Wednesday 24 February 2021

Anniesland. Knightswood. Forth and Clyde Canal. The First Snow Day.

                                                     ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


Earlier in the month of February we had a run of five consecutive days of bright sunshine interspersed with several heavy snow storms approaching from the east. Around four to six inches fell in Glasgow... more on Scotland's east coast but it was enough to transform the landscape. Rather than going out padding the same network of local streets for 'essential exercise' which was starting to feel more like a punishment than any enjoyment undertaken the falling snow rekindled my enthusiasm for the outdoors and I was keen to get out to see it. Anniesland Tower here, the only listed tower block in Glasgow.

Anniesland cinema link now converted to flats. 

Pigeons enjoying the warmth of the sun after a sub zero night. Down to minus 8 in Glasgow, 12 in the countryside and surrounding hills with an existing blanket of snow to chill the air. I still retained a borrowed pair of old fashioned  cross-country skis, very basic models, 40 years old, but good enough to have fun on so off I went. 

Frozen Forth and Clyde Canal at Anniesland near Bearsden Road. Normally I've been avoiding canals and more popular public footpaths as the numbers using them put me off but the low temperatures, snow and ice meant a dramatic reduction with only a handful of people using it and very few cyclists and joggers gasping past so I made good time along it. 

Further along heading past  Westerton. Unless you're very proficient at it, getting plenty of practice and fit, cross country skiing on the flat is not much faster than walking pace, each step resulting in a six foot slow glide if you are lucky, but it is fun.... and something different to try. My intended destination was Knightswood Golf Course and Knightswood Park, two large open areas, the former normally out of  bounds, with golfers on it, except under snowfall conditions.

 The winter wonderland of Knightswood Park, looking like a scene from Frozen.

Knightswood Golf Course and a real feeling of wide open space here.

Snow about six inches deep and so good to find new areas and new views away from the normal covid 19 treadmill grid march of too familiar looking streets and houses.

In the heart of the great wide open....feeling free again.

A few ups and downs. Not the only person with the same idea of escaping onto the golf course as you can see from the footsteps.

 Any hill in the district had families on it keen to exchange sledging and laughter instead of home schooling and working from a bedroom or home office.

A view over to Drumchapel from Knightswood. The further west you looked the less snow you could see as the Campsie Fells held far more than the Kilpatrick Hills, only a few miles apart. A familiar occurrence when the snow arrives from the east as further west up the Clyde Estuary hardly any snowflakes fell.

Not a problem here though and I got caught in a few heavy flurries, the Campsies just visible in the distance.

When it cleared they looked plastered but of course they were out of bounds for city folk like me whereas normally I might be up there, once the roads cleared.

Not a problem today as even fairly main roads could be skied down before traffic use managed to clear them when the snow stopped falling.

Knightswood Cross. In medieval times and on old maps of Glasgow a castle stood near here, reputedly the domain of Knights Templar, hence Knight's Wood and the nearby district of Temple at Anniesland.

Steps in deep snow.

Dumgoyne and the Campsie Fells covered in snow.

And a final one of the canal...

... and the golf course.

Of course snow, ice, and rock salt to avoid slippy roads brings its own problems and there are loads of car damaging potholes out there at the moment, many far deeper than these, hard in a car to avoid but potentially lethal finding them unexpectedly on a bike or motorcycle. 

Day's end. The well earned meal. Happy.


Something else that's very different.

Friday 19 February 2021

The Joy of Drumchapel. The Wonder of Snow. If You Wish upon A Star.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


A view from Blackcraig Avenue in Drumchapel looking towards Pilton Road, Ryedale Place, Rayne Place and Sherwood Place. A  once vibrant tenement street community built in the 1950s but sadly all gone now... along with the school that used to crown this hill. Like no other time since childhood, when I used to wish for snow around Christmas time, so I could go out and build snowmen, have adventures, slide down a hill, and generally enjoy myself in a new, once a year white soft wonderland have I seriously prayed for a change in circumstance. It has been cold and frequently icy this winter but snow in any depth has been infrequent in the Central Belt and Glasgow, lasting only a few hours or a half day at low levels.After a full year of being a good boy, observing all the rules, staying away from mountains and hills, either because they were off limits during several extended lockdowns... or mobbed when opened up, I was heartily sick of the same few walks in my local area, increasingly muddy, well used, and often filled with increasingly large amounts of litter. To the extent that I would happily spend days indoors, only going out if I started to feel really unfit or had a headache from watching back to back TV/ Box Sets.

 Blackcraig Avenue.

A heavy dump of snow and a visit to Drumchapel changed all that. I had my mojo back with a rush....keen to get outdoors again and as Anne and Belinda had been moaning on the phone about being bored as well I had the perfect solution, marching up to Anne's house on her hill top in full winter walking kit.

Sherwood Place here looking up Ryedale Place. Once long streets filled with tenements either side. I always have a fascination for any ghost communities and this is an area I passed on a local bus route over 40 years ago when it was still intact but didn't get off to explore this particular cul de sac district... something I'm still kicking myself for now as it's a rare blank in my personal memory map. Maybe that's what draws me back.

Looking online for extra clues this is at the top of Ryedale Place where there is a tarmac lane through gate posts leading onto the top of a hill, two sets of steps, and a flat tarmac area. I think this was St Pius RC Primary School ( certainly a school is marked exactly here on my 1960s street map.)

The area of flat tarmac above, where a school used to be. Drumchapel covers a massive area, then as now, so there's plenty of space up here to avoid people... and it's usually deserted any time I've visited.

As we both live on the boundaries of Drumchapel  and could walk to this high point quite easily it seemed a good idea to go exploring there. For one thing- unlike the frequently busy cycle tracks, canal banks, and often crowded popular paths nearer home, the centre of Drumchapel, once a massive tenement township estate sprawling over several low hills, holding around 35,000 people at its peak in the 1960s is now down to around 13,000 residents so it has huge chunks of empty land with foxes, deer, and birds of prey living within it. You could call it an unofficial nature reserve now but I've always loved it up here as even at its peak population it still had empty districts to wander through, great views, interesting path networks and wide open scenery. Being constructed over an up and down landscape works in its favour, with the differently named separate tenement districts often built on hilltops yet linked by scenic stairways and snakes and ladder trails winding through semi wild valley terrain.  As early as the 1960s I was a visitor here, to see relatives, and always enjoyed myself so I hope in this post I can do it full justice.  

 Attractive rolling farmland around Drumchapel. White water tower district.

From one empty hilltop we headed north towards another. A view of Garscadden Woods here on the edge of Drumchapel where it meets Bearsden. A full circular walk around the estate skirts its edges but we were cutting straight through the middle of the district to reach it. Note the two telecommunication masts disguised to look like pine trees on the right of this hill. So far we had not encountered any other humans, except in the far distance, so you would never believe you were slap bang in the centre of a large housing estate here. Most of the houses have gone long ago.  Summerhill Road and Drummore Road here.

Garscadden Woods. This area does have a network of good man made trails running through it and being south facing it was clear of snow, sunny, no wind, unseasonably warm.... very spring like. Snowdrops were out.

On a hunch we went to the top of the woodlands where the supposedly socially deprived area of Drumchapel backs onto the upmarket suburban delights of Bearsden but in reality (having walked through Bearsden and Milngavie frequently) Drumchapel is a far more interesting, ever-changing and diverse place outdoors to visit. On this occasion however the wire boundary fence that normally encircles Bearsden Golf Course was flattened by a fallen tree allowing us rare access to a new area- and another great benefit of snow. No golfers this week.

The two metal masts disguised as trees.

This also allowed us fantastic views over to the wall of the Campsie Fells.


and a view of the ornate towers of Schaw Court in Bearsden.

Castle Hill. The ancient site of a Roman Fort on the Antonine Wall, which runs across the length of Scotland at this point and can still be visibly traced today on foot from Old Kilpatrick on the west coast to  Bo'ness on the east coast and also makes for enjoyable day walks. Link here.

University of  Glasgow spire and gas holders near Anniesland from Bearsden Golf Course.

From here we went back into Garscadden Wood again and followed the path network round towards the white water tower on the Garscadden Way.

This was another high level route and retained plenty of snow thanks to a screen of trees blocking the sun from melting the path. It was an ideal gradient for relaxed cross country skiing but no sign of  ski marks. 

This was another quiet section. Hardly seen a soul all day yet so close to a major city. A different world up here made even more special by the snow.

It was only when we reached our last hill of the day, the one with the water tower on it that we could look down over the urban landscape again instead of wild nature. A very different view of Knightswood here- not all cosy cottage type flats and pensioner back and front gardens from this angle.

Central Drumchapel. A section with residents still living in it. 

And the best view yet of the three cruise ships berthed near Braehead/Govan Docks until the pandemic is lifted.. 

 Descending into Glasgow again along the Garscadden Way.

Horses and farmland. Typical scenery encountered along the Garscadden Way path and the Antonine Wall, an inspiration for Arria in the last post as the wall also travels past Cumbernauld and is the name of the mother of Antoninus Pius, the Roman Emperor who had the wall built. ( just a wild guess but is Arya Stark in Game of Thones (slightly different spelling admittedly but very similar pronunciation) also possibly named from this same source material given that they live close to a great wall, in a fictional heightened version of medieval Britain and Europe with the Roman wall separating the frozen wilds and barbarian tribes of  Scotland  from the warmer, more civilized, England.)

And as an extra treat here's a link to a collection of  highly inventive snowmen/ women/ and animals. Some of the best out there you will see this year. Wonder. Joy... and Laughter. Just like our day here. This is well worth a look.

Sunday 14 February 2021

Ibrox. Govan. Rangers F.C. A Very Modern Fairy Tale.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

 A follow up post from the last one starting at Bellahouston Park, again, then over the walkway past Pollokshields down to Dumbreck Train Station to pick up another section of the circular cycle track/walkway I used to do almost every year before Covid struck. It's a circular trip by bike of around two to three hours crossing the River Clyde twice, by Bells Bridge and then the Renfrew Ferry but due to Covid  I thought I'd walk it instead as if you fall off a bike it always hurts. Less chance of an accident by walking it and of course keeping ten feet away from anyone else as I have done since March 2020.

The walk/path/cycleway takes you past Bellahouston Academy, (playing fields seen here) then down to a pedestrian bridge over the M8 motorway into Ibrox.

 Past the Glasgow School of Sport sign. The walkway here was not busy and as I'd remembered correctly, had plenty of space to avoid anyone else.

I forgot to mention Sherbrooke Castle was also passed, this time at a distance...

 and a fine view of the Armadildo, SSE Hydro, (The flying saucer dome) and the white line of Park Circus mansions and its four towers behind  Finnieston Cantilever crane sits beside the invisible River Clyde in this photo. Also invisible was John, who could not make this trip- so I was alone.....again....sniff sniff. Wah!!!  Yet a person with a good imagination is never alone.

Once over the pedestrian bridge and into Ibrox I could either go left or right. I picked the left hand path as I had a firm destination in mind....

 'We' had more room to spread out here so let me at this point introduce the others in my covid bubble. Three of them... but not breaking any rules at all.....You may remember the Romulan cloaking device on early Star Trek episodes that made star ships invisible to humans? ....well, I had to use it here as my companions on this walk were far too conspicuous- especially given their appearance and peculiar habits. 

First  up was Arria, The 10 metre high Goddess of Cumbernald, who I'd invited over to Glasgow for the day. Having four upper body limbs and two watery tails she could get around much faster with a bat like crawl on pavements using all eight points at once so just as well she was invisible to all but me as it was a rather creepy, somewhat jerky, unnerving sight.    Let's call her Mummy.


No less unusual was a local Glasgow favourite who did not have as far to travel but seemed to have worked up a prodigious appetite as she had half a dead cat and its tail hanging from her lips. Which quickly disappeared inside when she noticed Arria.

"A'right Doll?" How's it hanging?" She inquired in a broad Partick accent. Turned out she was a lesbian and had taken an immediate shine to Arria.   Well, who wouldn't?   " Just stopped round the corner for some fast food." she joked. " but no' quite fast enough."         In the spirit of this age let's call her Daddy.

Last up was the wee teddy bear in the moon, which at this time of year can often be seen in the sky even in the middle of the day. " If that's ma parents doon there!!?." he wailed in disbelief. "How come baith o' them huv tits then!!!???"  No way!!!"                    Let's call him baby bear.

"Which must make you Goldilocks". reasoned Arria correctly.... then in a quieter voice to her companion said, "He's snapped. Gone completely mad with the year long isolation poor chap. Totally bonkers now. He's invented a family group for himself. I've seen this kind of thing on programmes like 'psychiatry explained.'  "

"Oh. ah just luv a brainy bird." my fast food addict whispered to me. " Never puts me aff wan bit, so it disnae. Prime crumpet!" 

So we had a wander round the Ibrox District, seeing what had changed since my last visit a few years ago. I think this is the Ibrox church where I used to go indoor rock climbing 20 years ago. My favourite indoor venue.

Link here for church and indoor climbing/photo gallery. You can also 3D check out the building and routes in here


New housing in Ibrox.

Paisley Road West near Ibrox Library. My sister and her young family used to live here when she first got married before they moved out to....................... Cumbernauld.

" It's a Freudian regression/replacement/inversion thing"  whispered Arria knowingly. " Classic case. Textbook stuff.   Anyone got some WD40?  I appear to be squeaking a bit."

 Other new housing in Ibrox....

On a bike ride years ago it used to look like this... indeed back then in the 1970s to the 1990s many Glasgow and Central Belt council estates had areas of tenements that looked like this.... now they are mostly all gone...this was one of the last of its kind.

Colourful new flats in nearby Govan.

Govan. A built up inner city district which can look very green from certain directions, as here on the riverbank.

 A new look Ibrox. Modern flats and a refurbished hi rise block. Where does the time go? The last time I passed through here two or three 22 storey blocks were standing here, in a poor run down state admittedly, but still upright. 

Now two have gone but I presume, seeing as how it's still 22 floors high, this is one they managed to save. 

 Not far away, on that same bike trip, I captured two other Ibrox towers getting demolished. This time a stones throw away at Broomloan Court in Ibrox. Even though Glasgow has knocked down dozens of its skyscrapers it still has dozens left. Love them or hate them they do define the city as a whole. No other city in the UK or Europe embraced high rise living like Glasgow did in the 1960s and photography wise they are unique.

One of the reasons I love living in a large city is that it's ever-changing....year by year....

and often filled with wondrous sights...

of course Ibrox is also famous for a certain football club that resides there. An aerial view from the sky tower.

and a close up view.

"That's ma real Daddy!" cried the wee moon teddy bear. "Let me inside again! "

Rangers Football Stadium at Ibrox.

Arria, being very bright, suddenly twigged. " Did the maker that made him make us as well?  And you brought us all together again? In a Covid 19 metal bubble.

"He did and I did." I affirmed.

The End.



( "I could really grab a hot pie, a sticky bun, or a slow moving cat right now" grumbled the fast food devotee . "Aw this walking's made me peckish again.)

Another fascinating thing I discovered recently was the Tower of David featured in series three of the excellent Homeland. An unfinished tower block in  South America that squatters moved into despite having no lifts, no electrics or plumbing, and no exterior walls. The world is a truly amazing place.