07-Apr-2005 -- This is the nearest land confluence to my home, but being Scotland, I got wet feet visiting it. Struggling with a large piece of written work I took the afternoon off and headed almost due west to the 4th degree of longitude. This is situated on the southern slopes of the Campsie Fells in Stirlingshire, a range of basalt hill just north of the country's largest city, Glasgow.
The city may be close but the site is now rural, given over to sheep farming and forestry. At 175m above sea level the ground is still cultivated, but not far north of the pint the grazing is rough and in places replaced by plantations of sitka spruce.
Like most visitors I approached from Banton, which is a pleasant looking village with some fine spring gardens on display. A lorry had shed its load on the nearby main road and all trafic was being sent up the single track road through the village, so getting in was difficult. I took a different route to some, avoiding the crossing of the Boiling Glen ravine, and fields with lambing ewes in.
On the approach it soon became obvious that I was visiting my second coal mine confluence. The area was covered with spoil bings from old mines. These would have dated to before the nationalisation of coal mining in 1947 and the small former farm of Binniemyre would have once also been a colliery. There are no mines left in Scotland now, the coal is all won through opencast quarries, on the day of the visit three new ones were announced south of Glasgow. The last deep mine the undersea Longannet pit, 30 km to the east was lost to flooding in the last year. Once there were hundred of small mines all contributing to Glasgow and Edinburgh's smog problems.
Just to the south is the Forth Clyde Canal – this was built to move coal and also the remains of the Antonine Wall – its not so long since I visited a confluence on Hadrian's Wall, and now one by the lesser known northern barrier built by Hadrian's successor. This frontier of the Empire only lasted about 50 years before the Romans fell back on to the southern fortification. There are several Roman antiquities still visible in the area.
Only a kilometre of walking was needed and I arrived in the dance zone dry shod. Unfortunately Ye Olde Cartographers declared that the goal was in the bottom of a re-entrant in an area of marshy ground. So it was more like the confluence synchronised swim. At least the satellites were kind and the fix was stable. I got a decent GPS shot for once.
Being in the bottom of a re-entrant views were limited except to the south which looked over a fence, past a large rowan tree, just budding, and far across central Scotland to the peak of Tinto (707m) on the edge of the Southern Uplands. East lay some gorse and ash woods, North, the rest of the field leading up to some spruce just out of sight and West along the fence to the trees lining the invisible Boiling Glen.
A pair of buzzards were calling out an objection to my presence and I could just make out the noise of a shepherd's bike across the Boiling Glen. Leaving the spot and climbing out of the dip I was able to get a good view of part of Glasgow.
The wetness seemed seasonal, there were some wetland grasses, but nearby there were molehills, a sign of dry soil. The weather was cold, windy with sleet showers.
Soon I was back in the Banton traffic jam and heading back to Edinburgh.