It’s been far too long. After what felt like an eternally wet and dismal winter I was spurred into action by the realisation that it was almost midsummer and I hadn’t been out on a Microadventure in 2015. So when the forecast showed that one of my 12 target locations for this year would have a clear evening and morning I packed my bag and headed to the hills.
For this trip I was heading to Duncarnock, a large Iron Age hill fort near Neilston in East Renfrewshire. With it being June I had the luxury of leaving home at 8pm so that I’d arrive on the hilltop around sunset. The train journey from Glasgow is only 30 minutes but it gives you the full Glasgow experience as it winds it’s way from the city centre through the South Side towards open country. You should always try to sit on the right hand side of the train (facing forward) when leaving Glasgow so you can take in the views from Dams to Darnley Country Park. It’s spectacular on a sunny evening,
Arriving at Neilston I walked up Kirkton Road, a quiet but steep country road leaving almost from the railway station. I’ve cycled this road numerous times, but it seemed an awful lot longer with a 45l backpack on! Because it’s steep there are some terrific views towards Glasgow which offer the perfect opportunity for a rest stop.
At the end of the road you go straight ahead through a gate and into a field with large expanses of gorgeous bluebells around the edges. There’s an ancient looking copse of trees to your right here, but please don’t venture in for a nosey – I ended up almost knee deep in mud and god knows what else. Cows eh?
After a slow retreat back to the field I followed faint tractor trails in the long grass, which took me down hill to another gate. Here I caught a glimpse of Duncarnock for the first time. Considering the amount of stone that has been removed from the fortifications it’s amazing how prominent the fort is on the hilltop. It’s massive.
There were a few people out fishing on the loch at Glanderston Dam as I wandered downhill and they all seemed a bit surprised to see me. I’m getting used to that now though! I can see why the local angling club chose this spot – the loch sits in a hollow surrounded by hills and it’s incredibly peaceful. The path takes you along the top of the dam and over a stile, before skirting around The Craigie (as the hill on which Duncarnock sits is known locally) and then rises steeply up the west side of the hill.
Topping out brings incredible views in all directions. For such a small hill (204m) it really punches above it’s weight. It was then that I decided to try out Periscope, the new live streaming app from Twitter. To my astonishment six people tuned in to watch my quick guided tour of the views from the summit.
Someone has hung a saltire on the trig point at the summit. I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s pretty cool. Except for when it flaps loudly in the wind and keeps you awake at night.
After periscoping I took rather a lot of photos as the sun set over the Renfrew Hills, leaving Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps in stunning silhouette. As Glasgow began to twinkle below me I got into my bivvy bag and warmed myself up – it wasn’t quite feeling like summer!
Amazingly after quite a long break between bivvys I slept really well, only waking up once when the breeze had gotten up and the hood started flapping against my face. As the sun rose over Glasgow in the morning I was treated to a stunning mix of reds, pinks and oranges falling over the city. I’ve never seen Glasgow look this good. Nothing beats getting stuck into some Nutella while you’re wrapped up cosily in your sleeping bag with a view like that!
Soon enough it was time to go. The benefit of bivvying over camping is that I just rolled up my complete sleep system and stuffed it in my bag – it took less than a minute. Heading back down the hill I could see that the cows, which had been on the other side of the field the night before, were now sat along the path. I tried walking slowly but assuredly along the path, but they just kept looking at me. Some of them stood up and looked a bit upset, so I kept my distance. After four abortive attempts at walking along the path I ended up taking a lengthy detour around the field perimeter but thankfully it worked and I was on my way.
Knowing that following the track through the trees was not a wise move I made really quick progress across the fields and back onto Kirkton Road, where the farmers were up and looking busy. For all the area is pretty rural it wasn’t until now that I spotted some interesting wildlife, with a murder of crows attacking a buzzard by the roadside. Descending into the village brought life back to reality, with dog walkers and commuters out and about.
This trip worked wonders. I felt much more relaxed at work in the morning and it reignited the desire to get out and explore more, so hopefully this weather will stick around for a while!