During my first weeks in Glasgow, I stumbled upon a website run by one of the student body of the University of Glasgow (UoG) telling about the upcoming Draconid meteor showers which can be seen easily here in Scotland. From Glasgow, you don’t have to go very far to find a wide area with as little light as possible. According to the website, you can view the meteor shower best from Milngavie (a small town about 15 minutes by train from Glasgow). So, without further a due, I invited some friends to go meteor viewing with me on the evening of 8 October 2015.
I ended up going with my friend Chitra. There was supposed to be another 2 friends but they’re still in class at the time we plan to leave Glasgow. So they said, they’ll see us in Milngavie afterwards, we just need to share our location. Fair enough, shouldn’t be too hard to find us in a small town like Milngavie. So, Chitra and I went to Milngavie by train from Partic Stations. It was still summer so eventhough we arrived a quarter to 6, the sun was still up. From Milngavie train station we decided to walk towards Mugdock Country Park as suggested by the website to be the best place to view the meteor.
There are a lot of sources on the internet telling us different things on when the meteor shower started. However, all mentioned different times. So just to be safe we try to get to the park before it gets dark. It was a little bit cloudy that evening. We walked from Milngavie train station to Mugdock Country Park using google map to show us direction. According to the app, it’ll take us 45 minutes to walk. But it feels like forever. I think we walked more than one hour through a long, straight and quiet road. In fact, we were the only pedestrian walking on that road that evening. The rest was just cars and sometimes people riding a bike pass through us.
It was still summer time in the UK at that time, so the sun sets almost at 8 PM. Lucky for us because the road has no lighting along the way, so it must be very dark when the sun set. It was dusk and the light was so dim when we FINALLY reach the park. On an intersection between the park and another road towards “Mugdock Valley”, a car that was about to pass us, stopped and asked if we know where we’re going. It was a kind old man who perhaps thought we were lost. Well, it was understandable, 2 girls with backpacks at an intersection far away from civilization, at that time of the day. I mean, who wouldn’t!? He looked like he wanted to offer us a ride back to Milngavie. However, we said we were fine and he left.
At this point, Chitra was starting to get anxious as it gets darker in the park and I start to lose common sense as I have a company with me. Hahaha. Mugdock Country Park turns out as a very large park with a lot of things to see and do. There even a castle in the park. It was dim and quite when we arrived. Two ladies were seen exiting the park with their dog and we asked them for direction. We told them that we want to see the meteor shower and we need to get to a place where the light is minimum. The friendly ladies suggested to go to the castle inside the park. They show it to us on the map (there’s a park map at the entrance) and tell us where to go from the entrance. According to them it’ll only take us about 10 minutes to get to the castle.
So we walked through the dim and quiet forest. Paying attention the signs we find along the way to go to the castle. We made a few turns, encounter a small loch (lake) with 2 swans and a few birds before we finally see the castle. The castle is a ruin. It’s small and just a few towers and walls that survived. It was half past seven I think when Chitra asked me now what do we do. I said we can wait for the meteor here and perhaps stay here until morning as it will be too dark and too far to go back to Milngavie.
With the look of horror in her eyes I can tell she disagreed. The thing is, my logic kinda turns dull in a (probably) dangerous (?) situation if I have a company around. It was almost autumn and the temperature was pretty chill. Moreover, there’s a change of rain as it was cloudy. Additionally, we didn’t bring any tent (I brought a blanket though) and there was no light there except for maybe the flash light in our cellphone. By the way we also did not have any other source of power to charge our phones in case its battery runs out. So yeah, she refused the idea and said we should leave the place.
I was hesitant at first as we were already at the (I think) perfect place to view the meteor, but finally agree to leave after a few selfies with the castle. As we exiting the park we tried several times to call the park’s visitor center. However, they hang up on us. Most likely due to me who kept saying “hello” or “pardon” as I can’t hear him/her clearly over the phone. Chitra then browse the internet and found a potential accomodation in Mugdock Village in case we need to spend the night somewhere. From the park, off we walk to Mugdock Village.
It was really dim at that time, but Chitra looks calmer as we approaching civilization. We starting to encounter houses as the day turns into night. We made another stop in front of a wide field with fences surrounding it. There were houses behind us but it was nightfall already. I again came up with the idea of spending the night there as we are already in a more civilized area, but tried to call the accomodation Chitra suggested anyway, just in case.
The accomodation is called Strathblane Country House. It supposed to be closer to get there than to walk back all the way to Milngavie. Little did we know that despite the closer route, there was no lighting whatsoever along the way except for the flashlight from Chitra’s cellphone. As I was finally convinced that it was not a good idea to spend the night outdoor with a very high change of rain, we were walking in the dark towards the country house back-to-front (I was walking in the back, navigating through google map; Chitra was walking on the front lighting the road with her cellphone’s flashlight). It was a very long walk through complete darknes. We didn’t dare to look around. All we saw was the road 2 meters in front of us while we avoid the cars passing by, depending on our hearings. We were walking on the road as the was no pedestrian side.
After 40 minutes or so, we were supposed to arrive at the country house but we saw nothing! OMG! What should we do!? It was late at night and we were standing on the side of a bigger road and have no where to go. We tried to call the country house again but it was really hard to explain our position over the phone. Three phone calls later we were desperate finding other way to reach the country house.
Thankfully, we were not wandering too far from the country house. We checked the website again and this time activate the google map from the website (previously, I typed the country house name directly from google map apps in my phone). Finally we arrived at the country house! There was no one at the receptionist. We rang the bell and someone came. We told them that we called before and wanted to check in for the night. It was Thursday night. The girl at the receptionist told us if we booked more than one night it won’t be possible, as the house has already been booked for a wedding over the weekend.
We paid 95 pounds (cries) for one night. I know it’s expensive but we had no choice. Anyway the country house was so lovely! Our room was so big and pretty! I think it’s worth the money. In the room we found out that people often reserve the place for wedding or honeymoon. After resting for a while we continue hunting for the meteor shower. Outside the country house was quite dark because the surrounding area has little light too. We gazed upon the sky to find our meteor showers. Sometimes the sky is clear, but sometimes its covered with clouds. We get out and get in the house periodically to see if the sky clears up. Unfortunately, until 4 AM I waited (yes, Chitra was sleeping soundly already) it was still cloudy outside. So, I finally decided to go to sleep.
In our adventure, we didn’t get to see the meteor. However we were greeted with the magnificantly beautiful scenery of the surrounding area of our hotel when we woke up! It was so pretty. We were surrounded by mountains and typical country side view. We then had our Scottish Breakfast before we went outside to have some pictures.
After check-out, we decided to walk our way back to Milngavie! Partly because we are short on money, but the other part is because we wanted to enjoy the scenery on our way back and we were not disappointed at all! OMG! It was the best leisure walk I’ve ever been! The air was fresh, the scenery was extraordinary, plus we get to excersise too! We saw horses, country houses, sheeps, mountains, ponds, and we happened to come across the Scottish water dam where they store the drinking water for the (most likely) Glasgow area!
It was really an unexpected adventure. We only planned to see the meteor shower but we ended up with staying the night at the country side. Mostly due to my spontaneusity and zero sense of common sense. I hope Chitra won’t be discouraged to go on another adventure with me. By the way, Chitra told me that the castle we saw at the park yesterday was haunted and the loch with 2 swans we saw was used to drown people suspected as witches. Geez! I guess it was a good decision we left that place last night!