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 4th 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. Must have been some sight then with lines of troops gliding down the canal.  Maryhill- Like Anniesland a neighbouring district also 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)


Anabel Marsh said...

I'm often to be found tramping these paths on foot - perhaps we've passed each other!

Rosemary said...

Talk about fields of gold - those buttercups are wonderfully prolific - loved seeing the photo of the Campsie Fells, we used to enjoy a similar view from our windows in Milngavie.

Kay G. said...

It's good that they allow folks to use the grounds of the cemeteries, as you say, as long as they show proper respect. I love cemeteries, they are quiet and have lots of trees, two of my favorite things!

blueskyscotland said...

Might well have done Anabel as I'm on it (the canal) fairly often though mainly using the other route down into the city centre circular then back along the River Clyde cycle-track. Despite many years passing through Maryhill and working there on and off I never thought about how it got its name or that it was known as the 'Venice of the North.' You learn something every day.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I did think of the Sting song video as a first choice when cycling around this area but picked a bike one instead. More of the Campsies in the second part. Buttercups are amazing and really underrated when you see them covering an entire field. Only oilseed rape has a more vivid display of yellow flowers.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Kay,
Yes me too and cemeteries are always vital green spaces for wildlife to thrive in right in the heart of cities. Special places.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos. I also love cemeteries. Many trees and birds can be found there, not to mention peace and a good place to just relax and explore.

Linda W. said...

Lovely tour! I, too like spring and autumn better than summer because of the lovely vibrant colors. Summer is too hot and brown.

Carol said...

We're lucky we don't really have midges (well, not ones which leave itchy lumps) in England and we don't seem to have wasps nowadays either - haven't seen one for quite a few years. Thunderstorms are pretty rare too - I think about one a year. When we do get one, we're usually pleased as it's usually when it's become uncomfortably 'muggy' (humid in case that's a Yorkshire phrase).

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
Great for monumental sculpture work as well as the older cemeteries have very elaborate examples.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
in recent years we've even had tornadoes down in England that caused large scale damage to property. That was a real surprise but seemingly not unknown.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I've always loved summer thunder and lightning storms and they seem to have increased intensity in recent years although the best ones still occur in the Alps.

Carol said...

yeah, the intensity certainly has increased - I've never seen anything like the storm we had last summer and the one before. Almost constant lightning and constant thunder grumbling away! Not been to the Alps yet...

Anonymous said...

"Disneyland of the Dead" - I like that! :)
Cracking cycle ride.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and how green Glasgow can look if you pick the right paths through it.