Happy New year!
its 2019 …. the year that sci-fi classics like Bladerunner, Akira and Running Man were all set… its going to be an interesting year 😀
Last year for me wasn’t as outdoorsy as I would have hoped.. needed if I’m honest – at times my frustration at not getting onto the hills was bordering on all consuming and the black clouds it brought often made me irritable and less than lovely to live with for my every suffering and amazing wife. But she knows what I’m like.
2018 after some early year winter climbing days was set aside for large house projects and for large job changes meaning we simply had other areas to focus on and I came to accept that.
As we neared the end of the year I looked again at getting out and was lucky to get a great Scottish winter climbing day in the Cairngorms (see Solstice), and then a cracking fun day at the Ice wall in Snow Factor near Glasgow. This was much needed as evidenced by my (lack of) skills ! But soon it all came back, muscles remembering how to swing, kick & pull.
Positive end to the year then, from a mountaineering perspective and so to New Years Day. Some manage to get out on the hills (you lucky, disciplined bastards !) but late nights and lazy bones for us meant we seek something outdoors but nearer instead – and easier if truth be told , and our local environment offers this in abundance.
Living around Uddingston and Bothwell, (near Glasgow) , we have great walking and cycling routes – along the rive Clyde, through woods and even around Bothwell Castle (c. 13th century and pretty bloody impressive!). Leafy, secluded, lit by the low winter sun and depending on route, you can easily walk for a couple of hours in a wide loop back to the house and a warm coffee .
Starting from home its a short 15 minute walk to the start of the wooded path, then along the Clyde at times like glass and then sometimes fast moving, light twinkling through the sleeping bare trees, skirting below the castle the main path winds for a time before rising up to the green embankments around the massive sandstone walls of this impressive yet barely known donjon , chapel, prison and walled fortress of the family Moray.
Once at the castle you can spend a good amount of time circling it, taking in the scale and strength of it, the grounds around it offering protection for attacks and where sieges laid through its history. For a small fee you can access it and enjoy exploring it remaining internal towers, dungeons and chapel grounds and learn about its amazing history (no spoilers here).
With many paths or options to walk your own route the woods are expansive and hide some “ancient treasures” to be discovered and as we meandered off and on the trail we discovered this ancient bridge just in the shadows of the castle grounds but far enough off the main trail that I’m sure many walk past it only a. Few metres away oblivious .
Its a magical place, for being so close to town. It feels miles from anywhere, no houses in sight , just the flow of the river and rustling of leaves , thinking about how from the 13th century people have walked and patrolled these paths around ten castle, sieges held there , battles fought. I wonder how many remain to watch us modern “walkers” strolling along in leisure. I wonder what they think of us.
Cold, brisk, lit by that unique pale winter sun, its distance removing all but the last of its heat – serene and calming – but also energizing as only being outdoors and in the light of a sun can do. At times the light through the trees is a portal to a life much richer, more wonderful and with other levels we simply don’t notice nowadays – something deeper and more powerful, more enriching if only we followed it.
Its becoming more and more clear to society that getting out is a salve from mental as well as physical health – to me its a no brainier. Even 15 minutes they say, 2 hours is better!
2019 – Resolute to get out, as much as possible – off to a good start!