I'm tremendously unfit and would normally never agree to do such a thing but the Whangie is somewhere that I've wanted to visit for ages so I caved and joined two of my friends, Catriona and Claire for a nice morning wander up to Queen's View in the Kilpatrick Hills. They had already planned on going but asked me if I fancied it the day before, after we saw Monster's University at the cinema. (which, incidentally, is one of those rare sequels that actually surpasses the original - I'd HIGHLY recommend it!) Normally I'd refuse on the grounds that I'm terribly unfit (true) the weather's awful (also true) etc etc but as it was decided that we'd be going there at about 8:30 in the morning when it would still be cool, I thought I'd give it a go and I'm so glad I did.
...and just what is the Whangie, I hear you cry? Well, it's a very interesting area of geology! (and is pronounced 'wang-ee' if you were unsure) I'll go into more detail when we get there. :P
When we arrived at the little car park at the base of the hill we could hardly see our surroundings for haze. Loch Lomond was invisible and the hills behind us were completely gone as far as we were concerned.
(fun fact: we had to repark the car after we got out because the guys with strimmers who were cutting back vegetation came over to tell us we'd parked at the only part of the verge they hadn't touched yet. XD)
My friends were as enthusiastic as they come. :P
I had been assured that although the first part of the hill was very steep and horrible, once we'd got over the worst of it, the rest of the journey was a nice gentle incline which thankfully, it was!
We stopped a couple of times en route up for a drink of water and a look at the view...well, what we could see of it anyway, lol!
Apparently this part is called Queen's View because when Queen Victoria visited it was the first place she saw Loch Lomond from...not that we were going to see much of that today!
Once we were approaching the summit the sun came out which was really nice.
That little thing on the left is the trig point at the very top of the hill...
...which Claire was first to reach!
Auchineden Hill isn't a particularly big hill, only 515ft (157m) but for a complete novice like me it was a good place to start.
We stopped for snacks and took in the view for a while and now that the sun was out, what a view it was! (click to enbiggen) I used a combination of the Photosynth app and the iPhone 5's inbuilt panorama feature to take these and some came out wonderfully! (Cheers Cat, I would never have known it was there if you hadn't told me!)
We also took the obligatory highly unattractive squinting-into-the-sunlight-at-the-top-of-a-hill selfies.
We toyed with the idea of going down to the reservoir but thought we'd leave that for another day instead.
It always amazes me that we have landscapes like this in the central belt - I wouldn't be surprised to see this in the Highlands! It only took us about ten minutes to get here from our respective houses so it really is on our doorstep.
I'd taken Skara and Inky with me so I could get some nice scenic photos (more on that in a future post) so I spent about twenty minutes doing that while my friends soaked up some sun. I was a little worried that other walkers might pass us while I was doing this but luckily they all went a different way.
Next stop, the Whangie! :D
The journey downhill towards it was really nice; everything was in flower and there were butterflies everywhere you looked. Most were Ringlets but there were a few whites and the odd Small Tortoiseshell milling around.
We had a very unexpected snack of some wild blueberries too - SO much nicer than the shop bought ones I can tell you!
We rounded a corner and suddenly started seeing rock features...we had reached our destination!
So, what is the Whangie? Well, here's what it looks like from above, via google maps. :D We approached it from the bottom right of this image, along the path.
According to the wiki article on the area:
The Whangie in the north of the Kilpatricks is of particular interest to geologists and casual walkers alike. It consists of a slice of the hillside that has been separated from the main slope. This has created a narrow chasm up to 10 metres (33 ft) high and about 100 metres (330 ft) in length through which visitors can walk. It has commonly been explained as result of glacial plucking, but more recent research indicates that a translational landslide was the cause. During an ice age, a glacier slowly undermined the crag, opening up cracks in the rock and causing this chasm to form.
The etymology of the Whangie's name is obscure but it might derive from the old Scots for slice (as in whang o' cheese). Local folklore suggests that it was created by the devil flicking his tail as he flew past.
The entrance is easy to miss as it looks like just another bit of rock until you climb up a little bit and then it just opens up in front of you. It's difficult to photograph as it's quite dark inside but I did my best!
It was a great place to visit and really felt like it should have been in Middle Earth or somewhere on another planet. The biting clegs and midges were very much a Scottish thing though and were out in droves so we didn't spent too much time inside!
Between a rock and a hard place? :P
The walls of the cliffs are so high that they've been used by rockclimbers as a practice area for years. There were no brave souls trying it out while we were there though...but it didn't stop some people from pretending! :P
I did however get some pictures of my fellow adventurers...
...and they unfortunately reciprocated!
The temperature was sneaking up again so we decided to head for home. We had spent a lot longer there than we'd originally anticipated and it was nearing midday.
Before we left we decided to have a go at making echoes...some worked better than others. XD
The sun was fully out where we were but a thick layer of haze still blocked our view further afield. If you squint a bit here you can just about make out Loch Lomond.
A badly chosen idea for getting out of going shopping later backfired on me when I joked that Claire should pretend to have sprained her ankle...only for me to go over on my ankle about ten minutes later. ¬¬ It's not broken or anything, just sore but I couldn't believe my luck. XD
A significantly busier car park greeted us when we rounded the hill and lo and behold we could actually make out the hills behind it!
So a very lovely walk it was indeed. It's not something I'd like to do every weekend (especially not in this heat) but the route is one that I'd love to do again and I desperately need to get fitter so it may not be the last you'll see of my countryside wanderings! :)