South West Scotland 2021: Part Two
2-3 September 2021
This morning I woke to a broken dog, and my feet in severe pain. Poor River could barely walk a few paces, and those were terribly laboured. She, like I, had overdone it yesterday, and we both ached like there was no tomorrow. After a chat with my daughter, we decided that I could leave River with her so the poor pooch could rest for today, and that I could retry the botanic glasshouses again – this time driving and parking outside in the street, and NOT walking! Parking was straight forward, and I was among the first to enter. There were several restrictions to the entry of the glasshouses in place, limited numbers being allowed in, seating barred, and masks having to be worn – nothing too unusual for the current climate, but once in I ended up doing a relatively quick walk round anyway. I found photo opportunities to be pretty limited with the bulk of the plants just grouped together in a fairly uninspiring setting (for my taste). There was really only one area where I could stand far enough back to capture anything fully, but even there, I found the background to be quite distracting with Covid posters, signs, barriers and milling people.
As I turned back however, I noticed all the benches that had been grouped together to stop people sitting on them, and was quite taken with the sight. The benches had created an unintentional, albeit unusual, leading line towards a central sculpture and all the plants behind. I finally reached for my camera and took this shot.
I tried the second glasshouse next, but it was just a cluttered collection of plants, which for plant lovers was really interesting. For my photography however, the crammed display lacked a point of focus for me. So I left and made my way back to relieve Emily of her dog sitting duties. While she continued with her tasks for the day, organising an art exhibition in Edinburgh, I simply rested. Later in the afternoon I took River for a gentle walk around the park next door, just to get her moving again before her muscles seized up altogether, then we just chilled some more until Emily got back home. We ate very late and chatted till gone midnight, while I carefully monitored the prospects of fog at the Necropolis for tomorrow morning. The chances were looking very promising at first, over 60%, but sadly they gradually dropped to less than 15% as the hours went on. In the end I decided to just leave it, and slept in instead.
Because of the late night, and the disappointing fog watch, my plans didn’t quite go as I hoped and I ended up leaving Glasgow at 11. My original intention was to get to the Necropolis at 5 ish, and leave by 7 to start the next leg of the trip. Oh well, there was no harm done, and now I was on my way! The first county I hoped to capture was East Dumbartonshire, and to start, I had a lovely location to visit. Campsie Glen Waterfall. Waterfalls are by far my favourite subject, and I drove to this one with great excitement, but once I had parked up in the car park, I was a little unsure on which way to walk from here – I couldn’t see any signage directing me the correct way.
Eventually I plumped for the hike downhill. The route up looked to be getting flatter, and there was only a slim dirt track to follow. Down was a much clearer path, and it looked steeper… there might be a better chance of finding a waterfall where the route was steeper I mused, and headed down. The walk went downwards for quite a way without signs of any waterfalls however, and finally I got concerned, turned round and started the walk back uphill again. Just after I started, I bumped into an older couple, and they told me that there were actually two falls here, not just one. The woman pointed further down hill, saying it was the easier one, and that there was a delightful coffee shop at the bottom, adding that the second fall wouldn’t be easily accessible with a dog. The lady didn’t direct me to that one separately, so I assumed it was in the same direction. Thanking them, I turned round again, and headed back down.
I walked most of the way down the hill, until it was clear the water just turned into a flat river, and stood very confused. Pretty much all I had seen was a small cascade. Was that the waterfall she meant? Assuming it was, I went back to the cascade, and photographed that (see header) hoping that this wasn’t all there was here. It was a really peaceful spot though, and I could see some rather beautiful detail was achievable, so relaxed and simply enjoyed the experience of being out photographing the tumbling water. River loved being here too, and she paddled happily next to me, dipping her belly and nose into the gentle flow of stream as it continued away from us.
Once I was done here, and feeling like the trip had started proper, we started the 140 metre climb back up and arrived back at Fred some 2 hours after I had left. I stopped for a rest, had a cup of tea and something to eat, while River went and hid. I didn’t blame her, she was still working through her stiffness from 2 days earlier, and I realised that she would have a limit on how much excercise she would be happy to do right now. The walk we had just done was probably more than enough for today! I was determined to find this flipping waterfall though, so eventually left the comfort of the van, allowing River to stay and rest, and I went to find it! This time I headed upstream – and sure enough, there it was – 5 mins from the car park…🤣
The couple were right here though – I found a slack line tied to a tree to help you get down some very large boulders, as it was steep with some sheer rocks at one point. A smaller dog would find this a struggle for sure, unless it was being carried. Clearly I had made the right call leaving River in the van. I got myself down and was delighted to see a people free waterfall that also had a ledge leading to a shallow cave behind it. I explored all behind, taking photos from this viewpoint, and posting an image to my story on Instagam. Then I continued behind, and made my way right around to the far side.
I went to take some pics from here, but found I had to clear litter as I went. Thankfully someone had left a plastic bag with their lunch left overs (really?! is it that hard to bring your rubbish away?!) so I used that to pick up everything I found and started to take shots from the front. It was a lovely location, but I bet it would look gorgeous with a bit of sun on it. The light was coming from behind me, but the cloud obscured the sun from view. I tried waiting, for a fair while, but eventually gave up, packed up and crossed the river to start the climb out. As I was halfway up the boulders, the flipping sun briefly made an appearance, and it did indeed look stunning. But as I paused to consider going back, it disappeared again. Effing tease!!!
I gave up the idea of going back feeling unwilling to play this game (!) and continued up, then noticed the path went on a little further upstream. I left the bag of rubbish at this point, aiming to collect it on my way out (no point carrying it everywhere) and followed the path. It wasn’t long before I spotted a second fall. These must have been the two the lady was talking about after all. So where was she directing me to, when she pointed downstream I wonder? This waterfall wasn’t particularly dramatic, but it did have an incredible stoic presence to it. Calm, and simplistic, no drama, it was what it was, and had no pretence to it. What an entirely different character this one had. It fell into a simple pool without fuss, and simply continued going straight from there down a boulder ridden but flat stream bed. It was very easy to cross, and I found myself a comfortable spot to settle into to compose my pictures. As I sat taking my photos, I was joined by a group of teens who subsequently found themselves on top of it, forcing me to stop taking longer shots and look at more intimate compositions. I wasn’t too worried, and waited when I needed to. I had the photos I wanted of the whole fall and was very happy with them.
After a while, they all climbed back down and left with mum, but curious, I followed their idea, climbing big rocks and boulders until I too reached the top. From there I saw the path still continued but it was unclear if it led to anywhere in particular. Unperturbed, I followed it anyway, clambering over further boulders (bit of a determined old granny when I want to be!!) until I eventually spotted a third fall! This one was beautiful and yet another, different, character! Sweet and far more delicate than the previous two, this one stole my heart as it tumbled gently to a pool that was so still, the water mirrored each of the cascades that formed on its journey. Time was getting on by now however, so I did what I could in the failing light, frantically firing shots with a variety of shutter speeds to hopefully capture this beauty well. As I did so, midges and mossies came out for their evening meal, and I could feel them tickling my flesh. I tried my hardest to hang on but eventually they became quite unbearable. I was being eaten alive here! I felt this was the prettiest of the 3 falls but I had definitely reached it at the worst time of the day. I packed everything away, quickly looking upstream further on. I didn’t spot any obvious path from here, but in this light, it was entirely possible that I might have missed one if there was. Oh but what a lovely surprise to find 3 falls rather than two… and each one was so different. Today finally felt like it was a real winner, and what a cracking start to this trip!
I finished up, went back to Fred, sliding down some bits of rocks on my bum, and happily collected the bag of rubbish en route. The walk back felt really quick compared to the trip upstream, but I guess that was due to my exploring, rather than going straight to the top. I put the rubbish in the bin in the car park, and settled in to Fred to have some dinner, and stayed for the night. Where to tomorrow I wondered?
Postscript: Most of that was written the night I stayed over, and I have since looked to see if anyone has any names for any of these three falls. Turns out that the first two I saw, are the main two that you see on google, no-one has named them though unfortunately. I haven’t seen any photos of the third I saw (yet…)
HOWEVER… there is another frequently photographed fall/cascade that I TOTALLY missed!! I have no idea where it is exactly, but it looks amazing, with water coming from multiple directions… I can see that I am going to have to go back and find it! WHAT an amazing area!!