Sunday 12 February 2023

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

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


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.


Carol said...

I think it's a very elegant bridge. I wish they'd do stuff like that for walkers and cyclists in the country but they don't - we just have to share the main road carriageways with lorries, buses etc - very dodgy! The drivers don't like it much either.

That golden ripples photo is wonderful! And that concrete hump is weird - but I can see the temptation to walk along it - I'd feel the same.

Anabel Marsh said...

The humps are a giant Nessie-style sea serpent. If you follow upwards you will see it tapering to a tail, and I suspect the head is still to be added at the front. The tiles are made in community workshops (ongoing) led by ceramicist Louise Nolan and will eventually cover all the brick benches too (one has been done at the Gilschochil side) and i suspect possibly the serpent, though that is conjecture. Don’t know what will go on the A shaped plinth, but as there are supposed to be about 9 artworks in total, and i can only think of 5, I predict it will be something! I think i have now exhausted my knowledge!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
it is an elegant bridge and also reminded me of the pedestrian bridge over the M8 from Anderston to Bothwell Street near Charing Cross. Are you not having a guess at the water beast photo?

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks for that info Anabel and that now makes sense. I noticed a lot of the features there were unfinished including most of the stone benches. By the time I walked there I was intending to walk past into the city centre but my over 60s bus pass is not valid between 4:00pm and 6:00pm and it was after 3:00pm so I raced down Dorchester Avenue to Gt Western Road to catch a bus back before 4:00PM arrived. That and a guy walking two very large dogs off the lead around the summit of the hilltop above the pole meant I didn't see everything there but that will give me a reason to return once it is finished. I liked your illuminated night shots of it at the grand opening.
According to Wiki Andy Scott has moved from Maryhill to the USA now, presumably to explore new markets/ projects over there.. or retire.
I'll post what the mystery beast is swimming in the canal later... but it's not Nessie.

Carol said...

Nope - no idea what it is!

And whenever you mention 'Andy Scott', I always picture the cute Welsh guy from The Sweet! :-)

blueskyscotland said...

I've added an additional photo of what 'the beast' looks like normally. Although it does look, from this angle, more like a long haired female swimming in the canal that what it really is. Normally a creature of the coast and seascapes they can also be found inland for the past few decades in rivers and canals.