Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Martyrs' Stone.

       Managed out four times this week on the bike, though getting a bit cold. I hope I didn't give the impression that the last run I done up the Loch, was from Arrochar to Tarbet, 4+ miles? I come from the other direction, from beyond Balloch to Tarbet and then round to Arrochar, before turning back to Tarbet for that plate of sustenance.
      Last Wednesday it was a wee dash round my home territory, a non stop 30 mile circuit circling round Lenzie, Kirkintilloch, Milton of Campsie, Torrance zigzagging this way and that until I got my 30 miles. No stops, so no photos. Thursday it was the same territory, but cut it short to 25 miles, again no stops, no photos. 
       Monday I decided to go up the Aberfoyle road, on  reaching the Aberfoyle/Killearn/Drymen round-about, I was met with cones across the road stating road closed, and a notice saying diversion via Drymen. No intentions of going to Drymen, I decided that I would go through the cones, and if it was road works, I could just cycle/walk through and then carry on to Aberfoyle. 
     What a wonderful experience, mile after mile with no traffic. I started to imagine that this is what it will be like when the real "oil crisis" hits us, no noise of roaring cars, no thundering lorries, roads for bikes. I began to wonder what the cones were there for, when about 400 yards from Ballott Toll, it became obvious. There is an aqueduct that crosses the road at that point, carrying the lovely clear waters of Loch Katrine to the people of Glasgow and surrounding districts to flow into their homes for drinking, among other purposes. It was propped up with about twelve steel columns across the road, tall steel fencing across the road with heavy chains and a notice, DANGER, no entry. It looks as if the vital water supply to Glasgow is about to fall down, disaster for Glasgow should that ever happen. I admitted defeat, turned the bike and headed back along the wonderful stretch of traffic-less road.
        Today, Wednesday, it was a repeat of last Thursday's run, though I did stop at one point for a couple of photos. It was the Martyrs' Stone on the Kirkintilloch/Kilsyth road, a monument to mark two Covenanters who were put to death for their faith. I just feel that I would have respected them more if their passion had been for humanity, rather than for their faith. I have photographed this stone before, but I thought it was worth another shot. It must be the least visited monument in this part of Scotland, as it is situated at the side of a rather narrow road with no footpath or parking and a steady stream of fast traffic.
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  1. Looking for information about the aqueduct I found this:

    "The engineer, J.F.Bateman (1810-1889), gave an eloquent account of the works which, at the time, were the most considerable of their kind in the world. It is still well worth walking the first part of the ‘Pipe Track Road’ in order to see the achievements of these Victorian engineers who built fine stone aqueducts in the heart of an inhospitable countryside:

    It is impossible to convey to those who have not personnally inspected it, an impression of the intricacy of the wild and beautiful district through which the aqueduct passes for the first ten or eleven miles after leaving Loch Katrine. After finding the narrowest point at which the ridge between Loch Katrine and Loch Chon could be pierced, the country consists of successive ridges of the most obdurate rock, separated by deep wild valleys, in which it was very difficult, in the first instsance to find a way. There were no roads, no houses, no building materials – nothing which would ordinarily be considered essential to the successful completion of sa great engineering work for the conveyance of water; but it was consideration of the geological character of the material which gave all the romantic wildness to the district at once determined me to adopt that mode of construction which has been so successfully carried out. For the first ten miles the rock consists of mica schist and clay slate – close, retentive material into which no water percolates, and in which, in consequence, few springs are to be found. This rock when quarried was unfit for building purposes: there was no stone of a suitable description to be had at any reasonable cost or distance, no lime for mortar, no clay for puddle, and no roads to convey the material. Ordinary surface water construction was therefore out of the question; but I saw that if tunnelling were boldly resorted to, there would be no difficulty, beyond the cost and time required in blasting the rocks, in making a perfectly watertight and all-enduring aqueduct; there would be no water to hamper and delay us in the shafts and tunnels, and little would require transporting to the country but gunpowder and drill iron. This course was therefore determined upon, and my expectations have been realised to the very letter. The aqueduct may be considered as one continuous tunnel. as long as the work continued in the primary geological measures, we had no water; and even after it entered old red sandstone, and where it subsequently passed through trap rock, there was much less than I expected; so that our progress at no part of the work was very materially interfered with by those incidents which usually render mining operations costly and uncertain."

  2. At the time it was a wonderful engineering achievement, helping to alleviate the squalor and disease that that was endemic in Glasgow's slums of the era, due to lack of adequate fresh water. It certainly snakes its way through some rough and beautiful countryside, which must have been a nightmare to the people constructing the three large pipes that form its structure.