Sunday, 20 January 2013

Wildlife Walk from Westerton to Kelvingrove, Glasgow.

View Westerton to Kelvingrove in a larger map

At the weekend I went on the Scottish Wildlife Trust walk from Westerton to Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. The walk followed various waterways including the Forth and Clyde Canal and the River Kelvin. The day was cloudy and just above freezing.

The meeting point was Westerton railway station in the Northwest of the City and was attended by a group of around 20, including two Spanish visitors.  Moira was the leader for the day and had organised everything for an enjoyable day out.

The first part of the walk was along the path adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal. The water was icy in some places, but not enough to cause disruption to the lives of the many water birds on the canal.

Birds on the Canal

At the start of the walk, we saw some Moorhen, Black-headed gulls and Tufted ducks on the canal. A short time later we saw a male Greenfinch sitting on a branch of a tree beside the canal path. A Robin was also heard singing as we walked along.

Mute Swans on Forth and Clyde Canal
Mallards on Forth and Clyde Canal

On the canal itself a number of Heron could be seen scanning the water for fish. Usually Heron stay in the same position for a while before flying to other areas of the canal, but these ones did not stay long in the one area before flying to different locations looking for food. It was good to view the Heron in flight.

Canal Locks

Being a canal, we passed a few of the locks around the Maryhill area of the canal.The Forth and Clyde Canal was opened in 1790 and runs from the River Forth in Grangemouth to Bowling in Dunbartonshire. The canal is 35 miles long and in its heyday provided a route for boats to travel through the central belt of Scotland.

Lock 24

Regeneration of the Canal

In 1963 the canal was closed and it became run down and derelict before National Lottery funds were used to regenerate it in the year 2000, as part of the millenium celebrations. Over in the east, at Falkirk, the canal was also improved with the popular tourist attraction, the Falkirk Wheel, opening on 27th May, 2002. The canal walkway is popular with walkers and cyclists and makes for an interesting walk.

On the way we passed locks No 31 to 25 at Maryhill, before turning right and following the footpath along the River Kelvin. We passed a V-shaped weir which was used to power the Kelvindale Paper Mills on Kelvindale Road.

Kelvindale Paper Mills 
This mill was founded in around 1720 by James Duncan as Balgray Paper Mill and was then acquired in 1745 by Edward Collins and Son, whose family would dominate paper making in the wider area for generations. A snuff mill was added further along the river, as snuff mills were often appended to paper mills for some reason, which is not apparent. The weir is unusual in that it is in the shape of the letter 'V'.

Weir at former Kelvindale Paper Mills

Other examples of combined paper and snuff mills in the Glasgow area include Netherlee, Millholm and Cathcart, all on the White Cart, south of Glasgow.

North Woodside Flint Mill

This mill was built in 1765 by Archibald Stirling of Kier and was originally used as a barley mill and to grind gunpower during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1846 it was converted into a flint mill. Flint is a hard silicate rock with a glassy appearance which is found in chalk and limestone. It is not common in Scotland and had to be imported.

Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill
Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill
Remains of North Woodside Flint Mill

Flint was used in the pottery industry to lighten the colour of clay, to harden it and to make hard glaze. Flint and glaze were taken by rail to Kelvinbridge Station and then transported by horse-drawn wagons to the mill.


On this part of the river we saw a Dipper on the opposite river bank, looking for food. The path was becoming quite busy now with walkers and cyclists, as well as with many friendly dogs out for their early afternoon walks.

We stopped for some lunch after crossing a footbridge to the other side of the River Kelvin, just behind the Botanic Gardens.

Footbridge leading to Botanic Gardens

In front of us we could see the Great Western Bridge, commonly known as Kelvinbridge. This is a fine cast iron bridge which was built in the 19th century to carry the Great Western Road. It provided a crossing point across the boundary of the city and into the neighbouring town of Hillhead, which was incorporated into the city later.

Next to the bridge is Kelvinbridge subway station which is one of the deepest on the underground circuit due to the proximity of the river.

Just after Kelvinbridge, we saw a wall painted with images of Glasgow. This was very well done and a welcome change from looking at bare brick walls.

Murals on wall
Murals on wall
Murals on wall

Kelvingrove Park

Kelvingrove Park was originally known as the West End Park and created by English gardener Sir Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth House in 1852. His other works included The Crystal Palace in London. It is currently run by Glasgow City Council. The Kelvingrove Art Galleries and Museum are located in the park.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Our walk was coming to an end. We walked through the park towards the Art Gallery and finished up enjoying some refreshments in the cafe there.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The list of birds seen on the walk included:

  • Cormorant
  • Dipper
  • Woodpigeon
  • Magpie
  • Bluetit
  • Greenfinch
  • Blackbird
  • Robin
  • Long-tailled tit
  • Moorhen
  • Black-headed gulls
  • Tufted ducks
  • Mallard ducks
  • Mute swan
  • Goosander
It had been a great day out thanks to Moira who organised the walk.

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