Saturday Saunter: Glasgow streets, tours and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night with sun still in the sky, just, and Secrets of the Transport Museum on in the background. I’ve just been writing three brand new Streets of Glasgow walks, the first I’ve produced since the end of last year, and they will start appearing beginning a week on Wednesday. The other day I read a story about Michael Shanks, who has taken it upon himself to run each and every one of Glasgow’s 6000 streets, which is a good way to explore the city and one I will not seek to emulate as I only run when I have to! He has run about 60% of Glasgow’s streets, very good going. The three latest Streets of Glasgow walks bring me to 84, and 6000 would take the rest of my life to manage. I’m just walking after all.

Hopefully soon it will be possible to attend actual events in real life. I’ve listened to a couple of interesting ones in the last week, including a virtual tour of the disused Aldwych Underground station in London delivered by the London Transport Museum, and a discussion about underrepresentation of women and particularly women of colour in football. That one I particularly recommend. Holly Morgan of Leicester City was one of the panellists and her experiences in the women’s game are particularly insightful. That one’s on YouTube.

I’ve had a particularly good reading spell this weather. Over the weekend I read the excellent The Hibs Are Here by Iain Colquhoun, all about Hibs in the 1990s, Alex Miller, Leighton, Jackson, Pat McGinlay and the rest. I could remember some of the games and even if I didn’t, it was just a good read about an interesting time in the history of the club. I also finished Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh, a very different book, very human and as varied as the human condition can be, about trauma, identity and much else besides. Currently on the go is my continuing re-read of The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, presently on Rannoch Moor.

Glencoe, which is near Rannoch Moor: a mountain pass with hills at either side and low clouds above.​
Glencoe, which is near Rannoch Moor: a mountain pass with hills at either side and low clouds above.

I try very hard not to be political here and especially during an election campaign at a time when Scottish politics has been particularly toxic. The Proclaimers endorsed the Alba Party the other day. As ever, shouty folk on Twitter piled on people daring to express an opinion they disagreed with and it was a powerful reminder that it is actually honestly possible to disagree with people and not be a moron about it. More folk should try it.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 10th April 2021. Thanks for reading. One last post about a waterway should be here on Wednesday. Until then, tìoraidh an-drasta.

The North Sea

Clifftop Trail, Dunbar: a path along the side of a clifftop with a wall to the right and the sea straight ahead and to the left.​
Clifftop Trail, Dunbar: a path along the side of a clifftop with a wall to the right and the sea straight ahead and to the left.

We’ve got another waterway to talk about, this time the North Sea. The North Sea runs along the eastern coast of Scotland and England and reaches to Europe to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Its coastline has a reputation for being cold and it’s certainly colder than the west which has the added benefit of the Gulf Stream. The last time I was in Dunbar, I stopped along the Prom by a board which pointed to various places and the distance from where I stood. Amongst the more local places like the High Street, Stenton and Spott were Bergen, the Barents Sea, Stavenger, Esbjerg and the Brent Oil Field. Dunbar is at the mouth of the Firth of Forth and there is nothing east until Scandinavia. The board wasn’t there when I was a kid when I used to imagine what was over the horizon. The sea was grey, cold and almost a barrier, whereas the seas for a long time connected people from faroff lands. I could see Fife, a mystical place possibly, even if I now know it as the land of steak bridies, linoleum and Deep Sea World, but looking east it was the sea all the way. (I know Fife for other things, of course, but they were the first three things that came to mind.)

Aberdeen: the sea with groynes separating parts of the beach. Wind turbines are in the distance. To the left of the picture is the sea wall and city buildings.​
Aberdeen: the sea with groynes separating parts of the beach. Wind turbines are in the distance. To the left of the picture is the sea wall and city buildings.

I also think of the North Sea because of Aberdeen. Billy Connolly had a routine about swimming in the North Sea as a kid and being pale blue and wearing a knitted swimming costume. Aberdeen is okay but I’ve only been warm there once, strangely enough on my last visit, a couple of Augusts ago. I also think of one game in December, sat in the away end at Pittodrie, which has no wind guard or anything between it and the sea, which is a few hundred yards away. Hibs got beat as well. I have a picture of that day with frost on the path by the beach. The sunshine fooled absolutely no one. It was properly, properly baltic.

Arbroath’s ground is even closer to the sea but my only visit there came on a balmy July evening. If the football was dull, I’m sure you could look out and see the Bell Rock Lighthouse, eleven miles out to sea. The Signal Tower Museum is near Gayfield Park, formerly used to signal to the lighthouse and now housing a museum about the town and the Bell Rock itself. There are quite a few lighthouses on the North Sea coast, not least Kinnaird Head up at Fraserburgh, but the Bell Rock is the best known and for my money the most impressive, since it was built on a cape out to sea and has saved innumerable lives in the last two centuries.

For a while I used to fall asleep to the Shipping Forecast and it’s always pleased me that it’s broadcast, even now in this technological age. I recently bought a mug which has the British Sea Areas on it. (I live life on the edge.) Some of the areas are also listed as part of the development of the Battery on Lamer Island at the Victoria harbour in Dunbar. I grew up in Forth while I suppose the nearest one to me now is Malin. The one that’s always interested me is Dogger. Dogger Bank did used to be part of a larger landmass until the end of the last Ice Age and now it is known as a good fishing area. It would be immensely interesting archaeologically and geologically due to joining the British Isles and Europe though also for the many naval battles fought in that general area. I might think on that next time I’m by the North Sea instead of just wondering what’s over the horizon.

Thanks for reading. Something else about the Irish Sea will be here next week.

Saturday Saunter: Gateway books

Good Saturday to you,

I’m starting this on a glorious Friday afternoon, sunny but a wee bit cool. This being Glasgow, of course, there are a mixture of folk going about with thick winter coats or a minimum of garments on. Whatever gets them through the shift. As this is posted I might be out for a walk or alternatively catching up with telly. It’s to be colder over the weekend with snow being bandied about as a possibility. Surely not. I was in Dunbar a few years ago over the Easter weekend and it was cold and snowy so you never know.

Hedderwick, part of the John Muir Country Park - a wooden bridge with rails on either side leading onto a beach and towards trees. An estuary stretches out to the right of the picture.
Hedderwick, part of the John Muir Country Park – a wooden bridge with rails on either side leading onto a beach and towards trees. An estuary stretches out to the right of the picture.

Over the last few months it has been hard for many of us to keep a routine. For me, watching football has been particularly good to keep a sense of relative normality but also to know which day it is. My team plays on Monday this week but in recent weeks there has been a run of games on Saturday afternoons at 3, the time when football should be played, and that has been useful as something to look forward to, even when sometimes the games have been mince. I know that I have written more here about football than normal and that is why. It has been a valuable escape from the news, though of course the game has been in the news a fair bit recently too, not least for despicable racist incidents that have taken place. I wanted to mention the Finding Jack Charlton film that was on the BBC this week. That was excellent, delving into his career in management with Ireland, reaching the heights of international football, but also his difficulties with dementia in later life. Also, the SWPL resumes this weekend and to their credit BBC Scotland is showing highlights of games this Sunday.

Reading has been useful for keeping a routine too. At the moment I have two books on the go and last night I finished another that I partly listened to and finished in print, Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake. I read quite fast so audiobooks slow things down a bit. That’s not a bad thing and I found when reading it in print that I could still hear the words being read by Robin Ince. I found that I could understand the more technical details better in audio, strangely enough. All sorts of questions were answered in the book, from basic training to whether people could eat on a spacewalk, and it was fascinating. My two books are a bit different, still non-fiction, Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh and The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. Macfarlane is a re-read – I read it for the first time about ten years ago – while Thin Places is very new, a book about moths, nature, wildness, identity and loss. It is beautiful, intense and very timely. I remembered just now that I am also re-reading a John Grisham novel for a change of pace.

Last year we went to an event at Celtic Connections about bothy ballads and songs from the First World War. It was a cracking night. The songs had been collected by Jock Duncan, a folk singer who died recently aged 95, in a book called Jock’s Jocks. Jock Duncan’s obituary in the Press and Journal is excellent reading and not for the first time I wonder why we don’t celebrate people more when they’re alive.

In the background just now is an Authors Live talk featuring Konnie Huq. She talked about the concept of a ‘gateway book’, a book that brings people into reading. I can’t remember not reading but sometimes my reading ebbs and flows so I suppose I have had many gateway books that have brought me back into reading regularly.

This blog usually features something special for World Autism Awareness Day though this year, as every year, acceptance matters more than just being aware.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 3rd April 2021. Thanks for reading. A post will follow on Wednesday about the North Sea. Until then, for those who celebrate, a very Happy Easter. To those who don’t, happy weekend. To all, a very good morning. Peace.

Union Canal

It feels particularly apposite to write about the Union in a week when very big Union flags have been in the news but this is about the far nicer prospect of the Union Canal, not the antics of certain clowns down at Westminster. It feels only right since I wrote about the Forth and Clyde Canal last week. The Union Canal runs from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh through the west of the capital and West Lothian out to Falkirk. I mostly know the Edinburgh section as far as Slateford, where it meets the Water of Leith, a waterway covered here a couple of weeks ago. The last time I was along there was a year past October when I walked along part of the Canal to Meggetland where the Hibs and Hearts development teams were playing. I think I walked part of the Water of Leith walkway first and remember going through Gorgie on the way. The aqueduct at Slateford is particularly fine – it runs adjacent to the railway and over the Water of Leith – and there’s a set of stairs leading down to the Water of Leith from the Canal. Fountainbridge has been poshed up in the last twenty years or so with offices and restaurants scattered around the side of the canal.

Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.​
Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.

I was just thinking about the Forth and Clyde and Port Dundas which is in Glasgow. Port Hamilton is the name of the area of Edinburgh at Fountainbridge and I wondered who Hamilton was. It was the Duke of Hamilton of the day, of course, and the Port there was built from 1818-1822, so Canmore tells me, to support Port Hopetoun, which was closer to Lothian Road. Canals were much more important then for industry and commerce at a time when railways were much more limited and roads were much less reliable. Port Hamilton was more for coal, while Port Hopetoun had a broader range of things going on. Port Hopetoun was filled in during the 1920s and its site is now a cinema.

As I said, I don’t really know the Union Canal outside of Edinburgh aside from its western terminus at the Falkirk Wheel. That even includes the section in Linlithgow, a town I know quite well. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to remedy that soon, especially since the John Muir Way runs by the side of the Canal in that part of the world. I realised just now, looking at a map of the John Muir Way, that I do know the Union Canal as it passes over the Muiravonside Country Park near Linlithgow – the same place where I learned what an aqueduct was. I always thought aqueducts were cool, a wonderful effort of engineering. Thankfully there’s quite a few along the Union Canal, making it of architectural interest, as much of history and natural beauty in many parts.

Thanks for reading. A piece about the North Sea will follow next week.

Saturday Saunter: Magic leaves

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Monday night. In the background I have the launch of the Walter Scott 250 programme from Saturday, which is presented by Brian Taylor from Abbotsford. I went to Abbotsford a couple of summers ago and unsurprisingly the library is my abiding memory of the place, wood panelled yet well lit with an excellent vista over the Tweed. The launch featured a light show on Smailholm Tower, which I also visited a couple of years ago, and I have good memories of that place with a fine view over the surrounding hills and fields. I have a considerable backlog of videos and talks to catch up with and maybe I’ll manage some more of these over the weekend since Hibs aren’t in action.

Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.​
Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.

I’ve managed to work through a lot of my to-read list in recent weeks and finished two of the books I was working through, Hidden London and Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story. I have immersed myself in the various hidden places under London recently through the Hidden London Hangouts on YouTube and this book accompanies them, produced by some of the contributors from those videos who work at the London Transport Museum. It is a decent blend of photographs and historical details, delving into the growth of London and how it was ravaged by war. The most recent Hidden London Hangout, meanwhile, featured a place which I visited last year, the Mail Rail, the underground railway system which conveyed post under the streets of London. The Eric Stevenson book was very different though no less interesting in talking of the Hibs teams of the 1960s and 1970s. I have two books on the go now, plus an audiobook which I’ve been listening to as well. The audiobook is Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake, which discusses Peake’s mission to the International Space Station as well as the behind-the-scenes bits about being an astronaut. I’m not far in and it’s seven hours long so it might be on the go for a while. I’m re-reading The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, which I read for the first time about ten years ago. Macfarlane is one of my favourite writers and it felt like time to revisit his older works. The book I started tonight is From The Jaws Of Victory: A History of Football’s Nearly Men, edited by Adam Bushby and Rob MacDonald, an anthology of writings about football teams who nearly got there, with contributions from some of the best football writers out there, including Nicky Bandini, Giancarlo Rinaldi and Patrick Barclay. I’ve just started the first piece, about Bolton Wanderers in 1953, and it’s set to be a good one. I like to read a variety of different books – it keeps things interesting.

‘These are magic leaves we spread’. That was a phrase in the Walter Scott video of Smailholm Tower and I wholly agree with that. My love of reading is just as acute now as it was when I was a child, if not more so. Next in my to watch list on YouTube video is a short talk about relics of St. Cuthbert held at Durham Cathedral, a place Scott wrote about, randomly enough.

It has been cooler today than recent days, a colder wind blowing. The daffodils are coming out, though, and that’s a good symbol of spring, as is the reappearance of hayfever remedies in my house, unfortunately. The combination of nice weather and the potential of restrictions easing felt right.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 27th March 2021. Thanks for reading. As ever, I’m not sure what I’ll be posting on Wednesday. It might be about a waterway but I don’t know yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Forth and Clyde Canal

Spiers Wharf: warehouse-type buildings along one bank of a canal with boats lined up into the middle distance.
Spiers Wharf: warehouse-type buildings along one bank of a canal with boats lined up into the middle distance.

Before motorways and railways came canals. Scotland has a few and one passes through Glasgow, the Forth and Clyde Canal, which runs from Bowling on the Clyde to Grangemouth on the Forth. It joins with the Union Canal at Falkirk, meaning that there’s a water link between Scotland’s two biggest cities. Canals don’t convey that much freight any more but are places of leisure for the most part, with the towpaths often busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. Manmade waterways haven’t always interested me – I prefer the sea – but they have a beauty and a charm of their own, plus there’s usually a fair bit of history along the way. I was along part of the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow recently and Scottish Canals have done their best to keep it interesting with interpretation boards and hoardings talking of the history of the place being passed through. Since it’s Glasgow the surroundings will no doubt have changed several times over the last couple of centuries. Spiers Wharf reminds me of Leith – it was a port as part of a huge industrial area – and that’s very much a complement. The first time I was there there was someone doing watersports on the canal there, being dragged along the water. A dog chased them along the towpath. Fun for all the family.

I don’t know the Forth and Clyde Canal so well in Glasgow, having only walked the section from Spiers Wharf to Ruchill Park. There is a nature reserve taking shape near Firhill Stadium and I was happy to see that it is being funded by the health board as well as the Council and other bodies. Nature gives us health. I wonder how many Partick Thistle fans have been tempted to stop on the towpath and watch their team while fans haven’t been allowed in the ground. The section of the canal near Firhill has some benches and it’s a nice place to stop and eat lunch and pass time.

Bowling: a harbour to the right opening out into the river to the left. An obelisk stands on the horizon to the left.​
Bowling: a harbour to the right opening out into the river to the left. An obelisk stands on the horizon to the left.

I know the canal better at Bowling, where it joins the Clyde. Bowling had a shipyard and nearby Old Kilpatrick was the end of the Antonine Wall, which stays quite near to the canal for most of its route. I’ve stopped at Bowling a few times, the last time last summer when it was novel to travel a few miles again. It’s an interesting, quite peaceful place and it has an incredible history that sometimes gets overlooked compared to its near neighbours Dumbarton and Clydebank, fine places though they both are.

Kelpies: silver steel sculptures featuring horses’ heads, one in side profile, the other with head up.​
Kelpies: silver steel sculptures featuring horses’ heads, one in side profile, the other with head up.
Falkirk Wheel: a boat lift which is stationary.​
Falkirk Wheel: a boat lift which is stationary.

Next to the Forth and Clyde Canal are the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. I like the Kelpies – they seem to rise out of the landscape. The Falkirk Wheel is a miracle of engineering and it never ceases to fascinate me.

Somehow I’ve filled up a post about the Forth and Clyde Canal. To be fair it’s an interesting waterway. I think a post about the Union Canal might need to come next week, just to complete the set.

Saturday Saunter: Maps, bings and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been a beautiful day here in Glasgow, sunny and quite pleasantly warm. Very Spring-like. Whether it will still be like that on Saturday as this is posted, who knows. I imagine as this is posted that I will be easing my way into the day gently before watching the football. As well as the Livingston-Hibs game, this weekend sees the return of League 1 and League 2 in Scotland after a couple of months hiatus, undoubtedly a good thing and more relevant than a certain game taking place at Parkhead this weekend.

Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.​
Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.

Maps have helped many of us through the last year of not being able to travel as much as we might like. I have a few, including a decent wedge of Ordnance Survey maps covering most of Scotland. Hopefully I will be able to use some after 26th April. The Ordnance Survey seem to have had a similar thought, taking the opportunity to ask its mailing list’s subscribers where they want to walk to once lockdown has concluded. Plus sell them maps. As for me, I will be consulting the Urban Nature map of Glasgow that I acquired recently and seeing where I could go for a walk in the meantime. For example, I had a very cool walk in Rosshall Park the other day and it felt a lot further out of the city than it actually is. Over the last year I have got to know some incredible places here in the city and even when it is possible to travel, I hope to still be a regular in quite a few of Glasgow’s fine parks.

The Guardian published an article about the bings of West Lothian, heaps of spoil from industrial workings that dominate the landscape, visible from the motorway and the railway. West Lothian is quite a fascinating part of the world, encompassing both the old Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, born in the Palace by the Peel and Loch, and the New Town of Livingston, with its many roundabouts and football team who play at a stadium named after an Italian restaurant. The bings symbolise the depth of industrial history of the area, of shale and coal mining, and the Shale Trail looks like it will be a good addition to the area, using modern technology to tell the tales of the local area as people walk or cycle along the 16-mile route.

I’ve read quite a bit in the last few days. I’ve finished Nick Hewer’s autobiography and Antlers of Water, the anthology of Scottish nature writing I started last week. Antlers of Water is immense, very varied with poetry and all parts of Scotland covered by its various writers. Nick Hewer I enjoyed more as I got going as he talked about his journeys to farflung parts of the globe including Mongolia and Sierra Leone. I’ve been working between two books this week, the Eric Stevenson book I started a couple of weeks ago and Hidden London, about the abandoned and disused parts of the London Underground. My to-read shelf has two football books and a nature book so we’ll see I’m in the mood for next.

Before I go today, I’ve been thinking about how to write about the news of the weekend. I came to the conclusion that my voice is much less relevant than those of others. One is the mother of Moira Jones, who made a thoughtful statement on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th March 2021. Thanks for reading. A post will follow on Wednesday but I’m not sure what that’ll be just yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Trails

I was going through books recently and came across a bunch of Heritage Trail leaflets for different parts of Glasgow. The ones I’ve found are Pollokshaws, Crookston and Langside, all south of the river, though the Council have trails for quite a few parks and parts of the city on their website. There is also the St. Mungo Trail but that encompasses Traprain Law, Culross and various other places most definitely not in the City of Glasgow local authority area as well as Glasgow Cathedral, which is, thankfully. The Urban Nature map of Glasgow which I acquired recently shows parks, playing fields and public transport links though historical places is a wee bit beyond it. The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for Glasgow (342) covers a lot of those though covering every historical place in Glasgow would need either a rather big map or teeny tiny writing. Glasgow has a very varied history and a lot of it is covered by themed trails and tours, such as those for football and the many from the Glasgow Women’s Library. There will probably be quite a lot of folk who have been doing the same walk throughout the various lockdowns over the last year and they will no doubt be experts on their particular patch and could do tours. ‘On your left is a kitchen showroom with a display showing the time, date and temperature. I was here when it was 27 degrees and when it was below freezing.’ ‘Ahead of you is a railway bridge conveying trains between Glasgow and Inverclyde and Ayrshire. The railway was opened in the 1840s.’ The mind boggles.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green ​roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.
Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.

I might follow one of the ones nearest me one day soon and see where I end up, maybe Bellahouston Park’s one which talks a lot about the sculptures around the park.

A lot of cities and towns have a trail to follow so see if there’s one near you. If possible, follow it and see what you come up with. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday Saunter: Tree roots, maps and old football grounds

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Wednesday with The Chase on in the background for that’s how I roll. Not sure what I’m going to write this time but you can be assured that there will be no mention of the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton, a certain ex-morning TV presenter or of the scenes around Glasgow after a certain football team won the Scottish Premiership. As this is posted, I will probably be easing my way gently into the morning before watching the Hibs play Ross County later.

I’m now continuing this on Friday night with Dr Janina Ramirez on in the background talking about Turkey. I’ve been listening to a few virtual talks in the last couple of days as well as audio books and a radio documentary. The other night I listened to a documentary on Radio 3 about Fanny Dickens, Charles Dickens’s older sister, who was a particularly accomplished musician and, unusually for the mid-19th century, her parents paid for her to get an education. Coincidentally I was listening to an art lecture earlier about 1920s Scottish art and David Young Cameron was mentioned, as was his sister, Katharine Cameron, who was also a painter though again much less recognised. I also listened to a talk put on by the Bodleian Library in Oxford featuring Jim Akerman of the Newberry Library in Chicago and he talked about maps and how they relate to American identity, discussing travel by various groups for various purposes, including safe places for African American people to stay and travel to in the 1930s as well as the Underground Railroad.

 East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.​
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.

While I have books on the go, I have been reading more magazines and audio books recently. I think both have their merits – in short, when it comes to reading, it all counts. I got my copy of the latest edition of When Saturday Comes the other day and read most of it in a single sitting, particularly interested in articles about commentators’ notes, the abuse that James McClean receives for choosing not to wear a poppy, and football stadiums which are no longer used for football. That last article suggests preserving parts of stadiums in whatever developments spring up on their site, for remembrance or just to preserve the heritage of the place. It shows Highbury, the former Arsenal ground which is now flats, and I can confirm that the development there is sympathetically done. It’s more unusual for traces of grounds to remain in any other way than a token memorial or street names. The Morrisons supermarket that sits on the site of Brockville, Falkirk’s old ground, is cool and has an old turnstile in the car park and Falkirk-themed photos around the walls of the shop. The only ones I know in Scotland that are still in situ are Cathkin Park, the second Hampden and former home of Third Lanark, and Firs Park, once East Stirling’s ground which is now derelict. I watched a YouTube video about Firs Park recently.

Despite growing up in East Lothian, I cannot claim to have explored every corner of my home county and of course I can’t go there at the moment. One place I haven’t visited is Inveresk Lodge Garden, a garden in Inveresk, just outside Musselburgh. The new edition of the National Trust for Scotland’s members magazine features an article about it written by Chitra Ramaswamy, for my money one of the finest journalists in Scotland, and there’s a line about lockdown walks that I really like. ‘Familiarity can breed obliviousness as well as contempt’. We don’t always see what’s happening around us, even if we often tread those paths.

Scottish readers will know that we’ve had a lot of rain in the last few days, often heavy showers. That’s okay as we haven’t had a lot of rain recently though of course I have successfully managed not to be caught in it. A couple of times this week I’ve nipped down to Rosshall Park, which is small but has a lot of interest. A few of the trees have deep, sprawling roots spreading down a slope towards the path I was walking on. I spent my last walk with my head up appreciating the varied tree skyline.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 13th March 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. I’ve had a few kind comments about the Rivers post from Wednesday so thanks for those too. Next Wednesday’s post will be about Glasgow and maps. A very good morning to you all. Peace.

Rivers

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about rivers. That’s been fun but I’m going to draw it to a close this week by talking about a range of other rivers that I might not know as well. Some are in England, others closer to home.

Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side ​and Glasgow University tower on the left.
Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side and Glasgow University tower on the left.

Glasgow, of course, has several rivers, including the Clyde, Kelvin and White Cart Water. The Kelvin runs through the west of the city, joining the Clyde by the Riverside Museum. What I didn’t know until just now as the Kelvin went off my map is that it starts near Kilsyth in East Dunbartonshire, stretching for about 22 miles. I know the Kelvin best as it wends through Kelvingrove Park, the University of Glasgow towering above. There it is an elegant river, surrounded by trees and elegant buildings. A riverside walkway does exist, going as far as Milngavie where it links with the West Highland Way, and one day I will try and walk some or all of it.

The White Cart Water runs not far from me; indeed, I caught sight of it earlier today while walking in Rosshall Park. The White Cart Water goes from the Clyde at Renfrew, through Paisley to Crookston and Pollok Country Park, ending at Eaglesham. What comes to mind when I think of the White Cart is the section by Pollok House with a weir and a small waterfall, as well as a pleasant stone bridge linking the park and the nearby golf course. I also think of it passing through Paisley, by the Town Hall, Abbey and Anchor Mill.

Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral ​on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.
Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.

Down south, the Wear brings up Durham, the Cathedral and Castle high above, and Sunderland with an elegant green bridge joining the parts of that city together. The Thames has had a lot of words written about it and I know it right at the heart of London, crossed by many bridges, a dirty big river running through the metropolis. I also think of Mudlarking, the interesting book I read last year about the objects to be found by and in the river.

As a seaside person who now lives in a city, rivers have become ever more important as a way to be beside water as well as appreciate their own merits, whether beside wells, bridges or Magdalen Green. I’m lucky to be near three of them and they bring inspiration and interest in so many ways.