The term ‘country park’ brings up an image of a Capability Brown inspired landscape, broad swathes of close-cropped grass pasture grazed by herds of deer with a scattering of veteran trees, sweeping down to a lake. Muirshiel Country Park, west of Glasgow is 110 square miles of blanket bog with knee-high tussocks and soul-destroying heather. One website describes it as “great walking country”, but with a distinct lack of paths is a description which stretches the imagination. A network of deep ditches leftover from Victorian attempts to drain the quagmire catch the unwary, no current political parallels intended. Slender meandering streams are often hidden by overgrown tussocks and heather. Called ‘caochan‘ in Gaelic, blind streams, you only see them when one leg suddenly disappears. Our English word bog actually comes the Gaelic word ‘bog‘ meaning soft. The Gaelic for a bog is ‘boglach‘. Progress across the moor was slow with little opportunity to run, typically averaging 22.5 mins/km. For comparison, Naismith’s Rule, devised by the Victorian Scottish Mountaineer William W. Naismith suggests 15 mins/km for walking. A hard weekend.
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