Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The River Clyde and the Changing Face of Glasgow. Part One.

                                             ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
The photograph above is from the cycle track looking up Dumbarton Road towards Yoker on the north western edge of Glasgow.
I've been away on a week long trip with friends so the lack of activity is not due to a lack of photos or ideas as I now have a backlog of around a dozen posts. It was a week without any internet access, just like the old days, but surprisingly I didn't miss Pandora's Box of tricks at all. Although I enjoy posting on the blog, getting comments, and sharing my trips with anyone interested it was nice to remind myself that I have a life outside of the virtual one as society in general seems to be increasingly heading towards a modern kind of subtle slavery of the mind. If you don't post online these days you can feel very isolated and cut off, especially if you are younger, but it does take up large amounts of time. It can also feel that a day out or events, no matter how enjoyable, didn't really happen unless you document it in some way online. Instant gratification for an increasingly self obsessed society but also highly addictive and slightly troubling as to where this technology will lead us and shape or condition our mentality in the future.

With a shock it suddenly occurred to me that I had missed most of the summer due to various things occurring, including poor weather and illness, so I jumped on my bike for a tour of the South and West side of the city before autumn arrives. It's a cycle ride of a few hours I really enjoy and one I described in my Glasgow guide book as having the potential to visit a wide variety of different places while still sticking to a basic circular template across half the city. I've enjoyed this tour for over 20 years yet every time it's a slightly different route I take so I never get bored with it.
Beside the Loch Lomond/Clydebank to City Centre cycle track lies the old Albion Motors factory in Scotstoun on South Street, a fairly quiet industrial feeling road lined with factories and shipyards running along the north bank of the River Clyde. Normally, I just zoom past but this time curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go in to see if this large factory was still viable. It is but mainly concentrates on manufacturing parts for heavy vehicles and trucks now. The BAE Shipyards (formally Yarrows) are still open as is a large scrap metal works but the cycle track here is slightly elevated and screened by vegetation and trees so it's a fairly pleasant green corridor with interesting visual highlights along the route.

Massive sheds and industrial landscape still dominate this district from a period when Glasgow was one of the world's most productive cities, exporting hundreds of ships and steam engines to every corner of the globe. This is the towering Barclay Curle Crane, used in the past for lifting heavy loads in and out of ships. One of only 11 giant cantilever cranes left in the world  with 4 still standing along the Clyde. The others being the Finnieston Crane, Clydebank's Titan and Greenock's Titan. These giant cranes were capable of lifting well in excess of 100 tons.
The Tall Ship Glenlee, and the Riverside Museum on the left. This area is all modern glass and steel but it also has large brownfield closed off sections that are great for nature and this is what captured my attention this time around.
A lot of nature here on the river with cormorants,shags, ducks, herons, and other water based birds giving plenty of interest in this urban setting of waste ground. As much of it is undisturbed and closed to public access it is a fantastic oasis right in the middle of the city.
Heron on an old disused dock. It got me thinking about just how valuable these waste places are for nature as birds, butterflies and bees seemed to love it here, with flowering weeds aplenty during the summer months.
In some places, undisturbed for years, a mini forest was in evidence which reminded me strongly of "The Last of Us" featured on here a few weeks ago, and the theme tune from that replayed in my head several times. The way my mind works the usual down and outs, dodgy characters or creepy people enjoying the sunshine and hiding from authority in these out of the way places became my own personal "infected" to avoid as I explored. Cant help it. My life has always been an internal game since childhood. Too much visual imagination going on to view my surroundings as purely practical.
Glasgow Harbour from the Urban Jungle. Could be the plains of Africa on a burning hot Scottish afternoon with modern cities of glass and steel springing up on that far continent. There was even a heat haze effect. A rare occurrence during this mainly wet summer.
Large birds along the River Clyde. Not a breath of wind and a hot day so nice to be beside water.
A breeding population of gulls.
Eyes in the sky.
The Hydro car park looking like a high wall to keep out the zombie army.

The River Clyde looking across at Govan Old Church.
Riverside Museum side view.
Clyde Auditorium. Finnieston District.
The old Clyde Tunnel South Rotunda entrance getting a face lift as part of the ongoing Pacific Quay development.
Glasgow City Centre and a fellow cyclist enjoying the sunshine.
The cycle track past Glasgow Harbour. Nice bum for a sculpture. That's attention to detail :o)

Crossing the river into Govan over Bells Bridge. Festival Park, seen here, was looking lush. This small park has a water feature running through it and was created after the Glasgow Garden festival occupied this site. You can cycle through it slowly if you show due care and attention to pedestrians and young children on the shared path network. A pleasant green oasis in an urban area.

Crossing into Cessnock. A busy shopping district where my sister lived after getting married in the 1960s before emigrating to Australia in the early 1970s with her husband and young family. I have fond memories of visiting Ibrox and this area as a child. Nearby Kinning Park in the inner city was the family home before moving out to leafy Pollok and I'm very glad I grew up with access to the countryside rather than here, miles from the green belt that surrounds Glasgow's outskirts. I think I'd be a different person growing up in the middle of a large city rather than its outer edge with daily access to nature, extensive woodlands, and green fields five minutes walk from my door. Both Pollok Park and Bellahouston Park are not far away from here and provide a green haven for local inhabitants but Pollok is another world again with miles of rural wilderness to explore and total freedom away from society and restrictions. Maybe that's why we were usually well behaved outdoors. We already had everything a curious child could need on our doorstep as entertainment before this present age of restrictive adult supervision imposed on children by worried parents kicked in. My generation grew up outside, totally unsupervised and slightly feral. A self governed society all its own. Will we ever return to that care free time again?
Govan Town Hall and more urban wasteland. A sea of clover and bumble bees but children would not be safe here alone in the modern, highly sexualised, world we live in now. The nearby River Clyde is  much cleaner than 30 years ago and able to support fish and one of the highlights of this cycle tour was spotting a three foot long monster swimming just under the surface near here. A thrilling sight. Atlantic salmon swim up Scottish rivers to spawn in Sept-Oct. Also noticed a large contingent of Grey Mullet, a fish that likes brackish water but is notoriously difficult to catch as it actually enjoys being under piers and near humanity so knows the tricks of fishermen all too well and has evolved accordingly..
Modern view around Ibrox. Home of Rangers F.C. but recently stripped of its tenements. Waste land in its first few years becomes a sea of grass before larger plants gain a foothold. Glasgow as the Serengeti perhaps? All that's missing is lions, warthogs, and zebra.
The River Clyde from Govan.
And a sunset to end.

to be continued....
As it's a Glasgow post here's a Glasgow band. Sons and Daughters formed around the same time as Franz Ferdinand but never received international acclaim despite catchy tunes, probably because they had a harder edge and unsettling darker themes in their music. At their best, like this song, they are capable of capturing an air of menace, mystery, and a slightly unhinged delivery. An ambiguous tale of what happens in the wild places of the world once you leave the safety of the harbour behind.


Linda W. said...

I enjoyed touring Glasgow with you! Thanks for all the wonderful photos.

Ian Johnston said...

Great stuff Bob, Glasgow has become a fascinating mix of uber-modern and traditional it seems - and the wild habitats you've documented here really should be valued and protected for what they are rather than decried as "waste ground".

Kind Regards

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
It was almost like an unknown city on this trip with new buildings around every corner.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian,
Yes, you only see their real importance in high summer as they burst into a riot of wild flowers and lush habitat every year. A sea of butterfly bushes on almost every established brownfield site. Mind you, it's yet another invasive species that outgrows everything else.

Carol said...

Lot of good comments and photos on that one Bob - enjoyed it. I was going to comment specifically but I'd have to re-read it all to remember all the stuff I was going to comment on - that's how much my mind doesn't work nowadays! :-(

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers, I'm the same. By the time I run up the stairs I've forgotten what it was I came up for :o(