Walking towards a New Year, New Me!
Our digital marketing executive tells us about how she travelled by train to one of the most popular starting points for walking and hiking in Scotland.
Like many people, I used the festive period to overindulge and told myself it’s perfectly acceptable at this time of year to be a bit lazy and binge eat pretty much everything in sight. Chocolate for breakfast - why ever not?
But now it’s January, and it’s time for me and my ever-expanding waistline to jump on the New Year, New You bandwagon.
If only it’s that easy! Yes, the extra pounds provide some motivation to get moving but it’s not enough. January is always the time to hit the gym, but usually I’d spend not nearly enough time ‘running’ on a treadmill, cursing myself for getting so unfit and generally just wishing I was elsewhere. And so by February, I’d already be talking myself out of exercising and would sit home binge-watching Netflix on the sofa while munching away on ‘goodies’.
This time, I needed to make my ‘fitness regime’ more exciting to ensure I stick with it. I needed something that didn’t feel like a chore and ideally activities I could get my husband involved in too.
We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful country and like many other Scots, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen as much of it as I would like. Therefore, I told myself that this time, my New Year’s resolution isn’t just to ‘get fit’ (yawn!) but to get fit whilst exploring Scotland. I looked online [DP1] and quickly found some walking routes that are right on our doorstep. And anyone can walk, right?
With this is mind, hubby and I headed for Milngavie on Saturday. The train journey from Airdrie, our local station, took just 50 minutes and passed through Glasgow allowing us a glimpse of some landmarks including the Tall Ship, The SSE Hydro (is it supposed to look like a spaceship?) and the River Clyde – a pretty sight on a rare sunny day in this notoriously wet city.
When we arrived at Milngavie, we were pleasantly surprised with the charming little town centre, which welcomes many tourists as it marks the beginning of the West Highland Way. Before I go any further, I have to point out that we were not in any shape to embark on the famous 96 mile hike. Instead, we planned to enjoy a leisurely walk of just five miles. Yes, five – don’t judge, we’re just starting out!
The train station is located in the heart of the town, which features loads of information boards with details of different walks – ideal if you haven’t planned in advance. The Bearsden and Milngavie Ramblers website also has lots of information which we checked beforehand to select a route which suited us distance-wise.
Following the ‘Drumclog Moor & Dougalston’ route map, we began our trek out of town, marvelling at the surrounding beautiful homes and discussing how lucky the locals are to live in such a handsome environment.
Quickly, we reached the pretty Memorial Well set just before the Mugdock Reservoir – and my goodness, what a sight! At just four degree celsius it was a cold and frosty afternoon with snow scattered on the surrounding banks. However, the sun couldn’t have shone brighter and although I imagine the Reservior would be absolutely stunning on any day, it was particularly spectacular on Saturday.
Pleased with ourselves for planning this walk on such a beautiful day, we strolled along smiling while admiring the view and stopping only to take pictures and throw snowballs at each other.
Leaving the sight of the sun shining on the water was a challenge and as such we missed the turn on the map. Oops! Rather than turn back, we slid down the embankment and climbed a three foot wall to get us back on track. And yes, I mean slid – in true Bridget Jones’ style, I slipped on the mud and landed on my backside on the way down. At that moment I was rather thankful for the extra padding the festive period had provided me with around the bottom!
Finally managing to control ourselves after the fit of giggles that followed my slip and pathetic attempt at climbing a ‘baby wall’ as my husband called it, we continued on course towards the woodlands part of our walk. And this is where the real hiking began.
The trail wound through the trees and along cute little streams, taking us over quaint footbridges, and up and down hills. At this point I was thankful for the hiking boots I’d invested in two years earlier, which are still practically brand-new due to lack of use. Not for long though – I promise!
At the first clearing we reached, we came across a large pond where the water was frozen. The child inside both of us thought it would be fun to throw stones and see who could crack the ice first. After many attempts, neither of us succeeded and the task only went to show just how cold a day it really was. It is Scotland after all!
As we continued on, daylight was fading and I began to regret leaving it so late in the day to start this walk. However, my fears were diminished when we reached the next clearing. The view of the snow blanketing the ground with the sun poking through dramatic clouds behind the trees was truly special.
We reached the end of the five mile walk which took us straight to the railway station. On the train journey home we sat back and relaxed for a bit before tucking into our packed (late) lunch of sandwiches and fruit, while chatting about how enjoyable our afternoon had been and discussing where we should try next. Maybe this is one New Year’s resolution I will actually stick to - watch this space.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, Walk Highlands is the ultimate website for walking and hiking in Scotland.
Fancy travelling to Milngavie to do some walking?