Monday, 10 July 2017

Cumbernauld Part Two. Meeting a Special Lady.

A week after the first trip I was back in Cumbernauld again, a Scottish new town situated on high moorland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. (see previous post for part one.) This time I had my bike with me as I intended to explore further afield in what would be a new area for me, Cumbernauld is a new town of the 1960s era, deliberately build around the motorcar so pedestrians and cyclists have their own purpose built network of  underpasses, bridges and paths designed to keep them apart. I thought it would be fun to explore a new area as I have always loved wandering round unusual urban districts and I had a friend to meet up with this time.
                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
                                        Cumbernauld- A town build for people and cars.
This time I didn't park in the shopping centre itself, with its restrictive two hour parking limit, but instead picked a nearby quiet suburban street and discreetly parked there.
I was off to see a very special lady and explore the area surrounding Cumbernauld.
First off though I freewheeled down through Cumbernauld Glen- a mix of tightly packed plantation type pine trees, spindly silver birch with a few larger deciduous specimens scattered around. Very different woodland from the Victorian designed Glasgow city parks I am used to with a more enclosed untamed but thinner feel. (i.e. the trees here are much thinner in girth but plentiful in number- no Cabability Brown landscapes in this area. Cumbernauld was also known for its wild white cattle herds roaming here in the past which some believe may be partly descended from the now extinct auroch. A large formidable oxen with long pointed horns.
White cattle variations are also found at nearby Palacerigg, Chatelherault, and Northumberland, many herds a modern remnant on great estates where these animals where once kept for hunting, the breed being generally more aggressive than their docile milking cousins.
At the bottom of Cumbernauld Glen (Some Outlander scenes filmed here in the woods) a long underpass tunnel awaited. I've always enjoyed tunnels, caves. and underground spaces of any description so I was in my element here. Loads of underpass tunnels in Cumbernauld. Not so good for young children, the elderly, or anyone of a nervous disposition  though going through here by themselves, especially at night or in the winter months where its dark by 3:00pm some overcast days.
A painting in the tunnel by a street artist. This could be the artist's name or a reference to the trend of some rich Asian businessmen where I believe it's a popular status symbol in the east to give illegal rhino horns as a present to put on their mantelpiece, gathering dust. When you have large amounts of money and millionaires the world and its precious resources becomes your playground and I have no doubt tigers, rhinos, snow leopards and many other big mammals still with us today will soon go the way of the legendary auroch- which was also driven (hunted/ loss of habitat/ domesticated cattle diseases etc) to extinction in the 1600s, despite attempts to save it. Are we any better today with more species than ever on the brink?
The underpass tunnel delivered me out at Cumbernauld Village, the original habitation centre surrounded and swallowed up by the new town.
As you can see by this info board the village has its own history.
The main street in Cumbernauld Village.
From here I visited Dullatur, Croy, the route of the Antonine Wall, (built across Scotland by the Romans to keep out the Highland tribes further north who were never subdued) and the Forth and Clyde Canal. Very friendly looking Roman solider here, but no doubt popular with young children as a local landmark.
Back in Cumbernauld I also found a scenic balcony trail which I enjoyed, suitable for a bike with good elevated views over the new town running near Carrickstone and through a local golf course.
This took me up onto the high ridge lands to the north of Cumbernauld with great expansive views in the direction of Kilsyth and the eastern end of the Campsie Fells.
Not wanting to keep a lady waiting however I soon turned south again and made for Cumbernauld Country Park.
As before a network of purpose built cycle tracks helped to speed me on my way. A lot faster than walking as I discovered on this trip Cumbernauld  on foot is a very spread out place. Designed purely for people with cars it is not an easy or convenient place for anyone without one with long hikes everywhere as a pedestrian, even to reach the town centre. There are local buses but a car or at least a bike is a real essential item living here. Bleak in bad weather I'd imagine with the foul conditions we get in Scotland.
However this day it was dry but overcast and I was able to keep my appointment with my destination.
Lovely bum. Up until this point I'd only viewed Andy Scott's sculpture from the front, passing on the motorway underneath her. Unlike the famous Kelpies this is not an easy place to reach for passing visitors with no signposted car park facilities close by so she remains wonderfully unsullied and less frequented- as befits a goddess of the modern era. You have to make a pilgrimage to reach her. As I've always had a thing for goddesses anyway since early childhood  Arria remains my favorite work of this internationally renowned artist.
Probably because she follows a long line of similar creatures throughout human history from the earliest times. Sweet Isis, Aphrodite, Demeter, Gaia, Persephone (Queen of the Underworld and still my spring companion each year in mortal form :) Rhea, Kali, Aurora, Selene (the mother of vampires) and so on down the ages.
When I was around 14/15 years of age, being the late 1960s, I had shoulder length hair which one momentous day, entranced by the power and beauty of Egyptian hieroglyphics,  I cut in the style of Cleopatra with straight sides and a severe front fringe. I also sculpted my finger nails into talons at one point by discreetly cutting them into sharp daggers. It helped the overall image that I had black hair anyway, like hers in popular culture if not in fact, although, being a queen, she probably arranged it in a range of different styles to suit any occasion for effect. Fortunately, like a lot of teens, I was also attracted to anything suitably dark and Gothic and had taken up throwing knifes, spending hours in the local woods practicing until I could hit any tree 30 feet away 8 times out of 10. This was lucky as I didn't get bullied as much as I might have been growing up in a rough council estate and was mainly left by myself to pursue my own interests. Being a visionary of any kind is a lonely occupation however and you mainly travel on a bus through life with few other passengers. I had also discovered the Velvet Underground around that period but no-one else in school had even heard of them, let alone liked them so I had to wait another full year before I met some like minded companions to share my passions. Ah, those mixed up teenage years.
Why settle for one icon to worship when you can have a pantheon of different stars I decided early on in life. As we are finally at the dawn of understanding how the universe around us actually works we will no doubt discover it to be constructed by a superior machine, an advanced robot built by an even more advanced race to carry out basic mundane tasks like galaxy building and life-form construction while they busy themselves elsewhere. i.e. God as a robot or even a complex mathematical equation :o)  A leap too far? Well, does a sapling in a vast greenhouse worship its creator, the gardener, who planted the seed... or comprehend what goes on beyond the glass? Does it really matter as long as it grows, is happy within itself, and is nourished?
Our own tentative steps in computer technology, game open worlds and 3 D printing plus driver-less vehicles already point in that direction for some.
On the way back it was mostly uphill and the shopping centre seemed a long way off. First a bridge...
Then more underpass tunnels...
New housing stock....
Stairs and more stairs with helpful little signs saying 'Only two miles to Cumbernauld Shopping Centre. You are nearly there!'
And then finally a long uphill pull on what felt like a never ending ramp to the ridge-top, passing a few equally panting citizens heading for the shops. Locals without cars must be very fit here. What's it called?  F******* Cumbernauld :o)
I was very glad I was not a pedestrian by this point as I was getting really tired by now, although I was on foot pushing the bike uphill most of the way by this stage.
An enjoyable and interesting trip however.
And so is this..

 20 years ago I was lucky enough to enjoy several trips to the Italian Dolomites on backpacking tours through the mountains on high level trails but we also sampled many classic Via Ferrata routes around Cortina D' Ampezzo so this excellent video looks very familiar as it features huts and climbs we visited then. Like the music as well. Well edited and worth a look. Adventurous stuff for a young family.

The Mandelbrot set.



Linda said...

Such a fascinating post! I love all your descriptions, and the art and views are wonderful!

Carol said...

I'm glad you sometimes push your bike uphill - it's not just me then - mind you, I only have 3 gears on any of my bikes!

You appear to think a bit like I do - I've often thought we're either something like ants and don't realise there are bigger lifeforms (like we are to ants) that we're not really aware of (like ants probably aren't) who are more in control. I also wonder if 'Jesus' was an alien visitation - but then I think a few folk have wondered that. I certainly never accept anything as told to me without thinking out all the other possibilities and theories for a while.

Very interesting to see that statue from the back and the paths around it. Is it Andy Scott out of The Sweet? ;-)

Carol said...

Just watched the video (had to turn the music off as I hated it personally) - I'm assuming, looking at that, that you need to be a reasonably good climber before you can do via ferrata?

I think children find that kind of thing really easily and they certainly won't find it scary - even I wouldn't have at that age!

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Linda,
glad you enjoyed it.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I was thinking more along the lines of advanced versions of the Mandelbrot Set and pure mathematics to explain the wonders of the universe all around us (the new Egyptian hieroglyphics of the modern age to puzzle over perhaps) rather than a living entity but it's all way above me generally. (see new video) Imagine a tiny leaf in your hand, then zoom in with a microscope... then further in.. then even further...into infinity... and out the other side. The ultimate Alice.
You don't need to be a climber but it helps with the exposure if you are dangling 3000 foot off a vertical cliff. Although the chains and ladders give security sometimes they disappear completely without warning... then you are on your own in extreme scrambling territory... something that happened to us a few times when we went off route or took a shortcut.
'Ach, There's been a murder!' Sweet connection?

Linda W. said...

Another lovely tour! I like that the bikes have separate paths. We're just starting to this here in the states.

Anabel Marsh said...

I have only seen Arria from the road and wondered how you got there. Andy Scott is a Maryhill boy and also did the Firemen gates for the Burgh Halls. I am enjoying imagining your Cleopatra days.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
It works very well in Cumbernauld as not many pedestrians use the shared paths. In the Glasgow city centre cycletrack/ walkways or along Edinburgh's Water of Leith on a sunny weekend there's so many pedestrians, dogs, children etc using it at the same time it can be faster and safer getting off and walking if its narrow. Also younger faster cyclists bombing along at speed behind you can be a real danger as you can't hear them coming and you can easily get hit if you swing out to pass any obstacle. Wide paths anywhere near very popular areas are desirable. Good fun though and safer for children than the roads.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
there's a small local graveyard just to the west of the statue which you can use for parking then walk from there. One of my friends is a metal sculptor as well but with artists there's usually only one or two who get the effect of 'the publicity machine' to propel them to national or international acclaim and the rest really struggle to get any attention. Think J.K. Rowling then all the other fine children's authors, equally good who really struggle to make a living at it as you know. I've came to the conclusion it's almost as if there's only room for one or two at the top in any particular field at any given time.
Cumbernauld Library is a real cracker, probably due to its isolation, serving the town without competition.
The Cleo haircut only lasted a few months before I modified it down to be less noticeable as it attracted too much attention of the wrong sort. Unusual for me as I never felt the need to join any tribe- Mod, Rocker, Goth, Punk etc,... hair,tattoos, T shirt declaration or clothes wise and any passion or fad after that was kept under the radar, strictly internal... something I still stick to today.

Carol said...

I'd like to try a via ferrata sometime and can probably handle the exposure while there are chains and ladders now (though I'm not sure) but would hate it if I was on one where they ran out.

Andy Scott was the drummer in The Sweet...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I know that as I used to like Sweet as a singles band on Top of the Pops along with Slade, Dr Hook and Hot Chocolate. I was more into albums even then though and the creative lyrical styles that often went with them rather than single orientated teen pop bands although the songs were catchy.
'Ach, There's been a murder' was a reference to the oft quoted (fact?) that Taggart star Mark Mc Manus was lead singer Brian Connolly's half brother. Apparently not true although they had a family connection.
Like rock climbing Via Ferrata come in all grades with the hardest being really scary white knuckle rides up overhanging cliffs that require serious strength and stamina but the classic ones are really enjoyable romps.

Carol said...

okay thanks - I'll go for a classic, easy-graded one then rather than the monkey-hanging type - I don't have that kind of arm strength anyway! I struggle with small limestone overhangs - badly!

Yeah, I'd read that years ago about Brian Connolly but forgot all about it. I still miss Brian Connolly - shame he died so young. I preferred The Sweet's B-sides to their singles, not because of the lyrics particularly (I'm not very lyrics orientated) but the music was their own and far, far better. I loved to see them on the telly but admitted that the A-sides were just soft pop - shame they couldn't have been on telly with their own music.

Anonymous said...

"Nice bum"! A well reasoned artistic critique :)

blueskyscotland said...

I thought so as well. At seven tonnes she is slightly heavier that most females I know but being a goddess and 33 feet tall she carries it off. Beautiful profile side on as well. All hail the metal mermaid!