Wednesday 17 May 2023

Cuningar Loop Park and the River Clyde Walkway.

                                                    ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


A recent walk I enjoyed took me to Dalmarnock and the Cuningar Loop Park situated between Dalmarnock and Rutherglen. I jumped on a train from my house then got off at Dalmarnock Train Station. When I worked in this area during the 1980s and 1990s I remember it being a fairly grim, dark neighbourhood of old style stone four storey tenements all along both sides of Dalmarnock Road with nearby Sunnybank Street at the tenement heart of the district not living up to its name in any way. (This was a pre- sandblasted Glasgow which removed 100 years of soot and grime from the more prosperous districts, not helped by the nearby bulk of Dalmarnock power station with its multiple chimneys and adjacent sewage works, the latter still there and still in operation, judging by the smell.) Sunnybank Street was instead an enclosed feeling, fairly dangerous, grubby gauntlet of a place for a visiting outsider parking a van there. Easily in the top 20 worst looking streets in Glasgow back then for crime, drug addiction, poverty, and general urban deprivation I'd imagine. A long street of half empty four story tenements on both sides... nearly all of the ground and first floor houses abandoned and secured with metal shutters with only the top two floors permanently lived in, presumably due to encountering less hassle from the street below, if you lived high up. 


I also remember at one point local primary school pupils getting a police escort to their school every day, presumably to prevent people trying to sell them drugs, give them drugs free, (to get them hooked), or some other safety issue at that time. Dalmarnock then was also a semi industrial area of small works and factories interspersed with the tenement buildings and old heavy drinking watering hole pubs like the Falcons Nest, The Plaza Bar. Nero's, and The Kimberley Bar (nearer Bridgeton in that instance) and many, many others. All long demolished. It did have plenty of employment opportunities at one time with gas works, iron works, and railway yards also located in this district but by the 1980s they were either gone or in decline and hardcore drugs like heroin flooded into Glasgow's council housing schemes/estates.

 What a difference 30 odd years make. It's now a much brighter, cleaner, more open, and lower level neighbourhood that is a pleasure to walk through. And Cuningar Loop adds a much needed green oasis to this inner city district that did not have a park nearby for locals to visit before.


These few remaining traditional flats on Dalmarnock Road, beside the River Clyde, gives you some idea of what the old tenement cluster of streets surrounding Sunnybank Street looked like in the late 1980s, only these flats are in much better condition. i.e. not half abandoned and shuttered up.


And this is Sunnybank Street today. 2023. Cleared waste ground over several city blocks where lines of tenements once stood and lower level flats on the other side. A much nicer, more open place .... although I suppose at some point other houses might be built here. 


On the other side of Dalmarnock Road, where various works and small factories once stood, regeneration house building projects are in full swing with both rented and bought houses springing up all around this area, (see first photo at top of this post, of other just completed riverside apartments.) It should make it a much nicer place to live although maybe locals who have grown up here might feel displaced somewhat by the brave new world taking shape around them, filling up with incoming tenants arriving from elsewhere. Gentrification occurring in most cities at some point.


The River Clyde at Dalmarnock. Having a large river right beside you is a bonus for scenic enjoyment but also a potential danger for local children during heatwaves tempted to explore its banks or go swimming in it. A quick cold/lukewarm shower or a splash in a sink over your head has the same effect only not so risky. Dozens of children die each year in the UK in rivers and lakes, even good swimmers.



With this maybe in mind the park itself has loads of stuff to keep children interested. A  large and varied adventure playground here. It also has an up and down bike trail.

 Around nine different climbing boulders with multiple top class problems/graded routes on each. Ten foot high.


Unlike other climbing wall style features in other parks/areas these look worth making a special trip to try out if you are into bouldering as they do look like carefully planned professional grade routes although they might be busy with ambitious children on certain days. I was here early, before 11:00am so had them all free to myself. That front sloping slab looks about VS-HVS standard or 6a at a guess. Not having rock boots with me no point trying such finger pocket sized small holds.



A view from the Cuningar Loop look out tower situated within the park.

An elevated walkway and viewing platform just above tree level, around 40 feet high but enough to give decent surrounding views of the area.


This is it here from the central meadow with an eye catching sculpture in front.



Several of these exist in the park. Metal entrance arch here.

 A view of the Emirates Arena and Celtic Park FC Stadium from the lookout tower.


A personal highlight for me within the park was this boardwalk trail beside the River Clyde that felt very 'Scottish jungle' thanks to its high vegetation and lush greenery in spring and summer conditions.



Instead of monkeys jumping around we have grey squirrels.


Not afraid of visitors.

The wild River Clyde at Dalmarnock. Could be Huckleberry Finn land and the Mississippi River basin at first glance.

View of Glasgow city Centre from the look out tower in Cuningar Loop Park.

To be continued... ( this is just one half of a two part walk along the River Clyde. Second half later.
  PS another thing I enjoyed recently on TV that falls under the title of 'true inspiration.' Myleene Klass deservedly winning I'm a Celebrity. South Africa. by eating the usual disgusting meals on it to an incredible degree never seen before then donating her one hundred thousand pound winnings to the Save the Children charity. The complete reverse of many high profile already rich modern politicians who, (according to dozens of news accounts over the last decade) seem to spend large chunks of their time thinking up ways to further increase their personal bank balance at every opportunity when they get into power. So....It's been many years since I've been truly inspired by anyone... but she did it this week. 


Another highlight on TV has been the last few years of women's football, mainly down in England which I started watching during the World Cup then the Euros. Because they are now full time professional teams playing in a competitive league the standard and skill levels are very high and at the moment free to watch on TV. I must admit I prefer it to the men's game where often cynical fouls and dives in the penalty box are the norm due to the increased money levels/rewards at stake there. yet the athletic ability and skill levels in the women's game and the audience attendance at big games are catching up fast, demonstrated recently by Chelsea's Sam Kerr. Not only a vital winning goal but a double combination running cartwheel/ somersault celebration worthy of a top Olympic gymnast. Luckily, I picked Chelsea as my team a few years ago due to a Glasgow connection in it... as they have won almost every major football competition since.  No Partick Thistle Nil for this lucky viewer. Only exciting end to end games and plenty of goals for me so far :o)

Wednesday 10 May 2023

North Bridge. Glasgow. A New Beginning For Sighthill.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


As it was relatively easy to get to I decided on another visit to North Bridge which is located just north of Glasgow City Centre and Buchanan Bus Station seen here.

So it was out from there then up past the entrance to Caledonian University. Then onto Hanover Street.


Past the high rise towers of Townhead...



Looking back at the newly built Met Tower...

And the various student apartments around Boyce House on Kyle Street. This area has been transformed in recent years and the latest addition to get a makeover is Sighthill, just above this photo, looking to the right.


Sighthill used to look like this, a district of high rise flats and some lower deck access type houses. Rather than go down onto the streets far below unaccompanied younger children used to play on their individual landings instead or ride the elevators down to the ground floor then back up again. It was safer that way and they probably enjoyed it.

  I did a walk here in 2011 as I knew these 20 storey buildings would all be demolished soon.


Which is why I have these before and after photos. Very handy to illustrate the difference. It used to be a fairly run down estate, built in the 1960s consisting ten high rise towers, like the ones above, and lower tenement style flats, seen here. I have to say I enjoyed both walks.



Not far away the even higher flats of Red Road were scheduled for demolition as well. 28 and 31 floor high storey blocks making them the highest residential flats in Western Europe when they were constructed, again in the 1960s. You can see right through them here as they were already getting stripped out, floor by floor, prior to coming down. Also a photo taken in 2011. A few years later they were gone.



With all the old estate and tower blocks swept away into history it now looks like this and has been rebranded North Bridge. The steps leading up to the actual bridge over the M8 motorway and the new estate. I was here with Anne last year in August 2022 but the bridge was still unfinished then. There is a pram/wheel chair/ bike friendly ramp up here in a gentler serpentine climb to the top.


Now it's complete and very nice it is as well. I don't know if it's the same for everyone but I do get a kick out of exploring brand new urban areas. (i.e. areas that are recently constructed and mint fresh)
It's the same kick of euphoria I get out of blue sky sunny days... to the extent that I don't bother doing walks in dull grey weather as that always lowers my mood. I'm half butterfly! Or bumble bee.... But as soon as the sun is out I am as well.


Loads of white stone blocks sparkling, sculptured sofa sized giant pebbles and newly planted young trees. Also loads of attractive paths snaking through this newly created landscape.

In one direction leading towards Port Dundas and the Monklands Canal, also getting a makeover...


Monklands Canal and Port Dundas....


And in the other direction running over towards Sighthill Cemetery... so plenty of walking potential here to explore...



Which I did. Heading on the new open plan walkway in the direction of Sighthill Cemetery.


Entering Sighthill Cemetery. As it sits on a hill it offers good views over Glasgow.


City Centre district and bus station showing where I've walked from.


Cowcaddens District and St Rollox Church.


Glasgow's Royal Infirmary and the Sighthill area of North Bridge still to get developed. It is still a work in progress but so far what is here already is worth a visit.


Townhead district from North Bridge Main Stairs.


Outdoor bouldering wall. North Bridge. Only eight foot high at it's highest and around 30 foot in length. Some chalk marks on it already. I was never really into bouldering much, more big mountain rock routes but a nice decorative feature for local children to clamber on.


The stone circle at North Bridge.



New housing being built. North Bridge. Apparently this is currently one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK, outside of London.

More new streets from Sighthill Cemetery.


The new Sighthill Community Campus at North Bridge.


Side view with silver birch trees. This area already has fine new walking routes running through it with more to come. It also looks good for cycling, roller skates or skateboarding due to dozens of brand new flat surfaces although I'd better not mention that. 


A new walkway in North Bridge.


St Rollox Church in Sighthill. All the different crosses are ones found across the globe from  different religious groups. I had no idea so many existed.


The info board on them all. An unexpected and enjoyable walk, especially when you link it with the Sighthill Cemetery walk as well or you could arrive, continue, or depart via the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal at Port Dundas. Where canal goods once arrived in the city from outlying areas.