Sunday, 14 November 2010

A trip to the canal at Glasgow

Today Wednesday 27th October whilst still on holiday on the Isle of Cumbrea off the west coast of Ayrshire in Scotland our eldest grandson Adam is attending an open day at Glasgow University where he hopes to attend in the not too distant future.  Our daughter Sharon is taking him and asked if we'd like to go along; we accepted immediately as we had intended to visit the Forth and Clyde Canal Glasgow section this week.
So here we are on a cold damp morning on the 8am ferry from the island over to Largs where Sharon will pick us up for the journey.
Leaving the slip on Cumbrae ...
... the RORO (roll-on-roll-off) doors close as we travel across the Firth of Clyde
Largs and the harbour wall coming into view
a fishing boat out - I was going to say an early boat but probably 08:05 isn't early for him.
there's not much space to spare as the ferry pilot turns by Largs pier
looking down into the vehicle area - we're travelling as foot passengers today
Largs slipway comes into view and the ramp starts to unfold ..
.. and once moored and the ramp is in place the vehicles and foot passengers start to disembark - that's George and Molly waiting for me
When we arrived at the University campus where the open day was to be held Adam and Sharon went off inside and I got out our Glasgow street map and George got out his i-phone for directions to the canal; but one problem - it's in the name of the type of map (street) and neither showed access to the canal - in fact on the street map it wasn't even shown and on the i-phone it was just about discernible but not named.  However, we thought we'd figured it out and set off walking only to arrive back where we started - time for a rethink.  We'd worked out that the canal should run behind the university and there were steps leading down from the door through which Sharon and Adam had disappeared and lo and behold there was the canal!
This is the first sight of it we had from under this bridge.
looking back, the white buildings on the embankment is where we'd left Sharon and Adam ...
... so we started our walk and soon came to a diversion in the navigation, we continued around the corner  of these tenement buildings ...
... where we came across 3 fairly short pontoons - there were no signs stating any restrictions on the number of days boats could moor.  
alongside the moorings was the Partick Thistle Football Club
a little further on this change in the navigation rejoined the main canal
A Glasgow skyline - the connection here is almost the same picture and explains the spires you can see

these few red berries caught my eye as we walked high above the rooftops
the elaborate tower of Glasgow University
Although the towpath is in excellent order (surprise surprise, it's also a cycle track) Molly did not enjoy it at all as the very small pieces of grit kept building up between her foot pads - so she ended up sitting on our waterproofs and lunch in the backpack!
and she certainly enjoyed the view from here!
a narrowboat with a shed attached - or a shed with a narrowboat?
British Waterways Scotland Headquarters in Glasgow
the cobbles across the canal from BW HQ are probably over 220 years old
The engineer, John Smeaton, carried out most of the design drawing on advice from, among others, the geologist, James Hutton. The canal  was constructed between 1768 and 1790 bringing new opportunities for trade and manufacture to the communities along its banks. Small ocean-going vessels could carry goods along it. Branches off it led into Glasgow and Edinburgh. Shipbuilding yards were established at Bowling and Kirkintilloch, mostly building the small steamboats, known as Clyde puffers, which plied routes along the canals and rivers and out to the islands. The most famous of these was the Vital Spark in Neil Munro’s Para Handy stories. The puffers had to be less than 20m long to fit in the canal locks. click here for more information
Arriving at Spiers Wharf in the centre of Glasgow
the navigable part of the Glasgow Branch terminates here at ...
... Speirs Wharf Lock ...
... another deep one.
The lock exits into this basin ...
... and round to this bridge - note the visitor moorings - again with water and electricity and no time restrictions either!
beyond here  or here there are several proposals for development of the remaining canal which would have been extremely busy a hundred and more years ago with cargo arriving and departing from the city 
Spiers Whaf warehouses are now luxury flats and the canal is very quiet in fact in the three (separate) days that we've walked sections we've not seen a single boat cruising.
The rain started just after taking this photo and we took shelter in one of the archways you can see in the picture. When it brightened up a little we tried to think where we could go to eat our packed lunch and stay dry so we walked whole of Sauchiehall Street (1.5 miles) to Central Station as from here we could catch a train back to Largs if the weather didn't improve. Fortunately it did and we spent the afternoon walking back down Sauchiehall and wandering the streets full of shops and shoppers (we could have been in any big town, the shops are all the same) and back to the university to meet with Sharon and Adam for the journey back to Largs.
At 5pm I took this picture of fishing boats in the safety of Largs harbour as we waited waiting for ferry back to Cumbrae and our holiday home.  We were tired and a bit cold but had thoroughly enjoyed another excursion by the canal.
So we've seen the start of this canal from the west; seen where it joins the Union Canal via the Falkirk wheel and the central arm into Glasgow; the navigation is rural, industrial and has city scenery and a promising future with the developments that are proposed.  The whole of the two canals together is only 35 miles so I don't think it will ever become too busy and George and I are really looking forward to seeing more of it when we eventually move to live here when our adventures on the southern canals are done.
If you are interested click here for more information on the canal journey between Glasgow and the Falkirk which we have yet to discover for ourselves. 

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic photo's, glad you enjoyed your holiday.