Wednesday 26 July 2017

Glasgow City. Glasgow Tower. Going up or going down?

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
As I'd never been up Glasgow Tower before I thought I'd treat myself and see the view from the observation deck on top of this slim white needle. I've been close to getting up a couple of times in the past but as it only seems to operate in summer and only in light winds below a certain wind strength I've always missed out for one reason or another. This is Glasgow Tower from the Castlemilk/ Croftfoot area.
For once I was lucky and although there was a slight heat haze/smog I could get good photographs. What surprised me the most from this elevated platform was a tightly packed hi rise city centre district as most buildings here are between 10 to 20 levels high but a few modern additions around Charing Cross have made an impact to the overall shape. The Scottish Power building being the most obvious newcomer.
You do get a fine panoramic view and at 127 metres is the tallest freestanding building in Scotland. It is surprisingly exposed up there due to the design and although you feel perfectly safe, or I did anyway, it also feels like a living room sized glass bubble suspended in space exactly 416.666 feet :o) above the city below as you can't see anything of the supporting tower underneath. Just a carpet, a 3 sided curved window of glass and open views all around except under your toes. At £6:50 entry fee for an adult I did think it was worth the money for a 15 minute tour and just enough time up top to take everything in. I still think however it should be open all year round and not subject to such low wind strengths. For instance- I see it is shut today and it's not particularly windy. A ridiculous state of affairs for what should be a major tourist attraction all year round.
A view of the River Clyde passing through the city centre.
The M8 motorway and the Anderston Centre and District.
Kinning Park, The Gorbals and part of Glasgow's South Side.
Riverside Museum, The Tall Ship Glenlee and the Govan ferry which only seems to run sporadically in summer. It started for the Commonwealth Games to take folk from Partick across to Govan to see the famous church and hogback stones there but was only funded for three years I believe. A fast rib and a rowing club also use the Partick/River Kelvin pier here as a base.
Ibrox Stadium on the South Side of Glasgow. Home of Glasgow Rangers.
A view of the nearby Hydro, The Armadildo, The Big Shed, and the Obsidian Sandwich. Some alternative local names for this collection of modern buildings at Finnieston.
More building projects in the same area completed within the last 20 years.
The Waverley Paddle Steamer passing Renfrew on the River Clyde. The last ocean going paddle steamer left in the world which is berthed under Glasgow Tower in spring/summer then around the English south coast in the winter months.
A few months ago we had two new visitors to the area. One was here to stay (hopefully) and a fine addition to our maritime heritage. The Queen Mary.
A closer view of the ship.
Official link and full info with vintage photos here. Not open to the public yet as it awaits full restoration back to its former glory.When you read the history in here it is really amazing this ship is still afloat.

The other craft was this one - The Lady M owned by a Russian billionaire, Mr Alexei Mordashov I believe, and one of the richest men in the world. At over £40 million, more a racing car of the high seas than the usual floating multi deck gin palace, it has very sleek lines and looks fast even standing still
The figurehead on the prow. The owner was not at home when I called and was probably visiting his Highland estates by helicopter as anyone with enough money can still buy huge chunks of Scotland and run it as a private kingdom. Someone informed me later he has land interests here but I couldn't find out any details. He made his money in steel. Wonder what he made of Glasgow?
The rear of this super yacht. I'm sure if he visited the city he would see a very different version of it than I am used to as a local. Still not sure, despite exploring every district over the past couple of years, if Glasgow is flourishing or not. Plenty of new buildings are springing up but at the moment they seem to be mainly upgrades to the three large city universities and attached student flat complexes or cash totems like The Scottish Power building. A large energy provider UK wide.
I did notice Glasgow is now placed 4th behind Leeds at 3rd. London and Birmingham still 1st and 2nd. Glasgow, since the 1930s, has lost almost half its one million plus population within its city boundaries limit. Another surprise was Manchester in 9th place which I thought would be far higher up the table but city populations do not take into account the surrounding urban outlying areas, which in Manchester's case is vast. London also has 10 million plus citizens on some charts depending on how you count up the numbers and districts. Glasgow still has a million plus folk in the greater urban sprawl but not so tightly packed into inner city districts as before so they don't count in the total. Newcastle fares even worse counting this way coming in at a lowly 18th- just above ever growing Brighton at 19th. I find all this social movement of people fascinating but I still haven't grasped the full picture yet as it's a lot easier going up and down the tower than understanding the complexities of modern Britain year by year on a grand interlinked scale. It's also always been easier to work out which cities and towns are growing fastest, like Edinburgh, Leeds? or London rather than static urban developments or gradual long term slow declines. Needless to say most of the post industrial cities and towns in the UK are the hardest hit and many have been in free fall numbers wise for decades. Also white native residents fleeing mass emigration of other ethnic cultures down south are in turn changing the culture, house prices, attitudes, voting habits and aspirations of desired/ increasingly fashionable areas they flock into, which I find slightly ironic :o)
How do we as natives here escape from them? :o)
We will soon all be living in Iceland or Greenland at this rate. Of course these places will just have to get used to speaking in English and serving up proper British grub. None of that festering rancid shark nonsense thank you in white race only New Albion.

A bit like this video really. A complicated picture. Nice video but cats and birds in the same vicinity do not mix well. I have six cats visiting my garden on and off and although I like to see them for their effortless grace and beauty they do contribute to the massive decline in bird life UK wide. They are  efficient little hunters and I've found various bits and pieces of assorted wildlife scattered around. Between the sparrow hawk and the cats my local population of wild birds is really just a handy smorgasbord for predators to enjoy. House cats used to serve an important purpose controlling vermin in towns, villages and cities but birds get hammered as well with the result that gardens as a vital nature reserve are not as productive as they could be for sustaining and helping garden birds thrive.
Just thought I'd put both sides across.

Thursday 20 July 2017

New Lanark. Falls of Clyde. Corra Linn. Bonnington Linn. A UK Wonder.

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I heard recently (from Alex, thank you) that the Falls of Clyde had been restored to full power for ten weeks only while repairs were undertaken at the nearby Power Station. For many decades now this chain of waterfalls on the upper reaches of the River Clyde  has been diverted for green energy use with the result that the numerous falls here are a pale shadow of their former glory- reduced to a trickle even after heavy rainfall most of the time.
During the Romantic, Victorian and Edwardian eras however well heeled folk  from all over Britain, Europe and even some from further afield like the USA and Canada made the pilgrimage here to visit/collect two of the wonders of that age. Number one attraction was the self contained mill town of New Lanark, a forward looking cotton mill complex built beside the river in the late 1700s to take advantage of the powerful falls using the water to drive the machinery inside. Many ground breaking advances in social reform and education for the workers developed here in this fairly remote spot in a deep river gorge 40 km from Glasgow. These advances were soon noticed in the wider industrial community and many were  adopted by other mills and factories later on. Things like school and education for mill workers children... better working conditions for those employed etc, insuring a loyal and happier workforce.
Although the falls are restored to full power during bank holidays and special occasions I've always missed them at full capacity for one reason or another so ten weeks roaring at full tilt was too good an opportunity to miss. Unfortunately, Alex was not available for the weekends I was free so it was just myself and Alan and his dog. There are four major separate falls near the mills or a few km upstream and at one time they were lauded as some of the finest displays in Britain contained in one place. The UK as a whole is a small narrow country with main rivers rarely exceeding 100 miles in length so although we get plenty of rain huge dramatic falls of impressive scale are a rarity.
I have to say both Alan and myself were impressed and we have seen loads of highland waterfalls, many of them very remote and hard to reach and ultimately a slight disappointment after miles of hard walking and rough ground to get there.
Although it had been raining the night before it was not a deluge but the falls here were still the best I've ever seen in this country. (Scotland that is) Only the waterfall and waterslide in upper Glen Nevis in full spate compares for scale. Although nothing like the same magnitude you do get a little taste of what the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe must be like... transported here to humble Britain... in the way the upper falls around Bonnington Linn spread out with small wooded islands marooned between the thundering cataracts.
A grey wagtail. A water specialist and constant up and down merchant like the equally bobbing dipper so hard to get it in focus as it is always on the move. Either side to side or more commonly up and down.There is also a yellow wagtail which is quite confusing at times as they are both fairly yellow and similar looking.
No problem with this one. I have a way with animals. We seem to like each other. My wee pal.
A question. There are a few horse whisperers around, plenty of dog whisperers driving around every city and town in vans these days, even a ghost whisperer on TV ... but I've never seen a 'pussy whisperer' advertised anywhere. Why so? A minor mystery that :o)
Iris Blue.
Another question... if there are plenty of fish in the sea to eat why am I seeing sea birds like cormorants further and further inland, fishing in rivers and canals many miles from their usual habitat?
Beetles getting jiggy on flower.
The Corra Linn. The largest waterfall on the River Clyde.
And another with peat staining the water here.
Spectators on one of the viewing platforms above the various falls. William Wordsworth came here to marvel, Turner painted them, royalty visited several times... they were a big deal before easy international travel sucked visitors overseas.
They are still popular today, mainly thanks to the nearby New Lanark which is now an internationally renowned visitor attraction and world heritage site.
I don't remember this roof garden on one of the mills the last time I visited a few years ago but it was mid-winter then.
We had a good wander around the place but didn't go in to any of the buildings as I'd already been, prices have jumped up no doubt , post Brexit vote, like every other item, whether shipped from abroad or not, and we had other plans.
After Bonnington Linn most folk turn back but we did the full circle route up one bank then down the other all the way along the gorge to meet up with the A72 just to the west of Lanark itself, an elevated market town on a rising slope situated above New Lanark. On the OS landranger map Upper Clyde Valley Sheet 72 a dotted line showed our Clyde Valley path. This crosses the River Clyde again over an old pedestrian bridge ( just before the road bridge A72 to Lanark) and although it looks private go through a small gate beside houses at a CCTV sign to reach a pleasant riverside path.
Another gate further on leads to a narrow tarmac road with beautiful surroundings ( a Lanark upmarket suburbia) where we found other surprises waiting ( A secret public park) then zig zag steps back down to the river again. It felt a long way by this point but a fantastic five star circular walk. About 10 km but felt much longer due to its up and down nature. Much shorter just visiting New Lanark and Falls. Allow 4 to 6 hours total trip depending on speed and stops.
The slopes of the Clyde Valley... once the central belt's soft fruit growing mecca with apples, plums, various eating berries and jam a thriving industry before cheaper exports from abroad halted production. Now mainly garden centres here but still a pretty area and a great scenic drive along the winding A72 beside the river.
The hanging gardens of New Lanark. Raised back allotments.
A view over the Clyde Valley.
And a couple of sunsets to end.

I try to make my photos and blog special in my own modest way as I like to think I have some artistic talent for capturing views on walks. I also try to pick videos that reflect this outlook. Although I looked at various clips of this particular Via Ferrata  this one was head and shoulders above the rest for quality, camera work and editing, variety of subject matter and artistic merit. So good in fact it made me really nostalgic for the special atmosphere of the European Alps and backpacking trips abroad. Wah!!!! too old and skint now for this stuff but 20 years ago I'd have loved a go at this extreme route through tunnels, up vertical walls, over wires and into caverns. Enjoy. A delight to watch full screen for anyone, not just climbers. Professional standard 7 minute classic mini film.

Saturday 15 July 2017

Inverkip, Greenock and Gourock.

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A dry but very windy day at Inverkip, Greenock and Gourock. This was a walk from spring just passed that I've had on the computer back burner for ages and am finally posting now. Although fairly sunny and bright the wind was roaring with a vengeance although not that cold. The pier here was deserted with frequent waves lashing the ferry walkways and everyone else apart from us huddled inside the terminal buildings, hoping they would not get seasick crossing the water to Dunoon.
Due to the weather the high hills were ruled out as you would have really struggled at height so we picked a sheltered walk from Lunderston Bay along the coast to Inverkip marina instead, returning on a circular route via the slightly inland Ardgowan Estate.We being myself, Alan and his dog. A short walk of only a few miles duration but very scenic and worthwhile especially in spring. Inverkip above.
The sheltered marina.
Comical carving in the boatyard.
A view across the Firth of Clyde to the Argyll hills.
Inland near Inverkip. Although I've passed through this quiet little village many times I've never really explored it properly and was surprised to find it was a hotbed for witches in past times with several executions in the area. I'm very skeptical about the supposed guilt of witches, warlocks etc in times past as most of the accounts I've read its just different personalities entering into a tight knit closed community from outside... or friendless individuals that present an easy target... or folk some in the village didn't get on with or had a long standing grudge against... but more on that later.
Bluebell woods. Ardgowan Estate.
Mature trees and pathways through this lovely estate.
Three lambs.
Estate views.
Large thrush. After our walk here we drove the short distance round to Gourock and explored there.
Downtown Gourock. A popular seaside town still although on this particular Sunday it was deserted with everyone else huddled indoors. Wind still howling around the buildings here but not that cold with a warm jacket on.
Really nice spring display of tulips and cherry trees just managing to withstand the gale.
The local park in Gourock which has a popular children's zoo in one corner. Lost count of the number of these little gems in city and town parks which have been either burnt to the ground or the pet animals inside deliberately targeted and killed. (There is a point to this.)
Nice mix of colours. Same park.
The upper half of the park.
And back to the foreshore again. Good day out and it suited the conditions.
I found myself thinking of the witches killed in Inverkip when I watched a programme a couple of nights ago called 'Murdered for being different.' It was a hard, sad watch but well acted about a young goth couple ambushed in a small town English park about ten years ago which made all the papers at the time. Both college students, they had the usual piercings, dark clothes, hair, and makeup that goths usually wear when they go out and were kicked into comas by a local gang just for being different looking. Maybe they were bored, jealous, or something much deeper in us all but were less able to control it. The girl died of her injuries and the boy just survived after being in hospital at death's door.
Related to the last post where I experimented at 14 with a different look and hairstyle briefly I also found it was not wise to attract too much attention to yourself or stand out in any way as I was beaten up at school a few times for doing just that. It carried on for several months by certain individuals of the kind that always target any perceived weak link and act as an escalating gang together, focused on an attempt to break any individuals spirit, culminating in a broken bottle attack where I was stabbed in the upper thigh.
I then snapped mentally into a  different thought zone as I'd had enough by this time and got them alone outdoors without the comfort of the gang around them where I convinced them individually by my actions I would take any steps necessary to remove them completely if it didn't stop. Luckily, they were the same age and could be intimidated one on one,  and it worked, so they left me alone after that but I did mean it and could have easily ended up spending decades in prison or dead myself if they had carried on. I've not thought about it for years but it came flooding back watching this programme.
Sadly, we do not seem to have moved on any as a society since we burned or drowned witches and most folk will know of feral groups like that who routinely target handicapped people in various neighborhoods; or pick on folk with low IQs unable to defend themselves on the street; or folk alone or reclusive; or just different in some way. It happens in every society worldwide so it must be something deep down inside the human psyche to have the tribal impulse to eradicate anyone or anything that doesn't conform yet we often praise celebrities if they do something different or groundbreaking. Seemingly, according to that programme, the UK recorded it's highest level ever for hate crimes- 70,000 in one year. A civilized society? I think not.
Ironic, when most young people also have an innate desire to stand out from the surrounding herd.

I did learn my lesson after that and kept my head below the parapet for the rest of the time I was in juvenile prison (i.e. school) but with more people than ever going to university, college etc.. where are all these smart folk on the internet where every woman, girl, female etc is routinely labelled a slag, slapper, hoe etc just for posting a perfectly innocuous photograph of themselves fully clothed  and it's accepted as normal behaviour.... and Yahoo News comments, anytime I've dipped into that murky pool, seems to be a steady diet of hatred and fixed extreme views slightly to the right of Jack the Ripper where everyone is an expert on everything. Given that unfiltered platforms like this are fast replacing traditional news outlets how is that moving us forward towards a more tolerant society in any way, shape or form?

On a different note I liked this video as it clearly shows the route up Monte Pelmo. The hardest route I've climbed abroad without a rope as it scrambles up a near vertical cliff then traverses along a narrow ledge system to reach the summit with steep walls in every direction. Luckily the scrambling is easy but the exposure was mind-blowing from the ledges and I don't remember any fixed ropes in place when we did it decades ago. The summit was a surprise as well with loose scree piled high everywhere and a faint path through it. Only a few months out of every year when its free of snow so not that many ascents I'd imagine each summer. A stunning mountain.