Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs

                                                              View Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Bridge in a larger map

Today I went on a walk with my friends from the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs, (known locally as Cartland Crags) which are near Lanark. These are managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and are part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve. The word 'craig' is of Gaelic origin, and means "rock" or "rocky".

The weather was beautiful with bright sunshine, although it was quite frosty. We met at Lanark train/bus station at 11.00am and travelled the short journey to Cleghorn in a minibus. It is also possible to reach the start using the Bluebird no 77 or Stuarts no 37 buses from Lanark bus station to the start of the walk.

The entrance to the walk is clearly marked and there is a well-marked footpath which prevents walkers becoming lost on the walk.To the left was Mouse Water but it is not possible to walk along the banks of the river as there was a 30 foot drop to it from the footpath.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

The walk started off well - the autumn leaves were still on the trees and we were able to see the autumn colours before the leaves fall off in the next few weeks. A Great-spotted Woodpecker could be seen on a Beech tree and a flock of Blue-tits flew overhead. I had not seen a Woodpecker for over a year, so I was glad to see one again. A badger sett was also seen just after the start of the walk.

Badger Sett

Dogs Mercury

In the glen the main vegetation is Dogs Mercury and Woodrush. Dogs Mercury has spear-shaped, toothed, fresh green leaves carried on upright stems. It produces clusters of small, greenish flowers in spring. It is often found in woodland which has many Beech trees. The predominant tree in the glen was Beech.

Beech Trees 

Beech trees are characterised by having tight, smooth light gray bark. The bark is unique and is a major identifier of the species. It also has muscular roots which look like the legs and arms of some creature.

Beech tree in Autumn Colours

Beech trees are native to the South of England, but were introduced to other areas of the UK because the tree is so pleasing to the eye. The leaves can take up to three years or longer to decay because they are tougher than the leaves of other trees.

Crossing Mouse Water

The path through the forest was muddy in places, but as we were all wearing good walking boots, it was not too difficult to negotiate.

 Lunch Stop

At 13.45 we stopped for lunch, which we enjoyed in the Autumn sunshine.This gave us a chance to catch up with what we had seen on the walk.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

After the lunch stop, the path descended to Mouse Water and we continued at river level until we arrived at Mousebank Road. On this stretch of the walk we saw some Otter spraint (excrement) and some Devils Bit Scabious flowers which was remarkable considering it was late October.

Devils Bit Scabious
Otter Spraint 

Otter spraint can be identified by smell and is often compared with new mown hay, lavender or mint. The specimen we saw today had the remains of fish scales in it.

Otter Spraint

We crossed the road and continued on towards Cartland Bridge. The path at this point involved a steep ascent before following a flat path towards the bridge. In the distance Lanark and Tinto Hill could be seen on our left. 

Lanark and Tinto Hill

Cartland Crags Bridge

We were now approaching Cartland Crags Bridge which is 129 ft (39 m) tall bridge and was built in 1822 by the famous Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834). It is a spectacular structure and is in excellent condition considering its age.

Cartland Crags Bridge
Our walk was coming to an end we soon arrived at the small car park at Cartland Bridge where the minibus driver was waiting to take us back to Lanark.

Summary of Walk

This was a great walk in an area which I was not familiar with. It was more enjoyable due to the Autumn sunshine and we managed to see the trees in their Autumn colours before the trees lose their leaves altogether.


Scottish Wildlife Trust 

Scottish Natural Heritage 

Information Leaflet

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Images of Autumn 2 - Golden Leaves

                                                                    View Baron's Haugh, Motherwell in a larger map

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year. The green leaves of summer turn a golden brown before falling from the trees and are a wonderful sight. The following photographs were taken in the Dalzell Estate in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. 

Golden leaves over the River Clyde
It was a lovely day and the leaves of this tree were highlighted by the autumn sunshine with the River Clyde in the background. The path on the left takes walkers to Adders Gill.

Tree in Autumn Colours

This tree was growing on the riverbank between Hamilton and Motherwell.

Red Japanese Maple

A Red Japanese Maple tree was growing under the bridge from the Japanese garden in the Dalzell Estate. The red leaves were very attractive and proved popular with visitors to the Estate.

Red Japanese Maple

Another view of the Red Japanese Maple tree.

Beside the Japanese Gardens

At the small bridge beside the Japanese Garden in the Dalzell Estate. The garden was created in the 1920's and have been re-developed in recent years by North Lanarkshire Council. They were modelled on a traditional Japanese garden and once boasted a copy of the Temple of Buddha at Nagasaki. The exotic Japanese maple trees are renowned for their beautiful crimson foliage in autumn as shown in the above photographs. 

Trees on the banks of the River Clyde
Along the banks of the River Clyde, the trees are displaying their Autumn colours.

Tree on riverbank beside River Clyde
In the distance a Heron sits in the autumn sun watching for fish in a small pond

Heron watching for fish in a pond
The above photographs were taken on Sunday 21st October. Many of the trees still had their leaves, but if there is any wet weather or strong winds the leaves will soon fall from the trees. Thankfully I got to see the trees in their Autumn colours as they will not hold these colours for long.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Images of Autumn 1 - Fungi

                                                                    View Baron's Haugh, Motherwell in a larger map

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year for many reasons - golden leaves on the trees, wintering birds returning from Scandinavia and the number of fungi fruiting at this time.

On the path I walk to meet my bird-watching group at Baron's Haugh in Motherwell I was able to spot the following types of fungi. The photographs were taken on a Sony Xperia S phone, which I find is good enough for many photographs when I cannot carry my SLR camera.

Conifer Tuft

Conifer Tuft

This yellow-brown fungi grows in tufts in decayed conifer wood.

Conifer Tuft
Soft Slipper Toadstool 

Soft Slipper Toadstool
This is easy to identify as the skin peels off completely due to the elastic skin. If is 7cm in size and shell-like and is found on the dead trunks of deciduous trees.

Candle-snuff Fungi

Candle-snuff Fungi
Candle-snuff Fungi is sometimes called the 'stags horn fungus'. It is quite a strong and rubbery and can be bent without breaking. It is black at the base, grey in the middle and white at the tips just like a snuffed candle wick.

Fairy Inkcap

Fairy Ink Cap

The Fairy Ink Cap is very small - between 0.5 to 1.5cm in diameter and 1 to 1.5cm tall. It is egg-shaped at first, then bell shaped and then flattens out.

It is beige when young, then turns grey and then black.

Unfortunately I never spotted the big red fungi with the spots!


Baron's Haugh

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Glasgow is one of the top shopping centres in Europe and most of the up-market stores and brands are found in Buchanan Street. Brands such as Karen Millen, Apple, Omega, Rolex, Hermes, Prada, Gucci etc are sold in the shops in this famous street. 

It is the 6th most expensive street in the UK with regard to retail rents (the first five are in London). Buchanan Street dates from the late 18th century and is named after Andrew Buchanan of Buchanan, Hastie, & Co who was a wealthy tobacco lord. He was the owner of the ground on which the current street is located. 

In keeping with a city which became very wealthy through trading with the Americas and West Indies, many of the buildings are very ornate and beautiful both externally and internally. While I was there recently I spent some time looking at the buildings as I walked from the top of the street, just outside Glasgow Concert Hall, to Argyle street at the bottom. 

 Concert Hall

It is not unusual to find an opera singer or band performing outside the Concert Hall and on the day I was there Canadian opera singer Kyla Lingley was singing some well-known operatic arias to raise money for breast cancer. Many of the other shoppers stopped to listen to a wonderful singing voice. 

Walking down the street, the beautiful carvings on many of the buildings are testament to the wealth of the City which was once known as the 'Second City of the British Empire' in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

 Below shows some photographs of Buchanan Street.

Outside the North Face Shop
Outside the Royal Bank of Scotland

St George's Tron Church
Urban Outfitters

Frasers Department Store

Nationwide Building Society

As the above photographs show, Buchanan Street has some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture in Glasgow