I left down South at 0200 to miss the traffic on the motorways. Unfortunately the best laid schemes of “mice and men” and the closure of the M6 from junction 14 – 16 and the Birmingham works all added to a long journey. I was hoping for clear run and to be in the Borders by daybreak and climb a Corbett. Sadly it was raining when I got to Gretna and misty on the tops so I gave my hill a miss and headed for Ayr where my sisters live. I have only a few Corbetts left and have had done enough hills in the rain.
On the way in the rain I stopped at Glenbuck where the famous Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly was born in this now deserted coal mining village. It was another era where thousands were employed in the coal mines and this was a thriving area and a huge part of industrial Scotland. Now as you travel through the various villages it is a sad place with so many places shut down and looking grim. How many of Scotland’s top people especially managers and footballers came from this way of life. There had to be changes with in energy and the problems with coal, the effect on the environment and the power of the unions at the time. Yet how many feel as I do that the local hard working people were let down by the various governments when they lost their jobs and many moved on as there was nothing in place when the huge changes came? There are huge lessons from the way this industry was treated and its workers.
Yet if ever a place deserves to be remembered and respected, then this place surely does. From a population of never more than 1,200, Glenbuck produced over 50 professional footballers. Six played for Scotland and one became a footballing legend. Its famous team, the Cherrypickers, formed in 1872 and named after a regiment inwhich some of the villagers fought in the Boer War, became the most successful in Ayrshire. A visit to their home ground, Burnside Park, was a testing experience.
Shankly was forged in the Glenbuck football furnace. His father had been a renowned middle-distance runner whose training techniques were adopted by the Cherrypickers. His uncle, Bob Blythe, played for Rangers and his four brothers all pursued successful careers.
Perhaps it was fate that chose him to be Glenbuck’s most famous son for it turned out that he was to be one of their last. In 1931, the one remaining pit in the village closed and, with the pumps shut down, the rising watertable turned Burnside Park into a bog. With no work and no pitch, the Cherrypickers were finished and so too was Glenbuck.
Shankly carried the Glenbuck tradition with him and his management of Liverpool bears all of its hallmarks. His rapport with the fans was unmatched, because he was one of them, as straight and determined as you could find.
When the news broke on the Kop that Glenbuck was to vanish, they decided something had to be done. A delegation, including a Liverpool video-maker, Maurice Alexander, whose cameraman survived a 150ft fall while filming at the site, were sent to talk with Scottish Coal.
They secured permission to erect a memorial on an island of undisturbed ground in the centre of what was Burnside Park. A plaque, paying tribute to Glenbuck and bearing a dedication to Shankly “the legend, the genius, the man” Visit this place it is incredible.
From here it is a short journey to my home town of Ayr and a visit to my sisters and then a break a short sleep a lovely meal lemon sole and chips. There were no views of Arran sadly and then a drive through Glasgow to a busy Loch Lomond and the sun came out and the trials of the journey were soon forgotten. Ben Lomond was looking stunning in the evening light and I stopped and enjoyed the views and to back home. The A82 is some road and what a mess for a main road no wonder there are so many accidents on it!
I had planned to stop in and see Aunty Elma at Crainlarich (the patron Saint of RAF Mountain Rescue) but missed her but left some goodies as she is so good to so many of us in Mountain Rescue over the years. I am in trouble as I was supposed to arrive on Saturday I was a day early so sorry Elma, please forgive me.
From Crainlarich it was a great view over the Rannoch Moor and then Glencoe with the rays of sunlight over some of my favourite mountains were exceptional what an end to a day. You have to just stop and watch this show of nature as it displays the changes in light and with these mountains this is stunning beauty.
I arrived at Inchree about 2100 at Onich for my friend’s party on Saturday and I am staying in a chalet at Inchree and had a great night meeting old pals after a long day. The RAF Lossiemouth Mountain Rescue Team were staying at Inchree as well and it was great to see Shane the Team Leader and the troops after they got sorted, we had a catch up.
I wandered off just before midnight pretty tired with the stars out in a setting with the Loch Leven and the mountains a great end to a long day. What a place to be and at last the long drive was over.