Back to Bowling Harbour this weekend to get further in to this fascinating place. I headed along the top of the inner harbour wall until it became more broken and then went down onto the muddy seaweedy silt, fortunately not sinking in too much as my wellies were back in the car.
Towards the inside end of the basin there are these great pyramids, sort of semi-detached moorings complete with a capstan apiece.
From the end of the basin you can get on to the long arm of the harbour wall and head back out east along the bar. At the start you can look west to this enormous rotting wooden pier setup – I am sure local historians know all about it but if you don’t know it’s there it’s amazing.
The bar is rough and rocky, broken in places but has been a tremendous piece of stonework in the past.
This waterfront is stunning, looking out to green fields and low hills in Renfrewshire. The old stonework is tremendous, the big iron capstans speak of strength and all the while the water glitters and shifts around you.
On the north bank of the Clyde from the city centre out there are the odd bits of waterfront development, and of course places like the BAe Systems yard near my home, which need and use the river. But there are miles, great tracts, of brownfield land that could be turned into something much better, with good devopment, some parkland, a cafe … Even in the city centre itself much of the waterfront is a dull stony steppe.There are sites like Bowling Harbour and the old pier beyond which could be modestly restored so people could access them properly for leisure instead of climbing through holes in fences, as I did to get there. In Yoker a tarmac road runs in front of wasteland along attractive waterfront for probably half a mile, with nothing there other than weeds and dog-walkers.
If you go to Bowling canal basin, east of the harbour, with its little cafe – which really has found its market in dog walkers – and shops (with more to come), bright small boats and accessible paths, you can get an idea how other places could look.
But most communities seem to have turned their back on the river, and often you can hardly tell it is there, just a few hundred yards away. If this was London people would die for this waterfront space. Instead so much Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire’s waterfront space has been left to die.