Helen Rose Outdoors Rigging Hill, Largs.
On a very hot and sunny day I climbed Rigging Hill with the Glasgow Ramblers A very well organised club that has continued during the long period of the Covid 19 Pandemic to schedule interesting walks. We travelled by train to Largs to meet Idris, our leader. Largs is on the coast of the western lowlands of Scotland in North Ayrshire and less than an hour by train from Glasgow. The seaside town used to be a favourite summer holiday place before travel to warmer destinations such as Spain became popular. Riggings Hill is located inland behind Largs. The original name of Largs means ‘the slopes’ (An Leargaidh in Gaelic).
Haylie Chambered Cairn
We walked along the promenade and then headed inland from Anderson Memorial Park which is adjacent to the site of the Battle of Largs. The Battle of Largs, fought on 2nd October 1263 was a decisive battle between the kingdoms of Norway (Vikings) and Scotland (Scots) and was the last battle fought between the Vikings and the Scots. Our first stop of interest was at the Haylie Chambered Tomb in Douglas Park. These Neolithic tombs were discovered by James Wilson of Haylie in 1772. The chambered tomb was once covered over by stones, or manmade cairns which are conical stone heapings similar to those found on the summits of Scottish mountains. The original cairn known as St Margaret’s Law was dismantled and removed for the building of dykes upon the estate. Upon excavation, the remains of five bodies were found inside the tomb while the structure itself dated back to about 3000 BC. Historically important, the tomb marks the graves of a people known as the Beakers. The Beaker People is an archaeological culture named after the inverted-bell beaker drinking vessel used at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. A further excavation in 1954 found the remains of two more skulls, other bones, a flint knife and a scraper. All that can be seen today is the large covering stone.
Onward we walked up a fairly steep hill until we reached our morning refreshment stop where there was a convenient bench. We looked out to the sea and could see the ferry leaving Largs to travel over the sea to the island of Cumbrae known as Millport which is a favourite with day tripper walkers and cyclists.
The walk continued up a flight of stone steps on to open countryside and our first hill known as Jocks Castle at 372 metres from sea level. There was no castle, only a large rock in the hillside and a cairn. I could not find any information about this mysterious Jock, perhaps pre historic or a local worthy? The leader had warned us about several false summits on the walk before we reached the named hills. These hills are located in Muirshiel Country Park, Scotland’s Largest Regional Park which has over 700,000 visitors a year with108 square miles of scenic Scottish countryside. There were great views over the surrounding hills including Irish Law. It could be described as rolling moorland.
The views were wonderful and the terrain and path was such that we could enjoy the views without fear of stumbling or falling into a hidden hole. The walk continued to Rigging (could be name of old water riggings?)Hill at 1283 feet and our final hill of the day with magnificent views over to the islands of Arran, Bute, Millport and the Cowal peninsula. However, it was not the final hill but after a small descent and ascent the last hill of the day was Paton’s Hill. As we left Paton’s Hill we could see the hydro track from Blairpark to Largs below us which was our next target and marked the end of our pleasant walk on the hill path.
The day remained hot and sunny as we made our way down to the Gogo Water and Greeto Bridge. Greeto Bridge was a delightful spot with a rocky river passing under an old demolished stone bridge superseded by a modern concrete beam bridge. Looking upstream we could see a series of small waterfalls and pools of crystal-clear water. Our resting spot had plenty of water smoothed rocks on which to sit while we refreshed ourselves. On such a hot day we quietly relaxed and it reminded me of the film Picnic on Hanging Rock scenes where the girls relaxed on the rocks. Too much imagination there! The more adventurous among us took off their boots off and went for a paddle but no one went skinny-dipping!
Reluctantly, we left the refreshment stop and headed down the Gogo Glen to Largs. The name Gogo is fascinating and thanks to a friend John, he found origins or meaning of it are either perhaps Norse gauk meaning cuckoo’s, or ‘gowk’s’ stream after Gowk Craig nearby or Welsh gogof, ‘a cave’. Well done John. So, it seems to be ‘cuckoo’s stream’ or ‘cave stream’. Take your pick!
Before catching the train, we managed a trip to Nardini’s in Largs for an ice cream. Nardini’s is an institution in Largs https://www.nardinis.co.uk. Originally opened in 1935, Nardini’s is synonymous with a trip ‘Doon the Watter’ making it a must if you visit Largs.
A great day out with sunshine all the way, exercise, fresh air, good company and an ice cream to finish. What more could you ask for in life? Many thanks to the leader.
Coming attractions; Glen Affric and Ardrishaig.
This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary, Pat's Home Page Blog
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