A Bootle About On The Moors With My First Love

Date walked: 14/05/2021

Time taken: 4.5 hours

Distance: 12km

Ascent: 350m

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Lockdown restrictions ease further next week and my employer, quite unreasonably in my view, expects me to show up on five separate days. Today is my last bonus day home. The weather is still and dry but rather grey. Across the water the hills are shrouded in gloom. It is the perfect conditions for indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, 'stoatin aboot on the moors'.

I'm staying local and head for Locherwood where the car-park is as empty as I've seen it in months. The deciduous community woodland was planted here around 25 years ago. Deer are a common sight here, a movement cathes my eye and three flit across the path in front of me.

A funny, wee stone bridge on the path through Locherwood Community Woodland.

It all makes for pleasant walking before I cut away round Ladymuir Reservoir, where a heron stands on the far bank, silent, watching, and into the commercial, conifer plantation. After following the main track for a short while the cut off to the Muirshiel link path is reached, now marked by one of several cheerful new signs that have appeared since the last time I was here, all of six weeks or so back.

Ladymuir Reservoir.

New signage has appeared round Ladymuir Forest.

A short stroll to a broken style gives access onto the open moors and the first glimpse of my oldest love.

I grew up on the edge of what is now known as Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. As a small child a day out in Muirshiel Country Park as it was then known seemed like a trip to the middle of nowhere. These were wild and exotic landscapes. There were picnics by the waterfall and walks up wee Windy Hill to burn off small person energy. But it was never Windy Hill that captured my imagination, the object of my affections was always its more rugged neighbour to the north-east, Craig Minnan.

I must have been all of five when I first voiced my desire. 'I want to go up that hill'.

'No chance, no way, not happening' said my vertigo suffering mum.

'Sure, why not?' said my more adventurous (and more indulgent) dad..

A love affair with the wilds was born, and while I have flirted with many bigger, and badder, boys in the ensuing decades craggy, wee Craig Minnan was first to capture my heart. I revisit it often.

'I want to go up that hill!'. Approaching Craig Minnan from Windy Hill.

The link path follows the fence line. Every other time I've been along here this year it has either been frozen or dry. Today normal service has been resumed. The squelch is back. After crossing Gotter Water I head north through the heather, approaching Craig Minnan from its craggy southside. There is no need to scramble up this way, the eastern slope give a more gentle route to the top, this is just for fun.

Scrambley fun for those who wish it on Craig Minnan's south side.

I linger for some time atop what is sometimes referred to as Covenanters' Hill, on account of it being one place James Renwick took his field preaching campaign against James VII’s edicts of toleration in 1687. There are no sermons today. The silence is broken only by sheep bleating and birdsong. The cries of a loudmouth cuckoo back in the forest follow me everywhere I wander. And wandering is the order of the day, from here I have no fixed plans, just a gentle bimble where ever my feet take me.

Looking towards Misty Law from the top of Craig Minnan.

They take me down the north side and wend through the tussocky ground to Little Craig Minnan, then on over The Heddles. I meander around boggy sections, bash through heather, stop often. There is no hurry. I'm not going anywhere in particular. After a while I find myself on Craig of Todholes. As good a spot as any for some dinner with its outllook over Duchal Moor. On a clear day I'd see the southern highlands beyond the bleakly beautiful moor. Today is not such a day, but that's OK too, grey skies have their own charm.

Looking across Duchal Moor from Craig of Todholes

Nothing to do and nowhere to go. Relaxing picnic on Craig of Todholes.

Food and coffee taken onboard it is time to pootle vaguely back in the direction of the car. I head south, hop a fence, cross a burn or two, head up the less traveled north side of Windy Hill and rejoin the link path back towards Ladymuir. Shall I head over Craig Minnan again? Why yes, I think I shall, this time crossing from west to east, once more sitting awhile. This place is my hill shaped comfort blanket. It is a winter Saturday sat in the kitchen while your mum cooks the tea and your granda marks off his pools coupon as the results come in on the vidi-printer. It is pure nostalgia.

It is also time to head for home, one final saunter across the the moor and I'm back at the style, back through the forest, and the woodland, back to the car and civilisation. Until the next time, which won't be long.

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Ben Donich with a Soupcon of Snow

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Ben Donich
Date walked: 05/05/2021
Distance: 7.5km
Ascent: 575m
Comments: 2
Views: 174

4 Laws, 2 Plane Crashes, Nae Flags, Nae Camera

Attachment(s) Date walked: 28/04/2021
Distance: 13km
Ascent: 400m
Views: 110


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Trips: 3
Distance: 32.5 km
Ascent: 1325m
Corbetts: 1

Joined: Jan 07, 2021
Last visited: May 15, 2021
Total posts: 10 | Search posts