The Upper Nethan Gorge Woodland Walk

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The Upper Nethan Gorge

Sometimes it’s not all about big hills or long distances sometimes it’s about taking your time and looking at what’s on your own doorstep. It would appear on the face of things I have an area which is abundant in local signposted walks and ways. One of which brought me to the Upper Nethan Gorge. Literally right on my doorstep. Not 10 minutes from my door. It’s one of two, The Upper Nethan Gorge up at Blackwood and the Lower Nethan Gorge down towards Nethanfoot and Crossford on the River Clyde. Both of the areas are looked after and managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. They are also within the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership project boundary.

The Upper Gorge

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The Upper Nethan Gorge straddles the banks of the River Nethan. The river starts away up in the hills above Glenbuck in Ayrshire like the River Ayr. However it takes a considerably different and somewhat shorter route to the Clyde. A meandering distance of 21 km. The Upper Nethan Gorge is on the river’s lower reaches before it passes out and flows into the mighty Clyde at Nethanfoot ending its journey. The gorge is heavily wooded and full of all sorts of species of trees.

I’m lucky the walk is so close to my door. There is no parking at the start to speak of or public transport that passes the start of the walk. I have to walk along the Southfield Road towards Tillietudlem. The fictional place from Sir Walter Scott’s 1816 classic story, Old Morality. No longer fictional. It is an actual real place on a map and everything. It was a stop on the old Caledonian Railways in 1856 but more of that later. It’s a back road which is fairly quiet. Nonetheless there’s still a good amount of tarmacadam bashing and car dodging to get to where the track begins.

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The walk starts at NS797446. For those that like grid references. It’s hard to miss the beginning for several reasons. One the fields give way to trees. Two there’s a large kissing gate and 3 the most obvious of them all. A great big sign announcing it as the Upper Nethan Gorge. Once through the gate the path starts off on what was an old railway line now removed as mentioned previously. It was part of the Lesmahagow line that goes all the way to Coalburn. This part is the Blackwood spur.

The Railway Line

These railway lines were originally put in to get the coal out of this mineral rich area. There is also a trail marker which is a rather large 6×6 post pointing you down the track. It’s sending you to a castle. The 16th century fortification, Craignethan Castle. The real life inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s fictional Tillietudlem Castle. Home of the Bellenden family in the tale.

It does feel like you are walking down an old railway line at the start. Roman road straight with the fence line of the Southfield cottages to your left. However after a bit the trees start to overgrow the path like the roof of a tunnel and the wooden palisade that is the fence stops. Giving way to open fields. A few more feet forward and you feel cocooned in the bark and leaves yet it still doesn’t feel like a proper wood.

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There are a few relics of it’s former use. You can be walking along and become suddenly aware of what looks like a large sandstone retaining wall or maybe the abutment of an old bridge. Green with age and moss. It may the old signal box or junction box there’s always something if you keep your eyes open. The flora and fauna are trying hard to reclaim it from it’s past. It’s not until you are a good way down the line. Close to where the old Nethan Viaduct used to be. That you step down the embankment into the woods proper. This feels how it should feel. Here it feels old and ancient but the trees at most might only be a couple of hundred years old.

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The Woods

Here for me, is the best place to stop and stand awhile in the small glades. In autumn and winter you can catch glimpses of the other side and Auchenheath. You get an idea of just how high you are above the water. In spring and summer when the leaves are growing and the trees feel full of life. The view obscured you can hear and see the birds singing and dancing in the branches. Sparrow and Finch by the dozen. Chirping mad in a frenzy. The occasional an unmistakable cry of a pheasy from the border of the fields and wood. Rooks or Craws circling, cawin’ loud and harsh.

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From here it’s just a short walk to the end of the woods. A metal gate onto a field signifies the limits of the trees. The gorge curves away from you heading to the opening and relative flatness at Corra mill. It then cuts a swathe through the cliffs to the Clyde again. You can see the houses of Tillitudelum. Usually this is the end of the walk for me. Where I about turn and saunter back the way I came. Here you can pass through the gate and follow the hedge. It will take you to the road and the entrance road to Craignethan Castle. From there the path leads to Lower Nethan Gorge and Nethanfoot at Crossford.

That’s a post for another day.

3 Trips Thursday #63

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3 Trips Thursday

The 3 Trips Thursday dinner time edition. Hadn’t realised till it was too late that this one hadn’t been scheduled. Imagine my shock and horror! Hopefully all back to the normal lunchtime slot next well. Anyway let’s get on with this. First up is a circuit round Finzean on Feughside. Next is just some photographs of the Falls of Clyde but my oh my you see it in all its splendid glory, one of my favourite places. Finally a walk from sunrise to sunset. Get comfortable and get clicking. Enjoy.

The Links

  1. The Finzean Circuit.
  2. Falls of Clyde.
  3. Sunrise to Sunset.

As always you can hit me up on Twitter. Send me an email through the contact page. You can even go old school and just leave a comment in the comments box. Failing that you could use the share buttons or go wild and do them all.

Thanks for reading and more of the same next week if you want to come back.

3 Trips Thursday #62

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3 Trips Thursday

Yes it’s that time of the week for 3 Trips Thursday where I share my favourite links that I’ve saved from RSS feeds. Some are new some are old but they’re all good in my opinion. Get yourself comfortable and start clicking through for some outdoors inspiration. This week we have some more bothies and snow as well as a week long trip and a great photograph to draw you in.

The Links

  1. A New Year week in Weardale.
  2. What could have been.
  3. A couple of days of escape.

As always; hit me up on Twitter, send me an email through the contact page, leave a comment in the comments box. Happy to answer any question or share a link of your outdoor adventure.

Thanks for stopping by.

3 Trips Thursday #61

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3 Trips Thursday

The first link for 3 Trips Thursday is something a little different but it’s still a trip and it’s still outside. Glenlyon is not all about it’s spectacular hills, there’s some very interesting history there too. Next up is some bike riding and bothy staying. Finally for this week a quick walk up Duncryne, which has great views over Loch Lomond and Luss.

The Links

  1. Carnbane Castle and a banquet for a bard.
  2. a couple of days of escape.
  3. Duncryne.

You probably know the drill by now but if you want to get in touch; then you can either drop me an email through the contact page, leave a comment in the comments box below or hit me up over on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

3 Trips Thursday #60

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3 Trips Thursday

Another small bag of delightful walks for 3 Trips Thursday to get you in the mood for some walking and outdoor fun.  This week we have the Ayrshire coast, a couple of hills near Kilsyth and the Antonine wall and cold winter walk.

The Links

Castle Hill and Croy Hill.
Another local walk. 12km.
Saltcoats to Kilwinning across the amazing Ardeer Peninsula.

You can always leave a comment below, send me an email from the contact page or look me up on Twitter.

3 Trips Thursday #59

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3 Trips Thursday

This week’s trips include some cracking Highland snow from the start of the winter walking season. The forests, rivers and linns around Braemar. The last link is an escape to the mountains after trip to the big city. Sit down, relax and read away.

The Links

  1. First Wintry Walks of the Season.
  2. Days off Around Braemar – Linns o’ Dee & Quoich.
  3. Escape Velocity.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ve enjoyed this week’s selection of trips. As always you can find me on Twitter, leave a comment below or you can send me an email from the contact page.

3 Trips Thursday #58

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3 Trips Thursday

I’m cheating a bit here this week but I just felt you couldn’t have part one without part two. In some ways this weeks links are opposites on the weather scales. The first  2 links are an a couple of days in the Ettrick Hills round Moffat and the other is up on the west coast around Oban.

The Links

  1. Battered days and bothy nights in the Ettrick Hills – pt1.
  2. Battered days and bothy nights in the Ettrick Hills – pt2.
  3. Beinn Lora. Benderloch.Highland Sunsets.

Thanks for reading. You can always leave a comment in the boxes below, find me over on Twitter or send me an email through the contact page.

More of the same next week.

3 Trips Thursday #57

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3 Trips Thursday

This week I’m sharing a belter of a slideshow from the Cairngorms, some really great photographs by a very talented photographer and trip to Skye taking in the Old Man of Storr.

Happy reading.

The Links

  1. Cairngorms Chillout.
  2. Photo highlights of 2015.
  3. The Old Man of Storr.

If you have any questions, want to share a link or start up a conversation you can send me an email through the contact page, find me on Twitter or leave a comment in the box below.

Thanks for reading.

3 Trips Thursday #56

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3 Trips Thursday.

Settle down and click away on another 3 trips. This week we have a trips to Oban. Some fine photographs from the Lakes. A

The Links.

  1. Oban. The Bothy Visit. Kayaks, Cows, Geese and Mountains.
  2. Glaramara and the one day winter.
  3. Ossian’s Cave in Glen Coe.

Thanks again for taking the time to visit. You can find me over on Twitter, send me a message through the contact page or just leave a comment in the boxes below if you want to ask question or get in touch.

3 Trips Thursday #55

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3 Trips Thursday.

Sorry that there hasn’t been much 3 Trips Thursday post for a while or any posts for that matter. Finally after months of trying, I’ve gotten back into my blog. I had updated the password then managed to lock myself out. The new secure log in was so secure I couldn’t type it in correctly. Not very clever. Anyway, hope you all had a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

The usual small bag of delights this week includes a walk on Skye. A great glen walk at Ullapool. Lastly and by no means least, a cracking pack rafting trip.

The Links.

  1. Redwings and Ravens in the Red Cuillin.
  2. Glen Achall Gorge scramble Ullapool.
  3. The Road to the Western Lands.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read the post.

You can find me on Twitter. Leave a comment in the box down below or if you prefer you can send me an email through the contact page.