This post is about the Garrel Glen which is to be found just north of Kilsyth, In this glen there are beautiful waterfalls, caves and carvings.
The New Statistical Account: “On the East side of the romantic glen (Garrel) there is the Covenanters Cave, bearing the date 1669 . . . it is generally denominated by the common people “The Chapel” as the Covenanters are supposed to have used it as a place of worship as well as of concealment.”
The Deil’s Seat: small ledge of rock at the West end of the above cave and overlooking it, where, it is reported traditionally, the Devil sat observing the motions of the Covenanters in the Cave.
The Garrel Glen has long been a favourite spot for ramblers and picnicers and has even been the location for open-air concerts:
In the higher reaches of the Garrel Glen, a local man, Jimmy Beattie, has carved a number of faces into the rock outcrops:
The Garrel Glen is a natural home to superstitions:
In the early part of last century a local Kilsyth ‘worthy’ made the Covenanters’ cave his home:
On Christmas Eve, 1916, from the battlefront, Donald Stewart, a Kilsyth lad, wrote this poem:
The sounds of the Garrel.
Vairy early on a spring morning,
the year afore last –
I went luikin in the Kilsyth foothills for a God.
In the Garrel Glen,
a journey into experience began.
The early morning light wis wunnerfu’ –
luminous without being fierce.
I luiked fa’ a lang time,
fa this God –
realising with every step [and breath taken]
that I had hardly begun tae see!
I gaither that the Kilsyth Wayfarers’
used to ramble here.
I came across several o’ them
in a churchyard withoot a church.
Wan broken tombstone aifter anither.
I returned tae the Garrel wi’ my friend:
‘airmed’ wi’ new fangled gear
and satellite coordinates [for the God’s heid].
Bit, alas, we cud find nae carved God!
It wis then that we came across a shepherd,
gaithering his flock.
He telt us to ask his wife –
fa she wud guide us.
Whit a wunnerfu place she led us tae.
It wis here in dappled, gentle light,
that we met a maist fierce luikin God!
On the same rock face
my friend spotted yer
G R A F F I T I O.
[I hud hairdly begun tae see!]
Here ye carved yer name, date, and hame toon.
That year wis 1892,
an yer hame, Kilsyth.
I noo ken,
thanks tae a’ the new fangled stuff
– o’ which my time noo benefits –
that ye were born, an deid, Kilsyth.
How yer life changed.
That wis the year you married Margaret.
Yer parents did not live to celebrate this special day –
yer mam dying the year afore.
Peter, yer brither, a policeman –
wis much respecktit in Kilsyth.
A photograph o’ him in uniform survives –
I wunner if you luiked like him?
Yer childhood wis spent by the Garrel burn.
From Charles Street and Duntreath Terrace –
you had tae cross the footbridge to get tae
That footbridge is still there,
an leads tae
the war memorial and
Music still plays.
I cannae see it.
But I hear it!
The sounds of the Garrel.
[a poem written by Peter J Gordon]