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 report...it still is magic for me, and always will be.



And further out in Renfrewshire the water worlds keep unfolding...one 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.


Anabel Marsh said...

Been reading about the potential development round Kenmore and Glen Lyon. A gated community for the mega rich to play in. Paradise, but for some only 🙁. Hope that doesn’t get through.

blueskyscotland said...

Never read about that Anabel. Not that bothered about it either if I'm honest :). Watched a TV programme a while ago about billionaires paying around 12 million each for a sand island in The Palm. Dubai, an amazing construct but each island paradise roughly tennis court sized with a house taking up most of it. I was not envious at all and I bet we had more fun playing in the fields. Most of my life Ive not had a lot of money but always enough to pay bills so I've been happy with what I have got, which is free time to do things and go places. Many people found lockdown hard but I've continued it voluntarily, (as you might have noticed for the last five years of blog posting,) confining myself mainly to my own quarter of Glasgow but it's been a breeze. Not hard at all so I suppose paradise and contentment is a state of mind. That and not having to amuse/entertain children. partners or other people so I enjoyed the lockdowns.

Rosemary said...

If you were to double your average price for a house in London then sadly you would be more on track. Housing costs are really crazy today - young people don't stand a chance of ever owning one.
I am not really familiar with that side of Glasgow but it does resemble a lovely green oasis.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary, point noted. I've not looked at London house prices for a few years and only certain districts my cousin lived in. I do know a lot of families are moving north, many to Scotland if they get fed up living in London as its much cheaper to live outside of the capital, especially for families with a house to sell. Even as a single person, and one mouth to feed, the price groceries are rising at is staggering now. Mind you I've never earned 'the average UK wage' either, despite having several well paid jobs... (well paid for my own, non university, skill set levels anyway.) But I've got enough to live on and I'm happy with that.
Tough for ordinary families but even worse for children in care reaching 18 according to a TV programme I watched last night. Young people looked after in the care system but once they reach 18 support stops and they are left to sink or swim without any back up or further support and often no-one else to turn to. That is hard in today's environment. There should be something until they find a job and somewhere to live, even in a shared accommodation house as an extra transition stage. Some might do well but many others will not unless they join the army or other institutions like that where they at least get a bed, daily meals, and get looked after plus a few more years to cope better with adulthood and life without a safety net.
It is a beautiful area.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol, yes there's an old black and white photo online of around 50 guys in Victorian clothes clustered tightly around that waterfall when it was first built. All the people that worked there.