Monday 27 February 2023

Moments of Pleasure. Waste Ground.

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 A collection of photos mostly set around 'waste ground.' I noticed during the various recent Covid 19 lockdowns that several areas of waste ground in my own quarter of the City of Glasgow, after lying derelict for years, sometimes decades, had construction and building projects occurring... all at once in a rush. This was probably to keep the economy going when most indoor jobs had to stop or work from home.


 One stretch of so called 'waste ground' I've cherished since moving to this side of the River Clyde is this one, above, lying between The Renfrew Ferry at Yoker  and the Docks at Clydebank.

Cyclists crossing the River Clyde at Renfrew. The last remaining ferry on the upper Clyde where once a dozen or so operated when factories and shipyards lining both banks needed tens of thousands of workers to travel the shortest distance between tenement flats to construction sites. Some came by bus, train or underground but thousands more used the numerous ferries, winter and summer, to cross the river. Generations of tramping lines of foot soldiers travelling to work or returning home turned the streets and river black and wore down the hundred year old stone tenement stairs visibly thin in the middle with multi generational metal clad feet. I have dim memories of that time before the age of ten in the early 1960s and it wasn't swinging in any way. Working class Glasgow was a very black city then. The buildings were black with 100 years of constant Industrial Revolution soot and grime landing on them every day. The workers were mostly black as well but white underneath... caps, boots, trousers, jackets and faces not yet joined the musical London trend for  vibrant colour and individuality. Thousands of them looked identical in either dark well used overalls or hard wearing donkey jackets. Muted shades of coal, oil, and dirt the uniform appearance in work wear for factory and shipyard males. The 4:00 pm darkness of the winter months only heightening the effect of an army of shadows passing half unseen through an often misty, or smog ridden chimney dependent smokestack city. Flat capped vampires of the 7:00am to 5:00pm treadmill setting off in the cold dark then coming home by the moon and stars. Only large football crowds, pouring out after a game, mirror that human entry and exodus now in 2023 when each factory gate then employed similar numbers.


With the abandonment of most of the shipyards, manufacturing factories, and other works large areas of empty ground on both banks of the River Clyde had decades to change into something else. Waste ground. As seen here.


Yet it's not really wasted, especially in summer. This area is awash with red clover, gorse, dog rose, thistles and vetch. In short it's a nature reserve within the city and unlike most of the man made strips of sown wild flowers, trendy in recent times, this large patch comes up like this every year whereas the sown strips last one single summer before getting smothered out by competing  non flowering weeds.


It also has plenty of places for animals to hide.... rabbits, mice, stoats, weasels, shrews etc... and not many people come here.

In high summer it's alive with insects and bees going about their business... A cricket or grasshopper is in this photo, bottom middle. A green lung in an area that does not have a local park close by, within walking distance.


So in it's own small way it's a jungle paradise in the heart of a built up area. 

Meet the animals. I cheated here slightly as this mural is from another walk around nearby Drumchapel on another day of waste ground adventures. A different kind of jungle... obviously.


It's a soft play barn but in an area of no longer used, run down buildings  near Drumchapel Shopping Centre, an outlier of that complex being demolished so I captured it just in case it vanished as well in the general clear out of this area as it made me laugh. The eyes have it.


Back in the Yoker waste ground area with a variety of wonderful wild weeds.



I mention this because the new million plus swing bridge is to be built across the River Clyde here not far from this path so I hope they will keep some of this wild land exactly as it is now. Some of it has already been bulldozed and covered over where the bridge will run but it would be nice if they left this middle section as it is now. For wildlife.


At the moment, being abandoned and wild, few people walk in this area, mostly adult males and very few women or children come here unless they have a large dog for protection so a proper safe riverside path leading to the  new bridge would open it up to the many and not just the brave few but I hope they keep the wild interior section intact, seen above.

 I for one and I'm sure many locals would miss it if it disappeared. For me it's as good as any public park in the city and as a recent report found out the risk of mental illness or dementia type onset is lessened in built up areas if they have frequent access to green areas, parks and water a short walk from the house so maybe they could balance both. New bridge and footpath(s) but save the wild open space as well.


Derelict shed at Yoker gets a new look. Apprehensive face.



New bridge construction goes ahead. Late summer 2022.


Construction works and ground clearance advances further into 'waste ground' clover meadows. 

The cleared route of the new road carving through woodlands on the Renfrew side of the river.


Male Goosander.

 Wild Rasperries on waste ground.

A colour splurge.

Spring catkins in a very mild February. 2023.

Winter sunshine on crocus. Moments of Pleasure.

Sunday 12 February 2023

A Reflections Walk. Anniesland To Stockingfield Junction and Back. Glasgow 2023.

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A recent walk a couple of weeks ago along the Forth and Clyde canal from Anniesland to Stockingfield Junction and back. At this time of year, winter, I thought the bird life would be good along the canal with the added bonus of a new bridge being built at Stockingfield near Ruchill on the north of Glasgow. This was to make the spot where two canals meet much safer as before the new bridge here pedestrians and cyclists, as well as cars and lorries, had to squeeze through a short but narrow tunnel on Lochburn Road on pavements a foot wide with traffic zipping past. Built in a different era before any concept of health and safety existed it was a dangerous bottleneck by day and even more so at night. It also separated the adjacent  working class communities of Maryhill, Ruchill and Gilshochill with the canals acting as impassible barriers without a bridge spanning them and a dangerous underpass the only other option between them. I've cycled and walked through that tunnel in past decades and it is unnerving, even worse with children or pushing a pram.

As I've been on this walk from Anniesland to the City Centre along the canal many times over the past 40 years, by foot and cycling, I picked a static,still, sunny day for maximum pleasure and perfect reflections. Swan and Geese here.


Although bird life was plentiful on the water, recent walks had made me well aware that everything was not perfect in my wonderland with millions of birds worldwide already decimated by their own pandemic in the form of bird flu. Several birds on this walk were either dead or dying. You could tell the ill ones because they were sitting out the water, on dry land, huddled up tight in a ball, paying no attention to anyone or anything getting close. Easy prey for foxes which is probably what happened to this one overnight. Otters and badgers will eat dead or dying birds as well and bird flu can spread to other species. including humans and their pets, like dogs and cats.


So although it was a beautiful morning with amazing reflections it was a two sided coin and you could not pretend the other side didn't exist. Small barge here used to clean weeds and other debris out the canal and keep it free of snags for summer boat travel.



View along the canal.

 Coot Reflection.


Female Goosander on a sunken log


Male Goosander and Male Mallard Duck.

Reflections near Maryhill.


A slight breeze created this startling effect of golden ripples. 


And revealed some unusual predators. What I think is a Mink here exploring the canal. I've only spotted a few mink over the decades, half a dozen otters, and one wild or feral polecat so not a usual sight on any walk.


Also this larger mystery beast cleaving through the water at speed. Anyone know what this is.....?...... because I do :o) And it's not a girl doing wild swimming in the canal. Glasgow isn't that posh ...yet,


After a few flat miles of walking I arrived at Stockingfield Junction. This is the support pillar and tension cables holding up the new bridge.

 New bridge across the canal. Perfect day for reflections.


A bike going over the new bridge.


This photo reminded me strongly of Cumbernauld. Same pedestrian/ cyclist elegant solution to get over several dual carriageways there. Same distant view of white tower blocks, same spindly trees and a huge sky feel above on a nice day as that town sits high on a moorland ridge. It's a good town to explore by bike and Stockingfield Junction, on the day I was there, having recently opened, had attracted a fair number of curious cyclists.

 One thing that puzzled me here was several low humps of concrete/ asphalt. I looked it up online with no success as to their purpose so it remains a mystery. If I'd been younger I'd have been enticed into walking along the top of them and I'd imagine cycling along them by intrepid bikers will be an irresistible temptation but I don't think that's the reason for them being here with a nasty jolt around the bottom which certainly stopped me jumping off at the thought of it. Maybe they will be painted with art at some point.

 Certainly at the moment it looks unfinished somehow.


I can normally think of something extra to add on these occasions to give it some extra sparkle but I was uninspired with this attempt.


This also looked like an unfinished sculpture of some kind. Heavy concrete legs capable of holding up many tons of weight...



So I added a bubble.... from another planet... here perhaps to sort out the mess humanity has made of it's beautiful green ball..... gifted to it by God. The only one we have and the miracle of the entire universe.... before we trashed it that is. 


Buried car artwork.

I liked these colourful ceramics around the base of the pole. Children often make the best art pieces.


So I'm presuming these are made by local schools or the like. Although I enjoyed the day out and the new bridge links the three communities better with safer bike and pedestrian access when I looked it up online to find out more about the purpose of the humps I was somewhat gutted to read that Andy Scott's 'Big Man' project was originally proposed for this area. I'd forgotten about that in the many years since. This was a giant human figure striding the canal holding the bridge with his arms but the concept ran out of money due to a downturn in the UK economy at that time. Which is a real shame. Although the current bridge is a fine piece of engineering, and serves a purpose I personally do not think it has the same 'WOW' factor as a giant person striding the canal with a bridge in both hands. Although expensive that would have really put this part of North Glasgow on the tourist map of Britain although with the increased influx of people they would have had to build far more infrastructure around it to support it... ie car parks, visitor centre etc.... as there's not much there at present and 90 percent of visitors at the moment arrive by foot or bike along the canal.


The 'mystery beast' on the canal.