Friday, 24 April 2020

On Thursday 27th February a small group of 4 members of Biggar Ramblers managed to escape the bad weather that had caused cancellation of our recent programme, and had an enjoyable walk in crisp, but sunny conditions in the Clyde Valley. We set off from the village car park in Crossford, initially walking west along the Clyde walkway, before moving away from the river and following little used roads steeply uphill through woods and orchards. Once we came out of the valley we were rewarded with spectacular panoramic views as we approached Braidwood, where we stopped for coffee and sandwiches as the picturesque little loch. In the afternoon we came out of Braid wood and followed a pleasant footpath above the Fiddler's Gill burn gradually downstream until we joined an old road that took us past woodland and farms back to Crossword. The total walk around 7 miles and showcased the lovely countryside of the Clyde Valley.
On a wet and windy Saturday morning a small group of Biggar Ramblers took the Lanark train into Glasgow. By the time they reached Glasgow  it had dried up and the remainder of the day remained quite pleasant  to explore the murals of Glasgow.
The route took them initially past City Chambers and onto Strathclyde University buildings where they saw several murals including a seven-storey high lecture hall complete with students, an equatorial telescope and a Land-Ship, which was a mock-up navigation bridge once used to teach at the School of Navigation. This then brought them to a fairly new mural at the junction with the High Street - a stunning one depicting St Enoch cradling Glasgow's founder Kentigern, later know as St Mungo, with a robin perched on her hand in a modern depiction of the 16th century icons. A short detour up the High Street showed another favourite entitled "St Mungo", also including a couple of robins. Heading for Candleriggs and Merchant City was a huge mural called "Fellow Glasgow Residents" depicting the varied wildlife of Glasgow parks throughout the four seasons. Every time you look at it you notice another detail or a different animal.
Another detour along the Trongate brought them to the first of three murals of the Big Yin (Billy Conolly), before retracing their steps, past the Panopticon Music Hall where Stan Laurel had performed, to see the second one featuring Billy near Osborne Street. After this it was down to the River Clyde to admire the various personalities and local history on the walls of the Clutha bar which unfortunately is deteriorating with age but the mural above it celebrating Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 150th birthday was vibrant and incorporated the iconic Rennie Mackintosh rose pattern merged with his portrait. A short stroll along the Clyde Walkway brought them to one of the original murals - the "Glasgow Tiger Mural" - which unfortunately had been vandalised so it was up into Dixon Street to view the third Billy Connolly mural - opinion was divided as to which was most liked! It was then back to the city centre to see "The World's Most Economical Taxi". "Honey I Shrunk the Kids", "Wind Power", which was very cleverly depicted using a dandelion clock and wind turbines, and then another early mural - "Glasgow's Panda". The second half of the walk had less murals to see but nevertheless was felt to be worthwhile doing. It took them along Argyle Street, away from the biz of the city centre , to where they discovered that a derelict block on the corner of York Street which had previously had several murals had now been demolished.  Down onto Broomielaw we passed under the Kingston Bridge to see the huge "Swimmer" mural created part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. From there they headed to Cowcaddens Subway Station where one is decorated with insects, the other with hand shadow puppets - it was fun watching the group trying to recreate the shapes and it brought back many childhood memories and the question of whether todays children would still know how to make hand shadow puppets. After this it was back to Sauchiehall Street to see the cats playing with the wool on some wooden hoardings and back down towards Central Station where in a small lane there was a mural of a dog playing with bubbles and someone had cleverly changed the "NO parking" sign to "No Barking"! Having done this walk last year it was interesting to see how many of the murals had disappeared. Apart from this it was interesting to see how ornate many of the buildings were when you stopped to look up and everyone agreed that it had been a very different kind of Ramblers walk to what they were used to but worthwhile exploring areas of Glasgow that they would never have visited, just whizzed pst in a car or would have been too busy looking at shop windows to notice the architecture all-around them!
The local Lanark Walk on Saturday 18th January with 16 walkers began from Glasgow Road and continued up into the town to Hope Street and Waterloo Road. This road section ended with the descent of the Stey Brae, and crossed the Mouse at the bridge before continuing up into the woodland of the Cartland Crags. Up to this point there were several short stops to allow for regrouping but once into the Crags a longer stop gave everyone time to take a snack and a well-earned rest before continuing. The weather was clear, dry and with no wind in stark contrast to the week before which gave the chance to pause and take in the scenery on both sides of the River Mouse. Once the drop down to the A73 at Cartland Bridge was completed it was again a road walk back up to Glasgow Road. Here there was a continuation of the camaraderie in the leader's home with tea, coffee, scones and pancakes. All in all a successful and friendly event.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

The first outing of the New Year for the Biggar Ramblers was on Sunday the 5th January. Led by John Hart. The weather didn't seem too promising nevertheless ten hardy members met up to help burn off some of the festive excesses! The walk was billed as a short winter hill walk, the hill selected was the Hammerhead from Broughton Place. With the wind behind them it was a pleasant challenge. The mist lifted as they negotiated the initially steep ascent revealing tremendous views of the surrounding Southern Uplands. After hunkering down to a perfect, sheltered hollow near the summit for some refreshment they headed back to the car park on the John Buchan Way. Just as billed a short but rewarding winter challenge enjoyed by all.
Walk at New Lanark led by John Hart
On 12/12/19 twenty members of the Biggar Ramblers met up for their annual pre Christmas get together at New Lanark. The occasion was the hotel's lovely evening of carols and Christmas dinner. An afternoon walk preceded this up to the Falls of Clyde. All the recent rain made this a spectacular event, Corra Linn was thundering due to the sheer volume of cascading water. They continued as far as Bonnington Linn where the dam takes off the water to feed Scotland's original hydroelectric power station. The water in these upper falls was equally dramatic. What a privilege to have such a spectacular talk on our doorstep. They returned to New Lanark as the light was failing with appetites primed for the events ahead.
Camps Reservoir is a lovely remote walk near Crawford. On Sunday 24/11 thirteen Biggar Ramblers met to circumnavigate the reservoir on the well maintained access track. They were fortunate with the weather for although there was low cloud covering the surrounding hills it was very still. The water surface provided perfect dramatic reflections. The route which was six miles proved just right for this time of year. They were back before the light began to fail and before the onset of some persistent drizzle that had been threatening since they left Biggar. We have great local walks at all times if year - check our web site if you are interested in joining us.
Thirteen Ramblers from Biggar enjoyed a most interesting walk exploring Douglas Estate. The walk began in the village centre and continued down the Main Street, passing the memorial to James Gavin, a tailor who had his ears cut off because he supported the Covenanters and was later banished to Barbados, and the Church with its unusual octagonal bell tower and clock donated to the village by Mary Queen of Scots and thought to be the oldest working clock in Scotland ( although it wasn't working on the day of the walk), and finally the Polish Memorial Garden which brought together three Polish memorials from 1940 which had lain in and around the village.

Further on in the Estate grounds, Stable Lake was quite placid and very attractive and the memorial which commemorates the disbanding of the Cameronian Regiment in 1968 offered a moment of reflection and a photo opportunity. Nearby, the only remaining tower of Castle Douglas, which had been re-named Castle Dangerous by Sir Walter Scott in his book of the same name, stood as a lonely reminder of past times.

The trail soon entered woodland where the Group was mesmerised by a forester in the distance operating a huge machine which grabbed a tree,cut it down, stripped the side branches and cut it into lengths all in one continuous movement. Otherwise the woodland walk was quite peaceful, although a little muddy underfoot. Leaving the woods the Group crossed the playing fields to admire the striking statue of young James Douglas, Earl of Angus, who had originally raised the Cameronian Regiment as part of the British Army in 1689 and was sadly killed only three years later, aged 21, at the Battle of Steinkirk ( Flanders).

Finally, the Group enjoyed a first class lunch at the Scrib Tree Cafe in Douglas village centre.

The walk was 4 miles led by Bernard Airlie
The short walk-on November 14th was over a local hill, Quothquan Law, 1100 feet. This hill is often overlooked in favour of more challenging climbs such as Tinto. It was a perfect autumn morning with wall to wall sunshine. A short road walk from near Boat Bridge, Thankerton, provided a warm up session whilst admiring the local scenery. The approach route to the Law began in Cormiston Road at a farm track. The final ascent was very steep, and managed slowly. The rewards were significant, blue sky, brilliant sunshine and a 360 degrees vista. Snow could be seen on the mountains to the north, including Ben Lomond. Quothquan Law means pointed hill, derived from Celtic. There are hut circles at the top. It was probably occupied in 3,500 B.C. or before by Iron Age Tribes. It has never been excavated. After short coffee break the descent was taken back to Sheildhill Road and the parked cars. The final stretch was very muddy, and at times difficult to negotiate. However the small group of six really enjoyed the three mile walk and continued to Tinto Tea Rooms for a delicious snack lunch. The walk leader was Jan Airlie.
On Saturday a group of 6 members of Biggar Ramblers had an enjoyable walk in crisp but sunny conditions in the Pentland Hills. We set off from the little Hamlet of Silverburn and followed the Old Kirk Road, a path that hardy parishioners would once have taken to church in Penicuik. We climbed up along the side of Scald Law before crossing a col and descending down towards Loganlea Reservoir. We then walked along the side of the reservoir and down the valley along an access road before crossing the burn and climbing back up  the side of Turnhouse Hill. To complete our circuit we joined a path which wound across the lower slopes of Carnethy Hill, where we were able to stop for sandwiches and enjoy fantastic views across the Forth and back to the Southern Uplands, before descending gradually to our start point. A great winter walk.