ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
During the last Pollok post when I was standing in the late afternoon sunshine in North Pollok looking over the surrounding districts I noticed this local hill, seen above to the right, sticking out higher than the surrounding houses. It was mostly tree covered but it suddenly dawned on me that I'd never been up it and as I was enjoying myself so much here ... I'd have to come back another time.
So a week later, on another stunning autumn day, I arrived back in Pollok again to explore some further areas and I parked in Cornalee, near this sign just off Barrhead Road. I always try to park unobtrusively, not in front of anyone's house or in any locals parking spot and luckily there is extra space here, handy for the park that looked safe enough. First on the list to visit was Househill Park which runs from the main Pollok roundabout (where Silverburn Shopping Centre stands), along Barrhead Road to the Hurlet. Half of the park sits on the east bank of the Levern Water beside Hartstone Road and Haughburn Road- the rest of the park- the best bit for a walk- is a long broad green ribbon between Barrhead Road and the Levern Water. See photo below. Autumn colours were outstanding here.
Although mainly used by locals (it's never busy, probably because there's nothing really in it, other than grass, trees, a few seats and a path and it does not have an official car park attached to it) I was nevertheless very impressed by its beauty. It's a wonderful park that's very underrated (except by the locals) which officially ends at the Crookston shops but in fact the pleasant green ribbon and path carries on further until the Hurlet. When I was growing up in Nitshill the local doctor and dentist both had an office beside or in this row of shops so I had to walk this route a few times a year.
Although never that keen on the dentist (I didn't mind the doctor as that usually didn't hurt.) the 45 minute walk there through the old mining village then along this green ribbon was always a delight. It's fair to say any walk in Nitshill or Pollok was and is a special joy as we were surrounded on all sides by beautiful woods, fields, and fantastic scenery- gently rolling hills, ridges, streams, and wonderful views in every direction. Imagine a clock face- 1 to 12. well from my house there was a different enjoyable walk for nearly every hour on it wherever the hour hand pointed going round... that's how good an area it was.
It's been 30 years since I've been in Househill Park but it's still stunning, especially on a sunny day in October. This is the part of the park across the stone bridge on the other side of the Levern Water
You can either walk on the short grass if its dry or stick to the path through the trees.
Even walking along the pavement on the dual carriageway of Barrhead Road ( Househill Park on right, Cornalee hidden on left in this photo) is a holiday outing in itself, especially during lock down when it would have been very quiet. It's not a busy road normally, except at rush hour times, so it feels serene.
Cornalee is a small estate of only six or so rows of modern tenements, built after the main Pollok area was completed. It sits right beside the middle class district of Crookston Road which has expanded greatly on both sides since the 1970s.
Crookston Shops. When I was young, in the 1960s, the doctors surgery was in the middle of this row (gone now) and the dentist was in a private house nearby ( amazingly still there, yee ha!) Househill Park looks much the same but Haugh Hill has shrank considerably. It used to be a huge grassy hill area between Crookston Road. (the housing development part of which only went up as far as Gamrie Road then on the right and Mulben and Faskin Road on the left. After that it was all open countryside and farms with only Crookston Home on the right and Leverndale on the left much further down interrupting the pastoral scenery. All this area, on both sides of Crookston Road is now modern housing estates- a cul de sac land of owner occupied starter homes.
I mention this as Haugh Hill back then in the 1960s, when I was going to the dentist was massive. On old maps this area used to be a working farm, part of the giant Pollok estate, and on mid 1800 maps although still mainly scenic rural farm land Haugh Hill and Househill Park also boasted coal mines, lime works, several lime kilns, and ironstone pits dotted around, fueling the Industrial Revolution. Both the nearby Hurlet and Nitshill, although rural hamlet and small country village back then had sizable industries, far more than today, but it was not without risk. Nitshill's Victoria Pit in 1851 recorded one of the worst ever Scottish mining disasters when 61 out of 63 miners, men and young boys, were killed underground by a massive explosion. Many were married men from Nitshill and Barrhead, with sons working with them so often father and one or two boys were killed together- a huge loss to the families left behind with the sole breadwinners dead. That severe shocking loss of entire male family groups overnight must have sent many of the ones left behind completely mad, not to mention destitute..
Even by the late 1960s, with the Greater Pollok schemes/estates fully completed, Haugh Hill, a large empty high point between Kempsthorn Crescent and Crookston Road , was mostly untouched and still larger than most Glasgow Parks. Looking at a 1960s map it covered more undeveloped acres here than Tollcross Park, Queen's Park, King's Park, Victoria Park and Linn Park, almost double their size, yet I do not remember noticing it or climbing up it. No memory of it being there at all, grassy or otherwise... which is why I wanted to see it now. Better late than never....
Unfortunately now it's a shadow of its former glory, its wide open slopes of yore munched into by new housing developments so that over half of it is gone, Pollok and Crookston almost touching back to back, separated by only a thin screen of trees in some places.
The path up Haugh Hill itself, now a small community woodland, is ok for what it is, but compared to what it must have been like in the past it's only a small echo of its former glory. Thickly wooded throughout, one circular path in and no views from the summit. As most of the trees here are 20 to 30 foot high I found myself wondering if Haugh Hill in the 1960s would have been mostly grass with wide open views. I have walked on a path on the far side of Haugh Hill, starting behind a Lidl Store on Crookston Road when cul de sac developments were just starting up there (20 odd years ago) and that hill had wide open views then with no trees to speak of....now its an overgrown wooded jungle I failed to find a path up at all this time around so it just shows what can occur 20 years later.
This is on the summit of Haugh Hill... a circular ditch running most of the way round it, just like the path up. It's quite a claustrophobic place now with only one route up and down, something we didn't particularly like as kids because we preferred to see any gangs coming towards us from a distance. It struck me suddenly looking at this ...'why would you dig a long circular ditch in the middle of a wood?'. It's not a half hearted thing either as it would take a long time and plenty of full man hours and commitment so maybe decades ago the trees were not around?
Dropping down the hill slightly on the north side the slope did open out and give partial views so I can imagine this being a wide open grassy hill in the past. All it takes is a few years without livestock grazing and you get young trees appearing.
Even going back 40 years ago the change in housing in Pollok and the other big council estates in Glasgow is dramatic. People today looking around Pollok would never imagine it looked like this in the past. A back court in South Nitshill around the late 1980s, the Thatcher years in the UK when London was booming with the banking revolution, the great shares sell off of British companies into private hands, many going overseas for a knockdown price, and an influx of jobs and people going south while shipyards, factories, mines, and heavy industry closed here and in the north of England, leading to massive unemployment, half empty estates, and widespread depression, in people and in the northern economy. Yet in the south it was boom time as all the highest paid jobs went there.. and they have stayed there to this day. While the post industrial cities declined London increased by two million and then they had the problem of overcrowding to deal with.
Priesthill in Pollok- late 1980s, after ten years of northern austerity and a decade of high unemployment levels. Most of the older tenements in Pollok were flat roofed three and four levels high and you can tell by the tenement design when they were constructed. These are late 1940s (Bundy district ) early 1950s type. South Nitshill, one photo above, came later with pitched roofs but still damp, built 1958 to early 1960s including Castlemilk, Drumchapel and Easterhouse, similar style and look then across all these mentioned. Most tenement estates in Glasgow have gone now from that period. Many started off good with high hopes but nearly all the 1960s ones have been flattened. Dampness,vandalism, big families from that time, isolation on the outskirts.and a lack of any facilities at the beginning (apart from churches and chapels that is) all contributed to their decay.
Even at its worst though, in the bad old days of full estates and large class sizes in the 1960s, Pollok was a fantastic area to grow up in... an adventure every time you went out the front door. And in every direction from that door a new rolling landscape of woods, farms, meadows, streams, and hilltops to discover. This was brought home to me recently when I did a couple of walks- one in Bearsden one in Merrylee/ Clarkston- and I was soon bored. Very little to see or photograph. Large houses, affluent area, nice gardens, people with apparently good prospects and opportunities- yet no good distance views to speak of over the surrounding area (which I always like) and very few open areas to wander in either as large houses had claimed any scenic spare ground or it was fenced off private land.. so no potential exploration thrills anywhere...just long streets of well heeled houses in the sections I visited but nothing outstanding...no interesting woods... and nothing had changed there since the day they were built 70 to 100 years ago. A perfectly pleasant neighbourhood to live in but also a very static one to the visiting eye. Not the same scale of excitement at all. Districts trapped in amber, looking exactly the same as when I first explored them in the early 1970s. No wonder so many teenage rebels come from affluent suburbia. They may have money and be able to go places further afield but as children growing up there's not so much fun and adventure to be had in the immediate vicinity, except in each others houses and gardens. No wild euphoria of wonderful places to discover in these streets.
By comparison our own world was always changing, transforming into something else every five years. From good scheme to bad... older buildings coming down... new ones rising up. A living, breathing, kaleidoscope... yet always the comfort and delight of a vast woodland realm surrounding you. Instead of wolves and bears in the forest we had local gangs in each area, giving us a heightened awareness when exploring.
Growing up in Pollok was never boring outdoors... it even had its own castle.... to be continued... last part next....