Following on from the 200th post a couple of weeks ago, recently I was walking in Lochend Park in Edinburgh and as I walked I thought about my history in that part of the capital, some of which I wrote about in Craigentinny recently. In the 200th post, I wrote a little about how I know Edinburgh more than I do Glasgow, despite having lived here for three years. The gap is narrowing, though.
I am quite a visual thinker. If I’ve been to a place once, I can usually remember it if I’m there again, right down to which way I walked or what the surroundings were like. In cities, I find it useful to walk around as you can make your own mental map more readily than you can on a bus or a train, forming connections between districts that appear on an actual map but blend into one when you’re on foot.
Sometimes I like to walk in the West End here in Glasgow. One of the last times I was over there, I walked around the Botanic Gardens, all the way through into the arboretum and back to where it comes out near Kelvinbridge. I walked along Great Western Road for a bit then down through Woodlands to Charing Cross, onto Bath Street and down to Central Station from there. That walk is about an hour, all-in, and takes you through quite a few distinctive parts of the city. From the West End, there are about four or five routes you can take, along Great Western Road or through Woodlands, on Berkeley Street then Bath Street or alternatively along Argyle Street. I mix and match with them, just letting my feet take me forward, inclination leading me left or right even while I have an eventual destination in mind.
I work in the south side of the city and one lunch break I headed out for a walk around the block since it was beautiful and autumnal. Around Langside are lots of streets named after places connected to Mary, Queen of Scots, whose forces went into battle about where the library sits, including Lochleven Road, named after the castle in Kinross where Mary abdicated, Craigmillar Road, after the castle on the outskirts of the capital, and Dundrennan Road, named after the abbey where Mary spent her last night in Scotland before crossing the border to her eventual doom. All three of those places I have been to and all three of them are Historic Scotland properties, incidentally. Anyway, I headed down Sinclair Drive and ended up at the Cart after a few minutes, looking up and down the streets, putting names to places. I noticed that there are a few lanes up and down that way too, like in the West End.
Not so far from Langside is Cathcart, where Holmwood House is, which I wrote about recently. That day I walked from there round by King’s Park to Hampden and eventually to Cathkin Park. I had only been in Cathcart before to work at the Couper Institute, one of Glasgow’s nicer libraries, but there are parts of it, like the Snuff Mill Bridge, which are stunning, putting me in mind of the Brig o’Doon, down at Alloway, part of the tale of Tam o’Shanter. The city has lots of hidden dimensions and that day at Holmwood was incredibly useful in helping to widen my mental map of the city.
Around this way, there are still places I am yet to venture into, like Rosshall Gardens, in Crookston, about a mile from here, the House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park, and Barshaw Park, on the Glasgow Road in Paisley. They are all on my radar but it just needs the right day and time. I have only set foot in Bellahouston Park once, which I wrote about here, but it was excellent, with great views and interesting sculptures. Sometimes you don’t need to go far to discover something new.
Sitting writing this tonight has made me think about the jaunts I could go on across the city and beyond. I am due a trip down to Alloway – my first visit there, quite a few years back now, was on a dreich winter’s day, which makes it more atmospheric – while the House for an Art Lover is reachable from here within half an hour so it can be done with minimal thought or planning. Provan Hall is still on my list and I am still curious about the stone circle up at Sighthill too. There are corners of this city I am yet to reach and it might take another three years for it to happen. But my mental map of the city is growing all the time and some day, it will take in more than even my knowledge of Edinburgh, since I live here and that won’t be changing any time soon, sure.