The Forth and Clyde Canal, which runs sea-to-sea between the two rivers, has passed through Glasgow since the eighteenth century, though it ceased to be navigable in 1963. However, the multi-million Millennium Link Project saw it reopen in 2000/2001. Inspired by the Maryhill Walking Trails and Glasgow’s Canals Unlocked booklets, we set off on Sunday to walk from home to the end of the spur leading into the city centre. There is still some dereliction alongside the banks, but there is also green space and some (for Glasgow) quite exotic-looking new housing. The booklets helped us imagine how the canal would have been in years gone by, with a multitude of industries using its waters: iron, lead, rubber, oil, glass and timber were all produced here.
We joined the canal at the nearest point to our house at Kelvindale. The photos will guide you along the same route that we took.
Soon after joining the canal, we reached our first aqueduct. The rest crossed roads, but this one straddled the Kelvin. The disused piers in the river once carried railway lines across it.
Next, we reached Maryhill Locks –
– and not long after that, we left the towpath temporarily to visit Maryhill Burgh Halls for a delicious lunch at the Clean Plates Café. When opened in 1878, the halls had 20 stained glass panels depicting the trades then carried out in Maryhill, and eleven of the panels are now back on display. The walks booklets point out where the scenes from the stained glass might have taken place. More modern is this panel showing the different trades’ badges.
Back on the canal, we soon reached Murano Street Student Village, site of a former glassworks. Apparently, Maryhill was once called the Venice of Glasgow on the grounds that it has a canal and a glassworks named after the famous Murano works. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but we’d already passed the Mondrian Flats which looked very European to me, so I was beginning to wonder if we really were still in Glasgow.
We took another detour at Firhill up a steep path to the flag pole atop Ruchill Park. From here, Glasgow University dominated the view. Nearby, the 165-foot high water tower (1892) is almost all that now remains of Ruchill Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Continuing along the banks, the University remained prominent and we met several swans.
We passed Firhill, home of Glasgow’s other football club (i.e. the one that’s not Celtic or Rangers), Partick Thistle, commonly known as the Jags.
The picturesque Applecross Workshops are probably the oldest remaining buildings on any canal in Scotland.
Spiers Wharf, formerly mills and a sugar refinery, was converted into flats in the 1990s. The blue painted shop front is Ocho where we stopped for a coffee.
Just after this, the canal spur ends in a huge construction site which will soon be Pinkston Paddlesports Centre. After having a look at that, we retraced our steps to Spiers Wharf and took the path down to Cowcaddens from where we could get the Subway home. The underpass here is decorated with 50 Phoenix Flowers, called after the former Phoenix Park which was destroyed to create the M8 motorway above.
Before leaving Cowcaddens, we took some photographs of Dundas Court, formerly Dundas Vale College and before that the Normal School for the Training of Teachers (1837), a precursor of Jordanhill College where I worked for over 20 years. It’s now offices.
An urban walk can be just as enjoyable as a country walk – I feel I learned a lot about my home city on this one.