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Glasgow’s West End

Welcome to the first ever post of Walk UK, by myself, double-epic poet, Damian Beeson Bullen. I’m a Burnley boy who fell for a Doonhamer many years ago, & have remain’d in Scotland ever since. As an ardent lover of the great outdoors & historical tit-bits, for the past three years I have design’d & photographed over fifty walks in the Scottish county of East Lothian, near Edinburgh. Slowly running out of new walks to do, I thought I’d take my feet, my love of history & my new camera island-wide & see what other stunning walks I could find.

My initial walkabouts will be in Glasgow, & the very first around its delightful West End. A friend of mine, Teri, moved there from Edinburgh two years ago, & is well chuffed she did. Teri has gladly agreed to be my guide, altho’ her local knowledge stretch’d as far as;

The initial belts of greenerie by Claremont Gardens are actually private, but this soon changes when you’ll reach the main entrance to Kelvingrove Park by the big purple recycling bins.

Back in 2021, once in the park head along the straight walkway towards the fabulous fountain in the distance. This is a really cool relic of Victorian, civic respect remembering the late Lord Provost Robert Stewart. This fella was instrumental in establishing a freshwater link to Loch Katrine for the thirsty citizens of an ever-booming Glasgow. This flamboyant piece of art decor was built in 1872 to a design by James Sellars, cost £2000, & features imagery inspir’d by Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake, the lady of whom tops the central cluster’d column.

Leaving the fountain, head towards the River Kelvin, keeping it directly to your left, & follow the waterside footpaths. Our route now hugs the side of the Kelvin, a grandiose Glaswegian river that reflects the city’s own hard-built identity. I mean, Glasgow is a very fine city indeed, an architectural series of gems on all sides. Its also a cultural cauldron – so much theatre, music, comedy, art – its like a permanent fringe festival without the chaos, there’s so much going on on all sides!

The path along the river is pleasant, passing under a series of splendid bridges, the first of which had a small swamp underneath on the footpath, so popular must be its thoroughfare with the walk-loving citizens of Glasgow. According to Teri, the ‘Weegie’ is a wonderful being, marked by a truthful realness, bouncing sense of humour &  are all bound together by a sense of compassion in the community. A fine example would be Teri & her 80 year-old neighbour who seem to be in a battle of who can give each other the nicest gifts . 

The next bridge we come to is just pass’d Inn Deep, a popular bar own’d by the William Bros. Brewing Company, whose fine beers in recent years have taken the drinking pallets of the Scots & beyond by storm. I’m a fan of Caasar Augustus myself, a proper tasty blend of lager & IPA!

After the above couple of bridges, you will come to the ruins of North Woodside Flint Mill. It totally reminded me of the Minoan ruins I explored in Crete, where just the low-set wall-blocks mark’d out the buildings.

A weir & a bridge later we approach’d the moment where we’d be leaving the river at a delightful low blue bridge. Carrying on at this point would lead to the fine Dawsholm Park, but for us, once over the river its a quick climb up some sheer steps to emerge in Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens.

For our walk, the Gardens have a toilet facilities very close to where we enter, & the chance to buy coffees & stuff at the Lily & Rose. All this is cluster’d close to the wrought iron-framed glasshouses, given the grandiose name of Kibble Palace – its a bit calling a big shed a castle!

Leaving the Botanical Gardens we reach the end of Byres Road, in which direction we’ll be heading. Crossing the road, the church on your left is actually the Oran Mor – a brilliant venue whose Play, a Pie & a Pint series is just wonderful. I‘ve review’d quite a number of these in my incarnation as a reviewer for the Mumble, loving that they are on at lunchtime, & are always well written & well produced. The PPP are a wonderful asset to the Glasgow culturescape & if you are doing this walk in the week & at lunchtime, I thoroughly recommend a visit.

Its now time for a potter around the West End as we trundle along the Byres Road or its adjoining sidestreets. Lots of shops, & bars & eateries here, so knock yourselves out. Our diversion took us to Cresswell Street’s & its De Courcy’s Arcade,  a longstanding independent shopping institution in the heart of Glasgow’s West End is currently home to a cluster of quirky and curious boutiques, galleries, gift shops, cafes and specialist services. Ground Floor: Cafe Go Go, Art Pistol Gallery, Pink Poodle, Finettchi and S&S Argento. Upper Floor: Janet & John (Scottish arts & crafts), The Cup and Saucer Vintage Tearoom, Jess Taylor (lashes & beauty), Draw Art Store, Ziri and Lovesome Emporium.

Eventually head for the subway station on Byres Road – Hillend – which is an alternate starting point for this walk, btw, From here, follow the road a wee bit further, then hang a left along University Avenue, which begins facing the famous Tennents Bar.

TERI ON GLASGOW

Glasgow is a brilliant city, Foremost, its people are really friendly with great banter and don’t take themselves too seriously, living up to it’s slogan ‘glasgow smiles better’. Secondly, the city itself is vibrant and buzzing. There’s so much going on in the arts, music and theatre scene which is a breathe of fresh air from the bleak efforts of its rival city. The gigs are world class and there’s great venues of all sizes from the SECC and O2 to the basement of Sleazy’s or the backroom of an old folk pub. The city has come a long way from its historic reputation as a dirty industrial city, and has mellowed in its old age with great parks, rivers and canals, impressive art galleries, brilliant architecture and a growing network of cycle routes and pedestrianisation. It has definitely earned the title of a cool hip city, with its ultra trendy hipster districts serving avocado brunch and overpriced donuts, but still holds on to the down to earth unpretentious roots of the shipyards and barras. Its a great place so it is.


You will soon come to the University’s heart. On the left appears the epic, dome-shaped Reading Rooms, & also the Hunter’s Art Gallery. On the right is where we’ll be going, through the stone archway into the grounds of Glasgow’s tradition-reeking hub of highest education. It is also open to the public, which is handy for our walk.

At the far right of here, & at the very last house of of the quadrangle, you’ll see Lord Kelvin’s house. Before he was a lord he was plain William Thomson, tho’ by 1877 he had begun his aristocratic his climb & was already a knight. Over to three extracts from the Popular Science Monthly Volume 10 January 1877 for a contemporary account of the man…


SKETCH OF SIR WILLIAM THOMSON.

THIS distinguished physicist and mathematician was born in Belfast, in June, 1824. His father, Dr. James Thomson, was a man of large capacity and culture, who studied in the Glasgow University, became head-master of the Belfast Academical Institution, and in 1832 was appointed Professor of Mathematics in the University of Glasgow. He made various improvements in mathematics, and wrote books upon education. William passed through the Glasgow University early, and then entered St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, from which he graduated as second wrangler in 1845, and he was immediately elected Fellow of his college. He afterward went to Paris, and worked in the laboratory of Regnault. In 1846, at the early age of twenty-two, he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow, a position which he has filled with distinction, and still occupies.

The Younger Kelvin

His electrostatic researches led Thomson to the invention of very beautiful instruments for electrostatic measurement. The subject of electrostatic measurement occupied much of his attention from the very earliest, when he was obliged to call attention to the defects of the electrometers of Snow Harris. His labors in this direction have produced the quadrant electrometer, which is employed for all kinds of electric testing in telegraph construction, and for the registration of atmospheric electricity at Kew Observatory; the portable electrometer, for atmospheric electricity and for other purposes, in which the extreme sensitiveness of the quadrant-electrometer is not required; and the absolute electrometer, which serves for reducing the scale-readings of other instruments to absolute measure, and which was used by Thomson in his measurement of the electrostatic force producible by a Daniell’s battery and in many other investigations. Those who have seen the collection of electrometers in the Loan Collection at South Kensington will not think it too much to say that to Sir W. Thomson is due our present system of practical electrometry.

The Older Kelvin

Sir William Thomson is an enthusiastic yachtsman and a skillful navigator. His recently-published popular lecture on ‘Navigation’ proves this; and, with that bright genius which enriches all with which it comes in contact, his improvements in navigation are of very high importance. The general adoption of Sumner’s method, now made simple for the navigator, would be a reform in navigation almost amounting to a revolution, and is one most highly to be desired. Sir William Thomson has also invented a new form of mariner’s compass of exquisite construction. It possesses many advantages over the best of those in general use, not excluding the Standard Admiralty Compass; but its special feature is that it permits of the practical application of Sir George Airy’s method of correcting compasses for the permanent and temporary magnetism of iron ships. He has also invented an apparatus for deep-sea sounding by piano-forte wire. This apparatus is so simple and easily managed that he has brought up ‘bottom’ from a depth of nearly three nautical miles, sounding from his own yacht, without aid of steam or any of the ordinary requisites for such depths. His method was much employed in taking rapid soundings during the laying of telegraph-cables along the Brazilian coast to the West Indies. It has also been used with great success on the United States Submarine Survey. Recently, while on his way to Philadelphia, Sir W. Thomson himself was able to take flying soundings, reaching the bottom in sixty-eight fathoms, from a Cunard Line steamship going at full speed


Our walk is almost finished. Emerging from the quadrangle turn left & find yourself onto the crest of a valley; to the left rises the gorgeous Uni buildings & across the valley the epic Kelvinbroke Art gallery & Museum gazes back, like two architectural Titans locked in an eternal stare-off.

From here, you can see Kelvingrove Park below, to which you should just gently amble & then retrace your footsteps in the direction of the car. It is also possible, advisable even, for a wee potter around the University where you’ll see them students doing their studenty things. All in all a smashing start to Walk UK!


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