An Ice day to go for a walk..
Blue skies, freezing temperatures and one GM activation alerted for…
It was time to decide where to walk this time.. ‘Go West, young Mhor’ was the plan.
Leaving home I headed down sheer icy pavements plus the road wasn’t much better until about 600m from home I joined the cycle track at NS 323740 as expected the track wasn’t much better but I crunched westwards along towards Greenock, I had been working in the immediate area the previous day but no icy conditions just soft snow.
I walked along the tree lined path when all of a sudden a roe deer showed itself, its white rump patch showing as it bounded up the steep hillside at an amazing speed, sadly faster than I could get the camera phone out. It was above what is known locally as the ‘public park ‘ and the track I was walking was once the a branch of the ‘Greenock and Ayrshire Railway‘ .
This line was a most important rail supply link during the second world war and the area I was presently walking through was where they ‘allegedly’ sat the trains which were carrying some of this countries ‘valuables’ to a safe haven in Canada during daylight hours and moved them to unload during periods of darkness. Armed guards were posted along both sides of the train. Greenock and the Firth of Clyde was a most important deep water anchorage plus as the shortest sea route across the Atlantic to North America was important. Many a GI and Canadian Forces soldier passed along this track on their way to their placements.
I left the track and followed the path which then rejoins the old track at Devol Glen which once was spanned with a majestic red sandstone 480 ft long nine arch viaduct, it stood 100ft high above the Devol Burn. I remember walking across this after the railway closed but sadly the Army demolished this local landmark in 1970. It was built by Sir William Arrol. Arrol worked on some of the country’s most famous structures including the rebuilding of the Tay Bridge, The Forth Rail Bridge and London’s Tower Bridge, lofty company for this red sandstone viaduct.
You can still see the remains of some of the red sandstone support bases.
Rising back up to the upper level was rather tricky due to an icy path but once on the level, I headed and as I looked northwards, excellent views of the Luss and north Cowal Hills began to show, the snow covered tops and some cloud clinging to the odd summit. I walked along behind housing schemes until I came to a small bridge where as a young ‘un I used to walk under to a flooded area to catch newts and take frog spawn home, this area was filled in in the 70s and 80s as a local landfill site. It is on the OS map as ‘Woodhead Quarries’ but we knew them as ‘the Puddocks’.
Within minutes I came across a local park area where soon I would leave and head upwards along local roads to meet what is locally known as the ‘Killie Rd’, the B788.
I reached the road after a short steep walk up icy pavements. A quick break for water then off turning uphill and east and now heading for home. The views now were spread out to the west and north. I could see Iain WJZ’s intended activation hill Ben Lomond which at this time had a cloud clung to its west flank. I continued up the roadside until there was no path and walked carefully on the road listening for traffic.
I reached the parking viewpoint at NS 307738 and another quick water break and some photos. A northerly breeze was blowing so I warmed up by heading not over the Dougliehill Rd which was my original intention but heading south on the B788, a few cars passed but the road although well gritted it was relatively quiet, I was bathed in sunshine now and started to feel the heat. I knew that I can pick up 500mw PMR traffic from the Rhu area in the lee of the hill that I should pick up a signal from Lomond with no problem..Passing the Devol Moor sub station, a car stopped and I was offered a lift and if I had known the state of the side road ahead, I may have accepted. I headed downhill and turned into what is one of the back roads which can take you to Kilmacolm.
The road was a sheet of ice almost the whole way to my next turn off . I turned left into the Green Rd (also known as Devol Rd), I had walked on a snowy verge until welcome relief on to a icy but crispy snowy track to head up and over the hill and as I reached the top of the track, Ben Lomond stood covered in white. I quickly dropped down the track to the golf clubhouse area where I eventually slipped on my posterior luckily on a flat section, I had just picked myself up and then heard Iain WJZ calling CQ. I quickly I headed to the nearby car park area which has been handy for working SOTA contacts in the past.
I waited as Iain worked all the QRO stations before I called in with my 2 watts, I had heard Iain telling Roddy IOB that he had ascended by the Ptarmigan Ridge and had been caught waist deep in drifts, my route and icy problems were nothing to this. I said goodbye to Iain and headed down a very icy car park then down a side road to home.
A cuppa and a hot bath was needed.
Just under 7 and a half miles so a relative longish walk under terrible underfoot conditions. I think it may be enough for the weekend but there again, who knows.
I did head out on Sunday.
Neil 2MØNCM had declared for Corse Hill so off I tramped up the local Trig point to ‘catch’ and as a bonus I caught Jack COX who was on top of Tinto.
I couldn’t resist the walk to the south end of the Green Rd and back, I made the mistake of heading along the fields where it may have been icy but in places, they were a mudbath. I sensibly used the track on my way back just going on to the golf course to avoid the icy section I slipped on the previous day.
My thanks goes to Iain MM3WJZ who generously supplied me with some images of his day on Ben Lomond. Copyright of these images is that of Iain. Another two images are included in the Gallery…
The plaque at the Devol Glen Bridge
“The plaque reads:
“NINE ARCHES TO NONE ARCHES
In 1870 the Greenock Merchants built this railway, with this viaduct of nine
semi-circular arches 480 feet (146m) long and over 100 feet (30m) above
the Devol Burn.
The railway closed in 1966 and on 31 October 1970 102 Sqdn(RE) blew the
viaduct up. The debris remains on the site to this day.
In 1979, the Lithgow Y.O.P. team built a simple footbridge in the Glen below
and on 22 December 1993 the last planks were laid across the 80ft (24m) Bailey
Bridge by Sustrans four-man team.
Plaque dedicated by Sir Simpson Stevenson 27 May 1994.”
For a photo of the Nine Arches viaduct the best I can find is on this forum thread HERE
Newspaper clipping of the demolition HERE
Geograph Article on the old railway line ( Port Glasgow section) HERE
Found this online…
Devol's Glen, a ravine, traversed by a brook, in Green- ock and Port Glasgow parishes, Renfrewshire. Com- mencing among hills 794 and 682 feet high, and descend- ing 2J miles north-eastward to the E end of Port Glasgow town, it is rocky, wooded, and romantic. It is flanked, near the head, by a precipice, called Wallace's Leap, over which Sir William Wallace is fabled to have leaped on horseback; and it contains two beautiful though tiny waterfalls, respectively about 20 feet and about 100 feet in leap.
The word ‘Devol’ ( originally Davol) derives from the Gaelic word ‘Diabhoul’ which means ‘the evil one’
Scottish region of Sustrans Cycle Network