Happy Mondays: Week 2
Happy Mondays: Week 2 running around Alyth.
This week I had to go to Alyth to get my car M.O.T'd (thankfully it passed, so that's a minor stress over with for another year), so I decided to explore Alyth Den, Alyth and Drumderg Windfarm, just five miles outside Alyth. Alyth is a place I spend a lot of time, mainly on Alyth Hill and the Bike Park, which I'll spend another Happy Monday exploring at some point in the future. However, I've not properly explored Alyth Den. I've biked through it quickly and been to the Park a few times with my boys, but I've never once ventured to the southwest of the Burn. The same is true of Drumderg. It's a windfarm you see for miles around, but I've never once been up to have a look, so given that I had limited time, it was a perfect opportunity to explore these micro-adventures.
Before my car was M.O.T'd, I went for a run around Alyth Den. Alyth Den is a deeply incised, forested gorge/ gully. Alyth Burn flows along it's floor and is confined within the narrow gully and bounded by steep sidewalls. There is just enough room in places for a path to follow the burn up the gully. It's a fascinating place, sometimes eerily dark under the dense tree canopy and has it's own micro-climate, helping the dense moss cling to the steep rock faces on either side of the channel.
As I mentioned, it has a great kids play park at the entrance, which has a lot of fun activities. The Den is also a great place for kids to explore, and, if they are like mine, they'll love spending hours throwing stones in the burn. It's a great walk and an even better run, because it's cool (temperature) and very peaceful. The terrain is, in places, natural, so there is the added joy of running over roots and stones. This was my first exploration of the southwest side of the Den and I'll be going back on my mountainbike as there's some great little sections of rooty singletrack. It provided a different perspective of the Den, because you quickly rise up to the top of the gully and look down into it. If you have a spare hour, it's a great way to spend your time.
While my car was being M.O.T'd I went for a walk around Alyth. It's such a pretty little village with the burn running through the centre. At Christmas they have one of the best Christmas light displays along the length of the burn. Next to the burn, just off the square, there are old red telephone boxes that have been transformed and are now used to tell stories about the village and surrounding area. If you like hanging out in telephone boxes, some of the stories are well worth a listen. Unfortunately, many of the visitor attractions in Alyth are closed on a Monday, so I couldn't visit the museum or The Barony, where I would have had a go at their bouldering wall and enjoyed a cup of coffee. However, I found a great cup of coffee in the Singing Kettle - a coffee shop I never even realised existed. It was a real treat, and the cakes looked like they would be amazing, but I'm sugar free, so I never got to test them.
After getting my car back, I drove the 5 miles up to Drumderg Windfarm. Wow, what a view. If you are after easy running/ walking, but with a sense of being away from it all (if you ignore the constant humming of the turbines), and stunning (I mean STUNNING) 360 degree views, then this is the place to visit. The views are what did it for me. You can see right over to Fife across the Strathmore Valley and the other way up into the Grampian Hills. I was the only person up there and I saw several roe and red deer, black grouse, signs of mountain hares and a kestrel swooping down on it's prey. I even saw two military helicopters hugging the floor of the adjacent valley. Because the circular route stays beneath the summit for most of it's length, the views are constantly changing, which is a real treat.
I'm still undecided where I stand on windfarms. They are a blight on our landscape and can cause serious environmental impacts to both the biotic and abiotic environments, but we do need renewable energy sources and they do provide amazing access to our hills.
The very small black x at the bottom of this turbine is me - just gives you an impression of the scale of these things! On the way home I stopped off in Alyth again for a fish supper from the best fish and chip shop in Perthshire - the Alyth Fish Bar. It's worth a visit to Alyth just for the fish and chips!
Here are a few more frame grabs from the day.