Scottie's Monthly Photo Diary
- Second Half June 2011
I never go anywhere in Scotland without my camera and I take photographs wherever I go. Sometimes I go somewhere specifically to take photographs with a view to adding another page to the Rampant Scotland site. On other occasions I just see something that makes an attractive picture or else it's another graphic to add to the library to perhaps use on a future occasion. This is a selection of the best photographs I took in the second half of June 2011 with a commentary on each one. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels during the month which can be shared by everyone! There's also a link to a slide show of the pictures on YouTube.
After a wet May, we hoped that June might be better but of course we have been largely disappointed. But earlier in the month there was one great day with warm sunshine and we set off to Loch Lomond. It's a while since we had last been there, but not a lot had changed - except for some new retail outlets at Loch Lomond Shores. There did seem to be more boats on the loch though, including more sightseeing trips from Balloch. The larger boat here is "Astina" operated by the local Sweeney's Cruises company and the smaller one is a private speed boat, probably moored when not in use at the Duck Bay Marina.
Here is a view of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the "Maid of the Loch", a paddle steamer which is being restored so that it can once again operate on the loch, taking tourists on trips up by the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Even though it was many years ago, I still remember going for a sail on the Maid of the Loch as a young lad with my parents.
Drumkinnon Tower is the heart of Loch Lomond Shores and while of contemporary design, it is reminiscent of a medieval Scottish castle. A spectacular seven storey circular rough-stone building with fabulous viewing galleries at different levels offers the best possible outlook right up the loch. It has an enclosed walkway on its outer wall which spirals down from the top to the ground floor, allowing visitors views in all directions. Drumkinnon Tower opened in 2002 and Loch Lomond Shores is often not very busy outside of the main tourist season. Since 2006, the tower has housed an aquarium, the first to be built in Scotland for over ten years.
The Maid of the Loch is the last paddle steamer built in Britain and is also the largest inland waterway vessel ever operated in Britain. After being built at the shipyard in 1953, she was dismantled, and transported by rail to the south end of the loch where her sections were reassembled on a purpose-built slipway. She operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years and is now being restored at Balloch pier. Restoration began in 1996 and progress has been painfully slow. The ship did get a new coat of paint and is now certified to have passengers aboard while moored at the jetty. There is a Restaurant/ Cafe/ Bar open during the summer and at weekends. The volunteers working on the restoration hope that the Maid of the Loch will set sail once again on Loch Lomond by Easter 2013.
Cairnpapple Hill and Beecraigs Park
Cairnpapple Hill is a few miles north of Bathgate in East Lothian and 17 miles west of the centre of present day Edinburgh. Around 3,000BC the people who farmed there began to build a "henge", probably for ceremonial purposes. The henge was similar to others in other parts of Britain and consisted of a circle of 24 massive upright wooden posts surrounded by a bank and a ditch. The henge is 60 metres (nearly 200 feet) in diameter and there was a ditch over a metre (three feet) deep. Later, the use of the site changed from "ceremonial" to burial with a number of bodies being interred in graves marked with stones topped by a cairn (piles of more stones). Eventually, a last burial cairn was constructed over the earlier ones, with a diameter of nearly 100 feet. Even later, in early Christian times, the site was still revered and there are some Christian burials on the hill also. Eventually, however, the site was covered by trees and its earlier significance totally forgotten about until the late 1940s when archaeological excavations uncovered the large site.
The impressive early grave measures 10 feet (3.3 metres) long by nearly 9 feet (2.7 metres) wide with a massive upright stone around 8 feet (2.4 metres) high. The human remains found there during archaeological excavations showed that the body had been laid out full length and had probably been wrapped in organic material. Two distinctively decorated pots known as beakers had been left full of food and drink. This grave was originally covered by a cairn of stones. In recent times, partly to provide protection from the weather, a modern dome has been built above the grave and a steep metal ladder provides access for visitors.
Holes which would have held massive tree trunks circled the centre of the cairn and may have helped to support a screen to keep the ceremonies inside away from the gaze of outsiders. Being on the top of a high hill, there are views in all directions, especially to the north, across the river Forth to present day Fife.
Not far from Cairnpapple Hill is Beecraigs Country Park which is now a popular visitor attraction for nearby Bathgate to the south and Linlithgow to the north.
Clyde View Park Renfrew
In addition to the Braehead Retail Park on the banks of the river Clyde at Renfrew, there has been a lot of housing built in recent years and Clyde View Park has been created as a local amenity. It is the first new park to be built in the West of Scotland for many years and features fountains, paths, cycleways, play areas, picnic areas, artwork, green space and a riverside walkway. Formally opened in June 2005, the park has a row of eight small sculptures mounted on pedestals by artist Kenny Munro. They all have links to the history of the area, such as this one dedicated to local engineering company Babcock and Wilcox which designed and built a huge range of steam engines.
The plaque beside this representation of a Viking galley, says that Somerled, the Viking Lord of the Isles, landed at Renfrew in 1164 during a campaign to assert his authority over the western seaways of Scotland. He was attacked and killed by a local force who created a smoke screen, thus ending Viking influence on the Clyde.
Within sight of the park, on the other side of the Clyde, is the shipyard at Whiteinch in Glasgow. The latest destroyers for the Royal Navy, Type 45, are all being built and/or fitted out on the Clyde by BVT. The ships are named HMS Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan. HMS Dragon, seen here, has an 18-metre-long Welsh Dragon painted on its bow and was launched at Govan into the Clyde in November 2008. It is currently undergoing sea trials and will be commissioned later this year.
There has been a ferry service between Renfrew on the south side of the Clyde and Yoker on the north bank for many hundreds of years. For a spell it carried vehicles as well, but the demand for that declined markedly after the construction of the Clyde Tunnel further up river. The car ferry ceased in 1984. In recent years, passenger numbers had declined to the point where continuation of the ferry was under threat. However, a new, smaller ferry with better fuel efficiency has been introduced. But with only an awning providing protection it must be a chilly crossing in the winter!
Drumpellier Country Park
We have continued to observe the great crested grebes in Drumpellier Country Park (and at Hogganfield Loch) and have been encouraged by the two birds at Drumpellier performing the distinctive mating dance which is a feature of this species. Maybe they will make a nest and we will see the striped, noisy, chicks later in the year!
There are peaceful garden areas at Drumpellier and in recent years the North Lanarkshire parks department has done a great job adding to the number of plants growing there. These lupins make a good show anywhere!
There are two families of young swans at Drumpellier - both with seven cygnets. The experienced parents have done well to keep all seven alive and growing strongly.
I drive to all sorts of places to places I've never been to before and never realised that practically on my doorstep the New Kilpatrick church had such a magnificent set of stained glass windows. Almost every window is decorated in this manner and as a result, the church is now an "A" category listed building.
If you want to see more of these stained glass windows, I have created a video slide show on the Rampant Scotland channel on YouTube. I think it illustrates all the windows in the church - though it would be easy to miss one!
The common spotted orchid doesn't look much like my idea of an orchid but that's the name of this flower - the botanical name is Dactylorhiza fuchsii. Even more surprising is the fact that it is growing in my own garden and flowers every year. And I didn't even plant it...
Day Lily is the general non-scientific name of the species Hemerocallis - a name derived from the Greek words "he-mera" meaning "day" and "kalos" meaning "beautiful". The attractive flowers typically last no more than 24 hours with flowers opening at sunrise and withering at sunset. But they are often replaced by another one on the same flower stalk the next day.
I was working on my PC recently and happened to look out of the window to see this vivid red sky. Of course I immediately grabbed my camera and took this picture!
If you want to read the other Diary entries going back to 2009, there is an Index page.
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