Wednesday 27 December 2023

A Colourful Glasgow Walk.

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Sunflowers.... For Vincent. This is a post from the end of autumn. October time 2023 a few months ago now.

 Met up with Alan at the Barras Market, had a wander round there then headed up through Glasgow Cross and the Merchant City District.

Glasgow Cross district.

Period buildings around Glasgow Cross.


Found a few murals in a back lane I'd seen online but not visited in person.




Another Lion.



Merchant City District.

 In the city centre, restaurants and bars change all the time. Last time I walked past here it was called something else from a different culture. Scottish Tennent's Lager I think.

 Glasgow's Red Tourist bus. Departs from Ingram Street on a run around the city while you have afternoon tea on board or you can hire it out for a group booking. Not being a tea or coffee person I've seen it around but never been on it. Popular though. Other tourist buses run around the city but you don't get served with anything on board.


We made our way up through the university and college lands still walking slightly uphill. Livingstone Tower above. An early 1960s construction addition to the University of Strathclyde it was named after African explorer and missionary David Livingstone.



A side view. Always liked this building and the colourful frontage helps to soften the brutalist nature of grey concrete on the lower sections. Note the steep drumlin it's built on. Glasgow's main city centre shopping streets usually run west to east in the flat sections between these cucumber shaped hills with minor streets like this one running south to north up and over them.

Quite a few murals around this district and several items of modern sculpture within the campus grounds. As non students you can walk around the area freely as the University of Strathclyde, Caledonian University, and The City of Glasgow College are very close to each other, built over several of Glasgow's notorious drumlins ( small hills) which makes walking energetic but gives fantastic views over this bumpy green metropolis. 'The leafy city of one hundred hills.'

 Student mural and false door.

 The big surprise on this walk was an open day for the High Street allotments which I'd never been to before. During Covid lockdowns people in the suburbs had it relatively easy with sizable gardens and green spaces to escape into but the area around the High Street and Drygate districts has very few gardens... mostly tenements, tarmac, concrete, and high rise flats. 


So these allotments are even more precious I'd Imagine.  Cabbage white butterfly here.



A few of the Drygate high rise flats and tenements. Many more exist out of view. While Number Ten Downing Street had numerous drunken parties all the way through the various  covid lockdowns without the slightest threat of a £10,000 fine... spare a thought for folk in inner city high rise flats or tenements, without gardens, stuck indoors for months on end. Mind you for ordinary folk like myself in the outlying suburban districts Covid did not make much difference at all as I still went on local solo countryside walks... as usual... with no police ever in sight to enforce anything. And my life barely changed at all. It was just what I normally do. It was mainly middle and upper class folk that were deprived of holidays abroad, second home visits, frequent nights out or visits to the theatre or other public entertainments but on the plus side many did save/make a shed load of money during covid restrictions... in one way or another....

 Maybe that's why this small set of allotments were so treasured and special to the surrounding residents as I've never seen so many delights packed into such a small space.


Not only dozens of sunflowers but each bed held marrows, peas, other vegetables and a cute collection of surprises.

Free to get in as well on the open day. The highlight of the walk as it was so unexpected.

 Hedgehog togetherness.


 After that splurge of radiant colour we climbed still higher to Glasgow's City of the dead. The Necropolis.


 Church detail on the way up.


When I first visited the Necropolis, back in the 1970s and 1980s I was usually alone apart from a few down and outs who would sleep in the open crypts for shelter from the rain. Not many tourists visited back then. It's very popular today however with tourists up here most days from around the world. The steeple of Glasgow Cathedral getting a makeover, above.

 I mainly came up here for the excellent views. Barrowland Ballroom and the Gorbals District from the Necropolis. What I didn't realise then however was that it's only people that could afford a stone monument that get remembered up here and Glasgow, like any other old city has had numerous plagues, disasters, mass calamities etc over its long history where hundreds or even thousands died at one time. So unless they are all buried in mass graves somewhere else this entire hillside must be comprised of long dead corpses, piled one on top of each other. Probably why it's a sizable hill in the first place. A hill of dead people as for everyone one that could afford a stone monument about one thousand citizens could not. Something to think about when you are up here. Be careful where you step.

 On the very top of the hill factory owner Charles Tennant sits. A wealthy industrialist who built one of the world's largest chemical factories at Glasgow's Sighthill. Died early to mid  1800s. So this summit was here then.


Some of the other large stone monuments.


Celtic Park Football Ground.


John Knox protestant firebrand also commands a summit view from the highest mound of unknown, unremarkable, unremembered bodies beneath. He who made Mary Queen of Scots short life all the harder, being a Catholic Queen in a largely Protestant court/country. Or it was back then among the elite of the Scottish lowlands where the main base of castles, power and influence existed.


Life everlasting...?

I like this one the best though. As the truly innocent.... 'they sleep, play, fly, dance and sing with angels.' This I've always known.... from my own birth to death.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Greenock Gourock Circular tour.

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A walk suggested by Alan recently proved to be better than I expected, even though I've been in both towns many times. We parked along Greenock's Esplanade, seen here, above, then walked along it towards Gourock. It was a sunny but breezy day.


At the boat club building a few brave swimmers were bobbing around enjoying the December sea and the wind driven swells.



That was not our idea of fun at all but we did appreciate the wide open grassland setting of Battery Park, which came next, with a distant view of Tower Hill which was our eventual destination. (The small stone tower is just visible on the ridge line to the right of the tower block and our walk continues up that ridge line, trending right to left.


Gourock's main street came next. At the other end of this row of shops, seen above, a lane on the left leads upwards to the hill.



What I've always liked about these three towns, (Gourock, Greenock and Port Glasgow) is the way they cling to the hillsides like limpets in a rock pool, forced by the terrain to expand upwards rather than spread out sideways.

 Halfway along this main shore front street in Gourock a thin lane and stairs on left proceed to climb this hillside. Always a thrill to find this half hidden ascent unchanged as it's rarely known about or frequented by tourists, even today.


At the top of these stairs an arrow straight road leads directly inland and slightly downhill with houses on both sides but halfway along it another flight of stairs, on the right, leads to the summit of Tower Hill.


The view from Tower Hill is one of the best in Scotland. As seen here, looking across at Greenock's Lyle Hill. Walking to this other hill is also an option for a longer circular walk. (We started our walk near the white boat like structure, visible halfway along the higher patch of blue sea on the left then stuck to the coastal path around Gourock Bay to get to here.)


A container ship passing Battery Park. A Modern Santa. This was the white structure mentioned earlier.


Firth of Clyde Estuary, Portkil and Gallow Hill.

The mountains surrounding Greenock and Gourock.


A closer view of Santa. ( for the children.)  It's red and white... delivering loads of presents made in a faraway land.  It must be Santa.


Mountains and Strone Point.

 After enjoying the views we turned to look at the way ahead.


The stone cube of Inverclyde Hospital was an obvious landmark to head for as we both knew what sat beside it. The road up to it is at the left end of this row of tenements, which is why I include this photo. The grass path leads rightwards, running down along this wire fence in the photo then crosses several streets, making for the left hand end of these tenements to reach the hospital.



Considering this is still within the heart of Greenock it is amazing how wild parts of this highly unusual town can be. This network of trails surrounding Coves Reservoir beside Inverclyde Hospital being a case in point. Always loved this place since discovering it in the early 1970s.


Could be any wild remote beauty spot this place yet it's entirely within Greenock's town limits.


Two reservoirs in fact. With Clydeview Academy beside it, A town secondary school with outstanding views, as the name suggests.

 This is one modern school I do like the look of. Very bright and colourful.

 Luss Hills on the slow descent to the esplanade again.


MOD ship passing Gallow Hill. Plenty of water traffic in the Firth most days. An extra bonus on this walk.

 Oor Wullie. Greenock.


Bucket and spade memories of holidays down the coast sculpture. Gourock. A cracking and varied walk.... even today. Allow 3 to 4 hours depending on speed. An extra hour for including Lyle Hill. Both hills also great spots at nightfall for all the town lights twinkling on below, viewed from the summit. In winter it's dark by four or five pm so still safe enough to drive up and park on Lyle Hill for the outstanding night views. Only Oban comes close for night-time hilltop panoramas although you still have to be wary in both places by using common sense.  i.e. don't get out the car unless it feels quiet and safe. ( usually it is both empty and safe)

Victoria Tower. Yep. I'm a lifelong fan of all three Inverclyde towns.