Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

What do you wire a park for?

Intriguing catch yesterday.

This bloke in hi-vis laying cables in a nearby park.

At the moment, there are no terminal boxes or similar anywhere near where he is laying his cables, and I know the past of this park – it was just ‘spare’ ground until it was landscaped and parkified (yes, I just made up that word), so there’s nothing buried there to be tapped into.

Guess I’ll have to make the effort and get back there a bit more often, and satisfy curiosity.

Interesting Park Wiring Game

Interesting Park Wiring Game

For the moment, the only thing I can think of is an extension to the tree lighting found last year, around Christmas.

This lies just to the right of the above area, and I thought they were just seasonal decorations, but they’ve not only remained, they now seem to be lit 24/7 too.

Assuming whoever turned them on has not just forgotten, and ‘Left the lights on’!

Christmassy Park Trees Best

Christmassy Park Trees


February 6, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Odd shelter found in public park

This was a slightly odd find after I took a different path through one of my local parks.

It’s very like a one man (person?) shelter made from available materials, and only needs a tarp or similar cover over it to make it waterproof. You’d have to bring your own as there’s absolutely nothing natural in our parks to make any sort of sheet out of.

I’ve come across various hides built in forests and by riversides in the past, but there’s no way this could be a hide. It’s possibly not too obvious from the pics, but this in bushes only a few feet from public paths so no wildlife here – apart from the odd squirrel, or rat, or mouse.

Well, being in the east end of Glasgow, maybe it’s just a temporary ‘drinking den’ for some poor henpecked souls from the nearby houses.

While I say that in jest, sort of, there is another smaller park nearby, and the council eventually destroyed it by dumping a load of tree-cutting and logs to block access. I’d explored it before this was done, and it was strewn with empty cans and bottles, and various items of drug paraphernalia.

This thing looks largely like fallen branches in the flat 2D pics, but when seen for real, the thinner twigs and branches were clearly woven into the thicker supporting branches.

Park Shelter

Park Shelter

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Early Braes Park is back in circulation

Early Braes Park signI tried to find the (or an) official Glasgow City Council web site or listing for the east end’s Early Braes Park (in case there was some sort of history or story behind it), but they don’t rate it as being big enough or worth the effort.

If you’ve missed it, or simply never heard of it, then you’ll find it occupying the land behind the shops at Barrachnie/Garrowhill.

I only found it by chance last year, while looking for a route to let me walk to the magic (cough cough) that is the Glasgow Fort shopping centre.

It used to be hidden from the main road by a  small but fairly dense section of wood, but a few months ago the trees were all chopped down, and shortly after that the access was closed while new waterworks were buried in the ground which had been cleared.

Coincidentally, around the same time my neighbour asked me if I had ever heard of it, as he had just added a new dog to his family collection, and needed a decent walking route of a few miles in order to keep the beast exercised and calm. He’s been here as long as me, and had never heard of the place.

So, this is how it looks after the works were completed a few days ago, and they cleared away all the barriers. Rather than make a mess, these works have improved the visibility and access to the park from Glasgow road – and they even left a line of trees in place to hide the area they cleared behind them (on the right, in the view below:

Early Braes Park entrance

Early Braes Park entrance

The area behind the trees is largely bare, apart from an area which now has a number of access hatches installed in it. Although I tried to get a look down the big hole that existed while this project was underway, there was just too much rubbish and fencing around the area to get a look any sort of angle that showed anything more than the top of the hole, so I don’t really know what’s down there. But I suspect it will just be a fairly anonymous collection of pipes and control valves:

Earl y Braes works

Access hatches over underground control gear

No clues as to the purpose and contents of the green cabinet, although I suspect some sort of sign has still to be added to the short pole seen to one side of the cabinet.

Earl y Braes works

Reasonably well secured panel

April 28, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

The mess in the park gets bigger

Life’s tough if you are unfortunate enough to be grass in Sandyhills Park.

I’ve mentioned the mess the council’s vehicles make as they straddle the paths and their wheels dig into the soft verges, or they drive onto the grass to get around the metal poles locked into place to stop stolen cars etc from speeding along them.

Then there are lorries driving over the soggy ground (which we have a lot of after a mild winter) to clear up the damaged trees and branches left behind by the high winds.

This year we have the additional benefit of Scottish Water taking over areas of the park in order to carry out drainage upgrades, which are needed and fall into the “Can’t make and omelette without breaking eggs” category. Messy, but necessary and unavoidable.

But some does seem to be avoidable…


Sandyhills storm tree 1b

Storm damage

To (if I’d known I would need it later, I would originally have taken a wider shot):

Park ground mess

Park mess

I have no idea why they found it necessary to make this mess.

A few years ago, they carried out some extensive drainage works about 100 metres west of this area (and they are digging up that same area today), but when they carried out that original phase they took the time to lay a wide temporary road over the grassy area. It may not have looked pretty, and still damaged the grass, but it avoided the creation of ruts and churning of the ground to make mud. After a while, the grass seemed to recover all on its own.

Probably not going to happen here, so we (who pays water rates?) will have to couch up for landscaping and restoration on top of the drainage works.

A cynic could be forgiven for thinking nobody cares about saving costs, providing someone else is picking up the bill.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t complain – you may get something ‘better’

There are plenty of variations on the story, but the tale of the drowning bird that gets rescued by a cat… thinks things are looking up… then gets eaten as the cat’s lunch, is always worth bearing in mind when preparing to complain or moan about something.

Case in point is the pic below, which I collected while looking around some of this year’s storm damage in a nearby park, and was an example of vehicle damage to the grass, probably damaged trees were being accessed. I picked this as a change from usual damage I photograph, caused to verges as the lorries drive along the footpaths, which they are wider than so their wheels and tyres churn up the edges.

Park ground damage

Park ground damage

What I didn’t realise was that Scottish Water was just about to arrive, and carry out some much needed work to the area’s drainage. There have been some attempt to address this in recent years, but the lie of the land has managed to defeat these, so it looks as if three working areas have been targeted this year, with some major works (compared to past years) being undertaken.

So, while I initially pointed to a couple of tyre tracks in soft ground, this has been replaced by the complete removal of the area to make way for the site works shown below – this pix is taken from the top of the hill as seen above, as it wasn’t possible to stand in the same place due to the work in progress, but you can see that the entire area has been consumed.

Sandyhills Park drainage works

Sandyhills Park drainage works

I’ve no idea how long these works will take, but the ground will be restored on completion – the earlier works were quickly hidden – so once that are done and the area has settled I’ll get the last pic in the set to show the restoration. It’s surprising how quickly the ground has recovered in the past.

February 28, 2014 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Storm damage – or not

When the really bad storms started to hit around here a few years ago, there was a lot of damage. Unfortunately, we weren’t wandering around taking pics or blogging back then.

But we were walking, and on the day after (provided the weather allowed it) a wander around the area usually found many houses with tiles ripped from their roofs, the same story with flat roofs as their covering was torn off, and a fair number of damaged trees, either broken along their length, or blown over with their roots torn from the ground.

However, after two or three years all these scenes largely came to an end. Roofs were repaired and made good with new coverings, and the storm damage to the trees effectively culled the old, weak, and the diseased, leaving only the young and strong behind.

Now, I seldom see any badly damaged roofs after a storm, and sometimes no damaged trees.

First walk through the park this year appeared to show only a few damaged branches, and it was only when I reached the ‘far’ end I found a couple had been lost, having been completely blown over. Next visit, one was already gone, and the other was still being cut into small pieces to ease the job.

Sandyhills storm tree 1a

First tree found down

Sandyhills storm tree 1b

And on its way out

Sandyhills storm tree 2a

Down, and already gone next time I passed

The above fell during the first week of storms at the end of 2013.

After everyone relaxed a bit, the second week saw a return of the winds and rain, and when I walked through the park again – the ‘near’ end joined the ‘far’, and a small group of thin trees had been blown down over the path, and was only held up by their pals on the other side.

Sandyhills storm tree 3a

Weren’t like that last week

Storms haven’t been back since – fingers crossed.

Ground damage

There’s always one thing I don’t like seeing at this time of year, and that’s the damage done by the city’s own park’s department vehicles. I think they used more specialised vehicles with large tyres or tracks in the past, but nowadays they just drive ordinary road vans and heavy lorries straight to the job, and the fairly narrow wheels and tyres just cut straight into the soft wet ground.

Park ground damage

Ground damage

The park’s path have metal poles locked into the centres to prevent rogue vehicles from driving along them, but these have rusted into place and the park vehicles just drive around them, and dig ruts into the sides of the paths.

Still, those poles have been locked in place for so long, they are rusting away and falling over, as I notices some lying in the shrubbery to the side.

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Links, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Onwards and upwards – the rise and rise of National Park bureaucracy

Parking areaWhen the National Park Authority (NPA) first announced and then appeared, I was wary.

As a result of contacts made in places such as Canada and Australia, where they have their version of national parks in place for a lot longer than Scotland, and where people live in the vast wilderness that we can only dream of, comments volunteered when I mentioned the arrival of such parks in Scotland were met with concern, particularly by ex-pats.

After listening to the words of people better qualified than me to comment, such as the late Tom Weir – who spent his life in such areas – I came to the conclusion that I would not see any demonstrable benefits from their arrival, and said so some years ago: The National Park – benefit or bureaucracy?

I don’t particularly like the word quango, but it looks very much as if that is all an NPA is, and for want of a better description, a few Jobsworth types have been given power without accountability, and as time get harder they are seeking ways and means to protect themselves, to justify their non-essential existence, and raise funds to pay their wages and hang on to their jobs.

I go by the evidence of what I see, and I see little that leads to conservation and the preservation of the environment in places such as the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. I see the arrival of rules and regulations, and I see these accompanied by charges, fees, bylaws, and fines that were never needed before – and would not be needed now if existing laws were properly enforced.

The NPA is now going to be charging for each of the 16 car parks it owns or manages, but has said it intends to concentrate first on the east shore of the loch.

In a remarkably perverse justification, the NPA justifies the charges on the basis of success, and apparently overwhelming visitor numbers that lead to gridlock, and that is worst on the ancient and single track roads found on the east.

In a similarly perverse application of logic, the NPA will be helping this gridlock by introducing the charges, which it fears may cause some motorists to react to by parking on roadside verges, so intends to close off “informal” parking areas.

I used to like having a family drive to Loch Lomond, and this tradition dates back not only to my parents, but also my grandparents, who were car owners in the 1920s, and started our regular trips to Luss.

Then, and I am unsure of the date, some ten years or so ago, Luss was ‘improved’ when the main road bypassed it, and the car park got bigger and charges were introduced – the main rural car park at Luss, owned by Argyll & Bute Council, charges motorists, and manages to raise around £80,000 a year. Well, I haven’t contributed to that, and won’t. Apart from being allowed to stop my car, I get nothing in return, other than handing yet more money to the council for nothing other than putting money in a ticket machine.

It’s rather like a little area laughingly described as a ‘Car Park’ just off the A9. I discovered this a few years ago when looking for a well-hidden local historic feature. It took me a few visits to find the little building concerned, and on one of the later visits I was amazed to see that the patch of ground where cars could stop had an ‘honesty’ car park box. I honestly couldn’t see any reason for putting a £1 in the box every time I stopped there. It wasn’t clear if the box was official in some way, or where the money went, and apart from someone making money, there was no reason for it. If I pay for parking, I expect to see someone doing something, even if it’s only a bit of security – and that doesn’t happen on a bit of roadside, where all that will happen is someone appearing to empty the collection box, and then going home with a smile on their face.

It’s also rather like Glasgow’s famous Burrell Collection. I haven’t been there for a few years, but notably, this collection is free – as are most of Scotland’s national museums. However, the Burrell lies within Pollock Park, and there is a Pay and Display car park, so you effectively pay the council to visit. This would be fair enough, and not worthy of comment, but for the fact that the Pay and Display car park is effectively unattended (unless the money collector is visiting of course), and regrettably, Pollock is not the nicest part of Glasgow. I guess the car park is seen as a soft-touch, as tourists visit with hire cars full of stuff they leave on view, and on each visit I have made to the Burrell (and I usually spend most of a morning or afternoon when I go) I have seen the police attend at a car in the Pay and Display which has had a window smashed, and items stolen. Owner’s fault, but you have to ask what they were getting for the money they put in the Pay and Display machine, with no attendant, and no security.

Returning to the Loch Lomond  NPA, it has been suggested that it will follow prices set by the Lake District NPA, which runs car parks in places like Windermere, Ullswater, and Hawkshead, and during the peak summer season, visitors are charged a minimum of £1.50 for an hour’s parking up to £6.50 for up to 12 hours, while weekly passes are sold for £25.

By introducing charging for car parks, the NPA believes it can further crack down on misbehaviour while at the same time better managing its five million annual visitors.

Well, if they do the same as me, and stop only where and when no-one is looking, or simply drive on through without stopping – the NPA will be able to claim success. After all, if there’s no-one there, then there won’t be any misbehaviour, and their numbers will definitely become more manageable.

It’s a pity so many people just accept this sort of thing as if they sleepwalking.

I wonder what would happen if there was a co-ordinated campaign, and the reputed five million visitors who are to be controlled simply all ignored the new parking charges – could the NPA fine five million vistors, and take them to court for non-payment?

I’d like to see it try.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

People see off Pollok Park fiasco

Pollok Park protest

Pollok Park protest

I had been looking at some past stories the other day, and wondered if the story of Glasgow City Council apparently doing its own thing in order to parachute a Go-Ape treetop adventure playground into Pollok Park had gone away, regardless of strong objections and a large campaign against the facility by those living nearby, and concerned for abuse of the park, with respect to the terms laid out by the family which gifted it to the city (not the councillors).

It seems not, and the plan is now history.

The Go-Ape facility was given the go-ahead by councillors in March of last year, despite the active campaign against it, after the made a visit to the site and held a special meeting. It would have seen platforms and zip slides installed into the trees near the Burrell Collection, but the company behind the scheme is now reported to have pulled out.

Go-Ape is reported to have said that the the venture is too expensive to pursue further.

One significant point worthy of note was the the Scottish Government’s decision not to call in the plan or issue any restrictions after it was referred to Scottish ministers because the council had a financial interest in it. Despite the objections of the protesters, it simply handed the complete decision to the local council.

Robert Booth, Glasgow City Council’s executive director of land services, said: “Obviously we regret Go Ape’s decision not to proceed with their facility at Pollok Park. Our main objective was to secure an additional attraction for park users at no cost or financial risk to the council.”

Save Pollok Park said it was “delighted” with the decision of Go Ape to abandon its plans. A spokesman added: “However, the council’s failure to consult and respond to the real legal and operational issues resulted in over two years of unnecessary work and a waste of taxpayers’ money which could have been avoided. We call for a detailed inquiry into the council’s futile posturing and mishandling of the Go Ape affair.”

Although the plan may have been sunk, there may yet be an aftermath.

Image from Save Pollok Park web site.

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scottish Government runs away from Pollok Park problem

Pollock Park protest

Pollok Park protest

The Scottish Government has declined to become involved in the matter of plans to create a controversial tree top adventure course in Pollok Park, home of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, and a spokesman has stated that: “The council has been authorised deal with the application in the manner it thinks fit.”

Operator Go-Ape want to install platforms and zip slides in the trees near the collection, and the scheme was referred to Scottish ministers because the council has a financial interest in the venture – and had passed the application for the installation, despite strong local opposition to the proposal.

Campaigners against the scheme say they will now look towards mounting a legal challenge, on the basis that Glasgow City Council has no right to grant a lease (for 21 years) in Pollok Park, which was gifted to the city.

The countryside park with superb walled gardens and woodland walks was once part of the Old Pollok estate, and the ancestral home of the Maxwell Family for seven centuries. In 1966, the parkland and house was gifted to the City of Glasgow by the family, together with the remainder of the estate, used for farming and recreation purposes such as golf

Image from Save Pollok Park web site, where you can find further information about the campaign to save the park.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pollok Park campaign boosted

Go Ape go homeIn the same week I found myself biting my lip and refraining from commenting about Glasgow City Council’s claim that local taxation would be “a disaster for Scotland’s economy” (I can’t afford to fight council backed lawyers), I was reminded of it’s approach to the “Wishes of the people” when the farcical story of the proposed Go Ape adventure area in Pollok park popped up in news once again.

Earlier stories recounted the council had carried out a consultation, which sounds good, but hardly anyone knew about it, and the results throw some doubt as to its validity, but what do I know – I never took part, and never knew about it.

The matter has been referred to ministers at Holyrood because Glasgow City Council has a financial interest in the scheme.

Opponents against the development believe a recent archaeological find in the park backs their claim that the council was wrong to back the scheme. A team from Glasgow University and Glasgow Archaeological Society have found what may be the oldest surviving road in the city, dating back to 500 or even 700 BC, comprising a a paved path between 50 and 100 metres in length, discovered beneath woodland and vegetation within Pollok Park.

Campaigners are due to hand a 5,000 signature petition in to Holyrood next week, against the development, and say that any support should have been conditional on the site being properly investigated before backing was  offered.

Image from Save Pollok Park web site.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Glasgow will Go Ape after council decision

Go Ape protestWe blogged earlier about the efforts of Glasgow City Council to Hijack Pollok Country Park, and it looks as if we were right. In a move which many locals will see as reinforcing opinion that it does what it wants regardless of what the people it’s supposed to represent want, the council has voted in favour of the development of a commercial adventure course in the park, which was gifted to the people of Glasgow by its former owners. The proposal was voted through by 14 votes to 6, and backs the lease of part of the public park to the development company concerned, Go Ape, for 21 years, and comes after a special meeting and visit to the site.

In a statement, the convenor of the planning committee George Redmond said: “It was important, given the high level of public interest in this proposal, that there was a full and fair hearing to allow the interested parties to make factual representations.

The application will now be referred to ministers at Holyrood because Glasgow City Council has a financial interest in the scheme. According to The Herald of February 8, 2008:

  • Objections to the scheme have ranged from the disturbance expected to other park users, and visitors to the Burrell Collection, to the fact that adults will be charged £25 and children £20 to take part.It has now emerged that the operators expect a turnover of £1.3m a year but the council will make only £2.2m over the 21-year period of the lease.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said Glasgow City Council had an abysmal track record in protecting its parks and greens spaces. He said: “They have permitted attacks on green spaces large and small, and they have earned the resentment of people throughout the city.”

Environmental campaigners have said they will continue to fight against the plan.

Image from Save Pollok Park web site.

April 6, 2008 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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