RAM’s first rambling experience abroad: 6th - 17th September 2007
Written by Alex
Written by Alex
Thursday 6th September: Excitement was in the air as seventeen of us lined up to the Check-in Desk of AirMalta on the start of a first ever venture abroad by RAM. The flight was good and timely. Not the same could be said of the queue at the car-hire desk and the availability of the hired cars at
In no time we were at the Sterling Management Centre on the campus of
Friday 7th: A lively group of Scottish ramblers from Biggar and Hamilton were massed and ready to welcome the arrival of the Maltese ramblers for the first outing in Biggar. It brought to mind the welcome that awaited the Scottish ramblers six months earlier on their first outing in
It took no longer than thirty minutes to renew friendships and exchange greetings before the motley group followed Jan and Bernard on a leisurely stroll around the historic village, along its golf course under the shadow of Tinto Hill, past streams and over the small “Cadgers Brig” (named after William Wallace “Braveheart”, who crossed it disguised as a pedlar to spy on English troops camping in Biggar in 1297) and finally to Biggar Kirk (1545), the last such collegiate church to be built in Scotland before the reformation of Scotland’s religion. We lunched lightly at the Gillespie Community Centre on hot soup and appetizing sandwiches prepared for the occasion.
Then came the crunch, as the seemingly-easy challenge was laid before us to surmount Tinto Hill, which from the bottom looked like relatively easy going. But what an optical illusion is Tinto as viewed from the bottom. Vertically it climbs to a height of 800 meters (a mountain by Maltese standards) yet seemingly peanuts as the summit appears so near. It is only on walking the first mile up that we realized that Tinto had hidden contours that made the ascent to the top another four miles distant! What with a cold biting northerly blowing strongly against, and a gravel surface tricking our every step?
Marianne Muscat Azzopardi was the first up there in some 90 minutes, with yours truly a close second. Almost all made it to the top somehow or other, but the descent was even more treacherous as the rounded pebbles rolled under our weight.
Our Scottish friends baptized us with fire. And they told us so.
Saturday 8th: By comparison the day visit to
After a light lunch we set off on the “tow-path” alongside the Union canal, led by Jo and Fay. This path was trodden by beasts of burden towing the barges before the advent of steam-power. The walk was most exhilarating in the splendid sunshine; the green meadows beyond the canal had early rusty touches of autumn with glimpses of shy deer staring or starting away ; snow white swans and their cygnets followed us on the still water while some leisure barge steamed quietly on its way. We plodded on through the Falkirk Tunnel, at 630meters the longest canal tunnel in
Sunday 9th: It was the turn of the South Lanark Older Walkers (S.L.O.W.) and Mary leading to prepare a full day of activities for us in
In the afternoon we drove to Chatelherault, the restored William Adam hunting lodge, with visitor centre, set in 500 acre country park with superb views north to
Monday 10th: The Trossachs pier on
We drove back to Callander at and parked at the southern point of Lock Lubnaig. It was a delightful walk along the 7-mile western shore of the lake all the way north to Strathyre. Again the sun shone brilliantly overhead as we covered territory that lit up in various shades of green, encountering some half dozen pure breed highland cattle grazing away in the shade of an old oak tree, their golden tufts covering their heavily lashed eyes. Further along sandwiches were shared under another mighty oak, and a little nap taken by some, especially the young ones. A smooth climb toward the northern side of the lake got us to a vantage point from where the whole stretch of the lake came into perspective. By the end of 4 hours we were downing cold ale at the first corner pub in Strathyre.
Tuesday 11th: The sun did not shine today and our arrival in New Lanark was delayed by at least one hour due to my missing the proper exit on the M9 and a misunderstanding of the meeting place. But all was well as we met up with Dorothy and Isobel. The local guide explained all about David Dale and his mills in the valley below Lanark. We toured the impeccable environs and the orderly rows of buildings that housed the mills and the orphans that lived, learned and worked there. After eating our packed lunch we set off along the river
By we were back at New Lanark where all enjoyed a hot cuppa, while the Secretary accompanied by the president of the Biggar Ramblers paid a courtesy visit to Mr Gilbert Duncan, who was indisposed at home. Mr Duncan was the person who instigated the original visit to
At the Maltese were treated to a healthy dinner of varied goodies prepared by the Biggar and SLOW members themselves. The party, which started with a talk about the history of Lanark, lasted well into the night. Then with stomachs full we headed on our long journey to