Glasgow’s Clyde

Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
A few weeks ago, our Sunday afternoon plans fell through so we took a walk down to the Clyde instead. So many times I have walked in other riverside cities and marvelled at what they have made of their waterfronts. Glasgow always seemed to be lagging behind – in fact there were parts of the Clyde Walkway I just wouldn’t have felt safe walking along at one time. Thankfully, in recent years we have been catching up with the rest of the world and the Walkway is a very pleasant stroll. It also allows for a trip down Memory Lane as you shall see.

We started at the old (1870s) Hydraulic Pumping Station on Yorkhill Quay which used to power a swing bridge over the dock entrance. These Victorians really knew how to dress up their industrial buildings! It’s been used as a restaurant recently, hence the much newer conservatory. From here, you can look back to the Riverside Museum and the Tallship Glenlee.

Across the river, on the south side, is the Science Centre flanked by the BBC building, just visible on the left, and the Glasgow Tower which opened in 2001.

Glasgow Science Centre
Glasgow Science Centre
According to the Science Centre website:

Glasgow Tower is the only structure on earth capable of rotating 360 degrees into the prevailing wind and holds the Guinness-World-Record for the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the World. At 127 metres high, the equivalent of over 30 double-decker buses, the Glasgow Tower is the tallest freestanding building in Scotland.

You should be able to take a lift up to the Tower’s viewing platform. However, it has been closed for about 80% of its life because of a succession of structural problems and the fact that it can’t operate if it’s too windy. To be honest, I’m not that keen to try it…..

Near here, two pedestrian bridges cross the Clyde. We took the Millenium Bridge across the river, pausing in the centre to look upstream to Bell’s Bridge (the blue one) and the Clyde Arc, better known in Glasgow as the Squinty Bridge.

Bell's Bridge and Clyde Arc
Bell’s Bridge and Clyde Arc
This is where Memory Lane kicks in. Bell’s Bridge was built as the entrance to the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988. I have wonderful memories of this – we had season tickets and visited often over the summer. Once the festival was finished, the site lay derelict for years until it slowly re-established itself as a media quarter. Here’s Bell’s Bridge in 1988 (with a bearded John) and a view of the site from the festival’s tower. Bell’s Bridge is visible at top left.

We only walked a little way along the south bank so that we could cross back over at Bell’s Bridge. We got a good view of the Clyde Auditorium (aka Armadillo) on the north bank and saw a poignant memorial to a firefighter.

The BBC Scotland Building is fronted by a sculpture, Poised Array, by Toby Paterson and displays a fabulous reflection of the other side of the river in its glass walls.

In 1988, Bell’s Bridge would never have been quiet enough to get a shot like this! Once again, we stopped in the centre of the bridge, this time to watch jet-skiers tearing downriver.

Back on the north side of the river we came to the Finnieston Crane – you’ve possibly spotted it already in both 1988 and 2016 pictures. It was erected in 1931 to load huge locomotives, a major export and Glasgow’s second most important engineering industry.

A little further on, we reached the North Rotunda. It and its southern companion mark the ends of the Harbour Tunnel built in the 1890s and long since fallen into disuse. The North Rotunda has been a restaurant for as long as I can remember, but the South Rotunda is boarded up. However, during the Garden Festival it served as Nardini’s Ice Cream Parlour.

Across from the Rotunda is a Hilton Garden Inn with a riverside bar. It was a very hot day, so we couldn’t pass that could we? Behind me, you can see the South Rotunda and the STV building. It seems that drinking beer in the sun was a 1988 pastime too!

Just past the Hilton is the Squinty Bridge. We didn’t cross it, but I’ve included this shot so that you can see why it got it’s nickname. I’ve never heard anyone actually calling it the Clyde Arc.

Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
The next bridge down, we most certainly couldn’t cross. The Kingston Bridge carries the M8 over the river. We could stand under it though and admire the mural by Smug (Sam Bates). It’s one of several around the city celebrating the Commonwealth Games of 2014 which were held in Glasgow. There’s also a memorial to another fire disaster.

From the Kingston Bridge we decided to head for home. First we had to negotiate the bridges and walkways across the M8 and the Clydeside Expressway, both very busy roads.

On the other side, we came across this lovely old building, a former savings bank.

We walked past the splendid new Central Gurdwara and the building it replaced…

….before heading home through the greenery of Kelvingrove Park.

Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Clydeside stroll. The best bit for me has been looking out my 1988 photographs, though my memory failed me in one thing. I thought we had so many – but there are only 55. For the whole summer! We take more than that in a day now: how times have changed. I also went looking for our Glasgow Garden Festival whisky miniature but, unaccountably, that seems to have gone. I did find our Festival Friends lapel pins and this photograph of me hillwalking the following year in my Festival T-shirt (another non-survivor) so I’ll leave you with that while I go off and nurse my serious hair envy. Can you have that for your younger self?

Ben Chabhair 1989
Ben Chabhair 1989
Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks.


48 thoughts on “Glasgow’s Clyde

  1. VioletSky August 15, 2016 / 13:42

    I still have my Garden Festival t-shirt! And I still wear it – must have been good quality.
    It’s good to get out of the car and walk over and under these bridges (well, not the Kingston, obviously) I do love the Squinty Bridge – even just saying the name makes me smile, it’s a fun word.


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 16:07

      I think mine must have gone in the recycling years ago! It was such a wonderful summer. Perhaps we crossed each other’s paths unknowingly.


  2. TanGental August 15, 2016 / 13:55

    Oh doesn’t this resonate. We spent a week in Glasgow for the 2014 Games and walking the Clyde, Squinty bridge and all was a highlight. Also we have similar tunnel entrance buildings across the Thames at Greenwich and Woolwich both happily still functioning.


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 16:08

      It’s really sad that they’ve let the southern one become so decrepit. They make lovely cafes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy August 15, 2016 / 15:13

    What a lovely walk! I love the memories to go with it. Isn’t it funny how different a lot of pictures is today versus a time not-so-long ago? And if you didn’t get a good one, there was no re-taking it, because you had no idea it was a bad picture until weeks later when you got them developed.


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 16:10

      I know! I was so shocked at how few pictures we had, but film and developing was relatively expensive I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Ferguson and Choppy August 16, 2016 / 17:29

        When I did study abroad in China, it was super cheap to get film and develop pictures. We even got extras of ones we liked from everyone else on the trip, so I remember coming back and thinking I had so many photos. Now, I can take that many photos in a couple days!


  4. Heyjude August 15, 2016 / 16:02

    Glasgow was never a city that appealed to me, but your walks and Jo’s too, have changed my mind. Not a top priority, but if I ever get close enough with time to spare I wouldn’t hate spending a day or two there. Meanwhile I’ll savour your beautiful bridge photos ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Liesbet August 15, 2016 / 16:13

    Oh, memories. You did a great job connecting the past with the present, Anabel. What an interesting and revealing walk.The Armadillo reminded me a bit of the Sydney Opera House. And, I see you are drinking Belgian beer! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liesbet @ Roaming About


  6. susan@onesmallwalk August 15, 2016 / 16:29

    Yes, you can have younger-you hair envy! (ps – bet you would have liked a bridge like that in Tibet!)


  7. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor August 15, 2016 / 17:28

    Fun walk! I’ve always thought the Armadillo was a fun looking building. I used to work in city centre right down by the Clyde and would go for walks along it from time to time. Thanks for bringing back some memories of my time spent there ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. clicksclan August 15, 2016 / 18:56

    I loved this blog post. It’s cool to see places I’ve been and which are familiar to me.

    I’ve been to many concerts at the Armadillo (Status Quo, hehe) and stopped at the Crown Plaza a few times. Two years ago my work had an award ceremony at the Science Centre (I’d love to go back during daylight hours, though I did enjoy the cocktails) and we stopped at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 19:13

      I love it along there now. We’ve been to graduation balls in both the Science Centre and the Crowne Plaza, and I think the Armadillo has the comfiest concert seats in Glasgow.


  9. anotherday2paradise August 15, 2016 / 20:24

    What a splendid walk, Anabel! I love the Squinty Bridge and the mural. I also have serious hair envy whenever I look at a photo of me taken when I was about fourteen. Long, thick and wavy down to my waist. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 21:01

      Thanks, glad you liked the walk. My hair was very long when I was a teenager too. It’s the rich, natural colour I envy most though.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ms6282 August 15, 2016 / 23:16

    I think you’re not the only one who is going to have”hair envy” with a younger self! And some of us have more reason than you have! ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Anabel Marsh August 15, 2016 / 23:24

      I do still have quite a lot! Compared to some people, no names, no pack drill but I’m married to him ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      • ms6282 August 17, 2016 / 23:23

        I think there’s a few more of us who can give him a run for his moneyโ˜น๏ธ

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Birgit August 16, 2016 / 20:07

    Love “walking” with you and seeing all the bridges and sights. I would never go up that antenna-it looks like it will fall over any minute! Too bad that nothing is being done with the south tower but hopefully, in the future, someone will have bright ideas. The squinty bridge looks like a bridge i would be scared crossing over since I am scared of heights


    • Anabel Marsh August 16, 2016 / 20:38

      Thanks Birgit! The bridge isn’t that high, but I agree about the tower.


  12. BeckyB August 19, 2016 / 07:56

    oh what a wonderful walk beside the river and back in history.


  13. Blue Sky Scotland August 21, 2016 / 02:17

    I remember the garden festival well and the sightseeing tower it had which they sold afterwards to Rhyl in North Wales where it worked perfectly for years. Meanwhile we got a brand new one which was not so reliable. How could we not have the foresight and initiative to hang on to the old one? I often do that walk and it has many interesting features. Managed to walk under the old rotundas a few times before they closed and still cycle under the new Clyde Tunnel when I’m feeling brave, although it’s much safer than it was.


    • Anabel Marsh August 21, 2016 / 03:41

      I didn’t know that was what happened to the tower! I assumed it had just been demolished.


  14. lisadorenfest August 22, 2016 / 02:22

    Love the contrast of new and old architecture. I don’t think I would have the guts to brave Glasgow Tower either. Enjoyed seeing ‘Anabel Then And Now’ as well ๐Ÿ™‚ . Fantastic mural by Smug.


    • Anabel Marsh August 22, 2016 / 04:25

      Thanks – nice to hear from you again. I assume you have reached somewhere with wifi!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lisadorenfest August 22, 2016 / 13:24

        ๐Ÿค— WiFi and a bit of downtime after a lot of sailing/touring ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡จ

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Jackie August 22, 2016 / 14:02

    I was in Glasgow in 2010 but not for long enough.
    Isn’t it always time for a beer?


  16. jazzfeathers August 23, 2016 / 08:32

    What a beautiful walk! When I come to Glasgow, I want to do it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Well, I’ve never been one for pictures. I have very few pictures of anything… until I got my first digital camera… not to mention my first smartphone. Now it’s just so easy. And there are so many occasions to share pics. Once, I just didn’t really feel I needed all those pics.

    And, may I say? You look better now ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Anabel Marsh August 23, 2016 / 15:15

      Oh, that’s very kind of you! But I always like the look of my brown hair. I’ve been gray so long I always forget how dark it was.


  17. Elaine - I used to be indecisive August 27, 2016 / 10:47

    Thank you for taking us on this fascinating walk. Even though I was born in Glasgow and brought up nearby and visit two or three times a year, I have never walked along the river. I see it from the car as I drive either to the airport, or to Largs, and each time I think I really must take some time and go for a walk! I remember visiting the Garden Festival – but I don’t think I took a single photo. I’ll have to search back through the boxes and see if I can find one.


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