I was laid up for a while with back problems, something I’m becoming more and more accustomed to. Last year after a trip to Culra Bothy to climb Ben Alder I found myself laid up, the hard wooden benches not agreeing with my back. Going out to get fit either results in one type of injury or another, knees, groin, you name it, I’ve injured it. At least this most recent injury coincided with some utterly awful weather, and I could at least take some consolation that I wasn’t missing much. Getting active again can be a pain as well, the fear being ever present that some minor movement will set it off again. Last winter I was brushing snow from my path and BANG! My back decided to take a week off. So I’ve been trying to get back into things gently. I took a walk from the Owl and Trout at Hillend to the Lilly Loch to start off with. I needed my poles as I headed over the hill on a walk that is not at all demanding, only five or six hundred yards. But a weeks inactivity had taken its toll.
A week later I was back again hoping to do a longer walk. Still not particularly challenging but interesting nevertheless. I began at Caldercruix on the main road, opposite ‘The Fingerpost’, where the old main road goes across the bridge into the village, and climbed the ‘north face’ of the Moffat Hills, following the line of telephone poles southwards over the hill until I came to a patch of bog.
On dry or frozen days you can go straight across, today was cold, but not frozen, and I found myself skirting around to the east, following a path which was perhaps created by sheep or foxes.
It wasn’t long before I was down by the Lilly Loch, partially frozen, I could almost hear the ice ‘singing’ as the water moved against it.
There is a ridge of hills which runs eastwards towards Blackridge from Annieshill, like a finger pointing east. I had come off one part and decided to walk the remainder if the light allowed. I pulled myself up Drumfin Hill, on any other day something that required little effort, today after my enforced lay up that wasn’t the case. I headed east, Hillend Reservoir rippling in the afternoon sun. I followed the track to a sharp turn, where what has to be the worlds largest dungheap lay steaming in the cold, it’s ripeness apparent from a distance. God knows how it would be at the height of summer! The next section was typical of much of the walking in North Lanarkshire. There’s little thought given to those who just want to walk, meaning a combination of louping over barbed wire fences or limboing under electric strands. So much for my back getting better…
Having said that it was enjoyable, the ground undulating in waves before dropping to a track.
I decided to avoid Nether Bracco and its environs, and headed onwards, skirting around forest plantations, before climbing upwards to the south of the quarry workings at Forrestfield.
Looking back it was interesting to see a familiar landscape from an unfamiliar angle, picking out the dam at the Lilly Loch or the Owl and Trout on the road off to the north west.
I stood and watched as birds began to return to their roosts for the long cold night, before making my way down on to the road.
It was by now getting darker, Blackridge, lights winking in the mystical east, would have to wait for another night. I trod back along the cyclepath to the fishing lodge to wait on my lift home, watching the loch as the last light slipped away.