Barrs invented our other national drink. Still trickling, to prove that, as Neil Young claimed, Rust Never Sleeps.

 


This bench, next to the well, commemorates the founder of Callander’s  leading Scots-Italian families. For years they had the legendary Ben Ledi chip shop.

 

Part The Second was a little spin up Myreton Hill.

But you don’t do hills. OM

Well, I do. But verrrry slowly.
 
 
I had already summited Myreton Hill as part of my compleation of the WhaMs. (Wee hills above Menstrie) so this time I was not heading for the top, but following the old pony track to the calcite mine.

 






No one seems to know why anyone tried to mine a relatively common mineral such as calcite in such a remote location. It certainly didn’t seem to be a success, and only a small quarry and an adit blocked by a large gorse bush remain.

Good walk, though – stretched the legs, expanded the lungs and worked what is left of the heart. Onward and upward !!

 
 

Poor quality clip ,  obviously taken on someone’s phone, but worth it for a classic song by one of my favourite ladies.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Now, there's something you don't see very often.




Well, not on this blog anyway.

It being that time of year again, I resolved to road-test my birthday socks with a traverse of Sauchie Craigs. This year’s bad boys are ultra high-tech, featuring wifi, satnav and differential cushioning. They also are designated “right” and “left”, something I naturally only discovered after putting them on – on the wrong feet.



The trek up to the foot of the Craigs from the nearest bus stop is a long , steep, tarmac slog, so I was delighted to scrounge a lift for part of the way.


As elsewhere in Scotland, the post-war timber planting is now being harvested. I find it quite spooky, and often disorientating, when a familiar patch of forestry is suddenly transformed into one of these “Hiroshima” landscapes.
 


 
 
Sauchie Craigs are at the western end of the line of basaltic intrusions which cross the Forth valley at Stirling and include the Abbey Craig (WallaceMonument) and the Castle Hill. Whereas the others are typically plugs, with the crag and tail configuration, this is more of a continuous sill.

I’m very slow on hills these days, so it took me a stupid amount of time to get onto the top of the escarpment, but, hey, I had nothing else in my diary for the day, and it doesn’t get dark until 10 o’clock, so suck it up.



 North Third reservoir.
 

 


That’s Carron Valley in the distance. It was a relatively sunny day, and I had hoped for good views, particularly north to the Highland Fault, but instead there was an annoying haze (“all in my head”).
 



 The Craigend lime kilns. The valley used to be covered in limestone, deposited when it was an inlet of the sea, then the glacier scraped it all away, except for the patches “protected” by the hard volcanic rock. There was lime burning here from very early days.

 


Blue spruce.

 


And a return to civilisation at the quaint rural hamlet of St.Ninians.

 

Good game, good game. About 8 miles and 900ft of upness.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Indeed.