Monday 25 June 2012

Balloch Country Park.Route 7 And Beyond.

As the usual summer weather remained unpredictable (only about one in four Scottish summers are anywhere close to dry) I decided on another bike run at the weekend.It was another humid, sticky day with rainstorms predicted over the mountains.
When you go cycling on a  regular basis walking in weather like this can sometimes feel like wading through treacle at times.Its so slow.With cycling you always get a breeze and the distance you can cover is far greater.Though sadly not as great a distance as I used to manage on a bike.I,ve decided I,m in  training anyway for a longer run across the Islands.Its good motivation to get fit again.
Parked in the large car park at Balloch Country Park.For anyone who has never been here this is a fine area for walking and cycling.Both in the park itself,which has a network of routes suitable for both and in the hinterland to the east which is perfect, quiet cycling country with a collection of different minor roads to glide along.I was planning on doing a part of route 7, then ,as I,d unwittingly done the section from Drymen to  Gartmore on a previous run last year I,d cut off this and find my own way over some interesting land skirting the edge of the highland boundary fault.I prefer making my own routes up anyway.Its usually more fun that way.The first stretch of the West Highland Way cuts across this heading north and in my opinion its one of the most beautiful parts of that entire route but as you all should now by now these days I prefer my landscapes lush and tree filled rather than bleak,exposed and barren especially on a day when the heavens could open at any minute.Obviously I still like sharp ,exciting peaks but you can keep all your round boring ones.No thanks. You never know whats in front of you. I may be dead soon or the legs will go suddenly so I,haven,t got time for any of that nonsense anymore.It would kill me if I wasted my last days on earth climbing up boring lumps of terra firma :)
As it rises from the shores of Loch Lomond then climbs up over a gentle hill Balloch Country Park has fine views over the loch,surrounding hills and numerous great houses and castles.The sea plane was sitting beside one of these when I arrived, no doubt waiting to lift rich punters over the highlands.Loch lomond Shores is nearby too if you have kids and want them to tear a big hole in your wallet.If you have bikes route 7 is ideal for medium sized family bread biters as it keeps to minor roads with little traffic.It also travels through gently rolling countryside with no major hill climbs.
For those on foot a three or four  hour round trip walk from the car park takes you past the fairy glen outside the park limits and up Whinney hill near the quaintly named Knockout.This is  an interesting and twisting route up a path beside a little gorge then through mixed forest.
Fellow cyclist on route 7 heading for the country park My route.OS Sheet 56 Loch Lomond and OS sheet 57 Stirling and the Trossachs.
From the park on minor roads out past Blairquhanan following route 7 to just before Croftamie village where a signed footpath/cycletrack leaves the road and leads through the village and across the Endrick Water.The Endrick is a lovely river ,full of graceful loops,sandy beaches but waist or head deep for much of its lenght (Don,t ask me how I know).Luckily a bridge has been built across  it here on this path/cycleway.

Its better walking across here as the metal might be sharp on some road tyres.The path is pretty good though and you can stay in the saddle for that.

Gives you a chance to look around  as well.The Endrick is a beautiful River but not many know its banks well as most of it flows through private land or nature reserve.
From here back onto the minor road though the hamlet of Gartness with its famous salmon leap pot rapids (also on the Endrick) then out via the villages of Killearn  and Balfron by the Camoquhill Douglas minor road.
Both Balfron and Killearn sit fairly high up on ridge lines with the great continuous steep wall of Stronend and Carleatheran behind, well seen in this photograph.Two of my favourite hills.

Most folk in cars bomb through this area heading further north.......Good. Keeps it empty and peaceful that way.
Next up was Dalfoil then the B818 and the B834. The reason for this was I was curious to see if I could cut across the White road up over Cameron Muir.White roads are always an adventure.Its not the first time I,ve had to backtrack miles after being unable to carry on due to either landowners catching me in the act and turning me back, locked gates and fences too high to lift the bike over or rivers without bridges that were too deep to cross.Always an adventure!
This one was fine though,one of the best and most straightforward I,ve done in the last few years,climbing up over the shoulder of the Stockie Muir on a ribbon of half decent tarmac then  easy grass to Wester Cameron farm.Although it had three locked gates on it the bike was lifted over easily enough and the fact that each  had a small walkers entrance in it proved to me it was a known local walk.
I could see why.It was an excellent balcony trail with extensive panoramas over the whole area,As I climbed higher bog cotton, Curlews and skylarks made it magical.I even spotted a yellowhammer or scribble lark as it used to be called in my youth  due to the  ink like wavy markings on its eggs How can nature be so perfect?.Ever wonder where the idea of an ink nib or a ball point pen came from.Most of our best ideas came directly from nature (like flying in planes) yet today we wipe it out without a backward glance. Both yellowhammers and Linnets were very common birds around Glasgow in my youth.I even used to hear corncrakes in the small boggy area near the old fire station where a flooded quarry was.Not so common now though. R.I.P the yellow bunting.
There were a few surprises up here.A great house I had no knowledge of previously hiding among the trees.The cliffs of Earls Seat as a backdrop.Looking west the chain of the Luss hills,the Arrochar Alps.Ben Lomond and little Duncryne,Known as the Dumpling to the locals, made an appearance.The Dumpling is a great little view point and the late Tom Weir who lived below it would go up it regularly for the panorama of Highlands to the North and Campsie ,Fintry and Kilpatrick views to the south and east.For its height its a stunning lookout.Easy path up from Gartocharn.
At the highest, most exposed point on the white road around 123 metres it started to spit with rain  and it was so overcast and dull over the mountains I thought a thunderstorm was inevitable but after 30 minutes a  very weak sun came out again and stayed out for the rest of the trip though the peaks remained dull and seemingly on the edge of a  major downpour all day.
When I reached Gallangad the road was out,completely washed away by a previous flash flood by the looks of it,just a deep ravine of soft crumbling earth where tarmac once stood.Luckily for the stranded community and me another short white road was nearby, leading through Gallangad farm and this was obviously what the locals were using in the meantime as "take care,children playing" signs were up in the courtyard.I kept an ear open for farm dogs, always a concern passing through someones property like this.
The rest of the journey, following signs down to Jamestown, a suburb of Balloch proved less eventful and I was soon back  at the car.
A good run and some more quality scenery and exercise. I don't do diets.I,ll eat anything brave enough to land,crawl,swim , hop  or plop onto my plate so its always good to get a decent workout.
Yeah! Punish that flabby beach ball of a gut up and down  them gradients.Unfortunately once I got back to the house I was starving and stuffed my face again til the buttons popped.
But it must do you some good.That's what I tell myself anyway.Another  great day out.Off now to sofa surf and watch the last two Game Of Thrones with a monster bag of crisps and a coke.
That,s a very good  well made series but an indicator of a  TV company trying to capture a dwindling market which sees the Internet and its porn as the  main competition in the battle for ratings which is wrong.Like it or not porn drives the world now.It would be even better with less sex scenes in it.But even that too  owes a big  debt to George MacDonald. 7 kingdoms! Wonder where they got that idea from?
For anyone interested in a time when new ideas were the substance that mattered  most to teenagers.A time before Tattoos, gimp masks and tounge studs for children, I,ve put a link up on Greenhill part one.
I could and will explore this network of links for the years left to me.There is so much in here to a time mostly forgotton and 100,s of  dusty books to read by clicking Lilith.
Nearly every great  idea in the present has its acorn buried in the past.Its as well to remember that boys and girls  before you wipe it out.

Monday 18 June 2012

Inverclyde And Renfrewshire.The Greenhill Country.Part Two.

Style....Kaleidoscopic.Films, books ,music everything else.

Be aware traveller. There are many different ways to explore the labyrinth of minor roads that sweep across this fantastic area like dew on a  spiders web and make it so good for cycling. Dozens of routes. On foot or bike. Although people do live here it is surprisingly empty and wild, current fashion luring most outdoor folk towards the honeypots of the greater ranges.
Here's my suggestion for one of the best rides to give first timers a real taste of the area. Walkers can do a shorter version of this and still be impressed.
OS Map Sheet 63 Firth Of Clyde.
Parking.Knapps Loch area. Semi hidden large lay by off main road just beyond that loch going out of Kilmacolm.
Suggested route. From here to Quarriers Village Then Hattrick Farm road, then past Killochries then past Blackwater to Gateside,  Down B788 to Balrossie School minor road.
This is it here by the way. Then along Strathgryfe to High Maternock then left then right up and over a white road (on OS map) on a reasonable grassy track to reach 187 and 201 metre spot heights towards Port Glasgow then along top of the Industrial estate,where I received a back tyre puncture (which would normally have pissed me off but I was so happy by this time I just laughed.)
Puncture view surrounded by sunny Port Glasgow.

Then down through sleepy Woodhall Into Finlaystone Country Estate.This is Woodhall  by the way not the country estate.I often wonder where all the people go from council estates like this one and all the many tower blocks  due to be pulled down in Glasgow. That's thousands of people. They are not building many new houses for rent these days and not everyone can afford to buy their own home. Maybe that's why they put up the suicide barriers on the Erskine bridge. Expecting a rush perhaps?

Just watched a programme with The Specials which highlighted the fact their big hit "Ghost Town" was inspired by a visit to Depression era style Glasgow during the Thatcher demolition derby solution to Scotland's  heavy industry and the streets of boarded up communities left in the aftermath.You get the distinct feeling now it may happen all over again. The Specials naturally thought of Coventry going the same way as Glasgow as that was home for them.
This is the gorge within Finlaystone. £4 pound entry fee to visit here.£3 quid  if concession or child.
The Old Laundry at Finlaystone gorge.Now open to show what life was like for a laundry maid working for a large house and estate. Hard and fairly relentless mostly I'd imagine. Good for soft hands and getting rid of colds though when washing the linen in ammonia.
The sunken gardens. I could go on but you get the picture. Large country estate ...big mansion house. Tearoom and mature grounds.
"Pride and prejudice" for here as I know a family with 5 young daughters of marrying age not too far away in Greenock :)

If you wanted to skip the Port Glasgow bit then just go via Kilmacolm and Auchendores reservoir road  to reach Finlaystone which is more scenic than Port Glasgow but not as much a shock  to the senses going from one of the richest areas in Scotland within a couple of miles straight into one of the poorest. Then,for those that have the energy  up via bogside, north glen farm, mid glen and whinny hill.This is very up and down but very scenic.The  first part of the route as far as High Mathernock is not hard but beautiful,  ,just gentle bumps and easy dips.
What I really want to write about though is the variety seen on this route and what such ever changing landscapes do to imagination.Well ,to my own at any rate.

Dumbarton. with the Luss hills just losing the last of a heavy rain storm.I was lucky as I was cycling in a sun bubble all day.Mind you that always seems to happen to me somehow. I picked cycling today as it was hot and humid with thunderclouds hanging over the mountains.
View over the dark ,gloomy Cowal hills and the coast from high above Port Glasgow on that  grassy white road.

You can see here how the great ice sheets would have taken the  easiest channels to the west coast waters. Loch lomond and its Islands lie  up to the left ,landlocked in a  deep trench but connected to the sea by the River Leven and its scooped out Vale.
Now we get to the crux of this two parter. For me this has always been the ultimate landscape for any one day tour.It has so much variety packed into such a small area that on a  four /five hour easy cycle ride you can be in almost any part of the UK or further afield.
Last year I walked up Blackcraig hill with Alex near New Cumnock.Normally I like it down that way but I found the hill itself so monotonous I almost turned back and only took three photographs of the day out.Its never been posted.Other folk might like that hill.Fair enough.It just was not for me.
I,m never bored or uninspired here though.I switch instead to a whole new level,able to see reality but also to glimpse in my mind when I,m cycling or walking so many other endless possibilities or see echoes  and hear voices calling to me in places far away.
How can you not be inspired when round the next corner could be the roofs of Hailsham  boarding school from the exquisite and heartbreaking "Never let me go"......
Or around the corner after that the lonely farm house on the moor from Emily Bronte,s "Wuthering Heights"....I could have my pick of a dozen hill  farms on high moorland around here but I,ll choose this one....
Or  bring to mind the rolling Dorset Downs  and the  bitchy writers groups,dairy farms ,cattle and  wagging tongue shenanigans of  "Tarmara Drewe" with this landscape of villas and mansions hidden in the woods.
This area is full of driven ,high achievers who normally have a desire to obtain the best things in life and by the very laws of nature not all will  be able to behave themselves if a pretty butterfly floats past nearby.
Voices call out from hidden towers and rich princesses stuck out in the countryside try to fill their days.Maybe some get bored here but not I.
When I was very young I  used to read Oor Wullie and the Broons. I liked them and one year was most disappointed when I received a Rupert the Bear annual instead . I went in the huff for weeks. Even though he sat on a bucket I could relate to Oor Willie. At that age I didn't know Rupert and his  pals were drawn versions of English, fairly posh children playing in a typically rural , small village,  southern landscape.
I didn't get many books then, maybe one or two a year. All I knew was that if a child wearing the gear that Rupert had on ..scarf ,hat, gloves and checked trousers turned up at our school he would get beaten up every day...Even if it happened to be a girl wearing that stuff.
Now I,m older I can more easily recognize one of these characters as being the Mayor of London.Another, changed into a suit, our current Prime Minister. Hi Rupert.
But that,s beside the point.When I did pick it up I discovered it had one big advantage over Oor Willie.It was in spectacular colour and it was full of adventures in Caves,coves,beaches,romanticized English countryside, castles and towers.Inverclyde and Renfrewshire were a perfect fit for all these. Kilmacolm and Bridge of Weir wouldn't look out of place dropped into the Home Counties of England.After all they were probably modeled from examples down there.

When The Lord of the Rings dropped into my Christmas stocking aged twelve it made a big impression on me.
("Christ ! Not more F****** elves! "A disgruntled comment from an Inkling,one of Tolkien,s writing group when told of his latest offering :) I love that!
To me it was obvious this could be the Shire as well.It was a perfect,almost magical version of the English landscape as described in the book.Magical because it was so far north. The map of the Shire showed the same small rolling hills ,woods, meadows and farms.In the middle of that imagined landscape drawn from Tolkien,s own childhood memories Greenhill Country  sat bang in the middle of his Shire.
Look at the sign in the photo above this one.I rest my twelve year old minds case.:)
This has always been for me my Shire and even when I look at the modern film version that Peter Jackson Shot in New Zealand so many views of that still match  the views here.A wooded rolling country of small gentle hills and streams.The only thing missing is the hobbit holes.After all "The fairest of a thousand parishes" quote about Renfrewshire  was penned long before the Lord of the Rings was ever written.
Maybe its just I've grown so used to placing books and films into this remarkable landscape from an early age its become like second nature to me.
But it is amazing how many of these classics where the landscape is a star can fit in here like a glove. Its got that level of diversity.
It certainly makes a cycle ride here a fun experience.
What do I see in this landscape other than fields and farms?
Decades of books, films, plays and half remembered  ghostly characters  that flit in and out of my mind constantly here. Nowhere else has that effect. Just here.         " Cold comfort farm? "Why, That's here as well of course , just over the next hill.
That early day's pack horse man was spot on.This is a changeling country.
But I've always known that.
I don't need peacocks and horseboxes sitting outside my front door when I can play in sunshine every weekend and can transport myself to so many different imagined and real landscapes all over the UK at will.
All you need is imagination.... and I've always had my fair share of that.
If God offered me the keys of heaven right now I,d say.
"Pah! Old man! Is that the best you've got? I,ll stay right here then .If you  ever want a tour around  some real quality scenery anytime just give me a shout."

Inverclyde and Renfrewshire.The Greenhill Country.Part One.

 Style...                                                     Phantastes and Lilith.George Macdonald.1824-1905.

15 miles from Glasgow sits  an enchanted land which I can enter from time to time, but lovingly, sparingly,when dull mind needs a comfort hug in the form of a landscape fresh with lemons and song of skylark, at times sweet and dreamy yet also hard and edgy in the myriad little lives that have played out here in deep hollow, ridgeline, bog and vale.
It has had many names down through the years as have I but I just calls it now "The Greenhill Country" as that's what it is see...
It's not that big. Ten miles wide by twenty odd miles deep it measures ... but they be odd miles indeed that lie within its boundaries.For this is its secret see.. a secret not many people are aware of...  It has the powers of a "changeling."

Now everybody in this world has heard of changelings but they always takes the form of a human see, usually a kid or youth snatched or swapped over and another left in its place like what happened to Angie,s young un some time ago.
But this is different altogether. An entire landscape that can shift its view round every corner and mimic somewhere else.
Maybe man will kill that off someday as they have the wild boar, the cave bear and the lynx that used to roam here, tasting the air with tongue and nose. This land used to stretch much further see.. an entire wooded kingdom of hills, dips and meadows stretching far out across the great plain.
'The Drumlin Vale.'
From the summit of one, a great table top dome, you could see close on 200 different small hilltops and valleys. I heard tell fertile slopes and farms appeared as they cut down the forests of this once great natural rolling maze. So unique in Scotland. So different. Around about then them Templars may have hunted game here. Someone certainly left behind a name on the slopes of a hill facing west on a far reaching viewpoint. Wood of the Knights. A castle once stood here by the cross.
This small roughest corner is all that,s left of that once wild, wide land after the houses and humans grew, spreading relentlessly like maggots on a corpse. So far however there's still this last glimpse left of a landscape that lures you in. An peaceful emptiness about the area that slowly works its magic then starts to creep under your skin.
Pack horses no longer have to follow a cunning system of paths over escarpments and hear their owners curse as they skirt them around bogs, delivering goods to scattered communities and farms,some found only by the wood smoke drifting from chimneys down in a hollow or up on a wooded ridge on windless days.
Before that ice and water formed this land.The great deep trench of the River Clyde giving a Grand Canyon look to the place. Like here above.
The cathedral town of Glasgow sits in a  wide bowl, its rim a surrounding  gauntlet of  higher hills. Ice and water have to reach the sea as that's nature's way.
Here, at this point, is where they found a weakness in the land.  Eating several deep fault lines clean through the lower, softer portions of the Kilpatrick Massif until it resembled a cockerel's crown hereabouts. My beautiful Ridge Lands. My Greenhill Country and all that remains of that great first realm of the Drumlin Vale.

When I was old enough to climb a horse I travelled  here seeking warmth, protection, shelter and good fortune. I found a fair land where plum, pear and apple tree may grow wild out in the open.
Later, when called to depart for Middle England and the South, that large foreign realm of unknown bastards , haughty Lords and pagan wars beyond our borders I saw truth in its reflections.
Here was there.... and there was here.
Many different lands I passed through, Some wild, some awash with rich pickings, mead and honey where you could simply lift your lunch off the bushes and trees. A softer southern land where the sun's strength increased the further towards the bottom you travelled. In some places battles were fought. Then peace returned.
It was then I started to realise just how strange my own Greenhill country was, A pretty oasis so out of step, stranded and almost overlooked in these harsher northern latitudes. How lucky the people of these lower kingdoms to the south were.
Why they could even grow grape in London. Something I seen with my own mouth and eager tongue.
During my adventures in the South I passed through the great rural landscapes of Devon, Dorset,Wessex, Bowland, then over the hump of the Southern Downs, before the Weald, Cot-Wold, Peak and Hammer.
And in each I saw a small mirror of my own fair Greenhill Country.
Some enchantment  whereby not only could my own sweet hills mimic a tiny different portion of  each landscape travelled through  but that they could actually complement in summer the most outstanding rural scenery that England had to offer and not be found wanting in any way except in size of acreage alone.Time after time a homeland view I knew well could match in with each of these widely scattered landscapes perfectly, running on and on until my poor mind was befuddled and captured like a deer in a fence trap where skillful men alter the sides constantly, moving in smaller or changing the view each time it looks away.
How could that be? How could such a small landscape possess that ability to mimic so many other lands so far away?
When I returned I reported my findings to the Lords of the Warm Valley but they dismissed it as a mere travellers tale.
But know this..This Greenhill Country is a changeling for sure. There I've had my say on the matter.
                                                          Quarriers village from the uplands above Balrossie.
I've added this book link  I've found to Lilith by George Macdonald as it has many other interesting links to writers ,poets and thinkers mostly unheard of today. Lilith is one of my favourite early books. It's about Adam.s first wife (before Eve )who is usually represented as a dark force. In this she is portrayed as a conflicted vampire princess who kills  her own daughter.
(What's not to like?)
Before you ask I,m not religious in any way.I just thought it was an amazing book when I  first read it around fourteen. .Macdonald has a strong claim to be the father of all fantasy novels and Lilith is reputed to be his darkest work. I just thought it was exciting and had a strange, dream like quality to it. Even today it still has some chapters of very powerful imagery.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Glasgow,s West End.Walks,Cycles and Tourist Attractions.

As the Glasgow Posts on here are by far the most popular, getting over 1,500 hits after a couple of years to 20 to 60 for the hill posts I thought I'd write one on the West End. This area has a lot of Glasgow's top tourist attractions but also has a surprising number of delightful leafy walks and paths for walkers and cyclists. You can link these up to make long hard outings or easy strolls/ traffic free family bike rides.
Even for hill walkers a pleasant excursion here can rescue a day where the hills are shrouded in mist or rain. As the Kelvin walkway in particular is sheltered and almost subterranean in places as it weaves in its green trench below the city streets even in poor weather it can be an enjoyable experience. Although popular with sightseeing tourists, students on bikes and dog walkers, midweek or in winter it can be surprisingly quite. As its in a city however I'd avoid it later in the evenings. It also links up a whole range of attractions listed here.
1. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Glasgow's world famous collection is housed in a magnificent building built in 1902 for the Empire Exhibition to showcase inventions and exhibits of the time during the great age of Victorian enterprise.8000 objects on display. Its one of the Top twenty most popular museums in the world. 14th I think. Free entry.  It has a strong Indian Influence in its design as Europe was newly fascinated by the wonders and temples of the east around the period of its construction. Inside its full of  stuffed animals, Armour and battle dress, treasures from every corner of the globe and  famous paintings by Dali, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh as well as a wide range of Scottish artists. Most of these were acquired at at time when Glasgow was cash rich and well known paintings did not come with the astronomical price tags great works of art command today. Dali's impressive and Iconic Christ on the cross painting was bought for £8,200 pounds and is now worth  well over £60 million.
2. Kelvingrove Park, in which the Museum sits is a large green oasis full of mature trees and statues reflecting Glasgow's sea going and colonial influenced roots. The fact that it covers the slopes of a hill means that it has superb views over much of the city to the green hills and outskirts beyond. The River Kevin and its walkway flow through it.
This is the Kelvin walkway with the University spire behind. There is also a nice walk on the slopes of the opposite bank seen here which runs under the University and comes out at the Western Infirmary gate. This makes an easy circular tour and can Include the University Itself reached through a small back gate. This is locked out of hours.
The nearest subway station on the underground is Kelvinhall, nicknamed by locals the Clockwork Orange as it runs in a circle from the city centre around the West End  and the South Side going under the River Clyde. The trains are currently orange but the whole system is in line for a much needed upgrade so they may not stay that colour. Kelvingrove park and Museum is only five minutes walk away from the entrance of this station.
3.Byres Road is nearby and also worth a visit. It's right beside Kelvinhall Station and is a colourful Shopping street on a gentle rising gradient stretching between Partick and Hillhead. Its crammed full of bars and restaurants as well. Halfway up ,near Hillhead Underground station, sits the trendy lanes area, loved by students, tourists and locals alike. This is a view down Ashton Lane which runs parallel to Byres road. Although not very long its packed with Bars, Restaurant's and even a small cinema. Going in the opposite direction from where this photo was taken the lane runs back towards the University, coming out near the tower with its Iconic spire.
Ruthven Lane lies on the other side of Byres road, a more modest maze of  several alleys, small quirky outlets and restaurant's. The lanes have a faint bohemian air and give Byres Road much of its character although a fair number of Glaswegians outside the area do not even know they exist.
They also give an insight into Byres Road and its distant past. There have been travellers using this route down here since the middle ages. An 1800,s farmhouse sits here(its now a restaurant) giving a glimpse of a time when it was just a pleasant country lane filled with  cows and meadows either side leading to Partick Castle. Hence "Byre" where cattle were placed.
The nearby Curlers Pub is also one of the oldest buildings, named after the Curling team that used to play  winter games on the flooded quarry in the vicinity, now long gone. Hard to imagine that now on this busy city street. Winters were colder then for longer periods.
Halfway up, Travel a short distance along Highburgh road and you come to Cottier's Theatre in an impressive high spired former church.
Last years summer season had plays, rock operas, children's performances and comedy events.
4. The Botanic Gardens. Oran Mor. The above picture shows the main entrance to the Botanic gardens which lies at the top end of Byres road. The spire of the Oran Mor is visible. This is another converted church which now boasts a range of bars, restaurant's, live bands, and plays throughout the year. The West End is a very arty place. It's very well heeled and a lot of folk with money still live in this area. In Victorian and Edwardian times Great Western Road and the Botanic Gardens were "the" place to parade in your Sunday best taking in the air. As I just qualify as a west end trendy due to  my location rather than in attitude, money, desire and inclination I've been in the Oran Mor a couple of times now to see moderately priced rock bands. I never pay over £25 pounds for anyone though no matter how big. Very good they were too. Due to the numbers in the hall It tends to feature up and coming bands or minority taste outfits which is fine by me as they tend to be cheaper.
The Botanic gardens itself has a range of Large glasshouses, filled with the usual Palm trees, giant ferns, cactus gardens and goldfish inhabited ponds. The park has several themed gardens and a range of mature trees.
Bard in the Botanics has been an annual summer event in recent years along with the West End Festival though the one day street parade may be a thing of the past sadly due to the large and not always well behaved crowds it attracted.

5. University of Glasgow. The University sits high on its hillside and has 104 listed buildings. You can either take a guided tour around the entire complex for £ 5.00 pounds or wander round some of it yourself. If you get lost ask a student.Well worthwhile.
This is the area under the central tower which leads into the courtyards then through to the flagpole look out. From here views over the city are extensive. Above this, one floor up, sits the Hunterian Museum which has a wide range of interesting exhibits and has recently been refurbished. Just Across University Avenue sits the Hunterian Art gallery in a modern tall grey building containing  mostly modern art.
Both these buildings are open to the public along with several others which I'll not name here. Well worth a visit. A lot of Glaswegians have never been here either assuming its off limits. As long as you behave yourself its not.

6.The Tall Ship. Riverside Museum. Glasgow Harbour.
At the bottom Partick end of Byres Road, About fifteen minutes walk away down towards the River Clyde a collection of attractions line the bank. The Tall Ship ,The Glenlea floats here. A Clyde built vessel and  surprisingly roomy below decks giving you an idea of how much cargo these sailing ships could carry. The HGV,s of their day. Modest entry fee.
This is another Andy Scott Sculpture. "Rise". He's based in Maryhill and has works in a number of places throughout the central belt of Scotland and beyond.
Riverside Museum is a recently completed modern building containing the former transport museum exhibits from Kelvin Hall (now a sports venue) and also a couple of reconstructed period streets from Glasgow's past. Very popular. Admission free.
Glasgow harbour is a new build hi rise zone of apartments and riverside penthouses but it does have a nice waterfront promenade. This is The Glasgow to Loch Lomond cycle track running past it.
In the other direction, an equal fifteen minutes walk away from the Riverside Museum is the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, the Clyde Auditorium, The Moat House Hotel and a major new sports venue rising as we speak for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Across the River From The Riverside Museum Lies Govan, The Science centre, Imax theatre, Glasgow sightseeing Tower and Ibrox, all reached by a new ferry link which also goes to the city centre and Braehead for payment of coin. There is a bridge across the river at the Moat Hotel ten minutes walk upstream.
Have I missed anything out? Probably.There,s a lot to do here.
From my point of view though a network of mainly traffic free, cycle tracks/walkways links all these sights by green corridors and the River Kelvin and make it great for urban travel. For families, couples or just on your own.
Pedestrian bridges, as I've said, also go across the river at the Moat hotel, perfect for a circular tour of the city on the south side cycle track which is my personal favourite. Near the Imax You can cycle through Festival Park with its man made water course and stream features then along through Cessnock and Polloksheilds on another winding cycle track to flat large Pollok Park  for a picnic or lunch stop then visit Bellahouston park on its hill.Return the same way or  continue out via  Pollok,the White Cart Water past Leverndale (very scenic) then the Renfrew ferry, infamous Clyde tunnel for the brave or the further away Erskine bridge to take you back to your start point. Cycle tracks/walkways also run from here(Riverside Museum) to Glasgow Green along the Clyde. The Kelvin links into the Forth and Clyde canal at Maryhill where you can cycle to Bowling one way then back along the Glasgow-Loch Lomond tarmac ribbon or the other way  up past Port Dundas to the city then back to here along the Clyde.

You can also walk along the Kelvin to Maryhill and Bearsden then get a bus back down Maryhill Road or go left and enter Dawsholm Park returning via  Anniesland by bus or train. Myriad options available on foot as well. Even if you know Glasgow well the Kelvin walkway for first time visitors can be confusing as it travels below street level most of the way.Only if you are heading off it though I should add not following it.

Even with all the signs for various places dotted at intervals around you sometimes just have to go up to ground level to get any idea of where you are. And how often can you say in the modern world that you are really lost... if only for a short while. A rare feeling which I quite like actually, except if there's a gang following me late at night. This happened only once when I was about 18 and was on my way back from a party at a house. Took a short cut  down into here to get to the bus stop as it was just on the other side and the other way round was much longer and disturbed a gang at the bottom of this trench up to no good. Pun intended. It changes at night is all I have to say. Found out I could still run pretty fast even when drunk. My dignity and trousers were still intact back at the house in familiar Pollok  once again after legging it along the pitch black floor of this, now grim, canyon with a choice of escaping into either Maryhill's  tough Wyndford or Ruchill estates. Happy days.....Fear not. During the day  though its a different popular place full  of visitors and dog walkers and no sign of night time bum activity.
As a youngster from the leafy suburbs of rural Pollok,  however, to see what some city folks got up to of an evening was a real eye opener. .I'm a good boy me. Sheep and girls only... in that order:)
The number of routes available from this one departure point is impressive. It's the centre of a  massive web, walking or cycling.
"Collins streetfinder Glasgow"  map is the best I,ve found for planning trips as its big scale makes route finding easy. Also for anyone interested "the Friends of Glasgow West" publish an excellent  mini series of heritage trails around the west end highlighting the architecture and history of this area. I picked mine up in Hillhead Library but other places should have them also.
Walking in the city. It might just catch on you know.
On a hot mid summer's day or wild windy weather the Kelvin walkway comes into its own with leafy cool shade and river scenery.Its a great link between Glasgow's West End attractions. For visitors and locals alike.
If you get lost down here just ask a  pigeon for directions. We hire them as tourist guides on the Kelvin walkway. Its cheaper than employing a person as they are much more content working for peanuts.
A Swan and its offspring grooming their feathers.