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.


Carol said...

Those 'snowmen' photos are brilliant! We had 2 great days of nice, thick, dry, firm snow... and I was working. The next morning I got up intending to sledge... and it had all gone! sniff :-(

How do you get your blogname as a copyright on the foot of all your photos? do you have to edit it into each one? I mean, I can add writing to mine but don't think I could be bothered to do it for all of them so I was wondering whether you had some automated way of doing it?

Anabel Marsh said...

We did something similar round Drumchapel a couple if summers ago. Had no idea there was so much green space! Even saw a deer.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
There's maybe a clever tool available to stamp them as a group but I put them on one at a time as I was fed up seeing hundreds of my un-stamped photographs all over the internet on other sites like pin- interest, some even stamped with other sites brand name to stop anyone else lifting them from that site yet it's my own photo on there. I've even seen some of my best photos listed for sale on other websites but any money is going there, not towards me. "It is what it is."

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Yes, I remember that. One good thing about council estates on the outskirts of anywhere- Pollok/ Nitshill/ Castlemilk and Drumchapel to name a few, if you are a nature lover, is that they all have great scenery in and around them. I remember the actor/presenter David Hayman saying recently on some programme that he enjoyed growing up in Drumchapel for the views and range of walks there. I've also been in several modern upper class areas in Glasgow where I've thought... where's the public parks? where's the open spaces for walking? Newton Mearns springs to mind. A large built up area of housing now with no real parks and only a thin ribbon (nice though it is) of greenery running though the middle of it. Posh areas tend to go for private golf courses on any surrounding green land rather than open public areas. So the poorer areas are often luckier in that way.

Rosemary said...

From the weather reports I had imagined that you had received far more snow than that. My granddaughter is in Edinburgh and looking at her photos it would appear that the snow has been much deeper on the eastern side of Scotland.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
Correct. This snow arrived from the east so Glasgow and the west coast only got the tail end of it. However, I have also reversed the order of snow days here, as it was a day spent with Anne and Belinda after a full week of the snow gradually melting under a hot sun so in the other posts to follow this one, (walked earlier in the week,) the snow will be deeper as there was even a difference between Glasgow (more snow) and Clydebank (less snow,and further west) despite being only a couple of miles apart. Aberdeenshire for instance got over two metres of snow ,we only had six inches, but it was enough to have fun. ( I usually do what women tell me and they said in this instance " Stick our post up first- not weeks later!") So I did.

Carol said...

in the above answer to Rosemary, what you really meant to say is that Aberdeenshire got 6 FEET of snow while you only got 6 inches!

Carol said...

That's why I scan my photos at quite low resolutions which are fine for screen but would be hopeless as enlargements so, hopefully, no-one would buy any of them as they would be no use to them. That and they take up little room on my blog storage and my laptop storage by doing that.

Ken said...

What amazed me about the whole urban to rural situation was I checked out the old OS maps for the area and in the latest of the old maps I found (revised 1938) there was almost zero housing north of the railway! For it to have come and gone in the past 80 years is quite incredible - especially in that it hasn't been built over again with new housing. I don't know if you have access to the old OS maps but they are great for investigating what used to be there on walks. Here's the link anyway (prob won't work on a comment box so you may have to copy/paste).

Ian Johnston said...

Yet another surprising area Bob - and another bit of a gem by the look of it! Drumchapel's empty quarters seem to be re-wilding themselves very nicely

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I do size them down but do not want to ruin their appearance completely for the blog, otherwise its pointless. Shows how good they are when other people want them as well :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ken,
Glasgow is practically unique in the UK in that it had over one million citizens at its heavy industry peak 1910/20s to the 1950s within the city limit boundaries, lost almost half it's population there down to around 630,000 at present within same city boundaries yet is still 4th or 5th largest in the UK depending on what statistics you look at as the Greater Glasgow area is still 1,670,000 or thereabouts. All the big council estates have empty plots of land where tenements once stood. I'll look that link up. My favourite treasure is my 1960s street map as that has every estate still intact as they used to be. Hours of fun.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
been empty like that for ten to fifteen years now although they have built a few new houses there.

Carol said...

Screen resolution is pretty poor so you can size them down pretty heavily without being able to tell on a computer. If I have to include digi-photos on my blog (which I have to from Richard's camera), I shrink them to document size - that's very sufficient for screen resolution - makes them around 300 KB.