New Blog – Walk Angus

auchmithie archI’m delighted to announce the birth of a new blog, one devoted to walking in Angus. walkangus.com is still in its early stages at the moment but will grow over time to include walk routes and articles, news, information and advice.

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Walking in the Angus Glens

Angus Glens coverThe summer of 2012 dispensed some of the most unpredictable – and wettest – weather I have encountered for a long time in Scotland. Despite this I managed to achieve a long term personal goal – to produce a book of walks covering the Angus Glens, my favourite part of the country.

Living in Dundee, the glens are on my doorsteps. I began walking there as a child, both with family and through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and have an enduring passion for the area. Over the years I have explored the hills and glens in all seasons and never fail to be inspired by the varied scenery and rich heritage of the landscape.

Hill and valley walks abound and a clutch of mountains, including several Munros, provide more challenging excursions for those seeking high ground and some of the best views in eastern Scotland. While the Munros are well known, I hope this book will introduce walkers to many lesser but equally satisfying peaks.

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

After many days wandering the mountains and valleys with notepad and camera in hand and countless hours tapping away at the computer keyboard with a ready supply of coffee close by, the end result is now at hand – Walking in the Angus Glens was published by Cicerone in June. The book covers the five main glens – Isla, Prosen, Clova, Lethnot and Esk – and contains 30 routes ranging from mountain ascents to linear hikes following the ancient Mounth highways linking Angus and Aberdeenshire. Lots of info on the book, including a sample route, can be found here.

From waste to wildflowers

Invergowrie Bay

It is all too easy to miss great walking opportunities right on your doorstep. The other day I was dropping some rubbish off at the local civic amenity site where, by chance, I stumbled upon a relatively new path network right next door.

The Riverside Nature Park has been created on top of what was for many years Dundee’s main landfill site. Now full to the brim, the city’s waste has been covered in a generous layer of topsoil and replanted. The result is a square mile of grassy meadow and young woodland located alongside the estuary of the River Tay.

To enable exploration, paths have been created, there is a viewpoint at the top and a bird hide has been constructed overlooking the mudflats of Invergowrie Bay. A car park is located on the southern edge of the park, reached from Riverside Drive via Wright Avenue.

Riverside Nature Park

After disposing of my waste, I donned my boots and set off, spending a good hour or so exploring the area. The longest stretch of path runs from the car park up to the bird hide by the bay. Returning, I had the option of heading over the top of the mound – where the viewpoint is located – or following a path that runs between North Meadow and open fields usually occupied by Highland cows. Here there is a small pond where two swans were in residence.

Continuing east, various paths skirt round fields and patches of woodland, emerging either into the car park or on to Wright Avenue, close to its junction with Riverside Drive.

The landfill site opened in 1967 as part of ongoing efforts to reclaim ground from the Tay Estuary (nearby Dundee Airport is built on artificially created land). The site closed in 1996 and has since been the subject of extensive landscaping. The meadows have been planted with an array of wildflowers and there are various patches and strips of native woodland.

Swans on the pond

One of the highlights is the opportunity to spot wading birds on the adjacent mudflats. Geese are regular visitors while other species you may see include lapwing, shelducks, oystercatchers and curlews. The Tay Estuary is also home to white-tailed sea eagles, which were released over the water in Tentsmuir Forest as part of an ongoing reintroduction scheme. Mammals which frequent Invergowrie Bay include otters.

For more information click here to open a copy of the park information leaflet (with map) in pdf format.

 

All Terrain Pushchair Walks: Scottish Lochs and Reservoirs

Researched and written last summer, it’s great to see my new book – All Terrain Pushchair Walks: Scottish Lochs and Reservoirs – nearing publication. Scheduled for release on June 30 by Sigma Press, 2012, it describes 30 loch and reservoir family walks in Scotland, all of them suitable for all terrain pushchairs. Of course, you don’t have to have children or an all terrain pushchair to enjoy them! It is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Locations covered include Camps Reservoir, Crawford, Gladhouse Reservoir, Penicuik, Harlow Reservoir, Edinburgh, Strathclyde Loch, Motherwell, Mugdock & Craigmaddie Reservoirs, Milngavie, Loch Spling, Aberfoyle, Loch Coille-bhar, Lochgilphead, Gartmorn Dam, Alloa, Glendevon Reservoirs, Auchterarder, Loch Leven, Kinross, Birnie & Gaddon Lochs, Collessie, Crombie Loch, Carnoustie, Forfar Loch, Forfar, Loch Lee, Glen Esk, Loch Kinord, Aboyne, Cambus o’May Lochans, Ballater, Loch Mharaich, Glen Shee, Loch Shandra, Glen Isla, Ledcrieff Loch & Laird’s Loch, Coupar Angus, Cally Loch & Mill Dam, Dunkeld, Uath Lochans, Kincraig, Loch an Eilein, Aviemore, An Lochan Uaine, Glenmore, Loch Ossian, Corrour, Loch Oich & Loch Lochy, Laggan, Carbisdale Woods Lochan, Bonar Bridge, and Loch Fleet, Golspie.

 

Lochs and Reservoirs – little gems in the landscape

My latest ‘big project’ is a book of 30 loch and reservoir walks in Scotland for Sigma Press and along the way I have discovered some real gems, places I had never visited before but wish I had found much earlier. Here are some of my favourites to date with external links to sites offering more info…

Birnie & Gaddon Lochs, Collessie, Fife – It is hard to believe that Birnie & Gaddon Lochs were once part of an industrial site. For many years this was a quarry from which sand and gravel were extracted. When quarrying finished in the late 1980s, two small lochs were created and the area was replanted with native saplings. Now it is a haven for birds and wildlife. Click here for more info.

Harlaw Reservoir, near Edinburgh – One of the many reservoirs nestling in the folds of the Pentland Hills, there is a good path looping round Harlaw and a wee visitor centre at the start. Click here for more info on this easy to access spot close to the nation’s capital city.

Lochan Spling, Aberfoyle – Lochside trails abound in the Trossachs and a real gem to be found lurking amidst the trees of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park is Lochan Spling. Accessed from the popular tourist town of Aberfoyle, a track loops around the water and there is plenty of interest to see along the way, including some fascinating wildlife sculptures. Click here for more info.

Uath Lochans, Kincraig – Four small pools of tranquil water located deep in Inshriach Forest form the Uath Lochans, one of the most scenic spots in Strathspey. Carved out during the Ice Age, the captivating marshy pools lie in the shadow of Farleitter Crag, a dramatic escarpment of rough rock rising high above the canopy of ancient pine and tall fir trees. Click here for more info.

Gartmorn Dam, Alloa – Gartmorn Dam’s natural beauty belies its industrial past. The reservoir was created in 1713 as a source of power for water-driven pumps designed to combat flooding in local coalmines. At the time it was the largest artificial body of water in Scotland. Today, clues to this industrial past can be found around the reservoir. Click here for more info.

The book is due for completion by the end of the year and should hopefully hit the shops sometime in 2012. After all the walking it is now time to site down and do the write-ups. Will keep you posted!

New: Angus & Dundee walks book

Thrilled to announce the launch of my new book, Angus and Dundee: 40 Coast and Country Walks, published by Pocket Mountains.

Angus is the historical heartland of Scotland, a county where the past has left an indelible mark on the present. Prehistoric forts, ancient castles and Pictish standing stones dot a rich and varied landscape where bracing coastal hikes, tranquil riverside rambles, sheltered woodland wanders and more challenging hill ascents await the walker.

This book features 40 walks, combining exploration of the county’s stunning coastline where rocky cliffs and coves reveal swathes of golden sand, with gentle inland trails and more adventurous forays into the celebrated Angus Glens where the terrain is altogether wilder and more dramatic.

Buy from your local bookseller, Amazon or Pocket Mountains.