Not the walk we planned

Yesterday we’d planned to go for a walk as part of the 45-minute project. Carolyn spotted a lovely-looking walk just west of Stirling, around the North Third Reservoir.

When we got there, it was indeed lovely – but it was also very wet indeed!

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Megan and the rest sensibly elected to stay in the car. In the ten seconds it took me to get this photo my jeans got soaked.

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The rain radar showed there was no prospect of it letting up.

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So instead we used our Historic Scotland membership and visited Stirling Castle. In the Great Hall at the moment is the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

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This is quite some tapestry – 160 panels telling the history of Scotland from 450mya to present day, all stitched by local groups over the last four years. There were lots of beautiful details, and as a whole it told the story really well – I certainly learnt a few things!

The River Carron

The Forty-Five Minute Project is not dead! On 28th December we went for a walk past the Kelpies and up the Carron River.

The Kelpies were looking particularly awesome on this chilly sunny day. It was great to get out!

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First stop was this pond near the Kelpies, which had iced over – hard to resist walking on water, and collecting sheets of ice!

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Aidan loved the cold, but Megan wasn’t quite so keen.

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This year-old swan was just standing on the ice sunning itself. We tried not to disturb it as we went past, but it decided to move over anyway.

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As well as the river, we walked through a community woodland which had some interesting features. This human sundial was very clever – the equation of time is handled by a platform with month names – stand on the current month, and your shadow indicates the actual correct time! There are separate hour markers for summer and winter time. It was bang-on!

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This sculpture / barbecue area commemorating the ironworks was also very impressive. I particularly appreciated the clever construction. Aidan and Megan are re-enacting the crucible scene on the plaque.

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A wonderful winter walk. Thank you Falkirk Council, Abbotshaugh and Langlees Community Woodlands, and the Helix!

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Helix Park, Falkirk

A couple of weeks ago the whole of Falkirk was very excited by the launch (at last!) of the new Helix Park. We finally managed to visit today, and it was splendid! It’s very popular. You’re supposed to walk or cycle via the Helix paths, a network of paths covering the whole of Falkirk, but it was a bit far for us today so we drove. Aidan and Megan did cycle once we got there though!

The canal end isn’t finished yet so we couldn’t get close to the Kelpies, but they were impressive enough from a distance. Two things that are finished are the Great Lawn (looking forward to concerts here – the stage and amphitheatre-style wall are very promising indeed) and the Lagoon – complete with kiosk on one side and beach on the other:

By the kiosk is a fountain of a type which attracts children of all ages – Megan soaked herself, Aidan and Daddy went through the middle without getting (very) wet, and Mummy stayed at the side and drank tea!

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We loved this spiral path in one corner.

We’ll definitely be back – possibly with roller skates!

Black Loch, Limerigg

Today we visited a loch called Black Loch, the scenery there was beautiful –  we never even knew we had such lovely scenery so close to home. The walk itself  was 1.25km/0.8miles and 20-30 minutes long – though we decided to go back the way we came, instead of walking along the road. It was about a 20 minute drive from home, pretty much south of Shieldhill.

We started at Limerigg Primary School, we walked along the Lochside road up to a small path. We then walked beside the loch beside marshy area which used to be forested, then we turned off the path that went round the loch. We walked by a small marshy forest for a while, then we reached the road. Then we turned back and trampled through the forest. I came out a little later then the others. Then we went back by the loch.

Megan and Daddy fell behind on the return journey, both carrying lumps of snow, it turned out it was a head and body for a snowman! The snowman was named Billy and we put him at the gate, we wrote his name in the snow!

Almondell

The kids had the Monday off school, so I took a holiday too and for a change we headed east, to Almondell & Calderwood Country Park. We followed the Almondell walk (but from the Mid Calder carpark clockwise, rather than the South carpark anticlockwise). It was a fantastically sunny and still day, perfect to discover yet another hidden gem of the Central Belt! We’ll definitely be back again once the foliage has appeared on the trees.

There’s a good formed path along the riverbank, multiple historic bridges, interesting industry and waterworks, loads of beautiful woodland, and a visitors’ centre that was open and sold icecreams! The visitors’ centre also has a great-looking playground, but we didn’t have time to stop. The walk around took us 1h40m.

This bridge was fascinating – it carried a small channel of water from one side of the river to the other!

 

Carron Valley Forest

On Saturday we walked around part of the Carron Valley Reservoir, on a cold, lightly overcast but still afternoon. The winter greys and browns were subtle and beautiful.

There was only one marked walking trail – it’s mainly a mountain biking reserve – but both Megan and Aidan found plenty to amuse themselves: it’s very hard to bore them! Megan and Daddy took the high road through the trees while the Aidan and Mummy took the low road. True to the song Aidan and Mummy got there afore us.

Aidan was fascinated by the elongated vertical ice crystals (about 3cm long) he found in the patches of mud – does anyone know how these are formed? – and by the curved patterns in the icy puddles. [Update: this is called needle ice!]

Both Aidan and Megan assembled sculptures while we were there, from found materials:

Aidan was careful to read the signs, too.

Altogether, a great time was had by all! Given there’s only the one shortish trail and it was fairly flat we’re unlikely to return, but it would be a beautiful stopping point on the B818 for a leg stretch. (There appears to be a new attraction in development, the Duncarron Medieval Fort, which may draw us back when it’s ready!).

Beecraigs Country Park

It feels a bit wrong putting this here because we visit it so regularly, but it’s a great park.

On Saturday there was a light dusting of snow, so we went out to enjoy the unfamiliar look of a familiar place.

We decided to walk around Beecraigs Loch. Last year Aidan and Megan built a shelter here (Bear Grylls style), and they keep returning to see how it’s bearing up, and to add little bits and pieces. It’s doing quite well!

After the circuit of the loch we were briefly tempted by the red-blazed woodland walk, but when we realised we’d done it just a couple of months previously we decided this time we preferred to eat cake in a cafe in Linlithgow!

Plean Country Park

On Saturday we continued to implement our New Year’s resolution: exploring the walks and outings within a 45-minute radius of our home. We went to Plean Country Park, a beautiful park just a few minutes from the M9 at Stirling (J9).

We set off for a walk on one of the four marked paths around the estate. The maps and signs were excellent.

Plean House itself was imposing; the story of its ruin in 1973 was a sad one. This park could definitely use a tea rooms or a museum.

What really struck us, though, was the potential of this place: it’s a beautiful park, but it’s clearly a work in progress. The Friends of Plean Country Park are working hard to improve and develop it – we were impressed to see the clearing work they are doing throughout the park, removing storm debris but I think also invasive non-native species.

We can’t wait to go back in the spring – hopefully there will be bulbs in flower!

Devilla Forest

We went for a lovely walk yesterday in the Devilla Forest, near Kincardine. We haven’t explored this lovely forest enough – we’ve only been three times, and the first was back in 2008! We were delighted to see this time that a local couple has taken it upon themselves to investigate the history, and to put maps up around the forest with points of interest marked. Wow – thank you very much! I’m sure we’ll be back soon.

Moor Loch, with the boat house in the background

We walked around Moor Loch. It was a beautiful day for it, but there weren’t very many people out. Much less crowded than some other forest walks we’ve been on.

A and M by the entrance to the forest

Happy children after a good walk – off to get some lunch now!

C posted about our walk too.

–KW 😎