Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Free Govan ferry returns for 2019 season

I wish I’d known about this sooner, as I was in Govan and visited both the spot where the new/current ferry operates from, and the site of the original Govan ferry.

While there’s not much left of the original ferry terminal area, there is enough to recognise it for what it was, and I’d have stopped for a pic, but for a couple of shady looking characters who looked as if they were doing drugs in the semi-hidden area nearby meant I hurried past.

The Govan Summer Ferry will operate from 03July up to 20 October 2019.

Free to use, the ferry sails between as follows:

8am – 6pm Monday to Friday

10.00am – 5.30pm at weekends

The ferry departs Govan from the pontoon at the bottom of Water Row and shuttles backwards and forwards continually throughout the day, with the last ferry departing Kelvin Harbour 6pm weekdays, and 5.30pm weekends.

There is space for bikes, so cyclists can use the crossing too.

The Govan Summer Ferry is provided free of charge thanks to fundraising led by Govan Workspace and the generous donations of many local organisations and agencies.

Do You Have Limited Mobility?

If you have limited mobility please be aware the ferry is not completely accessible but as long as you are happy to be assisted onboard, please contact Gregor Connelly on 07545 903 626 in advance of your trip so things can be prepared.

Confirm details on the ferry’s web site here:

Free Govan Ferry 2019

Free Govan Ferry - Ellens Isle - via Get into Govan

Free Govan Ferry – Ellens Isle – via Get into Govan

I was there a few days too early to see the ferry.

But I did find one pic I’d collected there, showing Tall Ship (the barque Glenlee) moored in front of Riverside.

So, I was at least close.

The Tall Ship and Riverside from Govan

The Tall Ship and Riverside from Govan

This is actually a fascinating place to wander around, and I collected a load of pics of various memorials.

I had no idea this area was even accessible, and only made the trip because I spotted the extensive railings (seen the in the pic) which border a long walkway along this side of the river.

It’s well worth the effort to get to.

This is also described on the Get into Govan web site:

Govan’s new riverside walkway is now open to the public and the transformation is fabulous. The stunning new pathway, which creates access to Govan Old along the waterfront from Water Row to Wanlock Street, restores access to this part of the riverside for the first time since the closure of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard. With unrivalled views of the river, the new pathway is a great place to walk, sit, cycle and enjoy the waterfront, and, even better, the true splendour of Govan Old, Govan’s own cathedral, is revealed for all to see and appreciate. The pathway leads directly to the summer ferry terminal at Water Row and will come into its own when the new Govan-Partick pedestrian and cycle bridge is complete in 2021 – helping to connect up journeys and boost visitor numbers to Govan.

Now open – Govan’s fabulous new riverside walkway

This sign dates its opening to 2017, so I’m not as late as usual in finding this.

Govan Old Walkway Sign

Govan Old Walkway Sign

The locals are already making use of it.

Govan Walkway Cat

Govan Walkway Cat

I thought that cat had short legs – but at this time of year it’s more likely to be a belly full of kittens!

I wasn’t as close as this shot looks, and never got any closer than about 10 metres before she slipped through a fence in into a nearby garden.

Then kept popping out to see if I was gone.

06/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where’s Queen Mary?

Another example from my recent down period, just to confirm that nothing happens until I’m not looking.

I took a random bike run that ended up in Govan, and decided to come back via Pacific Quay.

I expected to see the returned TS Queen Mary moored there.

I didn’t.

All I saw was an empty berth. Something of a surprise, since I hadn’t seen any mentions in the media.

TS Queen Mary missing

TS Queen Mary missing

While I wouldn’t put it past some scumbag metal thieves to have towed her away in the night, I didn’t think that was too likely, and suspected she’d been taken elsewhere to have some specialised work completed.

For once, I got lucky, and the very next day the media carried stories that the Queen would be sailing back to her berth the next day.

Queen of the Clyde makes a splash after £2.4m investment

TS Queen Mary is set to return to Glasgow after undergoing £400,000 of work in a dry dock.

A famous Clyde steamer is set to return to Glasgow after undergoing £400,000 of work in a dry dock.

TS Queen Mary, which returned to Scotland in 2016, has now had £2.4m invested in it and will arrive at the Glasgow Science Centre on Friday morning.

During the dry dock at Dales Marine in Greenock the ship was laser scanned so a 3D model could be built.

The ship itself was UHP blasted to fully strip it back to its bare steel and then repainted with new lettering.

So, time for another trip, and another pic.

TS Queen Mary returned

TS Queen Mary returned

05/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Will anything from Glasgow appear during the City of Adelaide Clipper Ship paranormal lockin?

Some intriguing goodies turn up in my carefully curated set of feeds, and this one about the former Carrick, once moored in Glasgow, now the City of Adelaide, definitely falls into that category.

Come aboard the City of Adelaide Clipper Ship docked at Port Adelaide. Investigate the ship where 7 people died on the first voyage to Adelaide. Converted to a Hospital Ship in 1893, many more lives were lost on this ship.

Our investigators will show you how to use the equipment and you can search for any activity yourself!

Hear the history from the Ship’s own volunteers and then poke around the Ship’s remains.

Time Sat Jun 22 2019 at 07:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Venue Dock 1, McLaren Pde, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

City of Adelaide Clipper Ship paranormal lockin

So, still time to arrange that trip half way around the world and not miss that unique experience on board the old hull.

There just HAS to be something spooky left after this…

Sunk Carrick

Sunk Carrick

Then again.

Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

You don’t have to go to Aus for this sort of fun

Thrill-seekers will get to take part in a ghost hunt at Glasgow’s Merchants House this winter.

Scottish Ghost Nights are set to explore the building on George Square, which boasts over 400 years of history.

It was once a hub for social gatherings, civic affairs and an almshouse for merchants and their families who had fallen on hard times. The investigators reckon places like this are “alive with energies of the past” – which should make for a spine-tingling night of spooky goings-on…

The event will take place on Saturday, November 9 between 7:30pm and 12:30am. Over the five hours, you’ll explore the building and get the chance to try out table-tipping, spirit boards and a full Victorian Seance.

Tickets are £39 per person and you can get them here

Hunt ghosts at Glasgow’s Merchants House this winter

Cheaper than a trip to Port Adelaide 🙂

13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime | , , , | Leave a comment

Update on the PS Waverley’s plight

There’s a new and fairly extensive feature detailing the problems which beset the PS Waverley this year, and led to the cancellation of this season’s sailings.

There aren’t a lot of vessels needing the extent of work now revealed, and it’s always a bit of wake-up call when they reach the stage of having to cut the deck open and remove all the upper structures (including the funnels) to access the lower area. If you didn’t realise the problems were serious, this should put things into context.

The world’s last sea-going paddle steamer needs the equivalent of ‘open heart surgery’ to keep afloat as a £2 million fundraiser is launched to save her.

This year will be the second since 1812 that no paddle-steamer has sailed on the River Clyde , since the Waverley was pulled out of action for the summer following the discovery of faults with the boiler.

And it is only the second time in 72 years that the Waverley has missed a season.

Waverley Excursions, which operates the ship, said it was crucial the money was raised to return the ship to service next summer.

Would-be passengers will be asked to donate the price of a trip they would have taken, when the fundraiser is launched on Saturday.

General manager Paul Semple said: “We have to get Waverley back next year, but it will be a significant struggle.

” Waverley is only here because of the passengers who sail in her.

“Most of our income to keep the ship running is funded from passengers and fares.

“If everyone bought a ‘virtual ticket’, we would have the money needed. If we get the money, she will return to sail.

Offers of help have already come in, from crane firms to businesses in Dunoon, who benefit from daytrippers coming off the ship.

This year’s sailings were cancelled last month after an unexpected amount of damage was found to the boilers, which were last replaced in 2000 with an anticipated 25-year life span.

Mr Semple said: “We found structural defects to the boiler shell and furnace.

“We made initial repairs but then realised the extent of the damage.

“If we had continued, we would have lost half the season, and even then, there was no guarantee we would have got many more years out of the boilers.”

The work, which is expected to take around four months, will involve removing the funnels and slicing open a section of the deck to remove and replace the two boilers.

Waverley needs ‘open heart surgery’ to stay afloat

It’s interesting to note that the article goes on to note that Waverley appears to attract more passengers on its trips down south (remember, Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world) than it does when sailing at home, in Scotland.

It puts this down to Scots taking the paddler for granted, and I think that’s fair comment.

It’s probably true everywhere though – those who have something generally tend to fully appreciate it.

However, Mr McGowan (PSPS vice-president) called for the ship to be better promoted to secure its future.

He said: “Its marketing needs to go up a gear, as passengers numbers have been on the decline, although not everywhere.

He’s probably right – with Waverley at sea much of the time (during the season) there’s not much evidence of the paddler’s existence, or sailings.

While I’m not a fan of overdone ‘Sales and Marketing’, some is still a good idea,

I think there might be a poster somewhere near Waverley’s berth at the Science Centre, on the OTHER side of the river (where the berth used to be a few years ago).

And I came across this poster in Ayr recently.

But few will ever see it, located on a steel fence at the back of the houses built on the land reclaimed from the old harbour area.

Yes, I KNOW it should have been a wider shot to show the context, but I didn’t know it would be used for this scenario, so the pic was taken to catch the detail f the original, not the location.

Paddle Steamer Waverley Ayr harbour poster

Paddle Steamer Waverley Ayr harbour poster (2019)

And there was more later:

£2m fundraising bid to save world’s last sea-going paddle steamer in Scotland

And a few days later, even the BBC noticed.

‘Save the Waverley’ paddle steamer appeal launched

I have to give their list of facts a mention…

The Waverley – facts and figures

  • Built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and launched in October 1946.
  • Entered service with the London and North Eastern Railway in June 1947, working LNER’s Firth of Clyde steamer route from Craigendoran Pier, near Helensburgh, to Arrochar.
  • Powered by a three-crank diagonal triple-expansion marine steam engine built by Rankin & Blackmore in Greenock.
  • Now painted in original LNER 1947 livery of red, white and black funnels, traditional brown-grained (or “scumbled”) superstructure and black paddle-wheel boxes.
  • July 1977 – badly damaged when she struck rocks near Dunoon. The heavier than normal post-war construction which made provision for possible future military use as a minesweeper may have helped her stay together while she was refloated.
  • June 2009 – struck the breakwater at Dunoon with 700 passengers on board, 12 of whom suffered minor injuries.
  • Since being sold to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, she has carried more than five million passengers.

11/06/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

More fundraising needed to keep MV Glenachulish afloat between Skye and Glenelg

It’s hard not to be impressed by the efforts of those who keep our working maritime assets in service.

And I mean that all the way from the tiny MV Glenachulish ferry I’m about to mention here, through the PS Waverley (which won’t even sail this year die to boiler issues), The Maid of the Loch (which has persevered for years in its restoration), and even the current ferry services operated by CalMac, which seem to be rewarded with nothing but negative comments from critics.

I doubt if any of those who make negative remarks about any of the above have any appreciation of the costs involved, the low returns from ticket sales (as passengers and various ‘user groups’ shout only for more and more fare reductions year after year, while complaining that the operators don’t build enough vessels, or replace/upgrade them often enough.

While it would, I’m sure, be an utter disaster, I’d really like to see the critics handed these services for something like ten years, to see if they could do better.

OH! I should add that I WOULD NOT let them start with any of the subsidies, grants, or other financial aids which any of the current services have won over the years – let these ‘ultra smart’ critics start from scratch.

Back in the real world, it’s intriguing to note that the little ferry operating between Glenelg and Skye has been in the news a few times.

I noted Unique Skye ferry lives on after major refurb back in 2017.

And, although I only noted it in my now dropped ‘Weekly’ summary, the media noted First female skipper of world’s last ferry of its kind back in 2018.

MV Glenachulish Ferry North Stronezzzz

MV Glenachulish Ferry North Strone

As noted above, tickets alone can’t really cover the operating costs for ferries, especially as certain mouthy passengers demand ever lower fares.

Like historic building, they can ‘eat’ money.

A bid to raise £10,000 to carry out of vital works on a ferry which is the last of its kind in the world has been launched.

The MV Glenachulish is the world’s last sea-going, manually operated, turntable ferry and has plied the short route from Glenelg to Skye for almost 40 years.

Built in 1969 for service it was brought to Glenelg in the 1980s and has sailed the Kylerhea narrows ever since.

More than £200,000 has been raised in the past to bring the historic ferry to its current condition but as it prepares to turn 50 vital engine work needs to be carried out.

READ MORE: Skye residents buy land near Fairy Pools to reduce congestion

The Glenachulish Preservation Trust has launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to raise the £10,000 needed for the work.

Jo Crawford, general manager of the Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company, said they are “optimistic” about raising the cash.

On a Just Giving page set up by the charity, they said: “The MV Glenachulish is the last manually operated turntable ferry in the world.

“The ferry has been in the ownership of the Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest Company since 2007 and the Glenachulish Preservation Trust was set up to raise funds to preserve this unique piece of Scottish maritime history.

“The original Kelvin T6 engine requires some TLC and the Charity would like to ask for donations for this vital work to be carried out.”

The ferry re-entered service after an £80,000 refit in 2017.

Fundraising bid to save unique turntable ferry that serves Glenelg and Skye


07/06/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The tanker at the end of the road

Nothing in particular.

I just looked down a side street in Ayr, and this nice view presented itself, so got grabbed.

Ayr Tanker


31/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

PS Waverley gets £179,000 boost to recovery

The full boiler refit will need some £2 million to complete the work, but the first £179 k for dry docking has been secured.

Over £170,000 has been awarded to help a world famous steam ship sail again.

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) has announced that it will provide immediate funding to support efforts to “Save The Waverley” following the withdrawal of the Paddle Steamer Waverley.

Waverley’s operators, Waverley Excursions, confirmed that the ship will need new boilers if she is ever to sail again with all sailings cancelled this season.

PSPS National Chairman, Peter Morley, commented “The PSPS was gifted Waverley for £1 back in 1974 as she was then, and still is, the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.

“This week PSPS Trustees voted unanimously in favour of an immediate cash injection to Waverley of over £170,000 to fund the recent dry docking bill. This level of support will allow Waverley’s owning charity to bring forward plans to raise in excess of £2 million to replace the ship’s boilers.

“I appeal to everyone who has sailed on Waverley or wishes to see her back in steam to support our fund raising efforts to Save The Waverley.”

£170k lifeline cash awarded to Paddle Steamer Waverley

I really did toy with the idea of setting up a small museum (dedicated to tech) after spending a lot of my free time visiting museums, large and small, but it doesn’t take much research to convince you of the need for personally deep pockets, or a long string of friends, of friends, of friends… who have the relevant contacts in order to make such a thing a reality.

I had neither.

And am in some awe of those who can do this.

I’d probably also have to say I hold some others in contempt, as I’ve seen some people use their contacts to (apparently) raise millions to float their ideas of museums/ attractions, only to disappear without a trace. I’m not referring to fraudsters who get the cash then abscond (they may have been for all I know), but those who seem to line up all the backing, consume resources, then just evaporate with nothing to show.

The costs associated with the Waverley, and the long-running restoration of the Maid of the Loch, are, for me at least, a sobering warning as to how close to the edge such projects can be, even if they are successful and popular.

In the background, they can be eating money like they are burning it.

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

28/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Ayr may have been windy, but at least it was dry

I thought I might have made a mistake after jumping on a bus headed for Ayr yesterday, but when I got back and saw the big puddles and wet roads in Glasgow in the evening, reckoned I had made the right choice after all.

That said, on the sea front it was blowing a mini gale, and my nose wouldn’t stop running – it was noticeably colder than a previous visit a few weeks ago.

Even so, as we are only a few days from June, there were already people whose mindset was already set on ‘summer’.

While I was glad I’d packed a fleece to shove on under my windproof jacket, a few were already wandering the esplanade in shorts and bare feet!

Although none were braving the water (I remember how cold it was when I was a kid, and have never gone back in since), a few were already in ‘holiday mode’ and playing in the sand.

Ayr beach 28 May

Ayr beach 28 May

Since I was suitably ‘well wrapped’ I decided to wander out to the end of the pier, and the lighthouse.

Ayr Pier Lighthouse

Ayr Pier Lighthouse

It was pretty windy out there.

But – the locals had recently had a wee party in the sheltered area below the light.

Sardines and beer. Lovely 🙂

Ayr pier sardines and beer

Ayr pier sardines and beer

The coastguard observation tower was abandoned years ago, I’m almost surprised it has survived to this day and not been demolished by some local councillor wanting to score a few ‘Brownie Point’ for being brave, and removing a poor, defenceless ‘eyesore’.

As a tiny, I always wanted to see inside that tower – not happening now.

Believe it or not, you will find this structure described online as a ‘lighthouse’ on web sites selling stock photos!

I was out of circulation when the black rectangle was installed near the tower, so don’t know how old it is.

The oldest pic I’ve dug up so far dates from 2006, when it looked smarter than it does today. It’s some sort of coal monument or marker (I should have read the story given nearby, but didn’t as my runny nose was getting to be too irritating in the wind off the sea), made of coal dust mixed with resin.

It’s beginning to show its age, and is breaking up. Salty sea air and coastal weather is good at doing that.

Old observation tower and coal art

Old observation tower and coal art

I came back with a surprising haul of pics, so there may be more posts from this ‘chance’ outing.

28/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Not a Scottish island for sale this time, just a tiny house

I was spotting little islands for sale a while ago, but that seems to have gone quite for the moment.

This time it’s something a little bit different, a tiny house in Banff, on Gamrie Brae, Gardenstown, overlooking the Moray Firth.

Formerly a coastguard station, it closed when volunteers moved out of the base when the rescue team merged with Banff.

The  detached, single-storey building has been empty since October 2017 and is now set to be auctioned this week, with a £30,000 guide price.

It’s basically a shell, with a toiled and sink inside.

I know I passed it a few times some years ago, even I didn’t really notice it, as I visited Gardenstown a few times during my time as an ROC nuclear monitoring post hunter/visitor.

I did find the Gardenstown post, on a farm, and recall it well, having found it to have been effectively closed and sealed by having the concrete step placed on top of the hatch. No chance of a quick look inside that one back then. However, I do note that somebody managed to have it removed later, and get pics of the interior.

See the offer here:

Detached Former Coastguard Rescue Station

Nice view.

Reminded me of the Tom Weir programme, when he went to Pennan, Crovie, and Gardenstown.

Gardenstown Coastguard building

Gardenstown Coastguard building

26/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh dear – when your haters sharpen their knives, you’d better take care

While I’ll just be dismissed as someone who likes CalMac, or in this particular instance the related CMAL, I can’t help but think that this story is really just another in the long-running tradition of “CalMac hate” by those who seem to have made this their hobby.

Thinking not only of CalMac, but in more general terms, there will always be borderline cases where rules applying to the conduct of personnel fall into areas where they aren’t specifically or clearly applicable. It could almost be likened to speeding, where there are some who say drivers travelling at 31 mph in a 30 mph zone should be fined. Such things sound grand – but selectively forget that the speed indicating equipment in cars has a tolerance, as does the speed detecting devices used to identify speeding drivers, so things are simply not as simple as some make them out to be.

When I see a CalMac item in the news, I can usually make a safe bet that there will generally be bad news, or negative comment to follow.

They announce new ferries… “They’re spending too much money”, or “They run their ferries too long”, or there’s fun such as CalMac ferry saga: Now passenger capacity to be cut on delayed new boats

As usual, CalMac is slated, but if legislation changes during the course of a build, will the haters give the company a gold star if it ignores the change and carries on with the original plan? I doubt it – they’ll be at the head of the queue demanding to know why it ignored the changes.

They get an operating subsidy (as lifeline service provider, CalMac operates at a loss). That goes up, so there is intense whining from the haters.

But they selectively forget they cried for reduced ferry fares and RET (Road Equivalent Tariff), and that the ferry services cost the same to run. Did they expect CalMac to wave a magic wand and make their operating costs fall, in line with the fares after RET?

I could probably go back over past items and make a list, but have better things to do.

But I think I’ll mention a gem from the past, when ‘ferry user group’ was formed to hassle CalMac on one particular route.

The ringleaders would use anything to whip up discord, even complaining about the teabags used in the onboard cafe of one ferry.

So, to this most recent story, which seems to be more of the same, and concentrates of making a mountain out of a molehill regarding gifts.

I don’t have all the details of course, just what’s in the story, so can’t really comment – and since I’m not “hating” I’d be dismissed anyway.

But, it all looks a bit silly to me, and designed to breed discord, rather than reveal some sort of major source of corruption.

So, this was the latest BIG REVEAL of problems…

Concern over hospitality received by ferry firm director

I’m not even going to bother (going into detail).

I tried to find an illustration that went with this, but they were all too specific/personal.

So I thought one suited, as it represents where I think the haters always like CalMac to be, and makes them happy.

Trying to stay afloat while sinking

Dammit – EVERY time I say I’m NOT going to look at ferry stories!


23/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t forget PS Waverley

The Waverley may not be paddling up and down the Clyde, but is currently berthed at the Science Centre so you can at least go along and have a look.

I was passing that way last night, so grabbed a quick shot while I could.

Repair/restoration appeal

Sorry about the ladder – I didn’t have my cutting gear in my back pocket!

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

22/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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