Glasgow Gallivanting: September 2020

Craigmaddie Muir, Auld Wives’ Lifts and the Campsies

We’ve had some lovely, bright weekends in September which have been great for getting out and about. The walk to the Auld Wives’ Lifts on Craigmaddie Muir was one we’d wanted to do for a while – the Lifts being the rocks you can see middle right in the image above, with the Campsie fells and the prominent knob of Dumgoyne visible in the background.

The Lifts consist of three extremely large pieces of grey sandstone, one propped on top of the other two with a space between them. Couples who were considering marriage used to try to squeeze through the gap in an anticlockwise direction; if they weren’t successful, the marriage was doomed! The stones might be connected with worship of some sort and have been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

Legend has it that three witches from Baldernock, Strathblane and Campsie carried the stones to prove their strength. They are covered in Victorian graffiti as well as about eight carved heads or faces, which look ancient but seem not to have been noticed, or at least written about, until the 1970s.

The walk itself was not particularly pleasant, being over muddy, rutted fields and boggy ground, but the views, one way back towards Glasgow and the other to the Campsies and Ben Lomond, were beautiful.

A walk above the Ayrshire coastal town of Largs to Greeto Bridge also afforded good views and a welcome glimpse of the sea. The islands of Great Cumbrae and Arran can be seen beyond the town.

Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, is the start of the West Highland Way. We used the beginning of the trail to branch off onto a couple of other walks.

We saw more pretty countryside.

We came across several more sets of Scholars Rocks by Rachel Mimiec, previously encountered elsewhere in East Dunbartonshire in July, and parts of a new (to us) artwork, Home by Alex Allan, naming women workers in industries previously located in Milngavie.

And we skirted the edge of Mugdock and Craigmaddie Reservoirs. It’s a long time since we’ve walked all the way round these two – maybe next month!

September has also been a month for women’s history. Students returned to university and the usual Fresher’s Fairs were all conducted online. As part of this, Glasgow Women’s Library was invited to set out its wares in a programme for Subcity Radio and I did a slot on a couple of the women from our heritage tours. If you wish, you can listen here – I am on second, just after the two minute mark, and I speak for about six minutes.

I have also done another of my Twitter Walks, this time on the East End, which you can follow below.

While taking the photographs for the above walk we spotted a new mural in process on Abercromby Street. The third photograph shows the completed mural a few days later.

St Thenue (also known as St Enoch) is pictured wearing a shawl featuring 29 motifs in honour of the victims of the 1889 Templeton’s carpet factory disaster when 29 women were killed by a collapsing wall. Legend has it that Thenue’s father, a pagan king, ordered her to be hurled from a hill in East Lothian when she became pregnant out of wedlock. When she miraculously survived she was put into a small boat and cast adrift in the Firth of Forth to perish. She was guided to shore by a shoal of fish and given shelter at the community of St Serf in Culross where she gave birth to her son, St Mungo, the Patron Saint of Glasgow.

Annie Lennox, Calvin Harris, Emili Sandé and Lewis Capaldi on the wall of Embargo

Another new mural this month is on the side wall of Embargo, a pub on Byres Road in the West End, and portrays Scottish music stars Annie Lennox, Calvin Harris, Emili Sandé and Lewis Capaldi. The mural is the work of local artist Rogue-One and is intended, according to the bar’s manager, as “a visual celebration of Scottish musical talent during a difficult time for the creative and hospitality industries alike.”

Finally, we encountered the highland cattle of Dawsholm Park again this month, so here are two of the most photogenic especially for Jessica!

So that’s it for September and what turns out to be my 700th post.  Restrictions are closing in again, but let’s not focus on the bad stuff. Wishing you all a happy October.


  1. glorious showcase for Glasgow and the countryside around. Love this – and your 700th post too!

    Hope the restrictions are not impacting too much on you – if only everyone was asked to wear a mask at all times and the messaging on distancing was better. Sure if it was we would not have seen the rise we have 😦


  2. I’m so glad you were able to get out and go for a walk in the warm September weather! The views look gorgeous. And I thoroughly enjoyed your talk….you’ve been busy! Congrats on the 700th post, and I hope you don’t have to cope with too many new restrictions. This pandemic has more than outstayed its welcome.


  3. Fascinating mural in progress. I had wondered how they could paint such a large image while so close to it, but now I can see that they draw it on first and (I assume) have coded the segments for colour, etc. Very dramatic mural!



  4. love those stones and the witches!. It’s a fair few years since I did the west highland way. It was both utterly mesmerising and utterly appalling, often on the same say!. Possibly the toughest ‘flat’ walk we ever did was the section alongside Loch Lomond, made worse by my jumping over a large tree root and ending up in the ribcage of a long dead, yet not completely rotted deer! Oh the smell! It could have lifted kilts at fifty paces…

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  5. Anabel – It’s like a potpourri of walks! Witches, wonderful clouds and – most especially – you in front of the library. I think I’ll go take that walk with you right now 😉 – Susan


  6. Having been up there that boulder crawl must have been a test of fortitude as its usually flooded all round the boulders. A very wet corner. The Largs walk is a joy with great views. Think they took the sign that said GoGo Street down in Largs (name of local stream). Shame. Always made me laugh.


  7. It’s always so green and pretty on your walks, which is a stark contrast to ours at the moment. A warm wet spring and summer have been forecast but we’re now a third of the way through spring and it’s been neither so far. Poor Thenue!