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SANDISON'S SCOTLAND; BRUCE SANDISON IS A JOURNALIST, ANGLER AND AUTHOR OF A STRING OF BEST-SELLING BOOKS ABOUT SCOTLAND'S OUTDOORS. HE LIVES IN SUTHERLAND. MY LOVES AND HATES IN GLASGOW'S VERY OWN BACKYARD.

George Buchanan (1506-1582) really is not one of my favourite people.

He was born in the village of Killearn, to the north of Glasgow, where a slim obelisk commemorates his life.

As tutor to the young King James Vl, he poisoned the boy's mind against his mother, the exiled Mary, Queen of Scots. Consequently, James did nothing to prevent her judicial execution in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle on February 8, 1587.

I paused by the obelisk to pay my disrespects on the way to climb Dumgoyne Hill (427m) and Earl's Seat (578m) in the Campsie Fells. The Campsie Fells, although in Glasgow's backyard, are rarely crowded. During my hike, once clear of Dumgoyne, I saw only two other walkers.

This was my first expedition to these parts and the round trip was an easy seven miles. This vast expanse of golden moorland offers excellent walking and is ideal for a weekend family outing. There is nothing too taxing and a well-defined track should keep you safe and sound

all the way.

Even nicer, the start point is at the front stoop of the birthplace of the redoubtable Glengoyne single malt whisky. Park across the road from the distillery on the wide grass verge next to the A81 Strathblane to Killearn road.

A private road leads east, past white-painted cottages, then uphill through a dank wood by Blairgar House. Once past Blairgar, cross a meadowsweet field to find a stile over the fence at the foot of Dumgoyne Hill.

The ascent of Dumgoyne is unrelentingly steep. However, once up, the rest of the walk is comfortable. Descend north from Dumgoyne and pick up a well-marked track which winds northeast to reach the high plateau of the fells at Garloch Hill (543m).

From this crow's nest, the cultivated orderliness of Flanders Moss sweeps north over forests and fields to the high peaks of the Trossachs.

To the west, islandscattered Loch Lomond scythes a wild, blue arc round the foot of the Luss Hills and Arrochar Alps. A further mile brings you to the trig point on the summit of Earl's Seat.

Lunch time and, on a good day, to the west, a glimpse of Arran's dramatic mountain-scape known as the Sleeping Warrior, like a silver-grey giant at rest, his head cushioned on a pillow of white clouds.

Also prominent, to the northwest, is the vast bulk of Ben Lomond. I never see Ben Lomond without remembering a late November day when a sudden white-out sent me scurrying off the hill.

The return to the start point may be varied by following a number of circuitous routes, via Little Earl and Graham's Cairn, but once off the track, walking is hard going. The moor is wet and soggy in places, particularly in the vicinity of Clachertyfarlie Knowe.

I added a fair few steps to my journey, skirting marsh pools and bogs, to reach the grassy summit of the Knowe. It is probably best to return by the outward route.

This is no hardship because the vistas you missed on the way out will enliven your journey home - as will the prospect of a pit stop at the distillery.

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MAJESTIC Dumgoyne Hill and Earl's Seat from Dumcolm Hill
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 9, 2014
Words:538
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