Friday, 16 June 2017

River Kelvin Bike Ride Part Two. Maryhill Park. Dawsholm Park. Acre Road. Summerston. The Drumlin City.

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A view of Balmore Road and fields of growing crops just having left the Forth and Clyde canal, passed through Cadder and then Lambhill Cemetery on the outskirts of Glasgow. I was surprised to see growing crops and still busy farms in this area as Possilpark and this part of North Glasgow has traditionally been home to several rough estates/schemes. Lynn Ramsey's critically acclaimed but fairly grim and depressing  'Ratcatcher' was filmed around this area on the nearby canals and housing estates but to me it was not uplifting enough compared to my own happier and carefree childhood on the urban outskirts around Pollok. More Moonrise Kingdom growing up in that environment than Trainspotting although I was not unaware of its darker side at times. Fortunately, I picked the light... or the light picked me.

Yet in my own area of Nitshill all the working productive farms that used to make the surroundings so delightful to explore as children have all gone and been replaced instead by waist high jungles that used to be short grassy fields, dotted here and there with hawthorn hedges, bright yellow gorse bushes full of yellowhammers and linnets singing their hearts out and herds of black and white dairy cattle that maintained a park-like short grass setting. Even a few real fruit trees, plus crab apples, gooseberry, raspberry, plum and brambles in season were found by chance or word of mouth... and an occasional hay harvest to sneak into in the autumn and more conker trees than we could fling sticks at. In short a cornucopia of riches on our doorstep. Maybe the difference between the two areas is that simple fact- being walker and child friendly we did explore the farms and fields on a regular basis and very little scenery was out of bounds to us whereas you can't really go on a stroll through these fields of crops without being chased, which is probably why they have lasted in this area so long. Not the same incentive to explore here either and nowadays of course most children are not allowed to explore the surrounding countryside unsupervised. Very wise given that busy road between Lambhill and Milngavie.
Anyway, as in the last post,  Part One ended on the River Kelvin Walkway, seen here above. An enjoyable if secluded walk or cycle that brought me out as intended  to a two way split just above Acre Road. I took the left hard track, leading directly away from the River Kelvin and soon ended up in Summerston.
I've not visited this area much either so I was keen to have a cycle around the main loop road to see how it had fared since the last time I explored it around 10 years ago. Both Summerston and Darnley were built in the 1970s, The last of the large housing projects in the city completed by Glasgow City Council.  I found it interesting to compare these two estates, built at roughly the same time. Summerston still exists and looks a nice place to live even now in 2017. It reminds me of East Kilbride in some ways with a similar self contained new town look. By contrast most of the original Darnley estate has been flattened decades ago as it started to deteriorate from the moment it was constructed- a flat roofed deck access estate on multiple levels that soon acquired a number of antisocial problems like severe dampness, a lack of community spirit, no clear tenant boundaries around each home to enforce, frequent gang fights in the warren of corridors, connecting walkways and communal stairwells, numerous empty flats and squatting. Was it the people that destroyed Darnley or the flawed building design that did it in? I think part of the answer lies in Summerston which has a large population but is still thriving . ( the new low level Darnley by the way is a modern attractive estate with gardens and obvious boundary lines around each in... i.e. this is my property and you are clearly trespassing on it....probably  the way it should have been constructed from the start.)
Still in Summerston. Wide pleasant roads, a nice environment and no sign of deck access development, graffiti or vandalism. Very few of these deck access type estates survived for more than 20 to 30 years after construction- I wonder why...,_Sheffield
the most infamous one probably being the Divis Flats complex in Belfast which proved perfect for IRA snipers... elevated and hard to discover in the network of open dark corridors above the city scape below. A 'Streets in the Sky' concept that was in vogue at that time. The Park Hill Estate in Sheffield is one of the few survivors from that period and doubled for the demolished Divis Flats in the film 71. The included link has a photo gallery to give readers an idea of what deck access estates looked like as Divis, Darnley and Park Hill were similar in design.  
Looking from Summerston across to where I was earlier in Gilshochill. Glasgow has over 40 separate districts with hill in the place name. The Drumlin City of many different summits.
One from Maryhill looking over towards Glasgow University tower between the hi flats. Glasgow used to have more high flats than any other UK city or town and even though many of the tallest blocks have been demolished it still has dozens left.
Maryhill Park sits between Summerston and Acre Road so I had a cycle round this green oasis as well. Although a small to medium sized park it has extensive views over a wide area so you can't really see the park boundaries when you are in it... just a wide sweeping landscape to the north.
Campsie Fells. Luckily I stayed in sunshine here as at this point a fast but heavy rain shower hit the higher, west side of the Campsie Fells.. always nice to watch from afar as long as you can avoid it.
It was pouring down here for a full twenty minutes but jammy me managed to stay dry a few miles further south.
Acre Road came next. Still within the district of Maryhill but isolated and separated from the rest of the city and Maryhill itself by the adjacent park and the River Kelvin. A Glasgow mid level over-spill estate it has always struck me as a far flung city outpost somehow but I remain fascinated by it as it just seems to have materialized in the middle of green fields and countryside like an urban mirage. A Maryhill brigadoon.
It's really just one dead end road with various mid level blocks leading off it, a bus terminus and a couple of small shops. It also meets up with the West of Scotland Science Park campus of modern parkland setting low plan research and development facilities and that is where I headed next.
Bumble bee in a wild rose.
Young swans.
West of Scotland Science park entrance. The reason for cycling through here was to avoid the busy Maryhill Road  and instead take a quieter parallel route along a walkway/ cycle track leading down into Dawsholm Park by crossing the River Kelvin again.
River Kelvin heading down to meet the River Clyde at Partick. Kelvingrove Park view here.
West of Scotlland walkway/ cycle track. This runs beside Maryhill Road and skirts the left hand edge of the cluster of low buildings enclosed in this pleasant woodland setting. At the bottom of this slope a sharp right hand turn leads up into Dawholm Park.
The River Kelvin at Patrick. Smooth and placid for most of its Partick it suddenly develops several small rock shelves and waterfalls as seen here near Yorkhill Hospital. Glasgow's other but less well known major river flowing through the city districts, in less than a mile from here it pours into the River Clyde beside the Riverside Museum and Tall Ship. During the industrial revolution however it's steady and reliable water supply powered various mills and factories along its banks, most of them long vanished or buried under greenery.
Dawsholm Park itself sits on a hillside with expansive views and few would guess now that this area was originally large bare spoil heaps over 100 years ago- landscaped and remodeled from coal waste into dark woodlands and sunny meadows. This is a view of Anniesland, Moss Heights and Cardonald with the Renfrewshire Hills behind. My childhood green upland playground of rolling braes is here in this photo, the much loved countryside lying between Nitshill and Barrhead. The rim of the bowl that Glasgow sits in very apparent here.
And another local range of hills I knew intimately growing up. Looking south towards The Brownside Braes and Gleniffer Braes between the towns of Barrhead and Paisley. Barclay Curle Crane on the River Clyde here looking across Scotstoun district and South Street.
Dawsholm Park view towards Jordanhill- Scotstounhill districts.
A buzzard beside the 24 floor Anniesland Court tower, The tallest listed building in Scotland and the only skyscraper in the city to have a category A listing so it may be around a while longer than the others.
Close up of buzzard over park.
Glasgow's new super hospital, also hi- rise with a helicopter pad on the roof for outlying emergencies, folk on the Firth of Clyde islands etc. that would take hours travelling by road.
Looking north west towards Faifley, Drumchapel and Clydebank with the Kilpatrick Hills this time as a backdrop.
And one of the nearer Kelvin Court flats, Anniesland College as was, and Great Western Road area with Gartnavel Hospital sandstone chimneys middle left.
Seagulls on the canal and more rain showers arriving.
Water Lilies.
And a sunset to end. An epic trip.. but only 4 hours long.

Liked this in the 1950s 1960s.. still think its funny now.

And a clip from a modern hard hitting film I really liked. Watched this on Film 4 recently. Cracking adrenalin rush movie which features the deck access Divis Flats. No surprise for guessing where the most lawless district of Belfast used to be when they were still standing  :o)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Forth and Clyde Canal. Anniesland. Maryhill Basins. Gilshochill. Cadder. River Kevin Walkway. Bike Ride Part One.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
With a rubbish weekend forecast and heavy rain falling for most of the last week our spring dry spell and almost heatwave was at an end. (It's never warm enough in Scotland for a genuine heatwave but anything longer than a week without rain and the sight of folk stripped down to T- shirts for more than three days in a row is a heatwave and a cause to celebrate.) Two weeks without rain is a rare event... three weeks without rain ... a real miracle... up there with people claiming to have seen Jesus... or every episode of Lost.

I wasn't going to go out at all Saturday or Sunday because of the initial forecast for grim weather but then I noticed the rain might stop in the afternoon around one o'clock and it would clear up into a nice evening. The great thing about cycling is that you can cover a lot of ground fairly quickly, reach the shelter of trees or buildings within minutes and pack a great deal into a few hours in the saddle. I was also aware the buttercup meadows were in full flourish, as seen here in Knightswood Park, photo one, and Dawsholm Park, photo two, and that early summer flowers provided a last splash of colour before the uniform green carpet of true summer took over. As a very visual observer normally, it's only since doing the blog I've fully understood just how one dimensional and monotone the height of summer actually is with most plants already having flowered by then and the next set of varied colours only occurring in autumn... yet peak summer is the season everyone in the UK always looks forward to as some kind of earthly Nirvana. .. and it usually rains by the bucket-load ... is uncomfortably humid... wasp ridden... midge plagued and thunderstorm prone.:o)  Summer = the green, lush, and frequently wet electric season.
As the Forth and Clyde canal is not far from my house near Anniesland I had a plan to explore the north half of the city and use this corridor and various parks and green spaces like a nature necklace to get around... so although you pass through some built up urban areas it feels very open and countrified for most of the way. A night mooring or turnaround point here for canal boats. Although, as the name suggests, this is open all the way between Glasgow (River Clyde at Bowling) and the Carron Sea Lochs (Firth of Forth near Edinburgh/ Grangemouth.) you don't see many boats doing the full trip from west to east coast. There are many reasons for this- the most obvious being the canal passes through some fairly deprived urban areas as well as lovely scenery and mooring overnight in the city districts can be a daunting experience for holiday tourists.
On a bike or walking though it's a lush green corridor through a built up environment and highly enjoyable. The route I'm going to describe now is a five star classic and I thoroughly enjoyed it which is why I'm posting it here. Above we are just approaching the Maryhill Basins, a series of round gathering ponds and locks on the canal where boats could moor overnight in numbers with a nearby dry dock, pubs and shops to cater for canal workers when moving transport and goods around Britain took place on these water filled highways.
The Maryhill Basins district and Maryhill itself was the location for both Taggart and Still Game's fictional Craiglang scheme. Dawsholm Park and council recycling plant/ city dump in the distance.
A closer view. Although this busy facility sticks out here you hardly notice it at all in the leafy peace of Dawsholm Park as it's right on the edge, hidden by woodlands.
Maryhill district from the canal basins. Black Panther mural and Dumgoyne plus the Campsie Fells behind. Glasgow sits in a large bowl, almost completely enclosed by low hill groups between 500 to 1,870 feet high. Within this wide urban bowl, although from a distance it has a semi flat aspect, it's really made up of dozens of low hills called drumlins between fifty to 200/ 300 foot high. Many of Glasgow's numerous district names end in hill therefore and a large percentage of its population grew up with a view from their windows which makes Britain's third largest city a scenic joy wherever you are within it as a panoramic viewpoint is never far away. Maryhill has an interesting history as it was saved by the canals and railway in many ways. Strange as it may seem for a west coast location canal sized boats from here took part in the D day landings by carrying troops through to the east coast then on-wards to the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Like Anniesland a district named after a women.
Although the canal at this point is fairly high up already this area, Gilshochill, is even higher and as it's also one of the few districts in Glasgow I've not visited much, I decided it was ripe for exploration.
The summit of the hill was much greener and more open plan than I expected from below with a line of mini- multi's and a few full sized tower blocks spaced out between acres of meadow lands with buttercups in full bloom.
Ruchill church and Glasgow's City Centre district with Premier Inn and Cineworld tower blocks on the right hand edge, the latter reported to be the world's tallest cinema complex which is quite fitting for high rise Glasgow.
Looking towards Bearsden and the large mansion featured in a post a few weeks ago about the wonders contained in suburbia. By now I was thoroughly enjoying myself - a new area to explore- great new views and fine cycling.
Looking North East from the highest street towards Cadder, Possil Park and Stobhill.
Park Circus Towers from Maryhill Heights.
A closer view of Cadder.
Cadder in Glasgow. Most of Glasgow's council  schemes of three and four floor tenements have been knocked down over the years as many were antisocial hotbeds of crime, gang violence, vandalism and poverty so it was something of a surprise to see it still standing and looking good after a renovation and paint job. What presumably saved Cadder was its small size and layout with only a few streets of tenements and mixed cottage style housing taking up the rest of this modest estate.
Cadder Shops. People love to see photos of where they grew up. Nostalgia has a big pull. My own post on Nitshill and Pollok has had over 33,000 page views so far and still rising, detailing the estates of old yet the places that really inspired me and where I spent most of my free time (the surrounding countryside) has had only 1,500 page views. City posts are by far the most popular posts on here as people from every corner of the world still like to see where they spent their childhood years and how places have changed... or stayed the same.
Which is why I'm showing so many photos of this area :o) I'm pleased to report Cadder was looking very neat and tidy- better groomed than the last time I visited, pre- makeover days. There are hardly any rough looking parts of Glasgow left now so poverty is much better hidden yet food banks and inequality can be found everywhere still. When Glasgow was full of some of the largest, wildest and most deprived council estates in Europe there wasn't a single food bank in any of these city districts as far as I'm aware and even inequality was less obvious in society than it is now. Strange times indeed we live in.
Right next to Cadder sits three combined cemeteries. Western Necropolis, Lambhill and St Kentigern's R.C., which run together here, providing a large green tract of sculpted lands that you can cycle through and explore. Provided you keep to the tarmac roads through this sizable area and give the proper respect to people visiting graves by cycling slowly and quietly it's a beautiful green parkland setting for a contemplative wander.

 I've always loved old graveyards for giving nature a home as well as humans... plus death irons out any faults of annoying character traits that folk may have had when they were alive. If you had this many living humans together in one place at the same time there would undoubtedly be arguments, fights, friendships, falling outs, noise and chaos. Instead it's a veritable Disneyland of the dead... quiet, serene and peacefully harmonious at all times.
Yep, there's a lot to be said for being deceased. I've never met a dead person in a cemetery yet I didn't get on with. I rest my case.
This cemetery has another entrance leading out onto Balmore Road just above the district of Lambhill. On the other side of the road is Possil Loch Nature Reserve, a sizable loch but one fringed with so many reed beds, tall marsh lands and bushes that it's very hard to see anything at all. Great for wildlife but really poor value as a spectator hoping to see something of interest. This road is also very busy and dangerous at peak periods with fast cars and large trucks a constant rumbling threat.
I found crossing the road here to take this gate photo (on the return) with fast traffic obscured by high bushes on the Possil Loch side a real danger, and one of the most high risk places in the city I've ever visited, no doubt why several makeshift accident shrines were visible dotted along the road commemorating folk killed at this very spot.

 Luckily, there is a pavement for cycling on as this road is a real killer when its busy and I would never dream of cycling along its length without it being there. (I waited for a quiet moment to take this photo obviously as the scenery and view on this stretch is worth capturing on camera.) Your reward is an escape from the city's outskirts and a view over fantastic countryside with the Campsie Fells as a backdrop. Even with the pavement as an aid to safety it is narrow in places and disappears at one point under bushes, forcing you to cycle down the road for around 50 yards but at this point it is heading downhill and easy to negotiate with care, waiting for a lull in the traffic before you set off. For this reason I'd not recommend this route for children, even with adults with them, or anyone wobbly on a bike as the cars and trucks thunder past a couple of feet from your elbows and any fall onto the road at peak periods off the narrow pavement would be bad news. This is the only section with heavy traffic however during the entire outing.
The reason for taking this busy road is that it links up with the River Kelvin Walkway seen here, at Balmuildy Woods/bridge and you leave the hectic rush of commuters behind again for more green tranquility.
A pleasant if secluded path through woods follows the Kelvin downstream and makes for a fine walk or cycle. I've done this stretch 5 or 6 times over the years and rarely encountered anyone else on it, something to maybe think about if you are a lone female perhaps. It is very quiet here with restricted views of the route ahead.
Further on the trees disappear and the scenery opens up to great rural vistas.
Another view over the Campsie Fells.
So secluded in fact I even spotted a Cormorant fishing in the river miles from the sea.
This was a really varied and interesting cycle ride of around 4 hours duration. So good in fact I'm having to split it into two posts.....

More great cycling in the Italian Alps. Not much difference at all :o)