Monday, 22 August 2016

Kayaks Down The River Clyde. Renfrew. Newshot Island. Erskine Beach.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Another kayak trip with Alan down the White Cart Water, setting off just upstream from the Renfrew Swing Bridge before reaching  the point where the White Cart and the Black Cart merge into one larger river before entering the mighty River Clyde itself downstream from the Renfrew ferry. This is kayaking down the White Cart, above, with Clydebank and Dalmuir spread out as a backdrop.
As usual large planes passed over our craft as the ever busy Glasgow airport lies nearby and poor communities scattered along the flight path in the surrounding urban areas can watch rich communities fly off to various destinations around the world they will never  enjoy themselves unless they win the lottery. But on the plus side they do have Braehead Shopping Centre.... :o)
I include this link here because over the last few weeks I've heard a couple of folk mentioning the proposed new bridge over the River Clyde, which seems to be gathering momentum. Interesting that some of the reasons for building it appears to be to get faster access to Glasgow Airport and the nearby Braehead Shopping Centre.
As I live on the west side of the city near Anniesland I've been to Braehead Shopping Centre occasionally at weekends and the place is always packed solid with people and cars, as is Silverburn Shopping Centre in Pollok and Clydebank's retail park and indoor shopping arcade. They are the last places I would think of going to at weekends due to the hassle of finding a parking place and general traffic chaos surrounding them every Friday and Saturday/weekends. When my sister came over on holiday I took her across to Braehead for the shopping experience one Saturday but we had to park on an upper car park on the outskirts half a mile from the shops and I couldn't wait to get home... stuck in traffic most of the way back. Not being a shopping person the only time I do visit these places I'm in and out quickly once I've got the item I went in for and the main reason I like them personally is the cycle tracks and new parks and riverside walks that have been created with their development. These outdoor and free attractions I do like exploring. On foot or by bike they make a great outing coupled with other riverside walks in this area.
An Icelandic  plane, above. Using the current road infrastructure (driving across the Erskine Bridge mainly) I've never found getting to Glasgow Airport all that difficult or time consuming outside of weekday rush hour times when all the roads are packed solid anyway although leaving your car there while you are on holiday can be costly. What I have noticed is a definite movement away from free council run facilities like swimming baths, public toilets, day drop in centres, libraries and other public amenities we used to take for granted but are now closed or closing due to endless cut backs in spending and a mentality edging ever closer towards a life spent indoors, looking pretty, in the form of gyms, tanning establishments, indoor "training centres" and other such places where you pay to enter.

I get the feeling we are all being conned into paying for things we used to get for free. And this in a nation (The UK) that has jumped to the 5th richest country in the world... during a deep, so called, recession. Rich lists and "the economy is doing well " are things that mean nothing to the average punter struggling to pay bills in an ever increasing two level society where the rich get all the breaks going, usually at the expense of the tax payer and ordinary folk in the street.
Really worth a read. and its not just one sector... it's everywhere... and we, the mug public, usually foot the bill. What F********** AUSTERITY?     Only for us it seems... as always... forever.

Maybe it's just my age and cynical outlook but to me keeping fit and enjoying myself is usually free and takes place outdoors yet I heard recently some young guy on TV who was described as "extremely sporty" yet didn't seem to spend any time outside at all and it was all indoor work he was into and actively promoting...i.e. looking good, lifting weights and  building a perfect six pack body with a fake tan to match and thousands no doubt spent on sculpting his appearance to look more like the celebrity generation he was obviously influenced by. Outdoors was far too dirty and dangerous for this individual but what got me was the general acceptance that this was the new normal for many. I've cycled past dozens of indoor enthusiasts paying a lot of money to ride static bikes or run on a treadmill in antiseptic surroundings behind glass but I fail to see what they get out of it except a date with someone inside possibly, or an emptier wallet. A growing modern theme seems to be that you have to pay someone money or go on a supervised course to enjoy yourself outdoors or just to keep fit. Walking for free exercise is becoming an outdated concept. It's yet another con powered by a billion dollar industry geared to selling you stuff that will probably lie in a cupboard unused after a few months.
Obviously boxers, professional or amateur sports people have to spend a lot of time training indoors, which was always the case, but the main motivation in this instance seemed to be one of advanced narcissistic drive towards physical appearance, with any health benefits, fitness or enjoyment largely unimportant compared to a desire to look like every other cloned celebrity out there. It all made me rather sad.
 On another matter entirely... why do girls always pout in selfie shots? Why does every single shop assistant or check out person say "See you later" when you leave the shop. They never used to say that but now they all do..every single one... like robots... The few times I have taken them at their word and turned up later at the end of their shift to drive them home at night and perhaps see if they were real underneath police have been called :o). Maybe it's like saying "tell me about it?" which always seems to mean the exact opposite to what they are actually asking. Like "extremely sporty" in this instance.
Meanwhile, back in the real and sometimes unpredictable and dangerous world outside, we kayaked into the River Clyde just in time to watch a large ship passing down the deep water channel. It was going slowly so the wash off it's bulk was not too bad but something to bear in mind as a potential hazard. Assvik, seen here, is a general cargo ship of 90 metres length but ships 3 times that size and height travel up the river into Glasgow's heart occasionally so it will have to be a high bridge at Renfrew... or one that can open fully.
We set off from Renfrew an hour after full high tide and I'd recommend a high tide start as it is a shipping lane and you don't want to be anywhere near one of these big beasts when they pass by. At high tide there is plenty of room on the river to either get to one side out the way or beach the craft on the bank and get out until it passes depending on size, speed and height of wake. At low tide you do not have that option to escape the main deep water channel and thick mud getting out anywhere will be a major problem unless you use a proper slipway to exit. Ships will not take kindly to a stupid kayaker in the way but under normal circumstances they are going slow enough to be well out the road before they even approach your position, as happened with this one as it was obvious from a half mile distant it would be passing us.
The same large ship heading downstream towards the more open Firth of Clyde. We had also picked a calm day as wind out here would be a factor, leading to face spray, higher waves, and an increased risk of falling in. As with the Paisley kayak trip posted a couple of months ago on here the urban kayaker should not fall in or taste the water in any way. It may well be safe for quality testing issues but there was a distinct odour of human waste coming from a large outflow further downstream and over 2 million citizens clustered along its banks would suggest otherwise. Although we had intended riding the outgoing current downstream with the departing tide that's not how it turned out and we had no major pull in the direction we wanted to go, even while static. Numerous cross currents and choppy water within the deep water channel, plus several large outflows discharging treated water meant we had to paddle all the way to Erskine and in places it felt like pulling against a tide moving upstream rather than the reverse, yet I had checked the right tide times for assisted passage downstream using the outgoing current.
Coastguard Helicopter. Not there for us but heading for Glasgow Airport.

Clydebank's Titan crane. Now a visitor attraction and high level viewing platform for the town where John Brown's Shipyard used to be. There are four of these giant cantilever cranes dotted along the Clyde, each capable of lifting weights in excess of 100 tonnes. The others being Greenock's Titan, The Barclay Curle Crane at Scotstoun and the one at Finnieston, near central Glasgow. Only eleven of these massive cantilever cranes this size still exist around the world today and we have four of them on the Clyde. You can just make out people on top of the crane in the above photo.
A cargo boat collecting scrap metal at a breakers yard in Renfrew. Most of this ship is hidden in a deep water dock behind piles of scrapped cars. Judging by the number of different boats found here scrap metal is a highly profitable industry now in an area that used to manufacture goods and send them to every corner of the planet, including Singer sewing machines, world famous large ships and early textiles. Building ever larger shopping centres and spending money on things we don't really need to make us internally happy seems to drive our economy now... which is just as well.... as London and the South East produces most of the wealth in the UK these days. Maybe that's where 'the economy' is... cos it sure ain't here.
Passing Clydebank and Dalmuir with the Radnor Park high rise flats behind. Like many others this area has suffered badly with the loss of it's industrial heritage and has witnessed decades of decline, social problems, and no real growth apart from shopping outlets and further education. The new totem poles of the modern tribe.
A flotilla of small craft moving upriver past Newshot Island.
The full width of the River Clyde just past Newshot Island taken at high-ish tide. Newshot is not actually a proper island but a low-lying peninsula prone to flooding and marshy conditions all year round. It is a bird reserve and wildlife habitat with its own feral herd of inquisitive cows who usually come over to give you an inspection. It is also home to vast amounts of gulls, and we waited until the young chicks were almost adults before attempting this trip. Despite this we still got the usual gull treatment of dive-bombing parents and splatter tactics, even though we just paddled by and didn't attempt to land, staying well out from the bank where the gulls were gathered.
Being easy targets out here gull shit hit me numerous times while taking photos but it did add another interesting feature to this memorable and highly enjoyable trip.
Dive bombing gulls and the Golden Jubileee Hospital at Clydebank. This is one of my regular cycle runs along the canal and a small detour down to here brings you out at a tiny local park and section of walkway offering great views over a wide looking river. A favourite stop for lunch on the benches here beside the hospital looking across at the now un-populated Newshot Island. At some point in its past it may well have had a few humans living on it as several ruined buildings can be found in it's swampy interior and an old abandoned causeway leads onto it from Erskine.
At the shallow inlet where the underwater causeway is situated ( a former small harbour perhaps) lies an eerie graveyard of sizable boats, rotting and long abandoned and from information gathered online some of them might well be "Mud Punts"as Newshot Island was largely created from the mud, debris and silt dredged from this former packed and busy river from the late 1800s right up until the 1960s. I can still recall the metal bucket dredger scooping mud from the river when younger as you could always hear it squeaking away when the rusty buckets turned and lifted the silt. These 'mud punts' may well have carried such waste at high tide to be dumped onto Newshot Island although the ground underfoot is reasonably firm now, if somewhat lumpy and barren. Probably the main reason why it's still a bird reserve as if it was prime land it would be built on sharpish and the birds would be evicted elsewhere. With far less river traffic these days an independent modern dredger is probably just hired on a year to year basis to keep the main channel clear of silt.
The ancient lava flows and volcanic plug summits of the Kilpatrick Hills form a backdrop for much of this journey down stream and make an impressive natural wall keeping the river from meandering too much. Even at that and a total distance covered of around 10 km we were glad to see Erskine Beach loom into view after a 4 hour paddle. Somehow, it felt harder than paddling across a loch.
The Erskine Bridge is an impressive sight from any angle but this is the first time we have passed under it in a kayak. Still amazes me how such slender support pillars can keep up this massive structure although I know most of the load bearing comes from above.
Alan passing under the Erskine Bridge. Erskine incidentally means "high marsh". Great walking and cycling opportunities exist for easy day trips along the river in this area. Info here.

An old abandoned shipping marker. Alan informed me he'd climbed this as a kid when the ladders to the top were still in good repair.
And our exit near Erskine Bridge and slipway after 4 hours paddle, exploring every nook and cranny on the way. Another fascinating trip into the almost forgotten history of the river. We did paddle slightly further downstream from here but soon returned as arms were starting to tire, the mud getting out was appearing deeper with lower tide levels, and we thought we'd done enough for one day.

If you are doing this trip by kayak it's better at high tide, probably best if you don't capsize anywhere, wear a life jacket or suitable buoyancy aid as currents are strong in mid-river- pick a calm day with light winds, and watch out for other river traffic... and thick mud if getting out anywhere. Even inside the kayak it is fairly easy to get stuck in the shallows around Newshot inlet yet with deep mud all around there's no chance of leaving the craft without danger of sinking in. Another tip to bear in mind if it happens to you and the tide is running out. Better not strand yourself paddling in too shallow surroundings... that would never happen to me :o) 
Other than that it's good clean dirty fun.



Kay G. said...

No wonder you were glad to see the bridge, after a four hour paddle! Well done! As always, wish I could have gone along too.

Linda W. said...

Thanks for taking us along on another great kayak trip. And I'm with you - I'd much rather get my exercise outside than in some stuffy gym.

Anabel Marsh said...

Well, the kayak stuff seems like utter madness to me, but you struck a chord with your rant about Braehead, pouty selfies and others of my personal bugbears!

Carol said...

I always say 'see you later' and then realise I actually probably won't - but I've always said that - not a recent thing.

I think some of your 'poor people' wouldn't be half so poor if they didn't spend their lives in shopping centres! They need to be parsimonious like us Yorkshire folks. And it's much, much cheaper to fly abroad for a holiday than to attempt to take one in the over-expensive UK to be honest - unless you camp etc. which I don't seem tough enough to do. I can't carry the heavy packs and find a tent too cold and uncomfortable and I need my sleep. Youth Hostels are also getting to be a no-no as I can't sleep there either as there is no longer a lights-out and be quiet policy after 2300 until 0700!

Agree with you on the 'indoors gym' culture - bloody stupid if you ask me and you definitely don't get properly fit as they find if they then try to go up a hill! I've seen many a gym bunny collapsed on a mountain path gasping. But I had to do the gym thing for a while when I had my broken foot and really hated it - it was totally boring. Having said that, I'm quite happy in an indoors 'rock gym' (climbing wall) - that is pretty good fun. As for people being conned into paying for their keeping fit instead of just going out for a walk or a cycle, that's their own fault for being so brain dead really.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

I enjoyed that, as usual. I'm far too much of a wuss to kayak down (or up) the Clyde, but your account was fascinating. And much of what you say strikes a chord - do I sense a comradely fellow grumpy git?? Braehead, and places like it, have their place in our modern world I guess - though there's a debate about the industry that presumably used to be on the site. But Glasgow has such a much better city centre shopping area, which I wrote about on Blog Mark I. One of my pet hates when it comes to phrases is the seemingly ubiquitous 'Y'alright?' - meaning hello/can I help you. Normally, I say I'm fine, thanks, gently enquire as to the other's health and then wait to see what happens next. See you later.

Ian Johnston said...

Another great kayak trip Bob,

Here's to "good clean dirty fun" in the outdoors!


Tom said...

I lived in scotstoun for a year and found it strange to occasionally get a glimpse of braehead or the xscape building beside it, just a few hundred yards away but at least ten miles by road.

Not that i would have wanted a bridge, the place seems to be more unable to cope with the visitors it gets already than any other similar place around glasgow and thats saying something. Head down on a saturday afternoon and at least an hour of your visit will be in traffic jams it seems.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
It felt a lot further than it looked on the map as 10km not that much but our kayaks are not as fast as the old ones I had or proper sea kayaks. Good fun anyway.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
I used to do karate and a few other sports indoors but that was usually learning a skill instead of treadmills or static bikes. All the fun for me is what you might see on trips outside rather than just the exercise so I know I'd get quickly bored static walking or cycling. It's incredible just how many gyms are opening up though, some very swanky and expensive looking with other services like meals and drinks served inside.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I used to be far more adventurous and nuttier years ago. This is me in my sedate and sensible period now before the coffin takes me away.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I know it shouldn't get to me but now and again I've got to have a rant at something. It's like playing a card game with someone who keeps bending the rules or having hidden aces up their sleeves when the rest around the table are trying to play fair. To my mind selective austerity is like that. I've nothing against folk that work hard, are clever and create a good life for themselves but far too often huge wads of cash seem to be dished out to some while others are told to keep tightening their belts.
For example a recent Dispatches programme highlighted the fact the the Government had sold off numerous parcels of land, supposedly to create affordable housing to alleviate the acute housing shortage in the UK but failed to enforce the land sold had to be used for that purpose. As with previous sales over decades they flogged them off for rock bottom prices far below the market value to private developers who then went on to build luxury houses, Yacht marinas, 5 star hotels and made an absolute fortune at the expense of the tax payer. As usual. I've lost count of the number of times they've flogged national assets away for buttons to rich speculators who have doubled their investment practically overnight. And that irritates me when they keep saying there's no money and cutting public services. Yet they always seem to have money available when it's for the upper echelons of society... who could always do with another few million.
Compared to that I couldn't care less who is eating meals in fast food outlets :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
I must admit I've not been shopping in the city centre for years. You have to pay to park there or it's almost £5 return on the bus and I can get everything I want locally in under 30 mins with free parking. Usually it's only food, petrol or occasionally cheap outdoor gear as I live on a tight budget and have done for years but still have a good life as I'm out nearly every weekend as you can tell from the blog. Even if I had loads of money I don't think it would alter my lifestyle or spending much as I have all I need already at present and I've never been someone who was money motivated. It just gets me when I see money wasted or siphoned from the poor or the public purse then handed over to the ultra rich... who never seem to have enough and always find new ways to acquire more.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
There's not that many kayak trips around the Glasgow area and it's a bit far petrol wise to get to the best coastlines further north so the main rivers like the Clyde are handy to explore... and good fun... if a bit smelly in places.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Tom,
I must admit I like the wee ferry from Yoker to Renfrew and I use it quite often on bike rides. Braehead always seems busy enough to me without funneling more people into that area although I suppose the youngsters on this side will have easier assess to Intu/Xscape. If the bridge does go ahead I'm curious to see the end product as a 220 metre ship with a 10 story observation deck has been spotted by me on bike rides travelling up the river at present to Govan docks. Photos of that massive ship will appear in a future post soon.

Carol said...

" the Government had sold off numerous parcels of land, supposedly to create affordable housing to alleviate the acute housing shortage in the UK but failed to enforce the land sold had to be used for that purpose. As with previous sales over decades they flogged them off for rock bottom prices far below the market value to private developers who then went on to build luxury houses, Yacht marinas, 5 star hotels and made an absolute fortune at the expense of the tax payer."

CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) whom I support are at this very moment trying to tackle that issue. It's absolutely disgusting. They keep advertising around here they're going to build a new housing estate with at least half of it affordable housing but, when it's built, it's the normal enormous yuppie housing. It makes me seethe!

blueskyscotland said...

Yes Carol,
and it's been happening for many years now without much attention. Even here I've noticed it's only luxury housing going up out of most ordinary people's price range yet they are knocking down loads of council estates and hi rise flats without much sign of similar grade housing taking their place on the same scale. Around 50 percent of folk now are on lower wages or zero hours contracts that can't afford large bought houses so where are 'they' going? It's a mystery to me. I know there's a hell of a lot of suicide RIPs on walls everywhere I cycle these days.
On a different theme I've asked a few people working in big supermarkets in the last couple of days and they confirmed they are told to say "see you later" and "is that all for you today?" or words to that effect and if they don't its a black mark against them if the manager hears they haven't said it enough to customers. They are probably monitored to compete against each other with scoreboards and performance charts as that's how many companies work now to drive up sales and individuals productivity week by week as no-one wants to be bottom of the board more than once. Another American idea that's pretty common now in factory type establishments. " Have a nice day." or "Have a better day." Remember them? :o)