Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Tree lined avenue surprise

By sheer chance, I made a VERY surprising discovery while wandering around a few days ago.

Some nearby land is being proposed for development (houses), and there has been some upset about this as the land has some very old trees on it. I don’t know how this is progressing. After some initial publicity about objections, there’s been silence.

The land was fenced off, having once been used for animals, but this seems long forgotten. Although I did actually find some related buildings and other evidence was still there, were a house used to stand, and the land had been used for a riding school.

While wandering along some recently made paths alongside this piece of land, I noticed the fence was completely gone at a number of spots, and decided that if the local kids could go there and have little bonfires and drinking parties, I could go for a walk there – during daylight of course, when the little angels are not to be seen.

I know the land belonged to a ‘Big House’, but that was lost some time in the 1930s (leaving only a lodge on the land), and the land was then cut through by a new road some time around 1960.

I hadn’t expected to find anything of interest, but as I wandered through the trees I DID!

The tree-lined avenue that would have led from the entrance to the grounds of the Big House to its forecourt was STILL in evidence, and the avenue suddenly became apparent as I crossed its path and the trees on either side suddenly lined up.

This was a complete surprise.

I really should go back and take some more pics, in case that development gets planning permission.

I only grabbed one view, so I could dig out Victorian era maps of the estate, and see if the avenue and its trees were shown as I believed I had found them.

They were.

Big House Tree Lined Avenue

Big House Tree Lined Avenue

I think this is only the third such example I have ever come across when on the land of one of Glasgow’s many ‘Lost’ Big Houses.


Jan 12, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, Maps, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Looks like I really do live down a cold hole

After a couple of years of noticing an odd weather (or is it local climate) effect, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m NOT imagining it.

This year in particular, with its apparently milder start to the winter season compared to recent years, has made this effect even more noticeable for me.

What I find is that I can either be at home, or wandering the local streets, and think the day is freezing (which it is, both by looking at the ground, and reading thermometers). But, if I have to go out, once I get about a mile away, it’s always warmer.

I used to think I was just imagining this, as walking a mile takes 15-20 minutes, so you should be warming up anyway. But, that wouldn’t explain the lack of ice/frost, or frozen ground, which I might just have walked through near home, but is not present once I’ve walked that mile.

Tonight, I found another confirmation after decided to cycle to the shops.

The road past my door is gritted regularly, and the gritters have been out, so it was fine.

Then I turned off it – and found myself being VERY cautious. There was a nice, sparkly, coating of ice on the road.

Yet when I was coming up to that first mile – all was well again, and there was no ice on the back streets near the shops.

At least I knew to be extra careful as I headed home.

Hydraulic disk brakes on bikes – absolute MAGIC!

I also note that Glasgow City council (you know, the council I suggest local people STOP slagging off, and actually LOOK at what it does) published its ‘Bad Weather’ policy statement a few weeks ago, and that included a commitment to have its gritters not only working on established critical roads, but also cycle paths and routes with them.

While they can’t clear EVERY road and route, it does mean that they are NOT ignoring cyclists, as perhaps the damned ‘cycling activists’ might want us to believe.

We even have an online Gritter Tracker

Apparently the tracker is worth looking at just for fun, as out gritters have names, such as ‘Gritty Gritty Bang Bang’.

But, we don’t have these though (as far as I know).

Dec 10, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maps, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aberdeen joins Glasgow as ‘special’ Soviet era target

Striking me as slightly pointless if we are/were to believe the anti-nuclear loonies, Glasgow was mapped in detail by the Soviets back in the days of the Cold War.

Purpose unclear, since the anti-nuclear brigade was assuring everyone that Glasgow would be amongst the first places to be wiped off the face of the Earth, because… Holy Loch nuclear sub base!

Had they not turned it into a big hole, they might have moved their dachas here, we are on the same latitude as Moscow.

Now it seems that Aberdeen was treated to a similar mapping exercise.

A Soviet map of Aberdeen compiled by undercover operatives in 1981 showing strategic locations for invasion has come to light after cash-starved employees sought revenge against their former paymasters after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The map is revealed in a new book examining 500 years of military mapping in Scotland.

The detailed map of Aberdeen, a city which suffered severe bombing during the Second World War, gives precise measurements of many features, including the widths and lengths of the Victoria Bridge and Wellington Suspension Bridge over the River Dee.

The mapmakers colour-coded buildings by function – green for military, purple for civil administration, black for industrial and brown for residential. This is accompanied by a ‘spravka’ essay of more than 1,800 words focusing on 58 important objects, which notes the coastal area north of the city is “suitable for amphibious landing” and the impressive “harbour dockage facilities can provide complete overhaul of vessels, including destroyers”.

The spravka included details such as the land around the city being “dissected by deep river valleys that are the major obstacles for non-road mobile machinery”, that its quarries could be used for shelters and that “Aberdeen seaport is the major maintenance base for oil deposits in the North Sea”.

Scotland: Defending The Nation – Mapping A Military Landscape by Carolyn Anderson and Christopher Fleet includes military maps from the 15th century.

Revealed – Soviet spies’ secret map of Aberdeen, a city ripe for invasion

Maybe somebody realised they’d made a mistake by mapping Glasgow, that it would become a smoking, glowing, wasteland after the few minutes it would take for World War III to be completed, and that they’d better have a nice wee bolthole for their masters to retire to, before they ‘disappeared’.

It’s a long time since those Glasgow maps were revealed, and unless my memory is really bad (possible) there was some amusement to be had by the media back then, as the tired old hacks tried to raise a laugh by pointing out mistakes or misunderstandings on the Russian map.

I don’t see anything similar in the Aberdeen article – maybe the workers that made those mistakes… ‘disappeared’.


Viewing Russian maps

I’m not sure if there are other resources (online), but since the first Russian maps of Glasgow appeared many years ago, I have relied on Old-Maps for my regular viewing of the material.

For my purposes, all the material is free. (there are some conditions, but not usually relevant).

I had a quick look, and confirmed that they also have Russian maps of Aberdeen available.

Find them here…


Serious Cat

Serious Cat


Dec 9, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, Maps, military | , | Leave a comment

Just a couple of Glasgow’s pedestrian direction signs, and an observation

I highlighted one of the sign installed a few years ago, for pedestrians and cyclists travelling around the Glasgow area, as it had a bit of an anomaly regarding how long it might take to walk from it to the entrance to Tollcross Park.

I wasn’t sure if they were to be permanent fixtures, or just installed for an event, but it looks as if they’re there to stay, so I thought another couple of examples might be in order, especially since one of them raised another question.

Both examples are just chance grabs, when they caught my eye one day.

The first is pretty simple, but still makes me wonder about some of the detail.

In this case, showing 7 minutes to the Forge Shopping Centre, and 10 minutes to Parkhead Cross.

That’s a difference of 3 minutes. Granted this is a small time interval, but you’d have to trip and fall a few times if you tool that long to get from the Forge to the Cross.

Glasgow Direction Sign

Glasgow Direction Sign

The second one caught my eye after I noticed the time difference between walking to Glasgow Cross, and then on to the City Centre, as seen on the highlighted sign on the right.

A difference of 12 minutes, or around half a mile – just doesn’t feel ‘right’.

This is actually more or less matched by the first sign, which I later noted shows 28 minutes to Glasgow Cross, and 40 minutes to the City Centre, also 12 minutes.

Glasgow Direction Sign

Glasgow Direction Sign

I guess the simple explanation is that a local thinks of these destinations as areas, rather than points (on a map), so perceives those time and distances in terms of reaching the edges of those areas, while the times on the signs are calculated between fixed reference points.


Nov 14, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maps, photography | , | Leave a comment

It’s official at last – If you’re not from Shetland, you’re as thick as two short planks

While it might seem to be eminently sensible to bring remote islands onto a map placing them in a box, thereby retaining the larger scale representation of the land mass (for a given size of page, for example), and avoiding most of the map being sea, it seems that’s not so.

Apparently everyone is too dumb to realise the islands have been moved closer to the mainland, and therefore have no idea how far away, isolated, and hard to reach those islands are.

The box has now been banned!

I’ll let them explain – I have to take a moment to go bang my head off a nice soft wall for a while, or at least until it stops hurting.

New rules barring public bodies from putting Shetland in a box on official documents have come into force.

Islands MSP Tavish Scott had sought to change the law to ban the “geographical mistake” which “irks” locals, by amending the Islands (Scotland) Bill.

The bill’s “mapping requirement” has now come into force, although it does give bodies a get-out clause if they provide reasons why a box must be used.

Mapmakers argue that boxes help avoid “publishing maps which are mostly sea”.

The Islands Bill, which aims to offer greater protections and powers to Scotland’s island communities, was unanimously passed in May.

It gives island councils extra powers over activities on and around their coastlines and requires ministers to have a long-term plan for improvement.

Thanks to an amendment from Mr Scott, it also includes a “Shetland mapping requirement”.

The Lib Dem MSP said the common practice of placing Shetland in a box off the Moray Firth or the Aberdeenshire coast was “intensely annoying” to islanders, and created a false impression of the challenges they face on account of their remote location.

Ban on putting Shetland in a box on maps comes into force

Nice one Shetland.

I wonder if the only factory in the world that makes blue ink for printers is on Shetland?

Let’s see how long it takes for the good folk of Rockall to follow suit.

An offending example of how NOT to do it now,

And there was me thinking I could just have paddled across to Shetland when I was up in places like Fraserburgh.

I could have DIED!

The Shetland Box

The Shetland Box

And why not – time to buy those shares of ‘Blue’.

New Scottish Map

New Scottish Map

The real reason I made this post is down to the relative ease and frequency with which some laws can be made nowadays (not just for the box, bit for too many other items which don’t need or merit ‘a law’), while other, far more important and life-critical legislation can languish in the system for years before making progress.

Oct 4, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maps | , | Leave a comment

Free film and TV location guide dedicated to memory of John Logie Baird

VisitScotland has produced a free brochure/booklet describing many film and TV locations in Scotland.

The publication has been dedicated to the memory of inventor John Logie Baird

A new guide to TV programmes which have either been filmed in Scotland or have Scottish links has been dedicated to John Logie Baird.

The Helensburgh-born inventor became the first person to demonstrate a working television in 1926.

Tourism body VisitScotland has dedicated its free book, TV Set in Scotland, to Baird to help mark the 130th anniversary of his birth.

It contains details on more than 60 programmes.

Baird’s son, Prof Malcolm Baird, said he was delighted the guide was dedicated to his father.

He said: “Television will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2026 and I am currently in touch with an independent producer and an experienced screenwriter, both based in Scotland, about a possible film or TV series on the life of John Logie Baird.

“If the project goes ahead, there will be no shortage of Scottish locations.”

Prof Baird said these location could include Helensburgh, which he said had kept much of its character from the time his father lived there.

He added: “Between 1906 and 1914 he studied at Glasgow’s Royal Technical College, now the University of Strathclyde, where an historic plaque has been placed in the electrical engineering department.

“A few blocks away, another plaque recalls his long-distance transmission of television in May 1927, from London to a room in the Central Hotel, now the Grand Central Hotel.”

New TV guide dedicated to inventor John Logie Baird

Baird Wonder Wall Wider

Baird Wonder Wall at Strathclyde University

Aug 31, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, photography | , , | 1 Comment

Everyone knows what ‘cadastral’ means, don’t they?

It’s taken me long enough to get comfortable with ‘sasine’, after becoming interested in house sales, and discovering nice people would send be regular updated from the Sasine Register, complete with addresses of house sales, and their value.

Now I have to get used to ‘cadastral’ as well.

For the record:

sasine:  In Scots law, either the act of giving legal possession of feudal property (in which case it is synonymous with infeftment), or the instrument by which the fact is proved. There is a general office for the registering of sasines in Edinburgh.

cadastral: from ‘cadastre’: An official statement of the quantity and value of real estate for the purpose of apportioning the taxes payable on such property; a public register showing the details of ownership and value of land.

(Please DON’T bother telling me I’m wrong, or any of the above is wrong – just use a different dictionary, and give me peace.)

So, why would anyone be wondering what some new/obscure words mean?


Land registration remains a hot topic, and time ticks away as we approach the deadline for 100 per cent of Scotland’s land mass to be registered on the ‘cadastral map’.

Latest figures from Registers of Scotland, who maintain the land register, indicate 66 per cent of all potential property titles are registered, leaving around 800,000 titles still to enter the new register before it is complete. Scottish Ministers have set a target of 2024; an irrefutable substantial task ahead for all.

The cadastral map itself is relatively new; launched as part of the changes to land registration enacted in 2012. Designed to provide clarity on who owns Scotland, it will (when complete) be possible to stick a pin into any part of it and see who owns the land and the actual extent of their ownership.

Cadastral map will, in time, show who owns Scotland

Anyone who has queried land ownership in Scotland in a remotely serious way will know that there are already projects claiming to be logging this data (and looking for subscriptions to support them), but I’ve never liked them as they seemed to have hidden agendas and political motives behind them, and some even had legal battles with various authorities. A pity, since data is neutral, and useful, but not if dripped out to interested parties by a biased owner.

The existing sasines, and presumably this cadastral creation should be free of such problems since they are official registers – but I suspect that very ‘officialness’ means someone will accuse them of being part of some ‘Land Owner Conspiracy’. Such claims seemingly being mandatory these days.

Map Of The Kingdom Of Scotland

Map Of The Kingdom Of Scotland

Aug 7, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

End of an era as Shetland comes out of its box

I’m not sure how I feel about this week’s news that a new law has been passed at the Scottish Parliament to stop Shetland being put in a box on maps of Scotland.

Shetland lies 93 miles north of the mainland coast, but is often boxed-off on maps to allow the whole of Scotland to be depicted.

While I don’t approve of inaccuracy, I also decry the loss of established traditions.

The Bill means Shetland has to be accurately represented on any public authority maps, instead of being boxed-off in a non-geographically correct location, after a campaign by Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.

According to Mr Scott this is a “lazy mapping practice”, and he claimed: “The logistics of getting to and from Shetland are all too often overlooked, and this has a serious impact on the economies of the islands.

Mr Scott would seem to think we’re all “Thick as Bricks”.

Looking at viral videos on YouTube – he could be right.

Here’s how things used to be.

Shetland Map Box

Shetland Map Box

And here’s a more accurate view.

Scotland Shetland

Scotland Shetland

Jun 2, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maps, Transport | | Leave a comment

Save us from the ‘help’ of cycling activists

A couple of injuries kept me of my bike last year (not cycling injuries I hasten to add), so I ended up looking at more cycling  related stories than I might otherwise have done, and what I saw is beginning to worry me.

While I understand and appreciate the efforts of most who try to encourage change and encourage improvements, I’ve detected a rise in those who seem to be more interested in attracting attention, or demanding more extreme action be taken to achieve what they think is ‘right’.

Over the past few years I’ve seen a steady increase in dedicated cycle lanes (fenced off from adjacent traffic), pedestrian crossing with additional signals for cyclists (to cross some wide and busy roads), plus the arrival of a number of areas with signs showing that they are shared paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

I’ve had to use them only as a pedestrian, and didn’t realise how advance this steadily growing network had become in the east end of Glasgow.

I think these are great, and make frequent use of them now.

Yet when I happened to come across a Glasgow cycling activist’s blog – he was completely against them, called them a mistake, and said they showed the planners didn’t have a clue, and should be fired.

As far as I could see, he wanted sole ownership of any bit of road he was using, everbody else is to ‘GEROFF’ and claimed such mixing of pedestrians and cyclists could never work.

I suggest he tries riding on the shared path between Central Station and the North Rotunda. That’s busy with both, especially on nice sunny days.

The only problem I’ve had on it has been from asshat ‘expert’ cyclists there, who speed round the blind side of corners as if they are the only ones on the path, or like the one I met last night, who sped past me so close he almost scraped the paint off my bike. Not even the courtesy of ding from a bell, or a ‘Sorry mate’ as he sped off.

Getting back on my bike, I looked at some recent online route planners – most are pretty poor to be honest, and have not been updated for years, and lack much recent detail. Going by their advice, if I followed it, I’d be on main road as they’re missing many of the lesser cycle paths, and seem surprisingly reticent to use side streets.

I ride along to the Science Centre fairly often now (from Shettleston), and after checking the online cycle route planners was disappointed they didn’t show a route to Riverside (transport museum),  or Kelvingrove (art gallery and museum).

But when I was on the other side of the Clyde from the Science Centre I noticed the signs showed that Riverside was only 3 minutes further on, and that Kelvingrove was just another 3 minutes further on.

This was new territory for me, so… nothing ventured, nothing gained.

True enough, both venues were reached without any problems, and the one hazard on the road to Kelvingrove – crossing the very busy Argyle Street – is catered for by a controlled crossing with signals for cyclists.

Here’s the proof of those visits, via a route that’s almost completely segregated cycle path from the east end. Sorry the pics aren’t great – it was as dull and dark then as it appears to be.

I’d never have known I could ride to these place almost solely on various cycle paths. And if one ‘activist’ had his way, I wouldn’t even have the route!

I believe certain of the ‘activists’ and ‘extremists’ are not helping now. Their actions could even spoil things.

PS Waverley Science Centre Tower

PS Waverley Science Centre Tower

PS Waverley. Pics above and below can be clicked for a bit bigger. There are bits of the TS Queen Mary visible in the background, where it is moored behind the tower.

PS Waverley

PS Waverley

Riverside – Museum of Transport. The building extends to the left, but there was a fairly ugly tent there (you can see its reflection) for something else about to take place there, so I decided to get rid of it for the pic.



Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Kelvingrove Oblique

Kelvingrove Oblique

May 13, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maps, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ye Olde Glasgow at the People’s Palace

I’ve tried to get a pic of this old painting of Glasgow along the River Clyde for some time, but every time I get the catch home and take a look – it’s been ruined by reflections in the glass.

I finally managed to avoid them for once.

It’s worth spotting this painting in the Viewing Gallery at the top of the building.

Old Glasgow Painting

Old Glasgow Panorama Painting By John Knox

A little detail.

John Knox Panorama Detail

John Knox Panorama Detail

Feb 14, 2018 Posted by | Maps | , , | Leave a comment

We really do NOT live in ‘Concrete Britain’

Over the years I’ve dabbled with Secret Scotland, I gained the impression that many people held the belief that the country was not far from being ‘concreted over’, and that we were not far from running out of green land, or even farmland for that matter, and being unable to grow crops.

While I hardly had the time or resources to sit down and disprove that view with facts, from using online resources to search for lost and hidden places, it was pretty obvious that this was actually yet another myth promoted by my sad old friends, the ‘Green Loonies’.

That there is a clear distinction between Scotland, Wales, and England in terms of land use for building, is not in dispute, with England having much denser built-up areas (and a much higher population to match) it’s still far from anything an alarming coverage.

Perhaps I have the advantage on living in the suburbs, on the edge of the city, and within smelling range of farms.

But this article is probably right when it notes that most people make the mistake of living in a densely populated and built-up city area, and equating the small area they are intimately involved with, with that of the majority of the land.

It’s actually rather nice, not to mention reassuring, to have this coverage researched and quantified.

It’s worth considering the detail given in the opening section, and taking in just how far out the uniformed estimate was:

The British people, it appears, have the mistaken belief that much of the UK has been concreted over. Could it be that the psychological impact of city living means people have a distorted idea of what our own country looks like?

This misunderstanding is suggested by new survey data produced by Ipsos Mori. Asked how much of the UK’s land area is densely built on, the average estimate was 47%. The far more accurate figure – based on satellite images – as highlighted in my blog last November, is 0.1%.

The average Briton thinks 356 times more of our nation’s land is concrete jungle than is the reality.

This isn’t just a minor misconception. The error helps to distort our mental picture of the UK and shift the politics of land use.

If the UK is viewed as a large football pitch, the people in the survey reckoned that almost all the ground between the goal-line and half-way line is densely developed when, in reality, it would fit into the tiny arc marked for taking a corner.

The 0.1% figure for what is designated “continuous urban fabric” (CUF) was named UK Statistic of the Year by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) last month.

RSS president Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter said “whatever side of the argument you sit on, this statistic gives true insight into the landscape of the United Kingdom”.

Via The illusion of a concrete Britain

Land Use In The UK

Land Use In The UK

This was revealed in an earlier article regarding the same data, but was not accompanied by the same reveal on how far out many people’s assumption of the figure was.

Five mind-blowing facts about what the UK looks like

This earlier article is interesting as it had an open ‘Comments’ area provided.

By and large, and while I don’t want to encompass ALL the commenters, it’s worth a look – it might provide enlightenment as regards my gleeful use of the term ‘Green Loonies’, and how ignorant and self-centred many of the commenters are, giving little regard to the overall information provided, and merely concerned that ‘their’ little bit green has traffic jams or slow commutes.

I suspect they are the same people who think the Met Office is utterly useless at forecasting, and should be closed down as it rained in their street on the day a weather forecast for the area advised sunny spells were expected.

Jan 4, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maps | | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: