Monthly Archives: October 2012

Soul-Feeding At A Lower Level

Walking in Scotland is wonderful ‘Food For The Soul’ but we don’t have to go up high to be ‘fed’.   For various reasons my walking chum, Debbie, and I have had to confine ourselves to lower level and local walks for a few weeks (and anticipate doing so more during winter weather)  all of which were equally rewarding even though not physically challenging.

Linlithgow Loch, Palace and St Michael’s Kirk.  approx 3 miles

The first walk in this blog was just 3 miles around Linlithgow Loch which is extremely picturesque.  The weather ‘came in’ as they say, but that didn’t spoil anything for us.

We also went in St Michael’s Kirk, the church nestling alongside the Palace.  The volunteer guide showed us around the interior of the kirk and related the
history and notable events.  It never ceases to amaze me how knowledgable are volunteers  in all types of historic buildings I visit and how they communicate the history and the events with such infectious enthusiasm.  My trouble is I tend to forget what I’ve been told quite soon thereafter(!)  Thank goodness for T’interweb!  More info here:

Mary, the future Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace  on the 8th December 1542. The infant Queen was baptised at St. Michael’s.  However, according to the link above,  “ 1559, the Protestant Lords in their zeal to to obliterate all traces of Roman Catholic practises from the church destroyed not only the statues and alters but also the baptism font.  To this day occasional fragments of this orgy of destruction are still found around the church”.  The photo  is of the current font which I think dates from the 1800s.

As well as the historical artifacts the church has had more modern additions such as this stained glass window erected in 1992.  In 1964 a replacement, and at the time controversial, spire in aluminium in a modern style by the prominent Scots architect Sir Basil  Spence, representing Christ’s crown of thorns, was added. I lived in Linlthgow during the late 70s/early 80s and well remember neighbours discussing this in not too favourable terms – I have always liked it though.

As a result of my recent attempts to get back on my bike I was most interested to see this memorial plaque.  I can’t recall seeing mention of a cyclist battalion before.  See here for info about this rare battalion.

On our way home we called at a tiny church at the other end of town, St Ninians.  See here for more info.

We couldn’t go inside and I didn’t take a photo because there was scaffolding around it for work to be done on the roof.  However we did chat to the roof repairer – as you do – and found to our delight he was a font of knowledge about old churches in Scotland.  (no pun intended)  He strongly recommended us to visit Abercorn church – the oldest in Scotland – which we did a couple of weeks later. (Later in blog)

Prior to that visit though, we had walk on part of the Linlithgow Heritage Trail and River Avon Heritage Trail which includes the Union Canal.

Linlithgow, Linlithgow Bridge and back –  Union Canal_ – approx 5 miles

It was a beautiful day and again, although not particularly physically challenging, was a truly lovely wee walk. As it happens, I forgot to transfer my wee point and shoot from my handbag to my rucsac so I had to make do with my 2mpx mobile phone. But, as I say ad nauseum “the best camera is the one you actually have to hand” .   Our walk actually started in Kettlestoun, Linlithgow Bridge at an information point all about the battle of Linlithgow Bridge but really the route began in earnest underneath this viaduct.

Then along a river leading to the canal.






Going across the aquaduct….

This view is from the canal as we neared Linlithgow and is  looking across to the viaduct where we had started at Linlithgow Bridge. Along this stretch we saw a bird of prey in the far distance which, when I double checked about the shape of it’s tail at home, I am fairly sure was a White-tailed Eagle.

Canoeists getting their own Food For The Soul on the canal …..  

Being low level did not detract from the beauty that surrounded us and the sheer joy of being part of nature.

Abercorn Church to Blackness Castle and back  – approx 5 miles

The next trip was from Abercorn Church to Blackness Castle.  The church is a little gem with a history dating back over a thousand years.  For more info click here.

After visiting the church and the teeny museum we went through the woods then down onto the shore to Blackness Castle.

Our hearts sank as we got closer to the castle though – it looked as though we were snookered by a wee river – but luckily we eventually discovered a tiny bridge.   (Debbie could have leapt from bank to bank but I wouldn’t have stood a chance with my wee legs.) We had our lunch at the castle them made our way back – this time by the wooded path all the way back to Abercorn.

The final low level walk taken in the past few weeks was further afield and is part of the West Highland Way.

Tyndrum, Allt Kinglass and back  – approx 10 miles.

When I checked the weather forecast early in the week it looked good for Wednesday so we made plans accordingly.  We planned to go from Tyndrum to Bridge Of Orchy and to get either a train or bus back.  Then on Tuesday night the forecast changed drastically to our great dischuffment so we were going for a ‘plan B’ instead.   Luckily I checked again on Weds morning and it was back to being hopeful, so we reverted to ‘plan A’.  I am SOOOO glad we did.  The weather was absolutely beautiful all day – amazingly bright, quite mild, no wind (changing to lovely wee breeze later) and was downright gobsmackingly gorgeous.  However, we learned a good lesson….check the bus times FIRST!   We were a bit late starting off and had a couple of stops to take photos on the way, so we were not exactly giving ourselves the best chance.  If we’d known the times we might have made adjustments or simply got a move-on.   This is a stitch of Loch Lubhair taken on the way up.

 The words ” Dull would they be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty”  sprang to mind. (I know Wordsworth was referring to London but how well it fits. )

When we finally started on the section it was 1.30pm.  We consulted the computer in the Green Welly Stop to find to our dismay that the bus times from Bridge Of Orchy were 3.04pm  and 8.14pm!!   There was no way we’d cover seven miles in 90 minutes!   We also considered getting the bus TO Orchy and walking back, but that had long since gone too so we had no choice but to attempt the walk both ways.   Quite frankly I was happy just to be there in such wonderful conditions – it didn’t matter about actually reaching Bridge Of Orchy.   Oh what a day it was!  Just see the weather conditions at  the start of the walk just behind the Green Welly Shop.

Ben Dorain was lording it over the route.   I’ve driven past this mountain “millions” of times and been across the area on the West Highland Rail Line twice.  I’ve always wanted to walk it ….. so chuffed to have done so at last.

We had noticed two other walkers in the distance who appeared to be struggling a bit with heavy packs and by the time we stopped for lunch we had caught up with them. While we were stopped we had a chat with a walker who had just come off Ben Dorain and said chappie reckoned the others were two German ladies planning to walk to Glencoe that day.  They’d been on the same bus as him that morning and he had been up the mountain and back in the time it had taken them to reach that point.  There was no chance of their reaching Glencoe, over Rannoch Moor, by the time the sun went down!
The route is clearly signed to go under the West Highland Rail Line via a wee tunnel .  The German ladies didn’t appear to have a map, or be observant, because they set off to continue across the hillside and had to be called back to go via the correct route under the tunnel.

On the other side of the tunnel…
We never saw the German ladies again so we suspect they turned left after the tunnel to take  the other part of this path which eventually met up with the main road after about a mile and led back into Tyndrum.  I do despair of folk going to the hills or on walks over roughish terrain without being properly prepared and equipped.

We turned back ourselves at Allt Kinglass.  It was only about a mile and a half from Bridge Of Orchy but to make it feasible for getting back to the car in daylight, and taking into account a two hour drive home after that, we decided it made sense to go no further.  Unfortunately my wee point and shoot’s batteries had failed soon after taking the photo of the coos and my replacement batteries were dead (duh!) so once again my mobile phone came to the rescue for the ‘golden light’ on the way back.

We were quite warm, so much so that Debbie stripped down to a sleeveless top, but then she noticed someone coming towards us who appeared to be smoking and realised that it was in fact their breath visible in the cold air – not smoke at all – it was actually rather chilly my dear!   We hadn’t noticed that the route went downhill on our way out but we sure did notice it was uphill coming back!   Our wee hearts were racing at full pace but in a good healthy, exercise way – not stressful at all.

Even a puddle can be beautifully photogenic……

Then of course the sun went down behind the hills and the golden light vanished, but by then we had arrived back at the car.    A nice hot coffee from the wee shop and we set off back home, both souls well fed.

I am getting more and more confident of my fitness – not a trace of aches or tiredness on any of these walks – despite this last one being around 10 miles and having some steepish parts.  When the soul’s appetite is satiated the body benefits as well.