Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Rambles Round Glasgow
Rutherglen and Cathkin

The horizon to the southward of Glasgow is bounded by a range of gently swelling hills, finely wooded, yet with beautiful green slopes intervening, which are exceedingly refreshing to the eye of the spectator, who, haply in "populous city pent," yearns to wander forth where summer is strewing with bloom the leafy dells, and making the nestling birds rejoice in their green solitudes. For true it is, that while

"Many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air:’

full many a heart, alive to the charms of nature, is at the same time, doomed to undue confinement by the hard necessities of artificial life, and left to pine and fret amid the weary cares of the city. The hills alluded to are familiarly known as the "Cathkin Braes," and our present purpose is to request the company of our gentle readers on a ramble through the intervening country and along their summits.

Leaving the City then by Rutherglen-loan, on the south side of the river, this sweet morning in the "leafy month of June," we proceed cheerily on our route. it is some time, however, before we get completely beyond the region of smoke. If fashionable Glasgow is progressing towards the setting sun, her manufacturing industry is moving at an equally rapid rate in an opposite direction. If crescents, squares, terraces, and villas, of every imaginable order and disorder of architecture, are rising at the west end, mills, printworks, and foundries are almost as profusely springing up by way of counterbalance towards it eastern extremity. In the direction in which we are now proceeding, where a few years since there were nothing to be seen but gardens and fields of waving grain, there is now a large community of factories and workshops, and a perfect forest of tall chimneys. The sight of such a vast extension of our manufacturing capabilities is doubtless highly gratifying to our local pride, yet, while muttering something about the flourishing of Glasgow, we are fain to hasten on our way, as we feel but a limited degree of pleasure in lingering where our lungs are necessarily made to perform the rather disagreeable functions of a smoke-consuming apparatus.

About half-a-mile beyond the outskirts of our manufacturing Babel, the road crosses the Rutherglen Burn, which having its origin in the Cathkin hills, after an exceedingly devious course, falls into the Clyde at Little Govan, nearly opposite the well-known bathing place in Glasgow Green. Close to the bridge which here spans the rivulet are the Shawfleldbank printworks. Immediately adjacent is an extensive dam, surrounded with trees and thickly interspersed with aquatic vegetation. This is a favourite haunt of the water hen (gallinula chloropus), which may be here observed by the disciple of the good old Gilbert White of Selborne, swimming about among the green sedges and "puddockpipes" (as the equiseta are familiarly called), in search of the small fishes and larva on which it feeds. At present, while the process of nidification is going on, they are seldom to be observed near the margin of the water; but in the gray autumnal mornings we have often surprised scores of them in a neighbouring field, and been amused to see their helter-skelter movements in returning to the water, when the alarm-note was raised. Previously to the formation of this dam, an ancient tumulus or burial-mound occupied a portion of the space now covered by its waters. This relic of a prehistoric antiquity was removed about the end of the last century.

Passing Shawfleld Toll, we walk about a mile between lengthened ranges of those hateful "dikes," now so common around our large towns, and which are always so unwelcome to the pedestrian. Their tediousness, however, is relieved in the present instance by green boughs, which, in spite of exclusive owners, seem determined to find their way over the stony enclosures, and by the singing of birds which know not of artificial boundaries. We soon arrive at the ancient burgh of Rutherglen. Although now a comparatively small and insignificant member of the burghfamily, Rutherglen boasts a greater antiquity than her extensive and opulent neighbour. Her territories, it is alleged, at one period even included the site of the present manufacturing capital of the west; and tradition yet tells that the architects who erected our venerable Cathedral were indebted for bed and board to the Ruglen folk of that day. According to a legend common in our boyhood among the auld wives of Glasgow, but of course banished by that general diffusion of philosophy which has given Jack the Giant-Killer his quietus, and blighted the wondrous bean-stalk, it was said that the lie Kirk was the work of a race of wee pechs (Picts) who had their domiciles in Rutherglen. These queer bits o’ bodies, it was added, constructed a subterranean passage between the two localities, a work which throws the famous Thames Tunnel completely into shade; and as they were stronger than ordinary men, they experienced no difficulty in transporting their building materials through this bowel of the earth without equestrian aid. Had any of the juvenile listeners round the winter evening hearth dared to hint a doubt of the credibility of this story, he was forthwith silenced by the corroborative tale of the Highland piper. This worthy (who, as we have since learned, is made to do similar service for sundry other apocryphal passages of a kindred description) is said to have volunteered, a goodly number of years ago, with his pipes and his dog to explore this famous underground way. According to the story he entered one day playing a cheery tune, and confident of a successful result, but, as the good old lady who narrated the circumstance to us was wont to say, with bated voice, "he was never seen nor heard tell o’ again." The sound of his pipes, however, was heard some hours afterwards in the vicinity of Dalmarnock, and to the ears of those who heard it, seemed to repeat, in a wailing key, something like the ominous words,— "I doot, I doot, I’ll ne’er get out" —After this tragical event the mouth of the mysterious tunnel was very properly ordered to be closed up, and so effectually has the command been obeyed, that every after-search for it has proved utterly unavailing.

Rutherglen ChurchRutherglen consists principally of one street, which lies in a direction nearly east and west, and is about half-a-mile in length. This thoroughfare, which is broad and well paved, has a number of wynds or narrow streets branching off to the north and south. Like most old towns, it has been built without any fixed plan, and has consequently somewhat of an irregular and straggling appearance. The houses have but little pretension to architectural elegance. They are mostly plain two storeyed buildings, with a considerable sprinkling of low thatched cottages, which give it a somewhat old-fashioned and primitive aspect. Near the centre of the town is the parish church, a quadrangular edifice of modern erection. The steeple of a small though very ancient church, on the site of which the present one was built, stands in the vicinity, a venerable memorial of bygone ages, and associated with recollections of several interesting events in Scottish history. According to Blind Harry, the biographer of Wallace, a peace was concluded here between England and Scotland in 1297. In describing the circumstance the minstrel says, in lines the orthography of which will puzzle some of our readers, we dare say,—

"At Ruglen kirk ye traist yan halff ye set
A promise, maid, to meet Wallace; but let
Ye day offyis approchyt wonder fast,
Ye gret Chanslar and Aylmer yidder past.

"Syne Wallace came, and his men well beseyne,
With hym fifty all arrayt in greyne,
Ilk ane of yaim a bow and arrowis bar,
And lang swerds ye whilk full scharply schar:"

From the same authority we learn that it was also at this place that the "fause Menteith" engaged for English gold to consign his name to eternal infamy, by the betrayal of the peerless Knight of Ellerslie,

"A messenger, Schir Aylmer, has gart pass
On to Schir Ihon, and sone a tryst has set
At Ruglen Kirk, ylr twa togydder met."

The old bard then goes onto describe, in indignant language, the paction entered into, and its fatal results.

Like the famous Alloway Kirk, the sacred pile of Rutherglen seems occasionally to have been the scene of diabolical orgies. At least we have the authority of a decent elderly gudewife for asserting that such was the case. According to her, when Mr. Dickson, who suffered sair during the persecution, was in the ministry at Ruglen, the reverend gentleman was riding up the main street of the burgh one night at the witching hour. While passing along the kirk-yard wall, he fancied, to his surprise, that he heard sounds of merriment issuing from his own church. Being a man of some courage, he at once dismounted from his steed, made his way into the grave-yard, which was then, as now, elevated, with its time-honoured elms, a few feet above the level of the street, and, looking into the sacred edifice, which was lighted up as if for a festival, beheld, to his horror and amazement, several of his own congregation, male and female, engaged in some mysterious ceremony, in company with a gentleman in black, whom he at once knew, from a well-known peculiarity of foot, as the enemy of mankind. Provoked beyond forbearance at the desecration of his church, and the evident backsliding of a portion of his flock, he roared out with the voice of a stentor, "Ye’ll no deny this the morn, ye limmers!" and turning on his heel, remounted his horse, and commenced making the best of his way home. Not having the benefit of a running stream, however, as the gudeman o’ Shanter had, the worthy minister was soon overtaken; and although the powers of darkness durst not injure a hair of his head, yet by their cantrips they contrived to render both horse and rider as rigid as a couple of petrifactions. Stock-still they were compelled to stand, unable to move hand or foot, nor would the bargi of warlocks and witches release them from this statuesque state, but on condition that his reverence would give his solemn pledge never to divulge the names of those whom he had discovered in such questionable company. This, although with reluctance, he was ultimately fain to do; and so well did he keep his promise, that who the members of the diabolical soirde really were, has never yet been certainly discovered. The old lady added, however, that "there could be nae doot anent the truth o’ the circumstance, for it wasna very likely that Mr. Dickson, honest man, was gaun to mak up a leein’ story even against siccan deil’s buckies."

The Castle of Rutherglen seems to have been at one time a place of considerable strength and importance. This structure, which was said to have been erected by Reuther, a king whose name is associated with the origin of the town, was indeed ranked among the fortresses of the country. During the troubles which broke out in consequence of the contested claims of Bruce and Baliol, the usurper, Edward of England, took possession of this and other castles of Scotland. Robert the Bruce, when he raised the standard of his country’s independence, determined to wrest this important place of strength from the English. He accordingly laid siege to it in the year 1309. On hearing of this, Edward sent his nephew, the young Earl of Gloucester, to relieve the garrison. What the immediate result was is somewhat doubtful. Some historians assert that Bruce overcame the garrison, while others are of opinion that he was forced to retire without accomplishing his purpose. In 1313, however, the Scottish king took possession of Rutherglen Castle, having driven the English from the country, and made a descent upon England, carrying fire and sword into several of the northern counties.

This is almost the only instance in which the Castle of Rutherglen figures in history. The edifice, however, continued in existence until the battle of Langside, when it was burned to the ground by the Regent Murray, as an act of vengeance on the house of Hamilton, in whose hands it then was. One of the towers was afterwards repaired and fitted up as a residence by Hamilton of Ellistoun, who was then laird of Shawfield and other property in the vicinity. On the decline of the family it was again suffered to fall into decay, and at length became entirely dilapidated, and was levelled with the ground. We may mention that the ruin of the Hamilton family was generally ascribed, at the time, to an immediate judgment of Heaven, drawn down upon them by their persecuting spirit. At the period when our covenanting forefathers made such a noble stand for liberty of conscience and the independence of the national church, the minister of Rutherglen was a Mr. John Dickson. In consequence of an information lodged by Sir James Hamilton of Ellistoun, this good man was dragged from his church, and put in prison. We shall quote a passage from Wodrow’s History, to show the sequel:—"Mr. Dickson was kept in durance till the parliament sat, when his church was vacated and he was brought into much trouble. We shall afterwards find him a prisoner in the Bass for near seven years; and yet he got through his troubles, and returned to his charge at Rutherglen, and for several years after the Revolution served his Master there, till his death in a good old age. While that family who pursued him, is awhile extinct, and their house, as Mr. Dickson foretold, in the hearing of some yet alive, after it had been a habitation for owls, the foundation-stones of it were digged up." Such is the story as given by Mr. Wodrow, minister of Eastwood or Pollokshaws, and who wrote immediately after the event. He further says,—"The inhabitants there (that is, at Rutherglen) cannot but observe that the informers, accusers, and witnesses against Mr. Dickson, some of them then magistrates of the town, are brought so low that they are supported by the charity of the parish." We shall not take the judgments of Heaven thus into our hands. We shall not say that the curse of the persecutor fell upon this family, and laid their proud mansion in the dust; but we shall ever revere the memories of such men as Dickson and Wodrow, and while we acknowledge that there is prejudice and intolerance in their recorded language, we shall lay the blame rather at the door of their adversaries than at theirs, because persecution is ever the mother of intolerance and all unkindness.

We may mention, before passing from this subject, that the castle stood near the east end of the Back-row, and nearly opposite to where that thoroughfare is intersected by Castle Street. The garden of Mr. John Bryson now occupies the very spot. There is not now, however, even the faintest vestige of the structure. About eighty years ago the foundation-stones were removed. They were very large, measuring five feet in length by four in breadth. Some of the cornice-stones were to be seen in a wall near the town for some years, but they too have disappeared, and now the ancient Castle of Rutherglen has utterly passed away, leaving not even a wreck behind.

Besides the parish church, Rutherglen has no fewer than four other places of worship, viz., a chapel in connection with the Establishment, a United Presbyterian, a Free, and a Roman Catholic church. The inhabitants would therefore seem to have their spiritual wants pretty well provided for. From this abundance of churches it would appear that their religious character is infinitely superior to that of their ancestors, who were occasionally blamed for conduct, in matters ecclesiastical, anything but accordant with propriety, as will be abundantly evident from the following curious facts extracted from the records of the Presbytery of Glasgow:—

On 8th May, 1593, the Presbytery ordered their clerk to write a letter to my Lord Paisley, to repair the choir of Ruglen kirk, and at the same time prohibited the playing of pipes on Sunday from sun-rising to its going down, and forbade all pastimes on that day. This order to be read in all kirks, but "especially in that of Ruglen." On the 20th of May, 1595, we find the same reverend court complaining of the introduction of profane plays into the burgh on Sunday, and also of the drawing of salmon and the paying of accounts on that day. From the same source we learn that on the 20th of March, 1604, Sir Claud Hamilton of Shawfield interrupted the minister of Ruglen during sermon in a most barbarous manner, and that Andrew Pinkerton boasted that he had put away four ministers from Ruglen, and hoped he would put away Mr. Hamilton also. He afterwards drew a whinger and held it to the minister’s breast, while David Spens said "he would stick twa ministers, and would not give a fig for excommunication." Two or three years subsequent to these outrageous proceedings, we find a certain James Riddel cutting grass in the kirk-yard on Sunday, and sitting down to the communion-table in spite of minister and session. Altogether, it would seem that in those days the parish of Rutherglen was not in a condition much superior to that of the notorious Dunkeld, the inhabitants of which, according to popular rhyme,—

"Hanged their minister,
Drooned their precentor,
Pud doon the steeple,
And brak' the kirk bell."

Things are, however, in a much superior condition now-a-days, the inhabitants being generally an industrious, decent, and kirk-going people, attached to their ministers, and especially attentive to the education of their children, as is sufficiently evident from the attendance of pupils at the two commodious and handsome seminaries which have been erected in connection with the Established and Free Churches. They seem, moreover, to have been remarkably tenacious of old customs. The riding of the marches, once an annual ceremony in every Scottish burgh, continued to be celebrated in Rutherglen until 1832, when it was discontinued. We understand, however, that it has since been at least partially revived. Another ancient custom, the baking of sour cakes on St. Luke’s eve, is peculiar to the burgh, and is supposed to have had an origin anterior to Christianity itself. We have ourselves witnessed this curious operation in the Thistle Inn of Rutherglen—within the past two or three years. This mystic baking requires for its proper execution the services of some six or eight elderly ladies. These, with each a small bake-board on her knee, are seated in a semicircle on the floor of the apartment devoted to the purpose, and pass the cakes, which are formed of a kind of fermented dough, in succession from one to the other, until the requisite degree of tenuity is attained, when they are dexterously transferred to an individual called the queen, who, with certain ceremonies, performs the operation of toasting. These cakes, which we have often tasted, are generally given to strangers visiting St. Luke’s fair: They are somewhat like a wafer in thickness, of an agreeable acidulous taste, and lend an additional relish to the drams usually in extra demand at such times. The lover of old customs would regret the discontinuance of this curious ceremony, the observance of which forms an interesting link between the present age and an impenetrable antiquity.

Rutherglen has long been famed for its horse and cattle fairs, seven of which are held on the main street of the burgh annually, and generally attract considerable crowds of buyers and sellers from all parts of the country. The Clydesdale breed of horses, which has attained such a well-deserved celebrity for its excellent qualities, was generally exposed in greater numbers and in greater perfection at the Rutherglen fairs than at any other market. The principal fairs are the Beltane in May, and St. Luke’s in November, when the town is generally crowded with strangers. According to the last census, the number of the population was 6,947, of whom 3,430 were males, and 3,517 females. It would therefore appear that there is a trifling excess of the fair sex in the burgh, but the overplus is not sufficiently great to excite anything like serious alarm, more especially as the well-known beauty of the Rutherglen lasses is certain to attract a considerable number of wanters from other localities.

Alter rambling about the burgh for a considerable time, and visiting "Din’s Dykes," where two boorish rustics attempted to intercept the unfortunate Mary on her flight from Langside, we proceed towards Cathkin by the Glasgow and Muirkirk road. About a quarter of a-mile on the way we pass through Stonelaw, the vicinity of which is finely timbered, having been extensively planted about sixty years ago by Major Spens, then proprietor of the estate. The botanist would do well to imitate our example, and linger for a brief space in the umbrageous recesses of these beautiful woods, which contain many of our finest indigenous plants. Among these are the periwinkle (vinca minor), with its glossy leaves and blue or white flowers, which is more abundant here than we have seen it elsewhere; the hop (humulus lupulus); the spreading bell-flower (campanula latiffolia); the lesser winter-green (pyrola minor); the rare mountain currant (ribes alpinum); various species of gerania, and many others, which will abundantly repay a leisurely inspection.

In passing Stonelaw our attention is attracted by a kind of tower, near the road, which, although of comparatively modern erection, is quite as picturesque as an ancient feudal keep, being completely embedded in ivy, which is trailing over and around it in the most beautiful profusion. This ivy is at present the haunt of innumerable starlings and sparrows, which appear to be proceeding merrily under its shade with their various domestic duties. During the few minutes we stand looking at it, we count not less than twenty starlings leaving the tower in search of supplies, and nearly as many returning in different directions with the fruit of their raids through the broader fields around. As for the sparrows, they appear to live on the most harmonious terms with their starry neighbours, and keep up such an incessant chattering that it is obvious they are quite at home, and, as usual, enjoying themselves with characteristic sangfroid. A more than ordinarily well-tempered and philosophic man the inside tenant of that tower must be, or he would infallibly be driven distracted by the noisy intercourse of his feathered friends outside, not to speak of the depredations which their well-known voracity must lead them to perpetrate on his garden. [Since this was written, the tower has been denuded of its covering, and the birds have consequently been forced to betake themselves to ether quarters.]

From Stonelaw to Cathkin the road gradually ascends through a delightful succession of gently swelling knolls and fields in a high state of cultivation, interspersed with clumps of wood and fine belts of planting, the haunts of numerous birds, and at this season of love ringing merrily with their sweetest melodies.

Passing Boultrie Loch, a favourite curling place in winter—but which, as an Irishman might say, is in summer no loch at all, but a verdant meadow, being regularly drained every spring, when its alluvial bottom is sown with some kind of cereal crop—we next come to Cathkin House, the fine seat of Humphrey Ewing M’Lea, Esq., situated at the eastern extremity of the braes, and commanding an extensive and beautiful prospect. Turning to the right, we now leave the road we have hitherto been pursuing, and proceed along the summit of the Cathkin hills on the way to Carmunnock, which lies at the distance of a mile and a-half or so to the west. For a great portion of this distance, the view is walled in as it were by dense woods; but ever and anon an opening occurs through which the eye is permitted to roam over an exquisite and fur-stretching tract of country. We soon arrive at the highest point of the range, which is said to be elevated about 500 feet above the level of the sea. The atmosphere is delightfully clear, so that the landscape, which is spacious and lovely, is seen to great perfection. At our feet, half-hidden among its old ancestral trees, lies Castle-milk, a stately structure of considerable antiquity, and where, it is said, Mary Queen of Scots slept on the night preceding Langside; in the low grounds beyond are seen the burgh of Rutherglen, and our own good city, nestling, as usual, under her canopy of smoke, with a variety of other towns and villages, including Cathcart, Pollokshaws, Paisley, and Renfrew. The course of the Clyde is here seen at a glance from Carmyle to Dumbarton, the glittering waters like the convolutions of a mighty snake turning up to the light every here and there amongst the beautiful wilderness of woods and fields, over which the winds are making their mimic waves of verdure while we stand gazing on the scene. To the east on the far horizon, are Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills in the vicinity of old Edina, "Scotia’s darling seat;" to the north, Benlomond, Benledi, and the Cobbler, with their giant neighbours; to the west, Glenifer, and Fereneze braes, with Goatfell peering far away over their green summits. Altogether, the prospect from this spot is one of great interest and magnificence, and embraces, it is said, within its scope no fewer than sixteen counties. Scattered around our feet are the yellow mountain violet (viola idea), the blaeberry plant (vaccinium myrtillus) with its pretty little crimson bells, and the golden tasselled broom, forming an appropriate crest to the hill which, as tradition loves to tell, once bore on its brow Scotia’s fairest and most unfortunate Queen.

To the geologist, the Cathkin range presents but few features of interest, being composed principally of one solid and uniform mass of whin. A short distance below the house of the proprietor, however, a beautiful specimen of basalt is exposed to view. The columns above the surface are about thirty feet in height, pentagonal in form, and being extremely regular in arrangement, form a fine natural colonnade. This curious formation, an engraving of which was published in Ure’s History of Rutherglen about the end of the last century, was discovered a considerable number of years since by some individuals when quarrying for road-metal. The proprietors, with commendable taste, have since preserved it from further dilapidation.

A group of gigantic burial mounds, or tumuli, formerly stood upon the Cathkin hills a short distance to the south of Cathkin House. These were formed of unhewn stones, and were of great extent. One, which was opened for the sake of the stones it contained, was found to measure 260 feet, and to consist in the interior of a long gallery, or chamber, containing a number of curious relies, such as brass vessels, beads of glass, and other articles. Another of these rude mansions of the dead, popularly called Queen Mary’s Law, measured 18 feet in height and 120 feet in diameter. For several years it served as a perfect quarry to the farmers in the neighbourhood, and at length a chamber was discovered in its interior containing no fewer than twenty-five urns for the reception of the ashes of the departed. These urns, as was the custom, were placed with their mouths downwards, and under each was a piece of white stone. In the centre of this pile another small chamber was disclosed, in which were found a quantity of human bones, with a ring or armlet of cannel coal, and a comb of the same material. Since that period all these interesting structures have been from time to time removed, until there is not even one now remaining. We have conversed with an individual who superintended the removal of several, the stones being used for the construction of dykes and barns. He stated that they invariably found one or more urns within them, and that these were formed of unbaked clay, which crumbled into dust shortly after being exposed to the air. It is certainly to be regretted that some of these most interesting and suggestive relics were not spared for the gratification of the antiquary, and as objects of contemplation to the poetic wanderer. Among such tombs there was indeed abundant scope for the most serious reflection. For many a long and dreary century they had kept their trust in defiance of the wind and the rain; and the tale they told was of an age before the light of Christianity had dawned on our isle—of a dark and distant era, when our sires were a band of painted savages, and when the altar-fires of Baal, from the brow of Dychmont, still threw a lurid lustre over the valley of the Clyde.

The old road from Rutherglen to Kilbride passed over the braes of Cathkin, and in our boyish days a considerable extent of their surface was patent to ramblers from that burgh and from Glasgow. The privilege was often abused, as is too frequently the case where such liberties are granted, by thoughtless or evil-disposed parties. Fences were occasionally broken and depredations committed on the plantations and the crops, until at length, a few years since, the proprietor thought proper to exclude the public from the spot altogether. Considerable indignation was excited in the popular mind by this measure, and there was some talk of making a "Harvie’s Dyke" affair of it, and endeavouring, through the instrumentality of law, to enforce the right of way on the plea of immemorial usage. The excitement, however, gradually died away, no practical steps were taken in the matter, and now the silence and solitude of Cathkin are but seldom disturbed by the foot of the holiday wanderer.

Between the summit of the braes and Carmunnock, about a quarter of a-mile to the southward of the road, and on a wild tract of moorland, are the traces of an ancient British camp. To this spot we now direct our steps, disturbing on our way several snipes, which here breed among the moist marshy hollows. We also occasion infinite consternation among the lapwings or peeseweeps, which keep wheeling round our head, and clamouring vociferously as erst their ancestors may have done to the sad discomfiture of the persecuted Covenanters, who, in their hiding-places among the moors, were frequently alarmed lest the cries of the lapwing should attract to their "whereabouts" the attention of the passing dragoons. The elegant and affectionate bird alluded to, from this habit, prompted by love of its offspring, was, we may remark en passant, anything but a favourite with the "worthies," and it was even said to be in league with the enemy of our race for the exposure of the faithful. We soon arrive at the camp, the outlines of which are still, after the lapse of many centuries, distinctly visible. It is circular in form, of considerable extent, and is still surrounded by a wide and somewhat deep ditch. From its elevated position, it commands an extensive prospect of the surrounding country. Whatever other purposes, therefore, such an encampment may have been designed to serve, it seems at least to have been well adapted for watchfulness. The view from this interesting footprint of the past embraces within its range the villages of Busby and Eaglesham, with the hill of Ballygeich in the Mearns, and the bleak moorlands beyond Kilbride. The tufted cannach here waves in the blast its snowy plumes, the curious sun-dew (drosera rotundifolia) is also met here, with its glittering beads of dew unmelting "in very presence of the regal sun;" with the marsh violet (viola palustris) creeping in beauty along the untrodden heath, and the buckbean (menyantises trifoliata) and marsh cinque-foil (cornarum palustre) rising above the dark moss-water.

Shortly after leaving the camp we arrive at Carmunnock, a pleasant little village, with some score or so of houses, situated at the western extremity of the Cathkin hills. The population of the parish, consisting principally of agriculturists and weavers, numbered at the late census 717, being an increase of only ten individuals within the last decade! It has an old-fashioned barn-like church, which stands about the centre of the village, and an exceedingly commodious and well-built school, from which, as we pass, the juvenile Carmunnockians are pouring forth with that dinsome glee which is only heard at the skailing o’ the schule, and which at once calls back to the memory of us "children of a larger growth," the joys of other years.

In the Statistical Account of Carmunnock, published about 1840, there is a fact stated which must fill with envy the assessment-crushed unfortunates of our city parishes. There has hitherto been no levy for poor-rates, and the worthy minister, with justifiable complacency, expresses his belief that such a thing as a compulsory assessment for the support of the poor is not at all likely ever to be required. What a delightful little city of refuge this must appear to the pauper-ridden denizens of Sanct Mungo; what an oasis in the desert, far away from the persecuting tax-gatherer, who, on some pretence or other, is eternally prying into our books, and making town’s talk of our most secret affairs! The minister, likewise, boasts that no individual belonging to the parish was ever convicted of a capital crime. Why, the golden age would seem to be lingering at the south-west end of Cathkin braes, and we should not be surprised, if the knowledge of these good matters once gets wind, that the next census will show an infinite addition to the ratio of increase in the population of this really pleasant and picturesque, as well as almost pauperless and felonless parish.

We have now arrived at the prescribed limit of our excursion, and after resting our somewhat wearied limbs, for a brief space, in a tidy country alehouse, which, for cleanliness and comfort, would have pleased even the fastidious eye of old Izaak Walton, and paying due homage to the maxim of a genuine Scotch poet, who recommends us on the journey of life

"Aye to live by the way,"

we commence our homeward walk by Cathcart, a distance of some five miles, which, being principally downhill, is speedily accomplished.

Return to Book Index


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus