Beyond “The Wall”

Monday 15 April.   We turned up at the vets for Lottie’s “op” precisely 2 days and 5 minutes early…a trifle embarrassing you will agree.  Miss Blonde and I beat a hasty retreat, the scorn of the receptionist ringing in our ears.  With the visit to the vet now an unforseen two days distant it seemed a good chance to put in a few miles before Lottie’s 10 day recovery period meant a far more restricted walking programme.

The Labrador Security Co has recently moved its training facilities from Plean Country Park, its base for the past 6 years, to the more ancient Antonine Wall some 7 miles distant.  The “Wall”, with its improved lines of sight, allows me to keep a more watchful eye on the little buggers when on the loose.  There is also the benefit in that the grassy terrain means the wee sh… thingies  can charge about in the open as opposed to careering through the trees, their favoured, heart stopping, trick at Plean.  Another plus to the move is the number of off-road trails leading from the “Wall”.   As the pups walking range extends so will our exploration of these, well signposted, paths.

So what of Monday’s unplanned expedition?  First stop – Antonine Wall tackled from the Bonnybridge (west) end.

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This is not the first time there’ been a blog post mentioning the “Wall”.  There was:

“The Fatdog on Archaeology”

and

 “The Paddling Pool of Quintus Lollius Urbicus”

Our amble along the “ridge”, where the turf barricade once stood, gave the pups a chance to run off a bit of steam before being hitched up to tackle the trails beyond.

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A few days earlier we’d made our first trip reaching as far as the Falkirk Wheel, that oversized mechanical boat lifting monstrosity…that looks nothing like a wheel.  Its odd un-wheel-like structure does, however, present the opportunity for the odd photo or two…possibly none more odd than the sight of two canoe teams each apparently endeavouring to decapitate the other with bladed paddles.  After ten minutes studying the play it appeared that the object of the game was to throw one of the de-capitated heads into a netted goal which sat some 3m off the level of the water.  The goalkeeper had the job of holding a narrow “oar” in a vertical position in front of the goal with the apparent purpose of impaling the head as it travelled towards the net.  Fascinating stuff…at least Miss Blonde and (the very colourblind) Miss Pink thought so.  Notes were being taken.

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Today there were no such bloody antics, rather the feel good factor generated by the Spring sunshine presented a great opportunity to lounge about a take a couple of snaps.

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Next came the most fun you can have with two pups (on which you wish to impose terrible vengeance)… the tunnel!

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The sound of echoing voices played havoc with the pup’s senses.  After the sharp, echoing, commands came the horrible screeches and finally, the coup de grace – the hollow, maniacal, laughter.  Oh how I enjoyed myself.  The pups huddled together tugging on the leads as they pulled me towards the exit.

We popped out into the sunshine at the south end of the tunnel to a holding area at the foot of the locks that herald the beginning of the Union Canal which leads eastwards to Edinburgh.  A very well manicured terminus I would add, the canal having been extended some 13 years ago to here from its original end at Camelon.

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From the canal it was south then west onto what was, it appears from the old OS maps, an always wooded or at least planted landscape although there are records of numerous clay mineworkings nearby.  The whole area that rises south of the canal has a feel of (barely) reclaimed land.  The trees tend to be low and scrubby either due to to poor natural ground or the effects of industry in the 19C.  However, even at these relatively low altitudes, any rise in the ground, whether natural or man made, gives extensive views northwards to the Ochils and eastwards down the Forth valley.

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It was now back to The Tank for the pups and I, our first exploration of the land beyond “The Wall” over for today.

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Oh…and one of the few things the pups didn’t eat on their way round.

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6 thoughts on “Beyond “The Wall”

  1. Lovely photographs….but you’re lucky that the sort of elderly lady walker who seemed always to infest trails near civilisation in my time didn’t hear your antics in the tunnel…
    You can just hear the call to the police…
    Aye, constable, there’s a man torturing wee puppies in the tunnel….

  2. I still fancy a visit to the Antonine Wall sometime, just for completeness, to say I’ve been…
    That wheel thing looks rather magnificent, except it looks so high you could get vertigo being lifted up in it!

    Fancy frightening the little darlings in the tunnel – Tilly would have joined in with the howling – she’s an excellent singer 🙂

    • It is worth a visit although there is no visitor centre, just a few “story boards” . There are only a few exposed sections of the ditching structure left along its length, mainly from Bonnybridge eastwards.. Even access to the car park has been locked for years…odd for a world heritage site!

      However it is only a few minutes from The Wheel which means you have a full morning’s entertainment. Been on the wheel once…but it was piddling down rain at the time so we saw bugger all! It’s not scary at all.

  3. I’ve often wondered what the Falkirk Wheel was and looked like, and it was nothing like that. My kids would love a visit up there. The pups seemed to enjoy themselves.

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