Where’s The Snow Gone?

Not so much where has the snow gone, as it hasn’t actually arrived. I had my annual trip up to Killin for New Year, and as is my custom had a wee wander up to Sron a Chlachain. The hills were entirely bare of snow, including the Munro’s, and it was only from the vantage point of Kenmore that some remnants of snow could be spotted in the corrie below Ben Lawers.dsc_0137

A few days ago I was on the Pentland Hills and there was a similar story. Conditions were good underfoot and the weather was glorious. Not at all January like.dsc_0032

On Sunday I was out on my first walk with Glasgow HF Outdoor Club for over a year, to Gana Hill and Earncraig Hill and it was cold, windy and wet at times, but of the white stuff, not a sign.gana hill and earncraig hill 130119 (22)

I’m sure it’s on the way, but for now I’m taking advantage of it not being here and covering a wee bit of ground without being dressed in heavy boots and many layers of winter gear…

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Callater Bothy and Lochnagar

Callater (7.1)After 4 years away from Scotland’s highest mountains I made a return to Munro Bagging when I visited Callater Bothy recently. You can read about it HERE:

Callater Bothy and Lochnagar

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North Lanarkshire Walking Festival- Caldercruix to Blackhill Walk

Near Mid Bracco

I helped kick off last weeks North Lanarkshire Walking Festival with a circular walk, starting at Caldercruix, taking in the soon to be quarried Moffat Hills, the Lilly Loch, Drumfin and Alice Hill, the ancient ruins at Mid Bracco as well as Blackhill Transmitter, before returning to Caldercruix by the Lilly Loch. The highlight of the day had to be the sighting of an osprey as we returned by the west end of the Lilly Loch, a bird I’ve never seen there before.

Walk route

All in all we covered around 6 miles and we had almost 850ft of ascent, that’s not too bad for a wee walk on a Monday morning, and it goes to show the kind of thing you can fit in when time is short. Unfortunately Storm Ali was in full swing by Tuesday, so much of the rest of the weeks walks wouldn’t have fared so well. I trust North Lanarkshire Council will hold the festival again next year, and I have two hopes for it; that the weather is kinder and that NLC actually advertise that it is taking place, because NLC are really letting the Access team down on that score.

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North Lanarkshire Walking Festival 2018


Walking from the Blackhill Transmitter to Mid Bracco

The 2018 North Lanarkshire Walking Festival kicks off next week, with a variety of walks for a wide range of capabilities. I’ll be kicking things off on Monday 17th September with a walk to “Explore The Moffat Hills”, roughly 8 miles around the Moffat Hills, Blackhill and Roughrigg area, starting and finishing at Caldercruix Railway Station. Pre-booking is preferred, you can do that through North Lanarkshire Council Greenspace department on 01236 632838.

The full programme can be found online HERE.

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A Reverse Ramble-Balerno to Hillend

DSC_0445.JPG“The summer has been fantastic, but I spent some of it recovering from knee surgery, and the rest of the time I just found it uncomfortably hot.  Which meant that the weather I had on this particular day was a return to normal service- it tipped down all the way from Balerno to West Kip, but eased off as I hit the ridge, by which time I was rather damp.”

Full trip report at A Reverse Ramble-Balerno to Hillend

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Public Meeting to save Woodhall and Faskine

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson

I attended the public meeting in Calderbank regarding the campaign to save the green belt at Faskine and Woodhall and was pleased to see so many people turn out to show their opposition to the large scale housing development which is planned for the area. The chair of the meeting was Conservative list MSP Graham Simpson, who started off the meeting by stating how the meeting was not party political, before taking a number of political potshots at certain members of the local SNP.

Conservative MSP Richard Simpson’s column in the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 27/06/18

He went on to discuss the planning process, and used it to echo his column in this weeks Advertiser where he said that North Lanarkshire Council should reject it, before ominously threatening that it would then go to the Scottish Government, stating “that’s where the danger lies”. Anyone who watches Tory politicians will notice that they have for some time been trying to create a climate of mistrust in our political system in Scotland, and Mr Simpson’s comments were designed to do just that. As an experienced MSP who is far more conversant with the ins and outs of planning than the average person, he could have easily laid out the process for everyone to understand; instead he chose to muddy the waters and it was left to some of those who attended to clarify how the planning system works. I would suggest that the campaign avoid having politicians chairing their meetings, and from the look of things there are many within the group more than capable of doing so in a far more fair and open manner.

Dr Ann Glen and her presentation on the Woodhall Estate

We now have the utterly bizarre situation where we have a Conservative MSP who has voted for fracking, for building more housing and who has called for looser planning regulations, speaking up for the greenbelt while an SNP MSP brands those who oppose development as “luddites” and local SNP supporter Sharon Craig described them as “eco-warriors” in the Advertiser letters page, as well as branding the respected Dr Ann Glen as a “serial objector”. I recently took a walk through the area and I can say that her statement that the area “isn’t the wonderful natural gem that campaigners told us about” is clearly nonsense, and I would encourage anyone who is any doubt to go there and see for themselves.

Sharon Craig letter to the Advertiser 27/06/18

For the politicians who are backing the communities in their opposition, this is a win-win scenario. If ultimately the Scottish Government reporter rules against the development then they can claim that their contribution was the reason local people won. If the development gets the go ahead they will grumble a bit before getting on with the business of welcoming the investment. If the local communities want to halt this development in its tracks then they must be prepared to make some noise on a national scale to make sure that this island of greenbelt is not lost to so-called “affordable” housing, tarmac and concrete; for once it is lost it will be gone, forever.

The developers plan

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Laid up again…

Castlelaw Hill and Glencorse Reservoir

Another arthroscopy yesterday, courtesy of Mr Lawson and the staff at St Johns Hospital in Livingston. I’ll be off the hills for a while, which is unfortunate given the recent weather. I’ve moved back to live in Airdrie, so I’ll miss my regular rambles round the Pentlands which I was was becoming accustomed to. That’s not to say I’ll not be back there, they aren’t that far from here after all, and I can see them from my local walks here around the Blackhill area. For now though, I’ve got some Netflix to catch up on…

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