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Views from a slow pace .... and some unexpected insights!

Ged goes for a walk along a route she often cycles.

Last Saturday, I went for a walk as part of my training for the Slow Travel Girls challenge in September.   However, I deliberately chose to take a route that I am fairly familiar with ...except I've always cycled it before. I thought it would be interesting to discover whether I "see" different things because I would be travelling at a much slower pace....but I got much more than expected!
Travelling at 3 mph really does give you much more time to see what is around you... this is about a quarter of my average speed, even for Team Tortoise, my cycling "team"!  Reading information signs, even actually noticing some for the first time, meant I learned about the Tom Muir Trail and the redundant rail line that the route follows.  The Campsie Branch ran from Coatbridge to Lennoxtown from 1848 to 1966, and it linked with the main Glasgow to Edinburgh line, so it would have been a vital lifeline to the area in its day. However, I did smile when I initially thought the Campsie Branch was in fact a reference to the huge (now varnished) tree root that has protruded through the sturdy wall just before the  Milton of Campsie Station!!
I have always appreciated that the trail roughly followed several burns (streams, for the Americans reading), but the speed and sound of the water is far less obvious as you whizz by on a saddle...every bridge crossing was a lovely chance to see and listen properly. No ducks today I'm afraid...but they probably prefer to travel more slowly too!
Everyone I've ever passed on the trail always says hello, but as a walker, it was much easier to have a wee chat.... The man who was rushing to get to a wedding, the couple who decided to turn back to avoid the rain, the sisters who were heading off to be "ladies who lunch," and the woman who said that she recognised me by my jacket from the morning ...clever cos my jacket was in my rucksack until the rain started at 1.30! I was just a wee bit disappointed that I was slightly too late to catch all of the wee dancing man's dance, which you can see on the video!
The ease of taking photos and videos without a bike became very quickly apparent too...no need to unclip my feet, get off the bike (my wee legs won't let me straddle comfortably!), find a spot to lean it and THEN get my camera ready to snap.  I really appreciated the lack of faff, and walking enabled me to react quickly to an interesting subject.
If I hadn't been walking, there is no way I'd have spotted, let alone been able to video, the bee on the thistle.  Even the man who passed as I was taping was impressed that I'd seen it.   Similarly, despite going under the huge stone railway bridges often, this is the first time I'd noticed that the 19th century builders had considered the burn and made a mini bridge to let the water flow freely!
Looking to avoid being mowed down by a cyclist, I did get a whole new insight to life as a walker.  I've occasionally thought "why have folk not moved when I've rung my bell" but with the sounds of the birds, water, trees and sheep, the only cyclist I knew was around was the one who rang her bell a few times on her approach!  In fact, she was the only one today who seemed to use their bell at all!! To those who got frustrated at losing momentum, or the two who nearly mowed me down....please go for a walk and see what it's like on the other side.  I promise you'll see at least a few new things, and - travelling slowly - we might even have a chance to meet.
- Ged McFaul
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