The Great Innerdouny Agate Hunt

A few days prior our uncomfortable morning on King’s Seat above Dollar, The Fatdog and I had had a trifle more success on a much lesser bump on the landscape – Innerdouny Hill.  This relatively insignificant wee hill lies to the east of the Yetts o’ Muckhart to Dunning road.


Last week the unusually cheerful for January weather had decided, in the main, to stay put over the Central Belt.  At this point spirits were running high at The Fatdog Broadcasting Corporation … this would be our 3rd hill in 8 days.  I do rather suggest they are hill walks, don’t I – but in reality these are no more than extended dog walks on a slight incline.  We had still to tackle anything remotely boggy or steep.

The Fatdog had on her new scarf…although she did not appear particularly pleased about being seen wearing it in public.  I sensed disapproval in those big white shiny teeth.  As a matter of record it vanished, in mysterious circumstances, at the start of our next walk!

While The Fatdog was sprightly and festive (or possibly Italian)…

…my legs were positively rebellious.  Tuesday night’s circuit training was having repercussions.  It was a nuisance but the idea was to try and press on regardless and see if they would ease up as the muscles warmed.  In any event this became a moot point as I, my legs now at their truculent worst, caught the glint of something translucent embedded in the surface of the forestry road.   I’ve always been attracted to bright, shiny objects…a throwback to when we in Denny first encountered missionaries (circa 1960), I believe.

“Naw….couldn’t be?  This is the Ochils though”

It was a 2″ lump of agate; a semi-precious gemstone used in jewellery making and ornaments.   It was a poor, shattered, specimen but had not bad colour and pattern.  I used to hunt these brightly banded nodules all over Scotland.  Found in lavas of the Old Red Sandstone on the mainland and in the much later Tertiary lavas on the island of Mull these used to be much sought after by collectors.  J still has nightmares of being dragged along a shore of huge black rocks below the bleak basalt columns of the south coast of Mull as I chased after the scarce brown whorled agate  found only towards Carsaig arches.

All thoughts of achingly tight leg muscles were forgotten as I began to scour the ground in front of me, moving in a zig-zag pattern up the forestry road.  The Fatdog was stunned into immobility, bafflement clear in her open-jawed expression.  The ascent slowed to snail’s pace…but I didn’t notice the aching legs anymore.

It didn’t take long before I could sense a stare of canine disapproval burning into the back of my head as I rummaged in the dirt of the track, prising yet another tiny chip of agate free of its gritty bed.  There were a number of long growly sighs before the complaining eventually started proper.

Oh well, there was always time for a quick look on the way back.   The Fatdog had already guessed that this might be the case…

Here’s a link to Flickr where you can see the full gallery of photos.


19 thoughts on “The Great Innerdouny Agate Hunt”

  1. Well spotted.! Were they being used as hardcore and have came from somewhere else ? I guess so.
    Found a few myself down at Dunure in the past.Still got some lovely jasper from the Campsies and a load of minerals from the old mines in Colorado/Utah.So many there that you have to climb over them 🙂
    The hill does look a bit boring though and that`s by my low standards..!

    1. The views from the top were actually not bad Alex – though distant.

      The agate was probably from the hill as there were a number of wee quarries on the way up the track. These roads are normally formed from the material from the uphill-side ditch – then topped off months later, when the fill material has settled, with locally quarried stone (adjacent to the track if possible). I would reckon that happens most of the time as it is hideously expensive to import quarried stone because of the haulage distance.

      Before you ask…yes…I did build some tracks through forestry…for access to construct police radio masts (early 90’s). 😆

      I used to go down to Dunure…and visit the pub…also The Maidens and Turnberry. Other stops were more in the north-east – Montrose, Lunan Bay and St Cyrus – wherever the agate bearing sandstone outcropped.

      I’d love to know that Jasper location – I went to the spout of Ballan….something or other with my dad many years ago…but we never found the jasper vein. 😦

      1. Just to the east of the Spout and north of Strathblane there is a relatively fresh section of rock has calved off.It`s like a mini version of the Whangie when you get there.Found some jasper there and there was an amethyst embedded on the wall.Also picked up some jasper above this on the edge of the escarpment.
        My mineral collection was deemed to attract “too much dust” in the lounge and was confiscated by SWMBO.Packed away in boxes and needless to say disappeared somewhere along the way.Have some nice ones here from a Colorado trip a few years ago to compensate though 🙂

          1. I’d rather guessed that Alex 😆 I’ve noticed that WordPress has had occasional glitches the past few days.

            Thanks for the info 😀 . I must try to get up for a look sometime. I remember the gorge being quite fascinating with a view of all the sedimentary layers (assuming it was the same gorge) clearly visible where the burn had cut through. Wish I knew where those old photos were hiding…it must have been the early-mid seventies when we were there. Do you know if there is a dog-friendly route up?

            I’ve a pile of agate hidden all over the house. The “rejects” are outside in a big plant pot. Sometimes I used the rocks and planter to hold up an outside Christmas tree. 😀

  2. Did Maisie not send an e-mail to the RSPCA when she got home, about being cruelly made to wear that scarf in public? Tilly said she would have done.
    I just love the education I’m getting reading these blogs – geography, geology, history…

    1. She tried “Childline” once, I believe. She doesn’t believe she’s a dog.

      Blogs are amazing things…it’s almost unbelievable how much info lies within the crazed minds of these sad and sorry writers. 😉

  3. Ooh – just the sort of unexpected find that makes a walk stick in the memory. Had my sons been with you, you may never have been able to drag them away. Is this metamorphic? It’s lovely stuff whatever.
    The hill may be small, but it looks, from the slideshow, like the view from the top is pretty good. (Aside from the wind turbines which of course all we ALL disapprove of. No we do. No dissenting from the back there….)

    1. The agates are founds in igneous rocks…in this case lavas from the age of the Old Red Sandstone some 400 million years ago when the Ochil Hills were formed. They were formed by molten silica wandering through the empty bubbles (vesicles) in lavas. As the silica cooled it cooled from the outside in creating banded, sometimes multicolured, layers of translucent silica. Sometimes if there wasn’t enough material to fill the bubble then there was enough space for large crystals to form within the centre of the bubble over a longer cooling period. These are called geodes.

      This being Scotland you will find all sorts of rock in one location depending on when sedimentation, metamorphism and igneous activity took place.

      eg sedimentary layers formed first from say oceanic or estuarine deposits. Maybe a local volcano erupts and igneous layers are then formed within the sediments. As time goes on the sedimentary layers with their igneous intrusions build and build – and are then altered physically by the effects of temperature and pressure (metamorphism) bending into weird contorted shapes because of the extreme pressure.

      There are many, many, more scenarios – this is just a basic example.

      Given that on a hill you have the solid rock which can be anything and on top of that you can have rocks transported and deposited by eg ancient rivers or glaciation – it’s very easy to have a real muddle of rocks in one place.

      The views are not bad Mark…the best being of the turbines which were positively thundering around – bless their little cotton blades.

        1. A test!? At the minute I’m rather hoping that a real geologist doesn’t come along and contradict my efforts 😆

  4. I have a drawer full of unidentified pretty rocks picked up on walks. Can’t bring myself to chuck ’em out as I am determined to find out what they are. I can still (Just) remember where i found them all. Hmmmm. I’ll add that to the increasing list of things to do before etc.

    1. My dad used to have a gravel path around his hut with all the agate he’d picked up rummaging around beaches! 😀

      I used to cut and polish agate many years ago…had grinders set up in my dad’s hut powered by old washing machine motors. What a racket those diamond sintered saws made…looking back I wonder why the neighbours never complained. 😆

        1. And here’s me thinking that all that banging I could hear was a result of the motor coming loose on its mountings. 😆

        1. Used to go to an old appliance repair business/scrapyard in Denny to buy my motors – cost buttons. Never built anything like that since.

          Hmm…might be fun…nothing like the scream of a diamond saw blade cutting through agate. 😀

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