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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Another Pentland Ramble: East Cairn Hill and West Cairn Hill

East and West Cairn Hill (7)A walk around a couple of lesser trodden hills in the Pentland Hills.

Full Walk at this link: A Pentland Ramble: East Cairn Hill and West Cairn Hill

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Bushnell 10×42 Legend Binoculars


Bushnell Legend 10×42 Binoculars

Read the full review here: Bushnell Legend 10×42 Binoculars

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A Pentland Ramble: Lightweight to Balerno

Having moved through to Edinburgh last year it’s taken to get started, but I’m certainly taking advantage of the fact the Pentland Hills are virtually on my doorstep. They’ve become much more familiar to me and I’ve slowly learned to ditch the heavy gear and travel light. That allows me pack more in to a shorter time. That came in handy a few days ago when my early morning walk was pushed back through a combination of factors and I didn’t manage to get off the bus at Bush Campus near Roslin until half past two in the afternoon.  It’s a short walk through the Bush estate, past the Scottish agricultural College buildings and out on to the busy A702 near Crosshouse Farm. It’s a bad bend here and traffic does come at speed, and you have to take care crossing here. From there onwards to Flotterstone Inn, following the route up Turnouse Hill and along the ridge line which I wrote about in 2013: Munro Bagging in the Pentlands.

Harvey’s Pentland Hills Ultramap

For this walk I’ve ditched my heavy equipment, my camera, spare clothing, in fact everything that I’d usually take carry; instead I’m using an old Lowe Alpine bumbag, containing a Harvey’s 1:40,000 scale Ultramap. Measuring around 7cm x 15cm folded and printed on waterproof paper it’s ideal for these walks as it not only reduces bulk, but removes the need for a map case too. Water and a few energy gels are the only food I’m carrying today, with the last of my load consisting of my smaller Silva classic compass, GPS and mobile phone. I’m also using my lightweight poles, but as far as equipment goes, that’s it. Boots have been replaced by trail running shoes and my protection from the weather was a Paramo Fuera smock. The lightness in weight was immediately noticeable and I barely paused on the steep ascent up Turnhouse Hill, where normally I’d plod and sweat my way up. That’s not to say I didn’t stop though, the view of a rainbow below me was too good to ignore and the phone camera was used a couple of times.

Rainbow over Castlelaw

I was joined by a fell runner for a few minutes and the lack of heavy equipment allowed us to chat as we climbed, passing a large herd of cows as we went. It’s always unnerving when there’s no fence between you and the beasts, luckily they weren’t interested in us and we passed without incident. Soon I was looking at the soles of his shoes as he powered ahead, although I wasn’t overly slacking myself.

Castlelaw and Glencorse

The weather took a decidedly nasty turn as I hit the ridge and by the time I was atop Carnethy Hill I was on the receiving end of a strong wind which made standing difficult, and driving rain. Luckily the rain passed almost as quickly as it arrived and my smock did it’s job well, keeping me warm enough and drying out quickly afterwards. Another descent and reascent followed and I was on top of Scald Law only an hour and forty minutes after getting off the bus. With bags of energy left I dropped off the summit towards the final two hills of the day, East and West Kip. I was aghast at the mess which had been created in the “improvements”carried out to an existing track there, reminding me of the mess I saw some time back on the West Highland Way.

Looking back along the ridge, West Kip, East Kip

With East and West Kip behind me I followed the public right of way north towards Balerno. I’d walked this route a few weeks back with my usual hillwalking buddy Jim, so there was no need  for navigation stops and although my legs were starting to feel the pace I was able to keep it up, passing Bavelaw estate and Threipmuir Reservoir before arriving in Balerno. my timing was slightly off though, as I crested the hill there I saw the bus pull away. Checking my phone I saw that my walk was just shy of 10 miles, and with a bit of time to spare I decided to tidy it up a bit…

10 miles over Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill, Scald Law, East Kip and West Kip in 3 and a half hours? I’m happy with that. Cutting out the excess weight was a huge help though. It’s not always practical, but when it is, it’s more than worth it!

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The West Highland Way near Crianlarich


Ben More Panorama -For Web

Last weekend saw me walking from Tyndrum to Crianlarich with Glasgow HF Outdoor Club on the clubs annual “Christmas at Crianlarich” weekend. I’ll do a walk report soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d post this picture taken while on the walk, the view towards Ben More, Cruach Ardrain and An Caisteall from the West Highland Way above Crianlarich. This photo was published in “The National” newspaper a few days later.

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