I had a few days of Annual Leave to use up before the end of March this year, and initially I had high hopes of doing some Munro-bagging. However, I then got a stinking cold in the middle of the month which very uncharacteristically went to my chest: three days off work, antibiotic tablets, coughing up green gunk ... yes, I know, TMI . So I downgraded my plans to maybe a Graham or two... And then the snow descended, so I downgraded them again, to maybe a wee walk up the Campsies ...
All the same, there's nothing like a sprinkling of the White Stuff to make a fairly lowly range of hills look a lot more impressive. Driving through Torrance on the way to Meikle Bin, it could just about have passed for the foothills of the Alps:
From the road to Lennoxtown and Fintry, the rampart of the Campsies looked about three times its actual height .
...And was this Lennoxtown, or Zermatt ?
By the time I arrived at the parking area opposite Todholes Farm (now signposted as Earlsburn Enterprises or something along these lines), there was a surprising amount of snow lying. Todholes Farm is now home to a large wind farm which I believe is communally owned by the village of Fintry. It's an interesting initiative: for further details, see a wee book called "The New Road: Charting Scotland's Inspirational Communities", by Alf & Ewan Young. This was one I came across via my wife's Book Group after I'd already been walking up here. Now, I object as much as the next man or woman to windfarms in true wilderness areas (the Monadhliadh, to name but one ), but the Earlsburn farm strikes me as a worthy initiative in what is already very much a "tamed" landscape, and it's certainly "pretty in an arty-farty sort of way", as Cameron McNeish has rather nicely put it .
The forestry track that leads to Meikle Bin starts just opposite this, through a red gate at a parking area.
Initially this follows the west side of the Carron Valley Reservoir, which was looking unexpectedly scenic in the snow.
After walking a bit further, across a bridge over the River Carron, Meikle Bin comes into view, with its smaller spouse, Little Bin, standing in front. (There's even a Bin Bairn just off to the right hand side of the track once you reach Meikle Bin, to complete the Maw, Paw and the Wean theme .)
There was a nice view back north to the windfarm from here.
A bit further on up the track, and there was an interesting cloudscape back to the north: nice patches of blue sky, but also heavy snowfall not too far away, by the looks of it.
Meikle Bin, or Great Muckle Lump as I was starting to think of it, was looking surprisingly impressive by now.
The path up the north-west ridge of the Muckle Lump branches off to the left of the forestry track just at a bend of the road, leading up an obvious forest break. Judging by a couple of sets of footprints, I wasn't going to be the first person up this one today.
Once on the open hill, it started to get a tad parky, with a fair breeze up and a lot of spindrift snow.
There was a fine view back north to the Carron Valley Reservoir:
However, Fintry was currently getting snowed on quite heavily, by the looks of it:
Just as I arrived at the trig point, a big flurry of snow descended, depriving me of what are doubtless impressive summit views, but on the plus side, making this wee hill look a lot more serious in the photos than it really was:
It certainly wasn't a day to linger at the top, and I started back down the way I'd come up. The Carron Valley Reservoir looked quite different through the snow; a lot bigger, somehow.
As I came down, the snow stopped and the sun came back out, giving some rather fine cloudscapes.
The snow moved on fairly quickly from the Fintry Gap up to the northwest, opening up a distant view of Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps:
Once back down at the track, it was just a pleasant Snow Plod back down to the parking area. All those Christmas trees were looking prettier in the ongoing snow flurries, though.
A bit lower down, there was another nice view of the windfarm.
At 570 metres, Meikle Bin is at the upper end of the Sub2K Marilyns: less than 50 metres would make it a small Graham. It's a fine wee hill, very handy for Glasgow, and definitely a good winter objective for a quick walk if the conditions aren't right for tackling a more serious hill .
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.