East and West Lomond – Permagrips Time!

DSC_0144 (2)East and West Lomond are ideally situated for a late summer evening walk or a short winters day ramble when light and time is short. Apparently they get really busy at weekends, so if you want the feeling of getting away from it all without travelling for four hours to get it, these are the ideal hills to head for.

Full trip report: East and West Lomond- Permagrips Time!

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North Lanarkshire Outdoor Access Forum AGM 2017

The Annual General Meeting of the North Lanarkshire Outdoor Access Forum (NLOAF) takes place on Thursday 30th November at 1330hrs, in The Calder Room, Strathclyde Park Watersports Centre, ML1 3ED.

As the outgoing Chair of the forum I hope that if you are interested in attending, or even better joining, I will see you there. The agenda for the meeting is below.

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Save Faskine Woodland- Update

In a previous post I mentioned how I felt that campaigners to save Faskine Woodland were being led up the garden path by politicians seeking to raise their profile in the local community. That post was published in this weeks Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser.

In my letter I mentioned how Labour would also be happy with an outcome which saw the application go ahead. I didn’t expect North Lanarkshire Labour Leader Jim Logue to confirm it in the same issue…

Like Alex Neil a few weeks back, Mr Logue doesn’t refer to the Faskine campaign directly. He does say loud and clear that “North Lanarkshire is open for business and our attitude to  business and economic growth is one of our biggest priorities”.

Like I said before, this development is wanted by all the parties in the area. What is about to commence is, from a political viewpoint, an interesting exercise in campaigning against something that everyone wants but no one wants to take the rap for.

 

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East & West Lomond

 

Winter has arrived

I haven’t managed many walks this year, but yesterday saw me stretching my legs on East and West Lomond in Fife. We were met with the first snows of the winter season, and while only a dusting here, the views of snow plastered mountains on the horizon showed that winter has gained a firm foothold from the Ochills to the Cairngorms.

I’ll post a full review shortly. In the meantime, where’s my thermals…

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Save Faskine Woodland: Campaigners Being Led A Merry Dance?

There will be a public meeting tomorrow night (14th November) at 1930hrs in Calderbank Community Centre regarding the campaign by the local community to oppose the housing development proposed by Orchard Brae. News of this appeared in the Daily Record on Saturday and the news article itself makes for some interesting reading.

Alex Neil MSP who previously referred to professional planners as “Luddites” turned his ire on not only North Lanarkshire Council but against the “Luddites” who try to influence them. He didn’t mention the Faskine development in particular, however most people  in the community aren’t fooled. They take it to mean them.

Having seen what happened with the Caldercruix Quarry campaign I can see a pattern repeating itself here and sadly I think the end result is likely to be the same. Local politicians who are directly affected will of course get involved; rightly so. It’s their community which is affected. The more remote politicians will either say nothing or offer support but not really do very much.

The one’s who concern me are those who try to play both sides. I see this happening on two levels. Labour/Tory run North Lanarkshire Council shall oppose it. Probably some local SNP councillors will oppose it too. The development will then be referred to the Scottish Government Minister, who will refuse it. It will then be appealed and go to the independent Scottish Government planner, who will probably approve it. The Minister will defer to the planner, the Labour/Tory coalition in North Lanarkshire will then back down and harumph a little but get on with it, after all they support job creation and investment and have already said they are looking to have a new railway station built at nearby Eurocentral. That’s ideal if you are looking to serve a rather large housing development and industrial area.

North Lanarkshire Council’s assistant chief executive for Enterprise and Human Resources, Des Murray is on record as saying “Eurocentral is a prime location for business and a rail station which links, not only to other parts of Scotland, but to the rest of the UK, would make the area even more attractive to businesses. We would fully support this proposal and will work with the Scottish Government and other partners to help make this proposal a reality for North Lanarkshire and Scotland.” In fact North Lanarkshire Council’s website speaks of the City Deal and “the council’s wider programme of support to improve access and connectivity in the A8/M8 corridor area between Baillieston and Newhouse.”

The most startling piece of support comes from Conservative list MSP Graham Simpson who along with Richard Leonard of Labour are being portrayed as the big hitters in support of the community. In September 2017 Graham Simpson spoke in support of Ruth Davidson’s call for a “new generation of new towns to be built”. He then went on to say that “It is time for a new wave of settlements, designed for active travel, designed to use less energy, and designed for the people, with the people. To do that, we say that there should be a new national housing and infrastructure agency and a cabinet minister covering the same”

In September 2016 he said in Parliament “We need more homes across the board, including privately owned homes. Reforms to the planning system can help with that but we will not see legislation until next year. I wonder whether Mr Stewart could find a way to speed up the implementation of measures such as simplified planning zones, on which he would find support across the chamber. That could unlock and hasten development.”

And before that in June 2016 he voted against a ban on fracking. So I am somewhat sceptical that this pro large scale house building, pro-fracking, pro-loosening of planning regulation MSP will do his utmost to thwart a large scale housing development. If, as I suspect, this is bounced all the way up to the Scottish Government reporter who then approves it, Mr Simpson can claim some brownie points from the community while at the same time not being overly disheartened when his party’s overall aim is realised.

Like the Caldercruix Quarry I have a feeling that the Save The Faskine Woodland will undoubtedly be led a merry dance and will ultimately be disappointed in their campaign, though I wish them well. Sadly they refuse to acknowledge the political aspects of their campaign (to the extent of blocking those who do try to raise the issue online (although oddly they have no problem with any comments in reference to Alex Neil MSP), and ultimately, as is often the case, those who can afford the best lawyers will win.

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100 Years of Glasgow HF.

Past Presidents of Glasgow HF Outdoor Club

Last week I attended a civic reception at the City Chambers in Glasgow for the centenary of the Glasgow HF Outdoor Club. I’ve been a member for many years now, although I have been pretty much inactive since developing knee problems in early 2014. At that time  I was club president and while only president for a short time it was certainly memorable, with the process of the club affiliating to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (now Mountaineering Scotland) being a particular stand out memory of off-hill activity.

The club is going from strength to strength and it’s encouraging to see how many members have taken an active interest in running the club. Without them it simply wouldn’t function. Here’s to the next hundred years and beyond!

 

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West Highland Way: Ardleish to Crianlarich

Approaching Keilator Farm

A few months back I hiked a small part of the West Highland Way, from Inversnaid to Ardleish, starting and finishing by boat. It was a good way to pack in a hike with an overnight stay, and it left me with an idea, that I could return for another time and pick up where I left off.

Read the full walk report: West Highland Way: Ardleish to Crianlarich

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