At the weekend, Mr Cartside had a fab idea and took us to Whitelee Windfarm. It's situated south of Glasgow, near East Kilbride and Eaglesham, and yet it appears to be in the middle of nowhere. Our short route took us through lovely villages where time has stood still, onto a misty high moor with a single track road. Suddenly, the giant pylons appeared out of nowhere, clearly playing hide and seek with us. There were no signposts (at least none that we spotted). You really need to know where you're going, and have been told about this little gem.
Because Whitelee Windfarm is not just Europe's biggest windfarm, but also hosts a very green visitor centre with an exhibition about all things renewable and wind, a lovely cafe with fabulous views, a nice shop, events and even a cycle park and shower; surrounded by moorland, windmills and miles and miles of walking and cycling tracks. And sometimes, you can even see one of the well over 100 windmills. Unbelievably, for much of our visit, we didn't see any although we were really rather close to these gentle giants.
It's a slightly surreal place - to me the landscape has the feel of the wide boglands of Ireland, the single track road speaks of remoteness and Scottish Highlands. Yet it's not remote at all, in fact, rather accessible, by road and bike. Then there's the juxtaposition of the ancient moorland with the engineered landscape of renewable energy production. Add to this the cosiness of the cafe in the visitor centre, looking out onto a windy and misty barren landscape.
I was captivated. I took a lot of photos and looking back at them, none of them captured the strange beauty of it. It was a brilliant day out and I wish we'd have had more time because once we had feasted on the homemade food of the cafe, listened to the storyteller telling us stories about the wind and the sea (and Cubling creating her own seascape with the contents of her bag), after exploring the exhibition on windpower, we just about managed to walk as far as the first pylon before we really and truly had to make our way home. We were able to hear for ourselves that pylons are not as loud as jets (which is something that was suggested on question time on the radio) - their calming quiet buzz is actually rather relaxing. There are miles of countryside walks, a network of cycle routes and we've been told that on a less misty day, the views are glorious (I found them breathtaking as they were).
We'll be back though, little doubt about that. And if you are near Glasgow, put it on your "great family days out" list. It's so worth it.