Craig Minnan, where the hell is that?

I can see this from my window, well the ridgeline behind it formed by Misty Law and Hill of Stake anyway. The trail’s origin lies on a bit of a nowhere land called Ladymuir on the edge of Clydemuirshiel Park and although it looks unremarkable on the map, if you google for it there a few walk suggestions come up.

In our ongoing quest to make the most of the local area, we set off, and set off a wee bit late of course, to see if we could #1 find it on the Renfrewshire backroads and #2 have some fun exploring.

There’s a wee carpark off the B786 and we bagged the last space. There’s a faded interpretation board and a path leading off into the trees. You don’t really need more than that to get moving. We had a map of sorts saved from the Clydemuirshiel website but as it lacked clear direction, grid refs or any real correlation to what we were seeing on the ground we decided just to head west–ish and see what happened.
There were plenty of trails and it looks like locals do shorter loops around the woodland and there’s lots of pleasant trees, a burn curving through them and a little stone crossing that brought a smile.

The trail eventually rose clear of the thickest woodland to what looked like an old road, elevated into the hillside and walled. The wall was mossy and crumbling, the road surface hidden under grass, leaves and twigs. It was also at right angles tour our arrival upon it, the most left or right decision it was possible to make. Right felt like the adventurous option. The map confirmed it, of course I checked.

Hidden in the trees further on were some ancient concrete channels, obviously part of Ladymuir Reservoir which we’d been expecting to be quite industrial if and when we found ir, but once on it’s banks it felt anything but a man-made construct. This was every bit a lovely wee loch to sit and have a cuppa by.

Fish bubbled nearby, the sun cast shadows the floated past and we sat and watched nothing much at all. Perfect. We could loop back, but there’s a forest road up by the end of the reservoir, will we go and see? Yes, of course we will.
It was lovely walking, not much ascent, and no views as such, just a pleasant, lush and maybe even calming environment. It’s a state you could just cruise through endless miles in.

We walked on, soon rising slowly through the plantation. The sky got wider and we had our first proper views, Misty Law was right ahead, the deep dark brown bulk that’s so familiar from the living room window. It’s like meeting a pal in person that you’ve only talked to on the phone for ages.

The trees stop and you have choices. A muddy path going somewhere “that way” into some trees or the gravelly forest road that swung left and looked like going back to base. The “that way” path nipped in and out of some young trees and ended at a stile. Here was the big view. Ben Lomond, Arrochar Alps, Kilpatricks, Campsies, Cowal, Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh my.

Will we go and climb that?
Aye looks nice, what is it?
I thought you were an expert Peetah…
The sarcasm cut me deeply as I looked at the map: Its called Craig Minnan Linda, c’mon. But she was already swinging her poles through the heather towards our newly discovered destination.

It’s a gorgeous place is this. The crag is a little over 300m and doesn’t stick up above the surrounding moor very much at all, but it’s full of atmosphere and interest. Some hills pull you onwards because you want to be in amongst it, not just detached on the top, and there were nothing but grins being in the grassy strips between the bare rock.

The top is a cracking viewpoint with so many familiar distant shapes to the north. It was warm and clear, the rock was dry and we had no choice but to sit down and take out the flasks again.

A cool breeze slipped in, jackets were worn and a little cloud drew up between us and the sun. Evening wasn’t too far away now. Still we sat, with banter and smiles and happy with our lot.
That mountain feeling isn’t just for the big mountains, that freedom, that space and contentment, the air you can feel filling your lungs and your soul, it can be this close to home.

It turns out this is a destination for bouldering and I can see what, lots of rock to play on for your reasonably long walk in. I guess you could shin up from the Muirshiel visitor centre to the south, we thought about visiting the next little top that exact way but the fading light had us heading back to that gravel road, night wasn’t too far away.

Oh, there was a sign. Pointing the wrong way, serves us right for going anticlockwise. there was also an abundance of abandoned forestry gear. Clean your shit up, guardians of the land my arse.

The dullness brought us to a stop to get headtorches into pockets along with hats and gloves. The temperature dipped along with the sun’s highbeams as we headed slowly downhill and a few early lights twinkled in the distance from Paisley’s direction.
It was very quiet so the croak of a raven was easy to pinpoint to its source and we found it doing an odd dance on a stump in a clear felled area. I don’t know if it needed privacy or an audience to fulfill its ambitions for whatever it was doing, but it got frustrated with us not understanding it and few off anyway. Sorry.

Just a little bit of gold to the west before the sun let go altogether. Not complaining, the day had been fine and the calm cool evening was a fitting contrast as we walked out on a road that stopped unexpectedly.

Timing is everything and hitting the muddy, partially flooded and unmarked trails through the southern half of the woods just as it became pitch dark wasn’t necessarily what we’d have chosen as our first option.
But by headtorch and Anquet’s OMN3 app we found our way with much laughter and twigs in our hair. Linda’s hair lets’s be honest, my hair these days can be described as basic or budget at best.

Just before we found ourselves in someones garden near the car park we found something that the forestry guys really should have remembers.

Jimmy, you got the keys of the JCB?
Naw, still they’re in the ignition.
Where is that than?
You trying to be funny, it’s just by the levers on the dash.
Naw, naw, where the JCB?
It’s parked in the trees.
Head in hands, Andy walks back to the hut to phone the office…

Go out to play local, it’s magic.

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