Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Six Parks. Four Seasons. An Epic Bike Tour Compilation.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
One of my favourite bike tours in my home area is a circular trip around the west end of Glasgow, then crossing the River Clyde over to the south side districts, then through Paisley, then Renfrew- then back across the River Clyde via the Renfrew Ferry to the West End again. Although passing through urban areas it is a very green route normally and can be varied at will to include new districts off the template, using quiet urban streets, or cycle tracks, or a variety of bridges and tunnels, to create almost endless variety off the basic circular tour route. A fast head down cyclist could probably do the complete circle in a couple of hours but I like to dawdle along, take photos, explore places of interest and just enjoy myself so 3 to 5 hours for me normally. It's one bike tour I never tire of in any season so although I did it again last week here's a compilation over several years and different seasons taken on the route.
As it follows the River Clyde some of the way there's always the potential to see something new or interesting. Small warship here and a new boat I haven't seen before. Scotstoun district.
Although Scotstoun was once full of shipyards backing onto the river, still has factory units, one shipyard and works lining South Street, this elevated cycle track following an old railway line provides a green pleasant ribbon with good views at times over this tenement dotted, industrial west end district. This leads in turn into Victoria Park, full of flower beds, an interesting pond, woods and meadows that you can cycle through at low speed, with care for other park visitors.
The back woods. Victoria Park in early summer.
Swans near the pond.
Glasgow Harbour walkway/cycle track. If  sunny I often get off the bike and walk along this section just to enjoy it more and make it last longer. A beautiful highlight on the route.
Boats rides offered to visitors at Partick. Glasgow Harbour in distance, behind.
Power boat taking tourists up and down the Clyde with a barge collecting half submerged planks and blown over trees after winter storms. This is early spring with Govan district on the far bank taken from the Riverside Museum. Obviously hitting a submerged tree floating down the river at power boat speed might give passengers more of a thrill ride than they were expecting, not to mention expensive boat and engine repairs.
University of Glasgow spire with student flats then the TS Queen Mary steamer. A recent addition to Glasgow, undergoing extensive refurbishment and hopefully a future extra tourist attraction for the city and its shipbuilding past. At one time a fifth of all the world's ships started life on the River Clyde. Railway engines and additional track components were another leading export to every country at that time.
These days it's mainly war ships under government contracts built on the Clyde and at other UK yards.
Or boats collecting scrap metal from the UK's 4th largest city ( after London, Birmingham, and Leeds)
A different scarp metal jetty near Yoker/Renfrew.
Same one -different metal mountain and autumn colours. Rose Bay Willow Herb ( Fireweed in USA) just going to seed here sending drifts of white cotton into the air. A few years ago I was taking a photo of a 28 floor skyscraper when I noticed something unusual in the zoom near the top of the building- it looked like tiny alien space ships catching the sunlight, almost transparent and rotating wildly, 28 floors up, zipping past the windows.  After a moment of stunned disbelief I realized with a jolt it was large clumps of these seeds in different shapes and numbers floating past. Thousands of them after five minutes observation. I'd seen them at low levels of course but up until then I never realized just how high they could go. When the railroads first spread across North America these light as air seeds followed the railway lines, either inside the carriages themselves as floating, barely noticed, passengers or given extra lift by the movements of the passing trains. Who knows how high or how far they drift into the winds that disperse them around the planet. If they get high enough to invade the jet stream they could cross entire oceans and land a continent away in a few days. Even a humble seed is a genuine wonder.
Once over Bells Bridge at Finnieston and across the river to the south side views open up from minor city drumlins towards the Kilpartrick Hills and Campsie Fells to the North. A winter view from Hillington Heights here to the Campsies, another potential alternative offshoot district variation on the circular bike tour taking in Elder Park, Govan Church and it's collection of Viking Stones (bike lock required here) Cardonald Park, and Craigton Cemetery plus Moss Heights Flats.(for the views ).
Bellahouston Park is another highlight and my favourite halfway round lunch stop. A hilltop, a park bench, some food, great panoramas over Mosspark and Pollok and an unbroken 'sea of trees' contained within a large city yet stretching all the way to the far horizon and a view that always astounds, even now. How can such a large expanse of trees, yet so few visible urban buildings exist within a built up area? Impossibly true. The nearby Pollok Country Park provides that view and the answer, the largest public park and mature expanse of unbroken woodlands within the city limits, combined with several golf courses. A child's dream world for which I had a dream trio to explore it with, growing up. My very own Moonrise Kingdom experience.
A small part of that view over Pollok Park woodlands here. In full autumn colours. These woods are large enough on the minor back trails to get perplexed in. For a short time anyway. Delightfully lost in my case. I love that rare feeling of not knowing exactly where you are in a landscape, especially within a city I know so well. Any large forest area is the original maze and this was ours.
Sherbrooke. One of the handful of castles visited on the bike tour and the area I often visited during my childhood as I had relations nearby. Other castles dot this quiet affluent district and it remains a favourite location on the bike tour. As my relations had three females, girls my own age, it was always an extra special treat to go off exploring with them as most of my same age school friends were male. Girls were a different breed entirely. Strange and exotic creatures. They still are.
In winter, offering free food from my favourite lunch bench, I'm usually joined by avian friends who provide good photographic interest in return.
Many spectacular sunsets I've seen from here.
Even stepping in and out of my own personal sunbeam/ other worlds portal on certain occasions. And why not? I am a human rainbow after all. A true nature child.
A daffodil reflection in Spring.
or a shadow and shade survivor.
Leverndale Tower. The psychiatric hospital in Pollok I mentioned in the Edinburgh posts. Set within its own wooded grounds and boasting the usual Victorian Gothic architecture this place drew me in as soon as I could ride a bike to here. Any place that's mysterious and unknown- looking like this- in a land of similar sized tenements and streets is bound to attract teenage attention- but it was the actual grounds more than what went on inside here that attracted my interest at first. Although only the original tower remains untouched of the extensive complex that stood here it's still a powerful landmark for miles around and a cycle track/ walkway I frequent at least once a year on my circular bike tour travels through the grounds beside the River Cart. Still beautiful- still mysterious.
( Although advances in treatment for mental health problems have improved greatly since the bad old days a recent programme I watched a few days ago. 'Kids in Crisis- Panorama.' highlighted that under-funding- increased demand for services- and lack of staff in certain specialized areas means that many vulnerable children are either going undetected or fail to get any help when they need it. Teenage years are tricky anyway at the best of times but the current technology and social media revolution/growth must surely heighten any latent paranoia, feelings of low self worth, and increase addictive or narcissistic tendencies to a unprecedented degree. I can feel that effect to a lesser degree myself sometimes with this blog as in ..." Why didn't they like that post? Why so few comments for that one? Why so many for that one and how can I repeat it? (The cynically manipulative dopamine rush of any gambling product to pull you in.)  or...Have I pissed them off somehow with something I've said unintentionally???"  It's very easy to get sucked into cyberland... as if that's all that matters....then gradually stop living in the real world... and spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a screen instead.

                                                                A view over Pollok
 Luckily, I'm a grown up and remember an age before social media arrived so I can understand what's happening and squash those feelings flat before they gain control over me but for anyone of teenage years being judged, sentenced, condemned by online trial, applauded, deliberately deluded, criticized or praised daily...this often is their entire life, biggest reward system, and notion of self worth in society. There's a good reason why the people that develop all these social media products often restrict or ban entirely their use among there own children as they know it's highly addictive and can be damaging.
For example....On a recent bus ride a normal family group I noticed in a passing park were walking slowly through beautiful flowerbeds on either side yet everyone- mum, dad, four children, including two aged around 7 to 10 were all glued to separate screens intently- hardly a glance away from it's controlling influence.. Each locked into their own small world yet moving together as a fugue state collective unit. They might as well have stayed indoors for all the attention they paid to their surroundings or each other. Turned into zombies by the all important screen, even outdoors. Only granny, walking behind, was fully human- no phone visible... just enjoying the park for its own sake- and not as a backdrop casual selfie snap either as an afterthought - and as such completely isolated by the rest of the group who walked along slowly as one organism, staring down into their hands the whole time. A different species to them. A brief snapshot of modern life glimpsed from a bus by a person equally addicted to landscape photography and posting online every week so I am aware of a certain hypocrisy in that viewpoint :) I rarely use a mobile phone or any gadgets outside though unless someone calls me first for a brief conversation and I'm always very observant and interested in my surroundings at all times. You can feel very alone in a crowd of people however- even more than on a solo walk, especially in smart phone land where ignoring people you are with in favour of online interests, popularity checks, and number of hits is the new normal and an addictive drug to literally die for in some cases. Is the asylum now within the community at large? Or is the community the real asylum to escape from? Recent long bus trips and casual observations have made me wonder about that.)
                                                               A view over Nitshill.
Given where I could have grown up- Easterhouse- ( It was a walk round the asylum grounds there not very far from the house they were offered that changed my parents minds instantly) so you could say an asylum delivered my destiny. Like a standing stone in the landscape. A portal to jump through. And jump they did- back on the bus to decline the offer to move. The second council house they were offered a few months later was here. Pollok and Nitshill. My childhood and teenage years paradise home. Also a fixture on the modern bike tour circle.
Easterhouse- flat- not as many trees and parks-swampy fields containing little of special interest- high gang violence.
 Pollok- equally large in size and population and gang violence but full of rolling wooded small hills, farms, fields of cattle, ponds, dams, and old castles to explore. Thank you God and Bishoploch Mental Institution- the asylum that truly saved my life. ( it's now a local nature reserve beside Easterhouse but one of the few I've never visited, funnily enough.)
Barshaw Park in Paisley. A winter view.
Barshaw Park again. Summer pond reflections.
The Renfew Ferry crossing back over the River Clyde then up towards Anniesland and home. New apartment block constructed here just recently. And this is it.
And after all that exercise- my reward. Pork chop and egg omelette for dinner. Yum yum. The end.


Anabel Marsh said...

Great photos - I particularly like the one if Pollok Park in autumn. And you’ve even managed to make Barshaw Park look interesting! I do agree with you on people walking along peering at their screens, apart from being anti-social it’s not very safe.

Carol said...

Ha ha! I was never strange and exotic as a girl (nor now) - I was always 'one of the lads'!

I think all cycle rides should be leisurely. The idea of going on a bike is surely to see more - and you certainly do see more on a bike.

Didn't know you still did much shipbuilding up in Glasgow - glad it hasn't completely died out. Was it the unions who destroyed the shipbuilding and shipyards? like with coal mining etc.

And, for a moment, I thought you had snow on your hills already!

Kay G. said...

I like your description of the seeds floating by the high story building and your thoughts on the older lady enjoying nature while the others are absorbed with their hand held phones.
I always think your posts are great even if I don't always say so!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I've been in plenty of green spaces worse than Barshaw Park- I quite like it as it has a hill view, a walled garden, a large pond, a small animal park and a golf course next to it( extra hills and valleys to visit under snow)

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Carol,
I was probably a 'token girl' during my trips to Pollokshields as I usually acquiesced happily to whatever they suggested as long as it was semi adventurous. It was three against one- they were fairly bossy but good fun to be with- and I never visited often enough to get bored with their company or suggestions. Pollok Park and Bellahouston were favourite places to visit a short walk or bike ride away. Really lucky playground in that respect.
Only two yards on the Clyde now- One at Yoker building war ships and one in Port Glasgow building Scottish ferries. At one time one fifth of the world's ships started life on the River Clyde- maybe more.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
The sight of those seeds at that level really impressed me... same as finding out most of the gulls in Glasgow's winter ponds fly in and out every day, using the River Clyde as a navigation corridor from the open sea. Nature will always surprise and delight.

Andy said...

I totally get that feeling of hypocrisy when I tell my kids to stop staring at their iDevice while I spend half my life in front of a screen and write a blog. I do try not to use it while I’m out in the hills though other than for maps etc. Good photos and story by the way

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Hypocrisy must be a condition of growing old. I have been informed I should listen carefully to all the lyrics in Amy Macdonald's Youth of Today before spouting off about anything... but where's the fun in that.