A day off and the sun is shining – so what better way to spend the time than to head out into the countryside! Living just north of Glasgow there is a wealth of beautiful countryside to chose from and one of my favourites is the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserve at Loch Ardinning.
Approaching Loch Ardinning from the south, you get stunning views of the Campsie Fells and Dumgoyne, a volcanic plug which is a well-known and very distinct local landmark. Today the Fells were snow-covered and with clear blue skies and bright sunshine looked even more splendid than usual.
The reserve covers 142 hectares of moorland, wetland and woodland as well as the loch itself. It may be a nature trail today, but some of the landscape has been shaped by man. Within the boundaries of the reserve there is an old quarry which provided sandstone in the early 19th century for the foundations of the nearby main road (A81). While the dam at the start of the walk was originally built both to enlarge the loch and to provide water for the mills in the nearby Blane valley. The loch itself is shallow and often freezes and in the past was a popular spot for curling – on the trail you can see the remains of the base of the former curling hut.
It’s close to the city but nonetheless a varied and rugged landscape, and you get a great sense of being well away from the noise and bustle of the town. The trail guide and marker posts along the way provide interesting facts about what has shaped the land and what there is to see.
In fact, there is even a battle site on the reserve! As the guide says : “Part of the rock formation used to be called Cat Craig, derived from the ancient British and Gaelic words meaning ‘battle rock’. The earliest known historical reference to the area concerns the Battle of Ardunnion about AD570 when Gwallawg and his brother kings of Cumbria fought and defeated Hussa the son of the king of Bernicia. A fierce battle was fought between the rocks here and the Blane Water.” So it’s not always been as peaceful around here as you might imagine!
Over the past fifty years The Scottish Wildlife Trust has established and managed 120 wildlife reserves the length and breadth of the country. Their vision and hard work has helped create, save and regenerate a wealth of sites. And as in so many wonderful places in Scotland a fantastic job is done by the volunteers who maintain paths, ensure natural tree-regeneration, clear old blocked field drains, cut back invasive plants and carry out the hundred and one other tasks that go to make the reserve a pleasure for all to use. I have a huge admiration for the work they do keeping this beautiful country of ours beautiful and making it something that can be shared by us all. There’s no doubt that in Scotland we are very fortunate indeed to have so much natural beauty right on our very doorstep – and it’s just waiting for you to get out and enjoy it!
For further information about Loch Ardinning, and volunteering, here is the link to the Scottish Wildlife Trust