Monday, 24 July 2017

Gartmorn Country Park including Gartmorn Hill

24 July 2017

Participants: Neil and Ben
Where: Gartmorn Hill, 96m/315', Tump, OS 58, NS 919 948 together with a walk round Gartmorn Loch
 
It had been a good few years since I had visited Gartmorn Loch near Alloa; I had also just discovered that Gartmorn Hill, which lies to the north of the loch was a Tump so I had two reasons to go back. It is a beautiful spot with great views of the southern escarpment of the Ochil Hills and you would never know that you were close to the industrial heart of Scotland, although the heavy stuff has now disappeared. The area is now designated both as a Country Park and as a Nature Reserve and the Council has created a network of paths around the reservoir- about a 3 mile circuit; adding in Gartmorn Hill adds about another mile or so. The 170 acre reservoir was engineered by Sir John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, to power the pumps that drained his mines at nearby Sauchie.....
 

Winter is probably the best time to visit when the foliage has died down and the winter wildfowl have arrived on the loch but even today when the views were a bit restricted it was interesting. The only disappointment was that the visitor centre, which was supposed to have a coffee shop, was closed.

I had expected the good weather to have brought out the crowds but not so. There were a few dog walkers and joggers about but that was it. Maybe no-one knows of this place. I decided on a clockwise circuit and was soon leaving the main track for a path up the hill.....
 
 
Gartmorn Hill was well wooded and there were only glimpses of the loch below.....
 
 
There was nothing to mark the highest point although it was fairly obvious where it was, close to the path and not far from a gate.....
 
 
Back on the main track and the loch was now to the west.....
 
 
Looking back, there was a good view of the hills of the Ochils.....
 
 
The main track along the south side of the loch is the most scenic part of the round, with fine views across the loch to Ben Cleuch and its surrounding hills (Gartmorn Hill is the wooded area to the right of the buildings in the third photograph below).....
 
 



All in all, a very pleasant walk and one to do again in the shorter months when the winter wildfowl are on the loch.
 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Glasgow Tumps- Ruchill, Springburn Park, Queen's Park, Hurlet Hill

As I now seemed to be ticking off Tumps, I reckoned that I had better visit the four that lie within the City of Glasgow Council area. Although I have stayed just outside the city for over 15 years now, there were areas that I had never visited or passed through and visiting the high points seemed to be as good a way as any of seeing a bit more.
 
14 July 2017. Just me. Ruchill, 83m/272’, Tump, OS 64, NS 580 682: Springburn Park, 111m/364’, Tump, OS 64, NS 610 684.

I had a maximum of an hour and a half to spare while Ben was at the groomers and as it was a really nice day I decided to visit Ruchill and Springburn Park, both on the north side of the city. Ruchill park is adjacent to the site of the old Glasgow fever hospital of which only the water tower remains standing. Much of the area seems to have been turned into student flats. The park itself was pleasant enough although there was not much to it. The highest point was this bit of grass…..
 
but the viewpoint was at the flagpole a few hundred yards further west.....


What a fantastic view of Glasgow! Looking south-east, Tinto just visible on the horizon.......

 
Looking south with Glasgow University prominent.....

 
Looking south-west over the city.....


and looking north-west to the Kilpatrick Hills.....
After taking the photos, it was back to the car and a short drive east again to Springburn Park, overlooked by the multi-storey Sighthill flats. This was a much nicer park but with not nearly such good views. The highest point appears to be either just outside or else inside a locked Water Board compound (across pond)......

The main pond.....


The statue to Sir James Reid of Hyde Park Locomotive Works who apparently was instrumental in the early development of the park.....


I didn't have much time here, the phone rang letting me know that it was time to head back and collect Ben.

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16 July 2017. Neil and Ben. Queen’s Park, 64m/210’, Tump, OS 64, NS 579 621: Hurlet Hill, 66m/217', Tump, OS 64, NS 514 612.
It was another nice day, a Sunday and therefore the best day of the week to drive around an area that I was unfamiliar with. Might as well do the other two high points. These two are on the south side of the river so it was over the Kingston bridge and on to Shawlands for Queens Park. There was plenty of space to park at the back of the old Victoria Infirmary (not sure how I found my way there but I did) from where it was only a few minutes walk to the highest point at a flagpole.....


This park would no doubt be better visited in the winter when the foliage has died down; today the only real views were to the north to the Campsies.....


It would have been a shame to have only visited the highest point so we had a walk around- it was a great place for walking a dog.
Next, I had to find my way to Silverburn shopping centre and from there to Hurlet. It turned out to be remarkably straightforward- one thing I did learn from this trip is that Glasgow is not really all that big a city. I parked in Faskin Road, followed a path through a field.....

and five minutes later reached the brow of the hill....

and the trig which was hiding behind a hedge.....
 
I'm not sure what the connection with aliens is but I noticed on the drive out that there was also a shop with the word alien in its name.....

The view to the north and the west was not bad at all, I think that that must be Ben Lomond on the horizon at the top right of the photo.....

And these are the City of Glasgow Tumps! 
 
 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Hill of Alyth and Hill of Loyal

12 July 2017
 
Participants: Neil and Ben
Where: Hill of Alyth, 300m/984', Hump, OS 53, NO 237 505 and Hill of Loyal, 274m/899', Tump, OS 53, NO 252 502
 
I'd been thinking about climbing Hill of Alyth for a while, situated at the eastern edge of the Grampians it had to be a good viewpoint. The route descriptions that I had read say that you should park in the main car park in Alyth; however, a look at Google Earth the night before suggested that there was a parking spot at the end of the road that went to the Lands of Loyal hotel and which was the start of the track up the hill. And indeed there was. The track started steeply uphill and there was a good view back down to the village with the Sidlaw hills that run between Dundee and Perth in the distance.....
 
 
Once on Alyth Hill itself, there were a number of grassy paths all of which looked as though they would take us in the direction of the top. It wasn't too long until the trig and topograph came into sight; unfortunately, the topograph had lost its indicator panel so I had to rely on my own knowledge of the highland hills to identify the many peaks in view. This is looking north with Cat Law prominent.....


Ben Vrackie above Pitlochry is framed by the two structures.......
 
 
There was also an old metal seat from where there was a fine view of Strathmore and the Sidlaws......


and if I twisted round I was looking directly at Ben Lawers on the western horizon with Schiehallion to the top right of the photo (half hidden by the single tree) with the Carn Mairg group in between.....
 
 
The trig is not on the highest point of the hill, that is a few hundred yards further on beyond a dip in the ridge.....
 
 
Ben is sitting close to what seems to be the highest point with the eastern vista beyond.....
 
 
Another view to the Sidlaws.....


Glen Isla and Cat Law......


And again from slightly back towards the first top.....
 
 
After resting on the seat for a while, we set off down. This is the next objective was Hill of Loyal.....


so it was back to the gates at the col between the two hills. There was ample evidence as we climbed up that there were cows about but there was no sign of the beasts themselves. The summit area was featureless.....


and the views an inferior variety of those from Hill of Alyth. The only new view was looking east .....


Hill of Alyth from Hill of Loyal.....


We didn't linger. All was going well until I suddenly spotted a herd of cows and calves below us, heading purposefully for the gate in the fence that we needed to get through. They also spotted us and were looking a bit unfriendly so I decided that we had better avoid them. What to do? We went back up the hillside and moved parallel to them to try and get to the gate first but it soon became obvious that that was not going to work. So we about turned, went higher still out of sight of the cows and headed back over some very rough ground in the direction that the herd had come from. It was an extremely rough traverse taken at as fast a speed as I could muster but we did get away from them and were able to descend to where I eventually found a part of the fence that I could get Ben under. And the irony was that when we eventually got back to the col there was no sign of the cows; they must have wandered who knows where to another part of the hill. Who said that Tumps are simple hills to climb?

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Knockinhaglish Hill

5 July 2017

Participants: Neil and Ben
Where: Knockinhaglish Hill, 113m/371', Tump, Map 57, NS 483 848

It was a pleasant afternoon after rain in the morning so I headed the short distance through Strathblane almost to Croftamie. I parked at the junction of the A81/B834, followed the track west and then took a rougher track through a couple of fields to the radio mast at the top of the hill. There were sheep in the first field so Ben stayed on his lead.....
 
It was difficult to know where the highest point was, it certainly wasn't the trig although it was the best viewpoint with a glimpse of Loch Lomond and the Luss hills......

south to Dumgoyne and the Campsie's.....


and Auchineden Hill.....



 


 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Dundee Hills: Gallow Hill, The Law, Balgay Hill

3 July 2017

Participants: Neil and Ben
 
Where: Gallow Hill, 175m/574', Tump, OS 54, NO 365342; Dundee Law, 174m/571', Tump, OS 54, NO 391313; and Balgay Hill, 146m/479', Tump, OS 54, NO 377308
 
Whenever I go to a city abroad- and that is rarely nowadays- I always head for the highest point so that I can get an idea of the layout of the place. It occurred to me recently that it might be interesting to visit some of Scotland's cities and do the same thing, with the added bonus that most city hills will be on the Tump list.
 
As the city where I was born, Dundee holds a special attraction for me. For most of the last forty plus years, nothing much seemed to happen and it got a bit down at heel. All that has changed with lots of exciting new developments, mainly centred on the waterfront and it is now a place with a vibrant feel to it, a mix of the old and the new with lots of places of interest linked to its industrial heritage. I left it as a very small child, so apart from the Law, I had not visited its hills before.
 
The highest point within the city boundary is not, as you would expect, the Law Hill, but Gallow Hill, which is a metre higher and lies to the north of the city as part of Templeton Woods and Clatto Country Park. There was a car park for the latter so I went there. This was a very easy walk, there was virtually no height to be gained from the car park and I was at the highest point and back inside 20 minutes.

A path through a meadow led to a grotesque bit of architecture- a concrete water tower- at the edge of Templeton Woods.....


The hill summit seemed to be just outside the compound. There was a view of the Sidlaws from the meadow, but nothing much else of note....
 


It was such a short walk that I also did a round of Clatto reservoir before going back to the car- not a great deal of water in it today but plenty warning signs of the dangers of blue-green algae.

Next was the hill that defines Dundee- the Law. An extinct volcano, remains of an Iron Age fort and now topped with a magnificent war memorial and with a landscaped viewing area, it has everything required of a signature point for the city. I could have driven to the top but opted to park at the start of the hill road and walk from there. It wasn't far. I had been there a few times before but the weather today was easily the best and the views magnificent.  The War Memorial with the rail bridge and Fife background.....
 

Ben beside the radio mast with a view north to the Sidlaws with Craigowl prominent.....
 

North to the Sidlaws.....
 

North-west over the city with Cox's stack showing up well. The stack is a chimney 283'high, an A listed building in an Italian style and one of the few remaining relics of the jute industry in the city. It was part of the Camperdown works, one of the largest industrial sites in the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries......
 

Balgay Hill and the upper Tay estuary......
 

The rail bridge across the Tay.....
 

The road bridge and the lower estuary......
 

I sat about for a while just taking in the views and then headed off on the short drive to the final hill of the day- Balgay Hill. No extensive views here, just a pleasant woodland park at the top of which was the Mills Observatory, Britain's first purpose built public observatory. Unfortunately, it is only open on a few days in the year so I couldn't get in to see the displays.....
 
 


So after visiting the highest point of the hill, which could be anywhere immediately round the building, we went for a stroll in the park instead......
 

Rather than head straight home, I drove across the bridge to the visitor area on the Fife side for the view across the Tay to the city.....
 



I hadn't realised just how much there was to do in Dundee. Now that I've done the hills, I need to go back to visit the attractions.