Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ross Hall Park

On our way down to Crookston Castle on Sunday we passed by the entrance to Ross Hall Park, yet another place we'd never been before. It's one of over 90 public parks and gardens in Glasgow and isn't listed on the Glasgow City Council site so it's no wonder a lot of these places go unnoticed. So, on the way back from the castle, we followed the river and detoured through the park for a visit.

Ross Hall ParkRoss Hall Park

With it being adjacent to the Ross Hall Hospital, then I suspect that it's likely that the grounds once belonged to Ross Hall House, which is now part of the hospital. It isn't a big park by any means but it does have a hidden gem - a grotto and rock garden dating back to 1895. The whole thing is category B listed with it described as…Ross Hall Park
Garden structures constructed at intervals around 3 sides of open lawn built in partly natural and partly artificial Pulhamite stone, including grotto, rock garden and rock flanked narrow passage, low wall, subterranean boat house and ornamental paths, all designed to appear as natural outcrops.

Phew!, what all means is that there is a pretty surreal area of twisty and turny paths and bridges going over and around ponds and weird rock formations. The grotto is a rock-walled enclosure constructed around a sunken pool (now filled-in) with "rockery" masonry, bridges arched over water features, plant troughs in hollowed boulders and rock wall and shelter areas under overhanging rock.

Pulhamite, the artificial rock used in the grotto, is the legacy of James Pulham & Sons, landscape designers in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies who were responsible for working on garden designs in Sandringham and Buckingham palaces and the RHS Gardens Wisley among others.

Ross Hall Park PondRoss Hall Park Pond

The rest of the park is pretty unremarkable but it does have a decent lawned area running down from Ross Hall House to a pond in which there were a few ducks and moorhens splashing around. Just adjacent to that area is a more formal garden section overlooked by the ruin of what appears to be an old boiler house with a large and ornamental chimney stack (see top picture).

Maybe we'll go back next Summer to see it all in a better light so to speak.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crookston Castle

Another sunny Sunday but I had a bit of a headache, which I suspect was caused by a toxic Domino's pizza from the night before. So, unwilling to drive far with a sore head, we decided to stroll down to Crookston Castle. At least I'd get some fresh air or what passes for it in Glasgow.

Crookston CastleCrookston Castle

Crookston Castle is basically a 15th century ruin only a few miles from our doorstep but, for some reason, we've never ventured near it before now. It sits atop a small hill in the heart of a residential area and is flanked by some fairly busy roads and the Levern Water. The weather was pretty good for the time of year; sunny but a bit cold, which probably accounted for the fact that we met absolutely no-one in or around the castle.

Crookston CastleCrookston Castle

Crookston Castle was named after Sir Robert de Croc, who built the first castle here in the 12th century and you can still see the remains of the old bank and ditch defences from that time surrounding the site This present castle was built around 1400 by the Stewarts of Darnley. A popular story concering it is that Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, proposed to Mary, Queen of Scots, under a yew tree here. The castle suffered severe damage at the hands of James IV in 1489 when he used the the cannon Mons Meg from Edinburgh to suppress a rebellion by the Earl of Lennox.

Today, it's managed by Historic Scotland and is open to the public so you can wander though what's left of the halls and climb all the way to the top of the North-East tower for some excellent views out over Glasgow.

We were quite surprised that the place was wide open to explore; no sign of any wardens or anyone looking for cash for admittance. It's also really clean and well kept inside; none of the usual detritus of inner-city living such as coke cans, old bottles or even the odd jakey. The interior has been restored a bit so you can easily walk around what's left of the place and can even climb all the way to the top of the North-East tower, albeit by three flights of open-rung ladders from the first floor. Lorna isn't one for heights or at least not heights she can see directly below her feet so she didn't go for the ladders. I hauled my somewhat bulky frame all the up though and was rewarded by some excellent views out over the city.

Crookston ViewView From Crookston Castle Tower

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Glasgow's Fireworks Display 2008

Glasgow Fireworks 2008
We went along to the Glasgow annual Guy Fawkes Night fireworks display at Glasgow Green on Thursday night, which was the 6th of November and not the 5th as is traditional. It was delayed a day to avoid a clash with a Celtic vs Manchester United football game in the city, which probably meant that the police couldn't be in two places at once.

Glasgow Fireworks 2008Anyway, we finished work around six, had a quick burger meal and wandered along to Glasgow Green. I say wandered but we really just followed the growing throng of people doing the very same and all heading for the fireworks do. By the time we got to the entrance the crowds converging on the place were huge and it was pretty busy on-site already as the entertainments had begun about 6:30. There were some large screens set up and some Radio Clyde DJs were keeping the crow amused, if not entirely entertained, with some inane waffle. I mean just how enthusiastic can anyone with more grey matter than a spoonful of porridge get about winning X Factor tickets?

Nearing the 7:30 startup time for the fireworks we had the Lord Provost do his bit and then somebody they picked to press the big button did just that and the show began. This year, the event had a West End musical theme with all the sing-along favorites from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat throughout! Still with us and stopped vomiting? Okay it wasn't quite that bad! They'd done a decent job of choreographing the music and munitions together and with some 3,000 fireworks going off over about 30 minutes it was a pretty good show.

Glasgow Fireworks 2008
My only complaint was that the smoke from some of the fireworks got so thick at some points it obscured the ones following. Luckily for everyone the rain had held off, unlike last night or it'd have been a complete washout. Anyway the night was over after 30 minutes worth of music and explosions so everyone either trudged back into town or headed for the nearby sideshows or sausage-on-stick vans that had turned up to help them appreciate the joy of long queues and then relieve them of their cash. Still, there's always next year!

Glasgow Fireworks 2008

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Walk In The Forest

With the weather looking reasonable and it being a Sunday, we hopped in the car and headed for the Trossachs for a wander in the forest, specifically around the David Marshall Lodge near Aberfoyle.

Queen Elizabeth Forest ParkA Shady Path

The lodge is actually a Forestry Commision visitor centre in the Achray Forest, which itself lies in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. The Achray Forest straddles the Duke's Pass between Loch Achray and the Trossachs to the North and Aberfoyle to the South while the larger Queen Elizabeth Forest Park runs from the East shore of Loch Lomond to Strathyre and of course all of that lies within the new Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. If all of that doesn't confuse the tourists, then we're not trying hard enough!

There are about eight well maintained and signed forest walks around the lodge area and, along with the latest attraction, the Go Ape High Wire Adventure course, it's a good place for youngsters to spend a day in the outdoors. The one downside we discovered was that the tearoom, which was always good for a tea and a scone after a solid day's walking the trails, has been changed. They've obviously sold out to a what appears to be a team of foreign migrant workers and they're trying to turn it into a table service only place. What a horror - we couldn't just nip in for a simple snack lunch but had to order from a menu and then wait about 20 minutes until we sere served. Whatever happened to the home baking and large urns of hot soup or rolls to go? I can't fault the food though and we had a couple of bowls of steaming hot soup before heading out but it'll never fly as a table-service only restaurant.

The TrossachsBen Lomond To Ben Ledi

The surrounding forest is a mix of oak, birch, larch and conifers so there's plenty of variety in the woodland and lots of birdlife around as well. We usually wander around almost all of the path trails and end up on top of the little hill that at one time sported a radio mast as the views out from it excellent. You can see all the way over to Ben Lomond in the East, North to Ben More and Stobinnean, Ben Ledi to the West(ish) and South to Dumgoyne and the Campsie Fells.

Dumgoyne and the Campsie FellsSouth to Dumgoyne and the Campsie Fells

All of that usually takes us about three hours or so of ambling along the trails and then it's time for a laze, sitting having a snack on the hilltop, and then wandering back down by a different route. Of course by the time we got back down to the lodge the new tearoom/restaurant had closed at four in the afternoon. Now that's enterprising of them, not!

So, no tea or scones to be had, we set off home somewhat disgruntled but not unhappy!