Saturday 8 July 2023

Silverburn to Barrhead. The Magic Kingdom Trail. Part One.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN


Buchanan Bus Station. When I was doing my other Pollok Walk from Silverburn to Paisley via Dkyebar, posted on here several months ago, I had the idea to follow the Brock Burn from Pollok upstream to the Barrhead Uplands as I knew a network of paths would make it easy yet very scenic. It's a walk best suited to public transport, bus or train, as it has a different start and end point and parking is limited or non existent anyway. 


 Fortunately, the number X8 bus is an express leaving from Buchanan Bus Station and apart from a few streets of city centre traffic it's straight onto the motorway after Bothwell Street and 15 mins later you are in Silverburn Shopping Centre in the middle of Pollok. Very fast. Which was a considerable bonus.

Silverburn Shopping Centre.

The path along the right hand bank of the Brock Burn starts to the right of this Cineworld signage directly under this 10 foot high brown statue and runs around the edge of the housing scheme of Priesthill. Supposedly, once upon a time, a priest was murdered here, giving his rank/title to the area if not his actual name, which apparently no one thought to ask him for before his sudden demise.  Many centuries later, again once upon a time, back in the 1980s, it looked like this. Story book time.

Streets lined with flat roofed 1950s style council built tenements, many of them starting to become empty at that point although the eventual demolition in all the large Glasgow estates of run down tenement clusters would take decades to achieve. Half the population would also vanish in a puff of smoke as throughout the 1980s thousands of Scottish jobs simply disappeared as the UK changed from country wide factories, shipyards and heavy industry to become the London and the South East centrist service and banking hub that it still is today. Instigated by the Wicked Witch of capitalist idealism and her flying monkeys, starting in 1979 to the early 1990s which laid waste to the north as devastating and long lasting as any fiery furnace dragon's breath.

It now looks similar to this... low level back and front garden cottage types, many owner occupied. Urban living but surrounded by woods and meadows. Mind you, I don't think today's children explore their surroundings like we did. We had virtually nothing indoors to amuse us in the 1960s and practically lived outside except for meals and sleeping whereas they now have loads of gadgets and computers to entertain them. And an increased modern awareness/ acceptance that any stranger encountered outside may well be a pervert- something that never occurred to us unless said stranger started acted funny. In which case  we could run.... or fight.



Priesthill Road in 2023.  A perfectly pleasant place to live now.


Which makes it strange that shopping trolleys are still being dumped here. I always knew that Silverburn Shopping Centre was so named due to the number of shopping trolleys dumped in the Brock Burn since the 1980s  and glinting there year round in the water but I had no idea it would still be happening... or why? Obviously people get their messages, take them home without a car, then dump the empty trolley afterwards but to have this once notorious estate completely transformed for the better but find this still occurring in 2023. is extraordinary. And a puzzle. The power of ritual!?


I counted around 40 at a guess, either in the stream or sitting on the bank in this small area.

Just some more human waste that nature attempts to hide along with the millions of other throwaway rubbish items that nature has to conceal every year. This stretch is short lived however and you soon leave it behind.... so worry not.


The Brock Burn walkway at Silverburn. It is a nice walkway or bike trail and in May or June is covered in wild flowers.


Grass verge wild flowers.

Cow parsley on the Brock Burn Walkway.


I took a quick optional detour up Glenmuir Drive in Priesthill, seen here, to view the wild hilltop where flat roofed 1950s tenements and a square concrete water tower once stood up until the 1990s.... now home to small trees, a meadow, and reclaimed scrub land. All houses removed


This is it here.


I was glad I did this as I took this photo from the summit slopes in May 2023 looking south across the few remaining modernized tenements on South Nitshill with the full glory of Renfrewshire beyond. If you grow up here and you enjoy the outdoor life, this magical landscape is a real gift. It was a gift then back in the 1960s and it still is today. Vivid and extraordinary. Even now I feel the power of this view... for exploration possibilities. As a child this was right on my doorstep. Every day. 

I started life in inner city Glasgow... Kinning Park and Cessnock, packed streets of heavily built up urban districts with very little in the way of trees or greenery yet moved out to leafy Pollok just after I learned to walk. It was and still is a paradise. You can walk from here to the sea 40 to 50 miles away and all you will pass will be farms, countless dams and ponds. rural streams, meadows, woods, waterfalls, hills and hollows. And I did explore it, every free weekend and holiday day off for over 20 years.


Brownside Braes and the town of Barrhead. I've travelled all over the UK and this area is unique in Scotland. This crumpled bedspread landscape of small hills, woods, numerous dams, drumlins, streams, heights and hollows occurs nowhere else and has much more in common with Southern English hill ranges like The Cotswolds, The Malvern Hills, The Weald etc than the rest of Scotland.... and the Gleniffer Braes/Brownside Braes/ Fereneze Hills/Lochliboside Hills, (all connected together and all under 1000 foot) have a lush cornucopia of summer vegetation that the higher slopes of The Campsies, The Kilpatricks, and The Fintry hills simply cannot match. This far north an extra 500 foot in height matters and the last three hill ranges mentioned, also surrounding Glasgow, are very bleak by comparison, mostly treeless, wind exposed, and shelter-less on top, apart from conifers. Bearing in mind we often left the house in the 1960s as children to go exploring here without a warm jacket, no rucksack, no food, no water bottle, poor footwear etc.... so anything too extreme, harsh, or bad weather was a definite low point to our mood and severe hindrance to staying out longer, once we got cold, wet or hungry. Rain showers we could avoid in the numerous small woods in this area so only a full day of heavy rain put us off going out into our surroundings. 


A vibrant lilac bush in Priesthill.

Dappled shade along the Brock Burn walkway.

The Brock Burn path comes out at Darnley on Kennishead Road and another green path starts a stones throw to the left of it, using another green band of empty land  running between Arden and the A77.

Back in the 1980s all of the Darnley council estate used to look like this, a high level deck access scheme, but only this one long block remains of that to give you some idea of what the rest used to look like. Now, like most of the other large ex-council estates in Glasgow it's low level properties in the main, some owner occupied or rented. See previous photo one up for that.


I came out at Darnley Mill on Nitshill Road which up until the 1970s used to be a working dairy farm, with herds of black and white cattle grazing the surrounding fields.( fields I played happily in for over a decade or more which are now buried under various owner occupied housing estates in this vicinity) Then it became a restaurant for many years... and now it's a medical practice named after the famous Darnley Sycamore tree just across the road from it.


The famous Glasgow sycamore of that ilk. Of Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots fame.


Built around 1958 this was the estate of South Nitshill by the mid 1960s.

By the 1990s it was mostly empty and scheduled for demolition.


But for me the real beauty of this place was always the surrounding landscapes and I developed a deep affection for small woods, meadows, stunning rolling countryside and cattle. When you are eight years old cows are the size of elephants so we treated them with the ease of gradual familiarity but also with awe and respect. We would wander through fields with cattle in them no problem but we always had a quick escape route sussed out just in case, through a gap in hedge or fence. Occasionally a bull was present, not always in plain view. Luckily, it was a rural landscape that you could and still can wander through....mostly without boundaries. Not all farmland is like that.

'How green was my valley' summed up what I loved most about this place. South Nitshill, looking west. Excellent walking in that direction as well. In every direction in fact.


And the next section is even better. The Magic Kingdom indeed. Part One.


Anabel Marsh said...

Is that really how Silverburn got its name? Whoever chose it has a wry sense of humour!

blueskyscotland said...

Yes. They asked the locals what it should be called :o)
Similar to the traffic cone on the statue's head in George Square being a prime example of Glasgow's aspirational cultural development over many centuries placed into one useful object that sums the city up perfectly in all its myriad sophisticated glory. A traffic cone. Maybe the residents feel it's now expected somehow to dump abandoned shopping trolleys there as a long standing multi generational tradition.
Tongue in cheek Scottish humour runs along similar lines in Edinburgh band the Rezillos, Fay Fife... so named because she was.... from Fife.

Carol said...

I think kids of today are imaginationless and completely barmy staying indoors all the time and pratting about on technology. They even prat about on it while in the outdoors when they ever decide to go outside. We didn't play out because there wasn't much to do indoors - we played out because we wanted to be away from home and in the outdoors and all our hobbies were outdoors. And we weren't in any danger despite there being just as many predators as now because there was a gang of us together - who could tackle that?

blueskyscotland said...

There were plenty of teenagers outdoors on the two buses I got back from both Pollok walks Carol. Paisley town centre was heaving with them because it was a school holiday one of the days.Each new generation has its own way of having fun I suppose.

Carol said...

But I bet they were on their phones more than talking to each other!

blueskyscotland said...

Nope. No phones on the bus just talking to each other, which admittedly is not usually the norm but in this instance it was... probably because all the friends they might be texting were sitting right beside them on the bus, so no need to get the phones out at that point.

Carol said...

well you'd think that but I've seen them texting each other on a night out when they're together...

blueskyscotland said...

Well I didn't on this occasion so you have already lost that bet.