Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It’s the time of the season again.




Yes, once again it’s the feast of St. Jeremy, patron saint of twats.

The young men of the land, circulate the streets of the villages in Nissan Micras with defective silencers, while the maidens (and I use the term loosely) compare tattoos and drink vodka until they fall down. Meanwhile the village elders don pink tu-tus, put flowers in their hair and set off in procession to “inspect the paths”. This an ancient ritual aimed at appeasing the goddess  A’ Xsoffisah before the end of the month.


Having done all my in-by paths last week, I have been waiting for an opportune moment to pop up Menstrie Glen. The path to be inspected is only about 3 miles, but requires a walk in/out making the total nearer 10. And that is about a day’s endeavour for me these days. And an official grading of “two bananas”.



I wont bore you with the initial details – this is the third time we’ve done this together this year, and the only “issue” today was this cross drain which requires a ranger to cut a nick in the down side retainer to let the water away.

What I will bore you with, however,is today's walk-out variation, which was a new one.Normally I carry on past Lossburn reservoir, round the back of Dumyat to Sheriffnuir Road and home by Cocksburn reservoir.Today's plan was to go round the head of the glen and then come back down the West side to Menstrie.



I must say that I have never had any hassle from heilan’ kye, even when they have calves at foot, but they do like to stand in the middle of the path and stare you out right to the last minute.



The dam at Lossburn reservoir. Now, Scotland’s water supply is currently on a grid system, fed by a few massive reservoirs, and all over the country are hundreds of former burgh waterworks which Scottish Water is legally bound to maintain. And what does millions of gallons of water held back against gravity represent, children? That's right , Energy. Hundreds of mini hydro schemes just crying out for a subsidy.


The ruins of the old farm of Jerah. Looks ancient, but I believe people were living and working here into the 1950’s.

Now from here on, things got a bit hairy for an hour or so. I refer you to the relevant chapters in my book “Hillwalkers Hairy Bits”.

These being “Is it a path or a sheep trod ?” “The narrowing gorge” “Hanging onto tree roots over a 50ft drop” “The 100 ft climb out up ridiculously steep wet grass and bracken” In the course of the latter I slipped and fell, and my knob made a deep bruise on my upper thigh.

What ?


The hard rubber knob you put on the end of your walking pole in transit, and take off and put in your trouser pocket when you are on soft ground.


And there’s more. i found myself in a sea, nay an ocean, of shoulder-high bracken. I watched a line of spear tips cross my path and assumed it must be a hunting party of the Weraphekawi tribe. After thrashing about for half an hour or so, I reached one of dem erotic boulders and stopped to consume banana#2 and formulate a cunning plan. This was to drop back down to the valley bottom, cross the burn, and climb up some steepish pasture land to hit the track I had come up on. Ok, that would work.However, on reaching the bank of the burn I crossed what looked suspiciously like – a path.




Deciding to give it a try for a few hundred yards, it soon morphed into a delightful thoroughfare with bridges and stuff, the sun came out and everything turned out for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Except I was late for my tea, and Mrs.OM had a tooth abscess and was in a bad mood. O,joy.


How 48 years seem to have flown by. My, my….

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Thursday, 18 July 2013

For Alan R


Being a dopey old blogger, I can’t work out how to put links into comments, so I have had to resort to a new post in order to further the discussion I’ve been having with Alan Rayner concerning my previous post.

logie stones

Logie is the next door parish to Lecropt and the pic is from an excellent brochure produced by the admirable Logie Old Graveyard Group. I have previously blogged about this old kirk and graveyard, and no doubt will do so again.

My family name is one closely associated with the Templars, but I have no personal connection. Apart, perhaps from that old box in the garage that granddad said was very precious.

Anyway, I think that the answer is that the skull and crossbones was found on many graves of the period, including Templars, but is not in itself an indication of membership of the order.


Alan’s blog, full of common-sense erudition from a man who obviously has many miles under his boots, can be found here.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Memento Mori



Today I’m taking you to a special secret place that not many people visit. Are you ready ?


We will start here. Inviting, non ?


After struggling along an overgrown path we arrive at this Alice type doorway.Entry is made by pushing aside the pallet and we are in.


Follow the merest suggestion of a path through the trees.


What’s this ?


There you go !


We are on the Keir estate outside Bridge of Allan, home to the Stirlings of Keir since dinosaurs roamed the earth (according to Sarah Palin). A family with a distinguished military tradition, the monument to Sir David, founder of the SAS, is just up the road.


The parish for the estate is called Lecropt and there used to be a small village of this name and a church. Around the beginning of the 19th century it became fashionable for landowners to enclose their estates. The Stirlings built a high wall and several lodges and relocated the tenants and the church to the outside.


If you are heading North on the M9 heading for the A9, you will cross the flat carse land with Stirling Castle on your right, and as you start to climb towards the roundabout, the new Lecropt Kirk is on your right and Keir is on your left.


And this, of course is the Old Lecropt Kirkyard


In the 1960s, Archie Stirling, businessman, farmer, impresario, politician (failed) and Sir David’s nephew, had to sell the house and policies to a Middle Eastern gentleman as a result of “cash flow” difficulties.The current owner does not encourage visitors and sails very close to the wind with regard to the Countryside (Scotland) Act.








This is sometimes referred to as the Stirling Graveyard, but, although many family members are buried here, it was also the last resting place of ordinary local folk up until 200 years ago. So anyone can visit it.If they can find it


This cross marks the site of the altar


Looking down what was the nave 


Back down on the carse, haymaking seemed to be racing on in near perfect conditions.Such a change from last year.


This boy is using an old pick-up baler and sledge to make traditional “square” bales for the private horsey people who can’t handle big round. Notice the wee tractors.