Walking the Canal

Forth and Clyde Canal: Glasgow Branch

Student Tours Scotland has had a great success this summer with it's program of FREE Glasgow Walks. Last week we took a stroll along a part of the city that often remains hidden: The Forth and Clyde Canal. The water body runs from the West at two places: one at Temple and leaving it at the East at Lambhill and Milton. However a branch leaves the main canal at Maryhill and runs all the way to the north of the City Centre at Spiers Wharf.

We had a small band of students from Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde on our tour. As we set off from GoMA on Queens Street we quickly discovered that the weather would turn on us. Always prepared, we were not about to let the rain ruin our day out. Student Tours Scotland firmly believes that if you let the weather dictate when you tour in Glasgow then you will, quite honestly, see nothing.

Spiers Wharf is just north of the City Centre near Sighthill Park and behind Cowcaddens. Passing under the M8 Motroway you approach a large pool area in the branch canal. The views across the city are quite astonishing. To think that thousands of motorists pass this area every day and probably have no idea is actually rather sad. Leaving the basin and walking up towards Hamiltonhill, our students marvelled at the transformed custom house and whisky bond warehouses - now home to a range of uses including accommodation. The area has a peaceful feel - completely different to that of the city centre not far away.

Lovely little house boats dot the canal at this junction and from here to Firhill Basin the canal is home to a nice wee curious family of swans and many ducks. The little brown tufted swans followed their parents everywhere - sadly thinking we had some bread - which we had not the hindsight to bring with us.

Watching people fish at Firhill and passing under the Rennie Macintosh bridges at Ruchill give a strange sense of calm in an area of the city that can often get rather lively at night time. We were following an old Heritage Trail route from the early 1990's when Glasgow City Council was still Glasgow District Council. Sadly the booklet is out of print but you can find a copy to look at in the University of Strathclyde Archives. 

The canal really is full of surprises with great views; sleeping foxes, many birds, fishermen and much more. Perhaps the greatest surprise is the locks at Maryhill and Temple. You just cannot prepare yourself for the sight of these ancient and listed monuments as you walk along the waterway. Thankfully the canal is still used. Every day boats, runners, walkers and cyclists use the banka nd pathways - showing that this forgotten part of Glasgow is still very much in use.