Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bothwell to Central Glasgow

Not for the first time, and I suspect not for the last, the day started with a series of mistakes. The way out of the hotel in the direction of the Clyde was self-evident, but I went too near to the edge of the park. The first well-paved path ended abruptly; an apparent diversion near its end rapidly reached impenetrable thickets of undergrowth. The road I then explored simply became a crescent which would have taken me back to the town centre. Eventually I managed to sort out a routge which delivered me to the riverside.

The Clyde - bigger than yesterday, and the colour
of milk chocolate
From what I had been told the previous day I judged that this was just below the pool where 46 salmon had been caught in a day in 2013. However, it didn’t seem very accessible water, and in any case was probably a good two feet higher than the previous day, and now the colour of milk chocolate. So there was no question of trying to see whether there were fish or fishers about.

With the river so high I was rather apprehensive that the riverside path would be flooded in places. I had read in the guide that there are high water alternatives for some of the sections of the Clyde Walkway. Would they be required today? If so, I would have a challenge: I hadn’t printed or brought with me the Clyde Walkway guides I had found on the internet, and the waymarking was minimal. However, I was in luck. In places the path was only a foot or so above river level, and there were wet stretches, but nothing was actually under water.

The ruins of Bothwell Castle
The first landmark was the ruins of Bothwell Castle, impressively positioned above a bend in the Clyde. Thereafter it was a couple of wooded riverside kilometres before crossing the Clyde to follow the mapped route away from the river, which is also designated as National Cycleway 75. Given that when I rejoined the river there was a sign showing an alternative (and apparently new) route for the Clyde Walkway, I suspect I may have missed a better and more interesting way of covering these three miles. But there was no waymarking, and once again it was cause to regret not having printed the internet guide.

The cross country route was by road, and then along a decommissioned railway line. This passes an electricity substation, which has extraordinary bits of cabling and aluminium bars mounted on top of big brown insulators. Of course I failed to take any photos, which I regretted as soon as I had walked too far beyond to feel like returning. It also makes me realise that I really don’t have the foggiest notion of how electrical engineering works. I may have read physics (rather badly) 50-odd years ago, but it doesn’t teach one anything about practical things like electrical power systems.

After re-reaching the river (and seeing the sign to the new section of eh Clyde Walkway, the rest of the walk into Glasgow was along the river. The first kilometre is along the boundary fence of a huge complex housing the Strathclyde Fire Service: all apparently very new and shiny, with finishing landscaping touches being applied to the surrounding areas. Then it’s across the river, past a series of warehouses and factories.

The Clyde Walkway -
well screened from neighbouring warehouses
For a footpath/cycle track through a major conurbation the Clyde Walkway is usually remarkably well screened from its surroundings. The first section had new plantings of trees and shrubs between the path and the river, though beyond this there were huge areas of Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed. There have been attempts to deal with the hogweed, presumably with roundup or a similar herbicide, but not all of it has been tackled, and it looks even worse where it’s dying.

Giant Hogweed by the banks of the Clyde
As it approaches Glasgow from the Southeast the Clyde meanders significantly. There are no apparent shortcuts, so the distance walked is more than twice the distance as the crow flies. Or actually more. Closer to Glasgow itself there is a huge development called the Clyde Gateway – literally hundreds of new houses and flats, now almost complete with workers tackling the landscaping. Immediately afterwards the Walkway is closed, with a diversion inland. Once again the waymarking is awful. After two or three signs they simply stop, so it’s back to basic navigation skills. Thank goodness for the iPhone mapping app!

The People's Palace on Glasgow Green
Finally one reaches Glasgow Green, the park to the East of the city centre. Here I finally left the Clyde, and made my way through the centre of the city. It’s predominantly a Victorian city, though with s number of rather incongruous more recent additions. It was surprisingly busy, with the pedestrianized parts of Buchanan Street and Sauchihall Street heaving with people.

I had a coffee from Caffè Nero, spilling some of it down my shirt when I failed to put the top on properly, and a trip to M&S to replace worn out clothes. Then it was a long walk along Sauchihsll Street to the Argyll Hotel.

The room was pretty small and basic, but there was a tiny desk where I could write up my travels before forgetting everything. And the Indian restaurant a block away – the Bukhara - was absolutely outstanding.

Bright and sunny throughout, except right at the end of the day, when there were half a dozen spots of rain as I walked down Sauchihall Street to my hotel. 16-22C. 29.79km; 56m maximum altitude at my destination; mostly below 20m. Ascents 199m, descents 228m. For the first part of the day it was all except a few steps on good tracks or paved paths; on reaching Glasgow itself it was all pavements beside city streets.

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