The Cathkin Braes

Obtaining Uncle Frank was a good thing. It probably ranks up there as one of the best decisions of my life, a list that includes growing my beard, moving to Texas, convincing Connie to move there too, asking her to marry me, and having a McDonalds breakfast this morning. As soon as we got Frank I started to imagine the possibilities: Hillwalking with a dog was one of the most anticipated. The problem was that by the time Frank was old enough to be out and walking and was almost certainly going to come back to us when he was called the weather had turned.

Now the weather’s coming back, which means that this blog will probably have one or two posts about our upcoming hillwalking adventures. Last year Connie and I splurged over six or seven weeks with at least one hillwalk/low level hike a week – and one weekend managed to fit in a 17km circular walk with two peaks, and in another actually managed two full scale walks. In our magnum opus, we took the long walk up Benacchie after a previously failed attempt.

Walking Frank has been one of the pleasures of having the dog, but as he grew having him on the leash was less and less fair to him and my shoulder. His power pulling the lead and almost ripping my arm out it’s socket. After a few walks in Pollok Park which were good we discovered Linn Park’s woodland wastes, and it sufficed.

Until we found the Cathkin Braes. High above the Southside of Glasgow, the Braes sits wedged between Carmunnock, Rutherglen, Castlemilk and East Kilbride. Not many people will realise it, but it overlooks the city in the same way the Campsie Fells do to the North, but less high. Designated a country park, it’s basically a barren wasteland of bushes, with a lovely silver birch wood.

The first time I went up the Braes with Frank I locked myself out of my car. That’s a story worth reading, if you haven’t already. The second time, the next day, Conne, Frank and I headed up to the braes after I had essentially talked Connie’s ear off about how lovely it was. It’s not that lovely; there are no real main features and it’s just a big field in some places, but there is a view. A view of the city like no other.

I’ve taken many photos of it, but none really match what it feels like as a Glaswegian to see the whole city (or most of it) almost like a Simba-esque “all the light touches” moment. It’s pretty neat.

Glagow City Council, however, are working up there too, installing what looks like an incredible set of mountain biking trails ready for the Commonwealth Games next year. The routes weave in and out of the burns and trees, jumping down the side of the hills, and generally make me want to buy a bike and ride again.

There is one other thing that will change the Braes for good – the installation of a windfarm. Well, one turbine so far. The 125m Vestas wind turbine was erected just this week and Frank and I inspected it together, Frank not enjoying the loud and eerie “twang” of the tension cables on the crane as they echoed around the braes. The turbine is part of a project to turn the place into a fully fledged windfarm. As a proponent of wind power (despite my professional career saying otherwise) I am happy to see it built and anticipate it’s introduction, but feel a bit sad at the loss of the wild nature of the park.

The new turbine slowly creeps up, and you can now see it from the Kingston Bridge, pinpointing the braes unlike before – now, somewhere where the fun was in trying to work out where it was is now pin pointed by a turbine marker.

The access roads built have torn up the land quite a bit, but the new water diversion tunnels have introduced a new area for Frank to play in, much to my amusement.