Out early and out of North Lanarkshire – 31 March 2021

We’d planned to go out today, driving and walking if the weather permitted and it did, so we did too!

We drove to Chatelherault in Hamilton or Fernigair to be more exact. I was never in Fernigair, I only passed it in the bus coming home from work in Cambuslang. I must have passed it going to work too, but I was probably half asleep then. I remember that all the houses were wooden framed and painted dark brown. Now they’ve all gone and been replaced by the tiny chicken box houses that cost a fortune and become too small for a growing family which forces them to buy a bigger chicken box somewhere else. And so the money goes round.

Chatelherault was then a private estate, owned by the landed gentry and mere proles like us were not permitted to even see their grand house behind its big stone wall. Nowadays anyone can tramp round their once private estate and that was our intention today. Last night we planned our route. We’d take the low path from the ‘Big House’ down through the forest and along beside the river to the ‘White Bridge’, then climb the steps to the high path and from there back to the car. That was the plan. Plans are a great idea. Even better is ignoring them.

The walk started well and there was just the hint of blue sky breaking through the clouds. What’s more, it was quite warm. Not South of England, 24º warm, but nearer 12º Scottish warm. We wandered along the path through the trees and listened to the Avon flowing beside us on the right and to the waterfalls coursing down the side of the glen on the left. Of course I just had to try a slow shutter shot (or five) of the waterfalls. The path was fairly dry which was good because I’d worn my Merrell blotting paper boots. Their only good point is the grips on the soles that are much better at preventing slips than the polished soles of the Clarks boots. Now if I could only remove the soles from the Merrells and glue them onto the Clarks boots I’d have the ideal walking boots. Even better, if Nic the Chick would let Tiso open up sooner, I’d be able to buy a pair of boots the equal of my Frankenstein invention.

Back to the path. The path meanders horizontally and also vertically which makes it much more interesting than any road or asphalt path. Parts of it are almost straight and the gradient is gentle, but that’s because the path is following the route of an old mineral railway line. After that line ended we had to climb steps over a rocky part and then it was down the other side and we were almost at the White Bridge. There is a tubular metal barrier across the path at that point and a sign saying PATH CLOSED. The amount of boot marks and paw prints gave the lie to that notice, so we to ignored them. We both knew that the White Bridge was no longer there. Only the pillars remain. Scamp wasn’t happy with clambering over a gap in the boardwalk that would take us to the remains of the bridge and to be honest, neither was I, but I did it and came back without injury.

We discussed our best path back to the car and decided not to climb the steps to the high path, but rather take a fork in the path we’d seen on the way there, that would take us to the Old Avon Bridge. We found the fork without any trouble and followed the path below the Duke’s bridge and after a few hundred yards were at another decision. Do we follow the path to the Old Bridge or take a path up the side of the glen to the Big House. We chose the latter and it was a tough climb. A rest halfway up gave us time to catch our breath and we continued on to meet yet another level of path. From there I could see the avenue at the front of the house. It was an easy ramble from there along past the White Park cattle the estate is famed for and on to the car for a slice of orange, then home.

After we’d had lunch and I’d inspected the photos. I took a walk over to St Mo’s partly to get some more ammunition for a PoD and partly to stretch my legs. The photos didn’t really materialise, but my legs felt better for the stretching.

PoD became the photo of the Duke’s Bridge taken at the start of the walk. About seven miles walked and according to my Fitbit 16,000 steps and 69 sets of stairs climbed. Unfortunately, only 7 out of 8 active hours. The Fitbit is never satisfied!

Saw some Wood Anemones and bright yellow Celandine on our walk. Also smelled Wild Garlic which will always be called Stinking Ingins. (ingins is Scots for onions). I should have foraged some to make pesto.

Hopefully a more gentle day tomorrow. Maybe another leg stretching walk in store.

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