Subway Surface: St. George’s Cross-St. Enoch

St. George’s Cross was an interesting part of the walk. Outside the Subway was an interesting chalked drawing of a loch scene with a mountain and what looked like Jupiter or Saturn high up in the sky. I came to a square with a statue of St. George and the dragon in the centre, liberally bedecked with pigeons, and I was glad to see it, a reminder of why it’s just fine to detour in the city. I wasn’t 100% sure how to get from there to the next stop, Cowcaddens, and it was there that I turned to Google Maps for the first time. On the way I came across some intriguing desert island-style graffiti and an art installation encouraging touch in an underpass. As a person with touch sensitivities, I declined, instead moving on and I soon discovered I was in Chinatown, coming to a cash-and-carry and lots of businesses catering to the Chinese community. On the corner facing these was an intriguing, generously decorated block as well as a water fountain dedicated to James Torrens, a town councillor in the latter part of the 19th century.

In the underpass leading to Cowcaddens was another art piece, this time featuring hands in various gestures, none of them deliberately rude that I could see. With my disappointment I walked on and soon heard bagpipes. Remembering that nearby is the National Piping Centre, I wasn’t surprised to see a young guy in full Highland dress, sans jacket, standing outside the Centre doing his stuff. I soon came near to Cineworld where a taxi was broken down outside. This was proper city centre now and I stopped outside the Royal Concert Hall to write notes and just sit for a bit. A busker nearby, by the Donald Dewar statue, was playing some possibly modern indie tune then burst into ‘That’s Entertainment’. I resisted joining in with the Hibs version about Martin Boyle and Brandon Barker.

I was now halfway through. It was still roasting but I was still feeling fine, not exhausted, keeping going.

Buchanan Street was station number eight out of fifteen and I had paused on the steps to look down the street towards St. Enoch, the river and Cathkin Braes beyond. The street was very busy with street bars doing a roaring trade and buskers and drummers making a din as I walked spiritedly past, bound for St. Enoch and another pause in our story.

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Visiting Glasgow

I was once gainfully employed giving guided tours. Even now I don’t do that, I can’t help lapsing into guide mode whenever I have half a chance. Whenever I’m showing off Glasgow, I have a few places I would naturally choose. Our city is blessed with many fine museums not to mention its architecture, parks, rivers and libraries. Since I don’t give much of a hoot about eateries, I can’t comment about where to eat or indeed about nightlife since I would rather see Hearts win the Champions League than visit a nightclub.

Glasgow Women’s Library

I think that the best days are carefully curated, especially if they are with other people. We can get in our bubbles and just go to the same places we like but that gets stale after a while. That was how I visited the Glasgow Women’s Library for the first time. One of my friends was in Glasgow and suggested we go to some places neither of us had been to before. I suggested the GWL and it went down a treat. If memory serves, we went to Provand’s Lordship that day too, possibly the Necropolis, all fairly new to us. It’s all about seeing where you end up and following impulses. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Fossil Grove over the river in Victoria Park then went on an urban ramble around Partick. Even just turning off Dumbarton Road and looking at the West of Scotland Cricket Club and Partick Burgh Halls was enough for me. After a walk I had in the West End last night, a couple of Streets of Glasgow walks might happen around Hyndland.

I’m getting sidetracked from the places I would recommend people to visit here in Glasgow. With a few hours, I would suggest one or more of the following:

Hunterian Museum

People’s Palace

Mitchell Library

Pollok House

Cathkin Park

The Lighthouse

Hunterian Museum

These are listed in no particular order, based on how they came out of my head into my fingers and tapped out on this computer keyboard. Let’s start with the Hunterian. Glasgow University is a rather grand campus, the Gilbert Scott architecture and mighty Tower looking out over the city. The Hunterian Museum is in the University’s Main Building and combines medicine, anthropology, geology, archaeology and anatomy all in the one place. Some of it creeps me out, particularly the bodily bits in jars, but I like how random it is. The Roman altars from the Antonine Wall are positioned well, right in front of a big window looking towards if not directly over the route of the Wall itself. The Art Gallery over the way’s no’ bad either.

Billy Connolly’s banana boots

The People’s Palace is another museum, a social history story of Glasgow. It’s a nice red sandstone building with some interesting exhibitions but that’s not the main reason I like it. On the first floor is a video on a constant loop featuring Glasgow singers and comedians, including Billy Connolly whose famous banana boots are nearby in the same gallery. Also on the video is Stanley Baxter doing his Parliamo Glasgow routine with the very broad Weegie interspersed with the best RP translation. His facial contortions do it to me every time.

Mitchell Library

The Mitchell Library is the largest public reference library in Europe. It also features Aye Write, the city book festival, and some half-decent exhibitions. Plus a whole load of books. It has old and new bits, some only open if you ask nicely, but it is one of the best buildings on the planet.

Pollok House is south of the river, the best end, I always think, nestled in Pollok Country Park. Pollok House has a nice library in it too, plus a good Spanish art collection. The nearby Burrell Collection is getting refurbed this weather but go to Pollok House instead.

Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park is a derelict football ground just off Cathcart Road, once the home of Third Lanark. The terracing is being slowly reclaimed by nature though efforts are underway to spruce the place up and get more football happening there. It feels like a church to me and in its eerieness is its great beauty, a reminder for those of us who love football of how our game can be corrupted and our teams can just disappear in a matter of minutes. Cathkin has appeared here numerous times. I collected together some of those posts recently on my other blog Easter Road West. 

View from the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse I’ve only been to once but it’s nice, an arts centre with a rooftop gallery boasting incredible views over Glasgow city centre. It’s a Rennie Mackintosh building so go for that but stay for the views. I’ve written about the Lighthouse in View from the Lighthouse and Streets of Glasgow: Mitchell Street.

I know that there are some folk who read this blog who know Glasgow very well indeed, probably better than I do. This is just a wee selection of what I would recommend people see in this great city. Rather than following a list, it’s sometimes just worth following your nose and seeing where it leads you. Even doing a bit of psychogeography and taking a random turn. It will be worth it.

Abbotsford, Melrose and chips by the sea

I didn’t know how I would spend Saturday, not even as I got ready. Ultimately I decided to head east. Edinburgh is well-connected from Glasgow and from the capital you can get to quite a lot of nice places. On the train from Queen Street, I decided on the Borders. I made a social media post to that effect and very soon after I got a suggestion of where to go. Abbotsford, Walter Scott’s house, was not far from Tweedbank station and ticked a lot of my boxes, history, architecture and books. My original plan was Melrose Abbey but that could wait for a bit. To my eternal discredit I had only been on the Borders Railway once since it had opened. I got on the train in Edinburgh and soon the train passed through gorgeous rolling countryside. One of my favourite bits of Berwickshire is the stretch of the A1 from Cockburnspath to Ayton with lots of trees, prim villages and rolling fields. The Borders Railway from Gorebridge south is much the same and I spent much of the journey just looking and relishing being in such a fine part of the world.

Tweedbank soon came and I found myself in a housing estate. The walking route to Abbotsford led along suburban pavements and by a nice pond with ducks, swans and an Innisfree-esque tree island in the middle. I ended up at a roundabout and naturally I walked the wrong way around it, though soon I came onto the right path towards the visitor centre. The Abbotsford Visitor Centre is a recent creation and I was soon relieved of a tenner for the house tour before being let loose on the exhibition. I half-expected to be irritated but I actually liked it greatly. It didn’t shy away from the rougher bits of Scott’s history, such as his nearly going bankrupt or indeed how he was to some extent a collector of stories and poems much like Burns, and it covered his life in a neat balance of text, images, interactive gadgets and actual, genuine objects and manuscripts.

The foyer at Abbotsford was stuffed full of gear, suits of armour, curiosities and coats of arms. I was handed an audio tour and within seconds realised that some of the wood around the walls came from Dunfermline Abbey, making this a definite link for my Loose Ends series, in which Abbotsford will feature some time in July. I spent the most time in the library, which was beautiful, nicely decorated but not overdone, with views to the Tweed if one was bored with the books. I did think of building a fort and staying just a while but I think they might have noticed at some point. I’m not much fussed with audio tours so I abandoned it after a while, just looking and reading. There was a good exhibition about Scott and JMW Turner, including how Scott didnae trust Turner. They made up in the end. There was also an interesting board talking about when Scott was a sheriff in Selkirk and how he administered the law, contrasting that with his literary interest in outlaws.

A quick turn around the Chapel, which had links to Cardinal Newman (heavily involved in the resurgence of Catholicism in England in the 19th century), and I was back on the road, this time bound for Melrose. Being heavily laden with hay fever, the beautiful sunshine walking by the Tweed was seen through a cloud of snot and tired eyes. It was still lovely, though, even if I cursed the guy going along on his little tractor cutting the grass. I reached Melrose via Darnick and its pretty church. Over the way, by the rugby ground, was the shows and they were busy with folk enjoying the sunshine. It’s a bit weird looking at a grand church with a pop song about not being your homey nor your ho going on the background. Being a sports ground aficionado, I took a polite interest in the rugby ground, what I am advised is called the Greenyards, before walking on to the Abbey.

I’ve been to Melrose Abbey a few times. Dryburgh Abbey edges it for me but Melrose really got me this time. Every little detail as I looked up and round was drunk in, the beautiful day just perfect to take photos, stand and stare. I went up to the tower and looked out over miles, to the fields, hills and the Tweed stretching out both ways, though I couldn’t quite see all of it all the way to Berwick. As I stood there, I thought about where next. I thought about Kelso Abbey but time was against me. The train back to Edinburgh beckoned.

Closer to the capital I thought about where I wanted to eat. I wanted a chippy but wasn’t keen on being back in the city just yet. I ended up on the train to North Berwick and sat down the harbour with a chippy. NB will never be my favourite place in East Lothian – I’m still too much of a Dunbar boy for that – but sitting at the harbour looking over the calm Forth to those islands and the Bass, as I consumed my sausage supper liberally slathered in salt and sauce, I can concede there were many worse places to be. I walked a little way along the beach past the statue of the man with the binoculars. The Bass Rock was white with seabirds and even as the time neared 8pm, the beach still had a few folk on it. I had to think of heading home, a couple of hours still between me and my bed yet.

The trains were quiet thankfully, the perfect antidote to Saturday Night Glasgow, never the most appealing prospect at the best of times. My brain turned from freeform, working on the fly to timetables and concentric city streets, though not for long as I just got myself home, happy for where I had been and the ideas of just where to go next.

Thanks for reading. Walking Talking returns on Wednesday with a post about visiting Glasgow.

Loose Ends: Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral has been a possible connection a few times in Loose Ends so far, right from Aberdour Castle since both have appeared in Outlander. This time it is due to Culross and St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, who is buried within the Cathedral. It was a beautiful sunny day as I walked up to the Cathedral, entering through the big end doors that face Castle Street. I took a turn around the upper church, pausing to peer at some of the windows and plaques that line the walls. One window, a blue affair, was particularly handsome and every time I go to the Cathedral I like to look at it, despite it being put there by some of Glasgow’s independent schools. I went up to the sacristry and found a plaque about Robert Leighton, once archbishop of Glasgow, a link back to Culross where Leighton often stayed. I also paid particular attention to the pews with the crests of various city institutions as well as the city itself. Sadly the lower church was shut so I didn’t get the chance to see my favourite bit of the Cathedral, the Blackadder Aisle, or indeed St. Mungo’s tomb in the undercroft.

From Glasgow Cathedral there can be many links, certainly to any church under the control of the Church of Scotland. I thought about going to the Necropolis but the heat of the day and my throbbing feet put paid to that. Other ideas came, though, a possible trip to Aberdeen with the link to the Piper Alpha memorial in the square outside, or to Leighton’s Library in Dunblane.

Despite being busy, the Cathedral was peaceful and serene and I enjoyed what I was able to see of that great church.

Subway Surface: Hillhead-St. George’s Cross

The walk paused at Hillhead. Byres Road was busy and I didn’t wish to linger long, with plans to lunch in the Botanic Gardens. I stopped outside Fopp to enjoy the quotes from Einstein and Plato on their board outside. Other signs of civilisation included the empty bottle of El Dorado on the windowsill outside the library.

The Botanics were full of people with every square inch of grass covered by someone sitting enjoying the sunshine and the searing heat. I sat inside in the Kibble Palace, keen to escape it for a moment, and ate lunch then made some notes and planned routes to the more awkward stations, some of which were fairly near.

I left the Botanics onto Queen Margaret Drive then Great Western Road, proceeding past the trendy shops and under the pink flowers that fell low over the pavement. One of the charity shops advertised that it sold fishing tackle while in quick succession I felt I must be in the east coast exile district, with a pub owned by Belhaven of Dunbar right next to a cafe selling ice cream from Giaccopazzi’s of Eyemouth. Fine companies both. It was around this point that I was walking in front of a group of young guys and I heard one of those lines you aren’t sure you heard right, something about ‘lipstick on his balls’. My own balls happily unpecked, I walked on and looked in the window of a nearby bookshop which had a book by John Muir and the wonderful Pevsner architectural guide to Glasgow alongside a suitably random title featuring the novelist AL Kennedy’s thoughts on bullfighting.

As I walked up to Kelvinbridge, and crossed the river, I remembered that prior to the Subway’s redevelopment in the late 1970s, the station was in a tenement rather than a stand-alone building as it is today. I stood on the bridge and looked over towards the University tower, last seen at the other side of the Clyde, and spied a plaque about the engineer Sir William Arrol involved in the building of many bridges and railways across the country.

The next bit of the walk along Great Western Road got interesting with colourful street bollards and interesting diverse shops and businesses, particularly at the end nearer the town. There was a row of cracking shop names from Serenity Now to the pub Crossing The Rubicon to Beaver In-Car Installations. As the road reached the motorway, I ducked underneath and into an underpass to St. George’s Cross, where this tale pauses again in the midst of a whole lot of pigeons.

Thanks for reading. The next instalment follows next week.

The beach at the back of the bay

Not many places in central Scotland are inaccessible by road. That tends to be the case more in the Highlands – for instance Corrour on the West Highland rail line, which is only reachable by train or on foot. There is at least one place I know which is over a mile from the nearest road and I was there recently.

After the last game of the football season, I decided to head for the seaside. I ended up in Aberlady with plans to walk around Aberlady Bay and go onwards to North Berwick. I crossed Tranter’s Bridge (which features in the Loose Ends series here) and walked on through the nature reserve. The views at various points were spectacular, over the Forth to Edinburgh and Fife and across the fields to the Garleton Monument and Traprain Law. I soon came to a dune, a big tall sand dune which bore heavy foot imprints. To misquote We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, I couldn’t go under it and I couldn’t go through it. I had to go over it and I ascended then was carried down the steep slope at the other side onto the beach. Despite it being a beautiful May day, there were barely 10 people to be seen and they were scattered along the long sands. I sat down, scribbled notes and sunbathed for a bit. If I could have stayed longer, I gladly would have but time was against me. It was a mile and a half from the nearest car park and that probably accounted for the lack of people. It’s their loss. It was a glorious place to be and I felt the effects for days afterwards.

I headed to Gullane and walked right across a golf course, of which there is no shortage in the area. I hadn’t seen a sign prohibiting me from walking there but I kept half an eye out for golf club officials approaching to tell me to get orf their land. Pursuant to the Scottish Country Access Code I also watched out for golf balls and gave golfers right of way. I loathe golf and I’m firmly of the Mark Twain school but walking there I could be tempted to take it up. Just looking across the fairway to the Forth was glorious. The sunshine and the heat made it all the better but I think I would have felt the same on a brisk January afternoon.

The beach at the back of the bay isn’t a secret but it feels like one. Being there was especially special that day, the whole world before me and precious few others around to appreciate it too.

The where and the how

Today is something called Autistic Pride Day. There is a marketing campaign just now by the National Trust for Scotland asking what folk would do on their longest day. I was hoping I could write a little something combining both of these strands but I can’t be bothered. The longest day this year will see me working until 8pm. Instead I want to write and see what happens, beginning with Saturday. With it being the close season, I actually have a clear Saturday and I am not quite sure how to spend it. Do I want to go to Oban on the bus? I like Argyll and the run by Loch Lomond, the Rest and Be Thankful and Loch Awe. It’s a maybe as other places also appeal. Anstruther and Cellardyke are perennial favourites, the sea and the East Neuk usually just what I need but I never get out of bed early enough. Dundee’s McManus Museum is a place I like but the Beano exhibition may be too close to work just now. Dawyck Botanic Garden could be a good walk or maybe Dryburgh Abbey near St. Boswells where I seem to be once a year and always like a seat by the Tweed. Some places I still haven’t seen in East Lothian might be worth a look, Hopetoun Monument and the Chesters Hill Fort. It’s a whole blend of ideas that will maybe shape into something more definite nearer the time.

I did a Streets of Glasgow walk yesterday. I haven’t done one in a couple of months though I have been psychogeographical a lot lately, particularly the Subway walk. In the last year or more, Glasgow has crept under my skin. I always liked the city but with all the walks, all the words, I have come to love it deeply. I still turn corners and see new things. Drury Street, the walk I did yesterday and which appears here sometime in July, was very brief but still interesting. Last weekend I went to the Fossil Grove just over the river in Victoria Park and while the geology went over my head, I still got a sense of deep age in a city that gets newer every day. On my walk through Partick, I also got a good look at the very fine Partick Burgh Halls and took a turn around the perimeter of the West of Scotland Cricket Club, the scene of the very first international football match. Glasgow never ceases to surprise me. Even in this dark time, with fire still engulfing the city centre, this is home, even if I’m still realising just how I feel about it.

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh for the Hibs Historical Trust Open Day. There’s a post about it on Easter Road West tonight. The next few Sundays see engineering work on the train line between Edinburgh and Glasgow so the slow train via Airdrie and Bathgate is the way to get between the capital and Weegieland. I didn’t realise this before I got to Queen Street. I hate the slow train. I’ve done it a few times, a few times by choice, others by necessity owing to engineering works, and I hate it particularly because there are few seats that don’t face other seats. I like to read and write on trains. Facing other people makes me uncomfortable and my forehead hits the floor on those trains. On the way back, though, I was a little heartened because the three people in my immediate eyeline had books. The guy across from me had the Robert Webb book I abandoned because it annoyed me, How Not To Be A Boy, while the woman next to me had the latest Paula Hawkins thriller. The woman who had been standing with her luggage in the doorway since Edinburgh despite there being spare seats had a book too but I couldn’t see what. I’ve noticed this on buses too. People stand in the aisle when they don’t have to. I spend my life navigating gaps between people. This makes it harder. Anyway, positivity. In this age where folk spend hours gazing into their phones and scrolling, actual real life books in folk’s hands are great to see. For what it’s worth, I read on my tablet and wrote in my notebook for a bit. I might take a book off my to-read pile just now when I finish this. Wherever I go on Saturday, a good book will come with me.

On my longest day, if I wasn’t working, I would go for a long bus ride and sit with a good book, maybe Muriel Spark. I would walk somewhere by the sea and eat fish and chips with a good view. The fish and chips would be served with salt and sauce and a can of Irn Bru. Original 38% sugar, naturally. It would be on the east coast or maybe Culzean. I would come back to Glasgow and the big city would be a culture shock after wherever I had been but it was still home. I would get the train home and I would fall asleep wondering just where I had found myself that day. Had I really gone that far? Luckily I’ve got Saturday for a day like that. I just need to figure out the wheres and the hows.

Loose Ends: Culross

The last instalment of the Loose Ends series saw me at Tranter’s Bridge at Aberlady Bay in East Lothian. I fancied going to Culross anyway but decided to tie it into Loose Ends, linking Nigel Tranter to Glasgow where he was born. Glasgow’s patron saint is St. Mungo who was born in…Culross. Thenew, his mother, was expelled by her father, King Loth, in disgrace back in the 6th century. She was cast out in an open boat and came aground up the Forth at Culross, where she was rescued by monks and gave birth to Mungo. Thenew was put out to sea in Aberlady so another definitive link there, though one I didn’t realise until I read the NTS guidebook sitting on a bench in Culross.

I got there about 3pm and I decided to go get a ticket to get into the Palace though I swiftly learned that last admission was 3.20pm. I am not a big fan of National Trust houses anyway and so I quite cheerfully didn’t bother, saving a few quid by just picking up the aforementioned guidebook. As I walked along, I looked across the Forth towards Grangemouth and Longannet, their silhouettes appearing through the haze. The old pier seems to be in the midst of restoration though I walked over to the other side where there were a few fine quotes and sayings on posts. Interestingly by the pier was a Chilean flag and it was only when I read the guidebook and looked at the statue of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, that I realised that Cochrane was involved in getting various countries independent, including a fair few in South America as well as Greece. Hence the little bit of Chile in Fife.

I sat for a while in the Hanging Garden with a splendid view over the burgh and Palace. I read the guidebook then howled at Leathered, the latest novella by Chris McQueer which had come through the post the day before. I thought about some links to other places, obviously with Glasgow Cathedral where St. Mungo’s remains are, but also through mining to Prestongrange, Newtongrange and numerous other places. The name Dundonald could also take me to Dundonald Castle down in Ayrshire. A house once home to Bishop Leighton would also lead to his library which still exists in Dunblane.

I did a wee bit of psychogeography after that, following closes and streets and admiring the 16th and 17th century buildings all around me. I ended up going up a hill to the ruins of Culross Abbey and instantly regretted only having a few minutes as the Abbey was in a stunning setting. There wasn’t terribly much in the ruins bar an interesting ceiling and some pillars but that did me fine. If I had longer, I would have sat under a tree and pondered some more. A particular highlight was the information board which mentioned James Inglis, Abbot of Culross, who was murdered in 1530. He was a poet before going into the God business and Sir David Lindsay, prominent playwright of the time, said ‘Culros has his pen maid impotent’. It certainly would have if he ended up ambushed and deid.

All too soon and I was back on the bus to Dunfermline, feeling very much better for my two hours in Culross amidst the history and sunshine, another connection done.

Worse

Looking at the news just makes it worse. The machinations over devolution and Brexit this week have made me want to howl with rage. More than once I’ve wanted to draw my pen from its quiver and write out my anger to those who have prompted it. Yesterday when I saw flames engulf the Glasgow School of Art again, the rage turned to sadness. Thoughts turned to those affected, residents, students, staff and the workers who sought to rebuild the Mackintosh Building in the last years, as well as all those who have enjoyed the 02 ABC. Thankfully there don’t seem to have been any fatalities or injuries as a result of the fire which spread to neighbouring buildings on Sauchiehall Street, another place blighted in recent months. The emergency services have done a magnificent job as ever in ensuring everyone’s safety in containing the fire in the last hours.

The Mackintosh building was a place I made a point of seeing every time I visited Glasgow. I was in the early throes of an interest in psychogeography as well as a burgeoning advance in my love of architecture. I had postcards of the Mack in my room, the finials and touches atop and around the building, and tried to get to every exhibition held there. I liked that the building was beautiful but functional, a working place rather than a mere museum piece.

The first fire happened in 2014 and the city of Glasgow and Scotland felt much the same sick horror as right now. I remember going to work the next day and the fire was all we could talk about. It was very sad then though the talk was of rebuilding and renewal. Many treasures were lost forever, other replaced and drawn anew. It was nearly done. Then this.

I was last up that way just over a week ago. I had just finished an exam and rather than get a bus straight home I walked into town. I chose to cross the overpass onto Renfrew Street, a street I liked and hoped to write about soon. I passed ghost signs, art pieces and snatches of city skyline before coming up to the GSA itself. I looked at the ongoing work on the Mackintosh building and thought about how soon it would be back to rights. Indeed it was looking good from the outside. It was a pleasant night and folk were milling around the Reid building where the degree show was in progress. I declined as my brain was melted and walked on. I wish I had stayed, in hindsight.

Looking at the news really does make it worse. Already this year there have been a few big fires in Glasgow, not least the big one that still sees Sauchiehall Street closed off. Now this. Our city’s motto is Let Glasgow Flourish. It is sometimes hard to feel affection for cities amidst the hustle and bustle. There is real love, though, for Glasgow and its finest buildings, whatever your definition of finest. It is a sad day for Glasgow but there will be better ones ahead, sunnier days when the Glasgow School of Art will be back intact and ready to teach and inspire the city and world beyond. As an UNESCO City of Music, hopefully all the shows booked to play the O2 ABC will still happen.

I contend that this city is the greatest in the world. Sometimes I say it in fun but it is never more true than on days like this. I believe it in my very being and hold it close. A great many others do too. There will be a School of Art here again. Whether it is quite in the same building, we can’t yet say. But art endures and Glasgow endures, flourishes in fact, today as always.

Subway Surface: Govan-Hillhead

The walk started on a bright May morning and it was absolutely roasting. As I got off the bus at Govan, I wasn’t sure how far I would get. I hoped I would get the whole way but with the heat, I wasn’t so sure. I stopped by the Mary Barbour statue, admiring it with less folk around it now it’s less of a novelty. Govan Cross was still busy with folk heading between the Shopping Centre, buses and the Subway. I turned right past the Subway and onto Govan Road, ready for the long detour to Partick avoiding the Tunnel. The very first notable spot was a flattened McDonalds Happy Meal box on the pavement. I made sure I got a photo in case I had to pad anything out here later. I hadn’t noticed on my last walk along Govan Road that outside a block of flats was a sculpture of crafted tree stumps. That’s what they looked like anyway, the plaque covered by grass shavings. The community garden up the road has planters shaped to look like an ocean liner and I’ve always rather liked it. This at least was familiar territory, the great views to Pacific Quay, the University and Park Circus a fine start to my walk as was passing the municipal grandeur of Govan Town Hall.

Soon I came to Pacific Quay and crossed the river beside the BBC and the Science Centre. The river walkway was busy with families and runners that bright Monday. I stopped on the bridge to take photos and just look up and down river. I would be crossing it again in a couple of hours between St. Enoch and Bridge Street. I was still feeling fresh, feeling fine, even if still I was doubting the wisdom of walking 10 miles around the city in the searing heat. I soon came nearer to the Riverside Museum, a stray high heel tied to the fence, the big seats in storage at the back. At the museum were stages being dismantled after a music festival over the weekend. I checked the bill and couldn’t place any of the lineup, a sure sign of advancing age.

Partick is a building site right now. The bus station is getting redeveloped and hence it is a bourach of JCBs and hard hats. Still, one station down, another 14 to go. I took a break there to buy provisions. When I came out I made sure I admired the murals on the gable ends of some of the buildings there, put up to mark the Commonwealth Games in 2014, now a reminder of those times, of civic pride. Dumbarton Road soon came and while it was also not new to me, looking up and admiring the rooftops and gaps between the buildings was. I particularly liked the angles between Partick Library and an adjoining tenement. The nearby church advertised ‘Scones on the Lawn’ in a few Saturdays time, ticketed so I wasn’t sure if it was generally an afternoon tea ootside or a performance piece. Nearer Kelvinhall I came across two pieces of scrawled graffiti, one the words ‘I want to learn Gaelic’, appropriate for the part of Glasgow with the most Gaelic speakers, and the other a drawing of a face with possibly Arabic script above.

Kelvinhall came and went. I made sure I got my photo though, despite how crowded the Dumbarton Road pavement was. Byres Road was also pretty busy though I made sure I dawdled a bit to look in windows and ponder. In one of those many quirky shops that line Byres Road I spied a beany hat in the window bearing the legend ‘Shawlands’. Coupled with the map of Pollokshields on the wall of a shop near Kelvinbridge I saw a bit later, the south side is taking over. It’s not before time. Other Byres Road highlights included bollards with ships on them and the Oxfam music shop with the stellar legend in the window ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together’. Hillhead was station number four and it’s where this tale pauses, to resume next week.


Thanks for reading. This is the second instalment of the Subway Surface series about my walk around the route of the Glasgow Subway. Hillhead to St. George’s Cross appears next week.