Wednesday 19 July 2023

Ardmay Park. King's Park. Croft Park. Drakemire Drive. Holmbyre. Big Wood. Cathkin Braes. Castlemilk Park.

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 A variation walk suggested by Alan on the mid south side of Glasgow devised by the Glasgow Ramblers I believe to give a good long walk by linking up a group of city parks and green spaces in a circular romp. It's called the 'Magnificent 11', although we dispensed with Netherton Braes, Linn Crematorium, and Linn Park as it was a hot day. The name is derived from either 11 parks visited ( I only count 7 or 8 though) or an 11 mile long route. We parked on a side street near King's Park railway station then walked the short distance to Ardmay Park for the views over the city and the nearby Hampden Park, Scotland's National Stadium, seen above.


King's Park came next which is a lovely medium sized park full of open meadows and mature deciduous trees. Capability Brown style as it was once the private estate grounds of the large and still standing Aikenhead House



Straight across the road from King's Park is a newly created green space on what was once the sloping domain of King's Park Golf Course. When I was here about ten years ago it was  all short grass open meadow, still looked like a recently abandoned golf course, but now it's been remodeled with a curving path, see above,  and planted with trees. A view from Croft Park looking towards King's Park, above.

Next came Drakemire Drive and a  set of stairs leading up to Lainshaw Drive Then Holmbyre, on the western edge of Castlemilk.

 Holmbyre (Road) is classed as part of Castlemilk but is a detached small scheme/ housing estate separated from the main bulk of Castlemilk by the broad sweep of Carmunock Road. Therefore not as rough an estate as the densely packed tenement interior of Castlemilk, the original tenement houses here, as you can see, have been mainly saved, like Drakemire Drive, with a modern makeover. I liked this bright and colourful wall mural of flowers, halfway up the estate that we passed. 


Alan was not as keen on it though. It also had a lush carpet of real wild flowers in front of it.


Pink thistles and rose bay willow herb mainly

A splash of colour does make a significant difference to a place and on human moods living there. The original Castlemilk scheme/ estate comprised of three and four storey mainly grey tenement clusters, densely packed and somewhat claustrophobic, especially for a visitor, with a once notorious reputation. Even when I visited it in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s many of the tenements were boarded up and abandoned, with graffiti up to the rooftops in places. It was a wild place for an outsider wandering around up until the early 2000s when they started knocking down the worst affected areas. It's like night and day now with far more lower level upmarket housing built, a richer diversity of building types to look at, and a more scattered population.... roughly half the number of inhabitants than it used to have with several sets of high rise flats gone and many tenement cluster districts no longer there or slimmed down in scale. I've always enjoyed exploring housing estates though as part of a walk... Alan not so much :o) 

 Like a lot of hill-walkers he felt happier in open countryside rather than prowling around urban estates. But he did like this sculpture on the edge of the green belt.


Which led us up into open countryside again between Castlemilk and Carmunnock. A green path here leading up to Cathkin Braes Country Park and the Big Wood.


Views over the surrounding district.


Alan heading up towards the single large wind turbine on Cathkin Braes....

 Where we got extensive if heat hazy views over the UK's 4th largest city. ( This list changes depending on whatever list you look at, with London first by a long way, then Birmingham, then usually either Glasgow or Leeds in 3rd or 4th place. Leeds sprinting ahead of Glasgow during the last few decades.


It's an impressive urban sprawl anyway, in whatever position it sits in the league table, stretching in both directions away into the distance when you take in the surrounding, nearly touching towns, like Hamilton, Motherwell, Wishaw, Coatbridge, Paisley, etc... over two million people in one glance from this viewpoint.



Castlemilk tenements from Big Wood and Celtic Park FC, in the distance.


City Centre district and Finnieston here and a photo that shows Glasgow sitting in its  shallow bowl surrounded by hill ranges. Kilpatricks and Campsies on the north..... Brownside Braes and Cathkin Braes in the west and south.


And just below our feet the remaining tenements of Castlemilk which rises up a long slope and was the reason for the Drakemire Drive detour to lessen the uphill walking and leave us with a long easy downhill march back to the car at the end, just when we needed it most. At one time in the 1970s over 36,000 people lived within Castlemilk. One of the 'big four' Glasgow council housing estates built in the 1950s on open land on the edges to re-house the residents of the city from it's crumbling and insanitary inner district one hundred year old slums. 36, 000 incidentally is larger than Falkirk at 35,500, Irvine at 34,000 and only slightly smaller than the town of Stirling at 38,000, yet it's only one district of Glasgow out of dozens more within the city limits


A house with a view from the top edge of Castlemilk. Like Pollok and Drumchapel Castlemilk is surrounded by wonderful green countryside as it was once a grand estate with a large house sitting in its own extensive grounds. The big house is long gone but the stables and the leafy glen with the remains of a stone bridge spanning it and fish pond below can still be seen today.

 Grand Estate link and photos here. 

 Castlemilk Stables, now a drop in centre and community resource. The only building left from that time period.

Large fungi on dead tree in Castlemilk Glen.

A good walk and we both felt it in the legs on the way back. Glad to reach the car again.

Near where the Mitchellhill high rise flats used to stand a car park exists at the top of Castlemilk as a gateway to The Commonwealth Games mountain bike circuit. Starting from here it's a challenge though as winding trails climb steeply up several hundred feet to the summit where the wind turbine sits. I have seen mountain bikers struggle up this way but I would definitely pick the easier alternative route on the flat as several car parks exist nearer the summit of this long slope off the B759 Cathkin Road.  A good day out.



Tuesday 11 July 2023

The Barrhead Dams. The Magic Kingdom. Part Two.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


A short distance up the Corselet Road from Darnley Mill you leave this tarmac country lane for an entrance on the left into the Dams to Darnley Country Park. Even though it always felt very rural with dairy cows, green fields, occasional crops like turnips or barley in some places, we were always coming across the remains of old industry. Nitshill, Barrhead and Thornliebank were all busy industrial revolution hubs at the same time as being tranquil rural gems.


Darnley Mill pond, above.

 Right next to Darnley Mill, a working farm from the 1800s to the 1970s, you had the Darnley Lime and Fireclay works, numerous small flooded quarries, various tram and mineral lines, and various water features where the Brock Burn had been captured in storage ponds, with water gates and lades, presumably to supply the mill or the adjacent works with a year round supply of steady reliable water. 


By the 1960s the works had just closed down and nature was already reclaiming and softening the landscapes of past industry, a process still occurring today. Added to the patchwork quilt rumpled terrain were various mysterious ruins, mostly buried or completely gone today, and a glorious abundance of sparkling tempting water, coaxed to travel along certain routes. A joy to explore as by this point in the walk it really is turning into a 'silver burn'.


Stone man made channel near the old farm. Brock Burn at Darnley. Apart from the rolling landscapes of small hills and hollows what sets this place apart is the sheer abundance of water everywhere.


No other inland district has as much of it as this part of Glasgow/Renfrewshire... or is as scenic to look at. Yet it remains largely empty of tourists, ( thank God!) probably as there's nowhere to park... bus, pedal bike, or train arrival being a better choice for a visitor.


An old photo of the Barrhead Dams on a sunny day when blue sky and blue water combined perfectly. I add this photo as on my recent May 2023 walk all the dams looked grey due to it being very hot and muggy with a heat haze sky diffusing the overhead sun. Having watched numerous programmes about the famous rebirth landscapes created in Greek and Roman gardens... a pleasure garden leading to either dark caves or a subterranean tunnel journey,( The descent. A ritual representing Death.) then a rise into the open and sunlight again ( the rebirth) the same effect is achieved here in the Dams to Darnley Country Park. Accidental or not.


You start off in the open, then the tree cover above gets gradually darker and heavier as the path enters a shallow gorge, ( dark, claustrophobic, damp, shaded.) then you burst out into the open again higher up ( the rebirth) and experience the full glory of the Barrhead Dams spreading out before you. A flat open area of huge wide skies. It never fails to work even if you already know the surprise awaiting you.

On this particular occasion, grey again. So ever-changing... Waulkmill Glen Reservoir, above.

A cyclist. Barrhead Dams. Sun out again up here, above the city haze. It is a great area for walking and cycling with a further extensive network of minor country lanes devoid of traffic to explore.


And it still has cattle herds once you get up into unspoiled countryside again.


And farms with livestock.


A grass path in the dams.


Railway bridge and dams. One of the reasons for coming back here was I noticed building works taking place the last time a few years ago and thought it might be new housing occurring. Happily, it was not but rather a series of pipes laid underground connecting Ayrshire and Renfrewshire/Glasgow water together. This does not spoil the area however as it is minimal disruption over a few fields and once it's finished it will be buried, covered over with grass, and go back to normal again.  



The Brock Burn where water voles used to play at dusk. Might still be there for all I know..

A path round Waulkmill Glen Reservoir.



Once beyond the obvious railway bridge and across Aurs Road I continued this linear walk on a path around the biggest reservoir. Balgray. Whereas the rest of the reservoirs looked full below this, Balgray looked half empty, maybe feeding the smaller ones below it.

Water never used to be a problem in the UK but with recent hotter, drier years this may  shift, especially in the south of England. Everyone has power showers now, families showering every morning, dish washers going daily, washing of clothes almost daily, watering gardens etc... all have seen a large increase. A steady supply taken for granted in the past.

 What I presume are fishing piers on Balgray Reservoir. The water is a long distance away from its normal mark yet this was taken before the month long, very dry, hot spell in June so it would have dwindled further. 


Where the largest reservoir used to be. This housing estate is new but I can't complain about that as this is what my own estate looked like, opening directly into a cornucopia of rural bliss 30 steps from my back door. Although it's been raining sporadically the last two weeks it takes a huge amount of rain to fill this space yet we still waste water every day in most households... not yet used to water being a very precious resource in this country. If this trend continues however I can see many more families moving north, chasing the dwindling UK water supplies to maintain their lifestyle of daily power showers and paddling pools as you can sell an average house in London for around £350,000.... buy a similar one up here and still have £100,000 or more left to enjoy the surplus, sitting in the bank.


An overflow channel feeding the Brock Burn. Barrhead Dams.



Rural bliss. Reminiscent of The English Cotswolds or the lower Malvern Hills in landscape features (IMHO) if not in large houses, centuries of wealth, and tourist numbers. Yet it's the lack of people that still makes this place so special.

Main waterfall. Barrhead Dams.


Nearing the end of the Brock Burn trail above the dams. Journey up this little stream almost complete for me. (It does go further into the hills ending near Bannerbank Farm but that's too far off my planned route to follow on this particular walk.... and no buses back.) The Silver Burn indeed.


I followed the path right around the largest reservoir of Balgray, ( a public car park is here off Balgraystone Road) then followed a grass extension path over several empty fields to Auchenback, a large housing estate in Barrhead where I boarded a number 3 bus back into Glasgow. Tired but happy. A hot day for Central Scotland. 26c degrees.The nearest white tower block sits within Nitshill, surrounded by the low level owner occupied modern housing estates of Parkhouse (named after the nearby Parkhouse Road, probably a farm or rural house name before that) and Southpark Village ( not a village in any way, shape or form but rather a modern in vogue housing estate title to presumably signify that a bunch of random cul de sac streets, with no centre/middle gathering place. local pub or shops, represented a district bursting with hopeful 'community spirit and neighbourly-ness. Well...Just like a village is supposed to be.)

 A camera zoom showing the remaining three sets of new tenements on Parkhouse Road, A bus on Glenmuir Drive, Priesthill, behind, can be seen , and what looks like Pollok Park with Pollok House. (the wooded area to the right.) Also a view of some of my walk undertaken along the Brock Burn.

The Magic Kingdom?     Spring/Summer. A few years ago

Same place in winter. Parkhouse Road 1990s. And I'm pleased to still is magic for me, and always will be.



And further out in Renfrewshire the water worlds keep after another...

Scenic pool and puddle..... after scenic pool and puddle....

  All the way out to the sea and the start of the mountains. These stretch over 150 unbroken miles to the north of Scotland as the crow flies. Few people live here. Scattered hamlets mainly.


What else would you call it?       But an earthly paradise..... 


The end.