Thursday, 8 April 2010

Forth & Clyde

I find myself fascinated by the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland.

It is effectively a trans-Scotia canal.

You can travel from the River Clyde on the west coast of Scotland (Irish Sea) to the River Forth on the east coast (North Sea).

This means that a small enough craft can get from the Irish Sea to the North Sea without going round the Northern and much exposed tip of Scotland or through the Caledonian Canal which is also further North.

However, in saying that, there seems to be very little interest in the canal from boaters or the authorities. It appears very low key.

The entrance from the tidal Clyde into the canal at Bowling, near Glasgow is a very pretty and popular spot.

Situated just up the river from where the Cutty Sark was built at Dumbarton, Bowling was once a railhead and all kinds of cargoes were transhipped from puffers (remember Para Handy and Vital Spark ???).

The canal keeps a low profile as it skirts the centre of Glasgow before shooting off cross country towards Falkirk and the tidal River Carron.
I managed to try the chips at the famous "floating" McMonagles fish and chip shop on the canal at Clydebank. Note the "cruise through" serving hatch in the side, where boaters can place their orders as they cruise past.

I think this bridge near Mc Monagles is meant to resemble a swan in flight.

The evocatively-sounding Port Dundas in Glasgow is a big disappointment.

It seems as if a city like Glasgow that has the mighty and famous Clyde just couldn't summon any enthusiasm for its poor relation, the Forth and Clyde canal.

The Glasgow arm heads south from the canal, towards the centre of the city.

The terminus is Port Dundas - a dead end, in more than one sense of the phrase.

Once a thriving industrial scene containing textile mills, chemical works, granaries, distilleries, glassworks, iron foundries, power stations and engineering works, it is now a ghost town.

They even have to invent people !!!

Old photographs reveal its been very run down for much of the late 20th century.

Now, yuppie flats are starting to spring up amongst the tumbleweeds of a former Glasgow.

The last bastion of industry, the Port Dundas Grain Distillery closed down last year.

Until then, it produced whisky used in the Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell's, Black & White, Vat 69, Haig and White Horse blended whisky brands owned by the last owner of the distillery, Diageo.

Now, there is just smaller businesses housed in industrial units and the Cormorants drying their wings.