Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Entry for 20 December 2009:

Yesterday, it appeared that our preparations for our travel back to the USA were far enough advanced that we could afford the time to squeeze in one more Saturday excursion. We were running low on Historic Scotland destinations that were open and feasible for a short day trip, so I pulled out my Loch Lomond region tourist map and began looking for likely targets. The Auld Kirk Museum in Kirkintilloch sounded interesting, so we set off for it. Kirchintilloch is only 9 miles from Hyndland, has a Glasgow postal code, and is only 2 miles more than I had run that morning, but to Glaswegians it is a foreign country, a place you hardly ever go to. Nevertheless, we were there about half an hour later, on a cold December day.

It turns out that the name Kirkintilloch has nothing to do with churches old or new, but is a Gaelic-Welsh hybrid meaning “fort on the head of the hill”. The Romans built one of their Antonine Wall forts here on the hill, and later there was castle, long since pulled down. The Antonine Wall ran through what is today the Auld Kirk Museum.

After lunch at a little Italian restaurant around the corner, we made our way to the museum. It had started snowing while we ate our calzone and insalata mista, and the pavement was quite slippery.

The Auld Kirk Museum is a quaint little municipal museum in what is, strangely enough, an old Presbyterian church, laid out in the shape of a Greek cross of equal-length arms. A series of displays depicted the history of Kirkintilloch, from the Romans through the medieval castle and market town to the industrial revolution, when the canal and then the railroad made the town a centre of weaving and ironworking, to the present situation of being a bedroom community for Glasgow. The church was very similar in design to the one we saw in Carmunnock, with balconies on three sides for the gentry, who entered by separate outside entrances.

After talking to one of the docents, we wandered up the hill. It was 3.40pm and the sun had already set, but there was a lovely view of the Campsie Fells away to the north The long early winter gloaming was upon us and the slushy snow was quickly icing up underfoot. We walked carefully down to the canal, took photos of it in the failing light and walked back to the car. The trip back to Hyndland took almost an hour due to the weather conditions and repeatedly missing our turns as we desperately tried to avoid being pulled into the black hole of the Glasgow city centre. After this, 9 miles did seem like a long way from home!

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