I didn’t walk all the way to London. Or from London, since I started at the eastern end. This walk began at Mount Vernon railway station, which sits neatly at the junction where London Road joins Hamilton Road. I had never been there before, only through it once on the train when it had been diverted through the wilds of Lanarkshire. It was quite suburban as I set off, soon becoming a mixture of prim and proper houses and industrial premises, cranes, pipes and trade stores. I came to some workers tarring the pavement, the smell oddly soothing, the freshly dried stuff soft on my Skechers. A little way after that I came to a roundabout, with a car showroom (one of many on this walk), fast food restaurants which I could smell before I saw them, and a Tattoo Station in what looked like an old railway building. At the other side of the next junction was a sign for a woodland, informing me I had arrived at Auchenshuggle, no less, once a noted public transport terminus and running joke, also very similar to Auchenshoogle, home to The Broons. Absolutely no joke, this was a highlight of my five years of Glasgow living.
There were little hints of countryside in the midst of all this, trees and relative quiet between all the traffic and sprawl. Not much grass, though, due to the heat of recent weeks. At various points there were views to Castlemilk and the Cathkin Braes, wind turbines peeking over the motorway, while the other way there were gaps over waste ground to tower blocks and posh houses right underneath, Glasgow in miniature. I came to the Archdiocese of Glasgow cemetery and remembered something I had been told recently about Roman Catholic churches often being required to be built on side streets, not main streets. More than one sat just off London Road, the sole exception St. Alphonsus Church in the Calton, in the news recently for one of its priests being spat on as an Orange walk passed.
I soon got my first glimpse of Celtic Park, the word Paradise right in front of me, with tenements either side as I looked up the road towards it. A lot of houses were modern but nearer the ground there were more traditional red sandstone tenements, even more towards Bridgeton and town. Some of the streets I passed had Perthshire names, Methven Street, Birnam Street and inevitably given that last one, Macbeth Street. As I came by Celtic Park, I started whistling the Super John McGinn song, since he was still a Hibs player and two bids had been rejected from the lesser green for his services. I just don’t think they understand. My feet were beginning to ache as it had been a very long walk. Celtic Park was at least familiar terrain, well beyond half way and in sight of town. I was sad, though, nearing Bridgeton, that a mural against sectarianism had disappeared since my last trip along that way. That thought came to me as I came into Bridgeton, then moving onto an Edwin Morgan poem ‘King Billy’ as I surveyed the Union Jack bunting. Bridgeton Cross was busy with people and I didn’t linger – I had been in the area earlier at the Glasgow Women’s Library in any case – and I paused to look momentarily at the Scottish royal crest on a tenement above a bookies.
Nearer town I was lagging. In the Calton I looked at the poems and public art, some with quotes from Tom Leonard and Burns, and looked at the back of the Templeton building which was a bit less dramatic than the front facing onto the Green. The Green was still shut as the clearup from Transmt continued, while I passed St. Alphonsus Church with its banners talking of its history. The numbers were getting smaller as I got ever closer to the end point. I regretted once more missing Calton Books but I looked in the window of the music shop, harbouring notions of musical adventures without much in the way of actual talent. I reached Glasgow Cross and that was that, the longest walk in this series and a very varied one, with wide vistas, car showrooms, industrial premises and the usual treats gained by just looking up.
Thanks for reading. This is the thirty eighth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets written about in this series so far include Gallowgate, Duke Street, High Street and Trongate.