Thursday, 3 April 2014

Auchengilloch Covenanters Monument. A wee Sunday morning wander.

I'm aware that it's been pretty quiet on here recently. I've not been hiding but I can't say I've been inspired to write much about anything. The incessant high winds every weekend have kept me from attempting to ascend anything even remotely tall and pointy but that doesn't mean I've been completely idle. There's still been a few lower level walks, there's been plenty of thought about the state of my outdoor kit (some of which I may write about soon) and we recently had a cracking day out in Glasgow to celebrate my birthday with a visit to the Transport Museum, a few beers and the best curry I've had in a while...and just to prove to the world that I've not become a hermit here's the most recent walk.

This was one we'd been saving for a nice weekend wander in the morning. I've recently been starting to seek out some more local, lower level alternatives for walking when the weather is pish and I keep finding more and more places we can go and explore both the countryside and the local history. In fact I wish they'd taught us more about the local stuff at school...maybe I'd have paid more attention and stuck in a bit more! Anyway, I came across Tookie's write up for this a while back and when we woke to blue skies a few weeks ago we quickly packed and left after breakfast.

The drive out to Lambhill Steading was short and we parked up in what appears to be a bit of waste ground which has either been used for fly tipping or disposing some stuff from the builders of the nice new but empty and abandoned looking 12 houses built there. I can see the potential for them but I wouldn't buy one just yet going by the state of them at the moment. Hopefully they'll finish them off and clear up the mess around.

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Packs on backs, pole lengths sorted and with the dug let loose we were on our way. Round the gate and along the track it's more open than the map would lead you to believe. The trees don't come right up to the track which give the walk a nice airy feel not often found when traversing along forestry commission tracks. The conversation was mainly me extolling the virtues of trekking poles and trying to convince and advise Louise on their benefits and correct usage. The dug however wasted no time in acquiring and using her stick!

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The sun came out, brightened everything up for while then went back to hiding behind the mass of clouds skudding by above us. Despite the wind and the openness of the track I was still comfortable in just a wind proof over my base layer. I'd stuffed my Rab VR (heavy old style) smock into my pack just in case it was colder and for lunch stop insulation. It was never once deployed.

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Just before the wee lochan at Long Knowe we were passed by a bloke on his mountain bike and a tiny wee terrier sized dug running like the clappers to keep up with him. I happened to be messing about with the camera on the tripod at the time and his wee dug came up to say hello and then didn't seem to want to leave. I reckon the wee thing was well and truly puffed oot and just procrastinating for a wee breather. A tactic I'm often employing in fact when pointing the camera at stuff. The photos are just a nice side benefit.

We ambled along past the lochan till we met the biker and his wee pal coming back the other way again and then eventually the track ran out and we found ourselves following the white marker posts through the heather.

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Picking our way through the heather we found ourselves just following the shorter flatter bits where foot traffic has worn a very faint path. The few markers we saw didn't have much white paint left on them and they were mostly obscured by the heather anyway. It wasn't a problem and in a strange way lent a hand to the feeling of looking for a wee hidey hole where secret gatherings were once held away from prying eyes.

It didn't take us long to spot the monument in the distance and when you get there you can immediately see why this place was used by the covenanters for their field meetings. It's sheltered and you're hidden away down in the tiny glen and I can easily imagine someone standing atop the hill holding forth and preaching to his flock. It would also be easy to place a few lookouts to spot any soldiers coming across the moors allowing you plenty of time to leg it.

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By the time we had dropped down into the wee pint sized glen and climbed up the hill that the monument stands upon, the sun had decided to come back out to play. We spent a bit of time reading the inscription, admiring the views in all directions and wondered what it must've been like to live in those uncertain times where your beliefs and faith could see you killed.

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It was very pleasant atop that wee hill and we didn't fancy going back down into the wee glen but it was windy so I set the tarp up quickly as a wind break and got the stove on for a hot brew. As I've decided to go back to playing with meths stoves and they take a while to boil I left Louise watching it while I went for a wee poke around the hill top.

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We sat and had lovely wee quiet picnic enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces and cheating the wind from behind with the tarp. There should be more Sunday morning brunches spent like this. We lingered for a while but the call of Louise's never ending pile of marking eventually had us packing up and heading for home.

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  1. Tis a grand wee dander ti fine spot for lunch. Glad you enjoyed.

  2. I think I need to explore more low level. I like big and pointy but no one in the house wants to join me as it scares the rest of them a bit!! Nice day for it though, the tarp/old school beach wind break was a nice touch :-)

  3. Aye it is a cracking we walk Tookie, I only wish I hadn't saved it for so long now!

    Low level can be good too Davy, especially if the family joins in. Louise isn't terribly keen on the steeper stuff either. I'm trying to keep a few low level walks up my cuff now for when I want oot and the weather's rotten as well. The tarp pretty much never leaves my pack unless it's getting swapped out for the bothy bag. I'm going to start using it for overnighters a bit more often too I think...more on that later though!

  4. Tarps are good fun. I'm just rubbish at pitching them in the wind. :)

  5. Surprised your boots were so free of mud, seeing how wet it was. I live in Strathaven, and have done it twice (walking from Strathaven) in the past 4 years, but only when the weather was really dry. That's a really wet moor (the word 'moss' appears all over the OS map), and the last quarter mile after the forestry track ends is pretty soft going.

    The first time I tried it (during a warm spell when the 2010 World Cup was on), I mistakenly stayed on the big new track that was recently constructed to take the logged trees out. I ended up at the Kype reservoir, 2 miles east of the monument. Decided I could still make it by following the burn, but ended up following a tributary which took me way off course. Eventually, I came out on the Muirkirk road, exactly on the Lanarkshire/Ayrshire border. That was 6 miles across the moor, and a total of 22 miles on the day, after the 10 mile walk back on the road. I was pretty sore the next day, but would recommend the moorland part of it, although it's very tough going with peat bogs, marsh, gullies and sphagnum.

  6. Some further thoughts. I clicked on the link to Tookie's blog, and posted some comments on there. I must have read yours and Tookie's blog about four times each. I love the Auchengilloch trail, and you both summarise the experience tremendously well. It's not just a donner in the wild country. You can't help but be immersed in the history of the thing. And it's uncanny how the photos you both took match my own.

    By the way, the Lambhill Steading houses were completed in 2010. Not a one's been sold, so someone's seriously out of pocket.

  7. It a crackin' wee trail right enough. There's so many great walks around the area and so much history too that I really do wonder why they don't teach it in School. As well as the more well known wanders like this one I find myself trawling the net, looking for wee snippets of info and then poring over the OS maps to see if I can tie them into a route of sorts. I'll need to go find myself a decent book about the area.

    If you're interested, feel free to have a trawl back through the archives on here and you'll find a few other walks I've done around the area too. If you use the "Trips & Adventures" link up in the top right corner you can avoid all the other drivel I write about. Tookie has a few good walk descriptions buried on his site too.

    RE the Lambhill Steading, it would only take a bit of tidying up to make them look finished, such a waste and a shame.


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