Category Archives: Buildings

Brompton Bicycle in Lanarkshire

A few years ago I bought a Dahon folding bicycle on Ebay. It is badged as a Raleigh bicycle but is made by Dahon. This has been a super bicycle and has taken me around London, Windsor and along the Grand Union Canal. It has also taken me to the Holy Isle (Lindisfarne), the Isle of Bute, Loch Lomond and many other areas in Scotland.  

The maximum distance I have travelled in one day is 55 miles, from Wanlockhead in South Lanarkshire to my home.   

However, I decided to buy a Brompton S3L 2014 because it folds just a bit smaller than the Dahon. The wheels are only 16 inches, but it still provides a smooth and fast ride. I took it for a spin on the cycle paths around Motherwell and Hamilton, visiting some interesting structures from the former estate of the Dukes of Hamilton.  

Brompton at Strathclyde Loch

The orange colour is quite distinctive. I wanted red but, they only had orange or white in the style with the ‘sports’ handlebars. 

Brompton at Chatelherault Hunting Lodge

Chatelherault was the former estate of the Dukes of Hamilton. The Hunting Lodge above was built in 1734 for the 5th Duke of Hamilton.

View from Chatelherault Lodge

The view above was towards Hamilton palace which was demolished in 1927 after suffering subsidence from mine workings.

On the Dukes Bridge over the River Avon

The Dukes Bridge was commissioned by William 11th Duke of Hamilton. It stands 80ft high over the Avon gorge allowing access to the ancient oaks and Cadzow Castle.

Outside the Mausoleum, Hamilton

The Mausoleum in Hamilton was the resting place of the Dukes of Hamilton and is situated in the grounds of the former Hamilton Palace. It held the record for the longest echo of any man-made structure in the world. Construction was begun in 1842 and completed in 1858.

It was a great way to test my bike and it was a bit of a head-turner as well.

Further Information:


Chatelherault Country Park

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Pollok Country Park and Burrell Collection

Today was a beautiful day so a nice cycle round one of Glasgow’s parks was a good way of enjoying the late summer sunshine.

We took the folding bikes on the train to Shawlands and cycled the short distance to Pollok Park. The park has won many awards including the Best Park in Britain in 2007 and Best Park in Europe in 2008.

The park has many attractions including Pollok House and the Burrell Collection. It also has many paths for walking and cycling and some lovely gardens.  

Pollok Park Attractions

We entered the park on the Pollokshaws Road  entrance and passed Polloc Cricket Ground where a match was being played. I am particularly fond of cricket, so we stopped and watched the action for a while. 

Cricket match at Polloc Cricket Club

We then followed the path along the riverbank but it was stop-start because of the number of people on the path. A young girl tripped and fell into some nettles in front of us further along the path and I was able to give her some of my anti-histamine cream to put on the stings. I told her just to keep it as she had been badly stung by the nettles.


We arrived at some gardens which were part of Pollok House. There was a large area with vegetables and next to it  was a flower garden. A scarecrow watched over the vegetable garden.

Scarecrow in Pollok House Garden
Face of scarecrow

The flower garden was lovely and was very popular.

Flower garden in Pollok House
Flower garden in Pollok House

Courtyard and Stables 

The courtyard and stables were also very popular and many people were drawn to the horses.   

Arthur – a Glasgow City Horse

Glasgow City horses win many awards in heavy horse competitions. The horses were very big but they were also very friendly. 

The Courtyard

Pollok House 

This magnificent house is now run by the National Trust for Scotland. It was the ancestral home of the Maxwell family and was built in 1752 and was originally given to the City of Glasgow in 1966 by Dame Anne Maxwell Macdonald before passing to the National Trust for Scotland.  

It was designed by William Adam. It  has a large, private collection of Spanish paintings, including works by El Greco, Francisco Goya and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Pollok House
Weir on River Cart

Burrell Collection  

The Burrell Collection contains over 8,000 objects which were left to the City of Glasgow in 1944 by Sir William Burrell. The exhibits are frequently changed so it is always worth visiting. Sir William Burrell was a  wealthy Scottish shipping merchant and philanthropist, who collected a variety of objects throughout his life.  

The museum was only opened in 1983 as Sir William had stated in his will that the collection had to be in a rural setting and the City had to find a suitable venue for it. The collection is housed in a purpose built building which in mainly constructed from glass.

There is also a tearoom which sells food and drink at very reasonable prices. Entry to the Gallery is free.  

Burrell Collection
Burrell Collection main entrance

While there, I took some interior photographs.  

Burrell Collection interior
Stain Glass exhibits
Interior of the Burrell Collection

 Highland Cattle

On our way back to the train  we saw some Highland Cattle in a field.

Highland Cattle

It had been another enjoyable day out. 

Further Information:

Pollok Country Park

Burrell Collection

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Lunchtime Walk – Linn Park, Glasgow

One of the advantages of working in the South Side of Glasgow is the number of lovely parks within a short distance from my office. Last week I had walked with a colleague through Queens Park and this week we went to Linn Park.

I had been on a walk in the Linn Park in August 2012 (which can be viewed here ) so I was familiar with many of the paths in the park. 

Holmwood House

One of the first places we visited on the walk was Holmwood House which was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s and is regarded as his finest domestic design. It was built in 1857-8 for James Couper, a local businessman. The house is managed by the National Trust for Scotland and is only open from April to September. We were able to walk round the house and its grounds.

Holmwood House 


After walking round the grounds of Holmwood House, we found a walk beside White Cart Water and arrived at Snuffmill Bridge. The original mill was built in the18th century as Cathcart Meal Mill and became a cardboard mill in 1812 for Solomon Lindsay of Penicuik. In 1814 a snuff mill was added. The River Cart was an important river for industrial use.  

Snuffmill Bridge

The view from the bridge was very pleasant as the photographs below show.

View from Snuffmill Bridge
View from Snuffmill Bridge

The path along the river was quite muddy, but we had walking shoes on and not office ones!   

 In some places there were steep steps, but they were easy to climb.

White Cart Water

Linn Park Waterfall
We came to a waterfall, which is the most popular feature in the park. When I were last in this area in August 2012 the waterfall was disappointing, but today it had plenty of water cascading over it. Linn is the Scottish word for waterfall.

Waterfall in Linn Park February, 2014

In August 2012 the waterfall was less spectacular.

Waterfall August 2012

We had time to admire the waterfall before making our way back to the office. It has been a pleasant walk.


Filed under Buildings, General, Glasgow City, Scotland, Short Walks, strathclyde

Holding the Rock for Scotland – Dumbarton Castle

At the weekend Historic Scotland held a re-enactment of the defence of Dumbarton Castle during the Scottish Civil War. It was a cold, wet and windy day, but it was still very entertaining and the Castle was very busy.

Dumbarton Castle is situated on an extinct volcano and there are 540 steps to climb to get to the top of it. We did it twice. It is not too difficult for a reasonably fit person.
Dumbarton Castle
On March 26th,1639 the Covenanters seized Dumbarton Castle. Dumbarton Castle was located on the River Clyde and controlling it would prevent unauthorised access to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.
Who Were ‘The Covenanters’?
These were the Scottish Presbyterians who in 1638 signed the “National Covenant” to uphold the Presbyterian religion and the “Solemn League and Covenant” of 1643, which was a treaty with the English Parliamentarians.
Covenanters flag
The Covenanters made a stand for political and religious liberty that led to almost a century of persecution and their widespread migration to Ulster and the American colonies.
Covenanters used the base of  muskets to attack the enemy
The Covenanters sought to have the church organised as written in the  Scriptures. There was only one Head of the Kirk – Jesus Christ  and they refused to accept the King in that role. Charles I was a Stuart King who believed in the divine right of kings.
Firing muskets
Close-up of an officer refilling his musket with gunpowder
The muskets were filled with gunpowder and lit by a rope soaked in saltpeter. If it was wet, the muskets often misfired. The gunpower was kept in small wooden containers worn on a belt across the body.
The Covenanters were not taught swordfighting
The Covenanters were issued with a short sword but were not taught to swordfight. Only gentlemen were taught this. They preferred to use the end of their muskets or a small dagger to attack the enemy.
The officer on the right in the above photograph is a man of substance as he can afford boots. Ordinary soldiers wore shoes instead.
Clothing of the Covenanters
The Covenanters wore clothing which they could get a hold of and did not have an official uniform. They mostly wore grey. The gentleman in red is a man of substance as he can afford better quality cloth.
A seargent
A seargent could be identified by the long wooded pole he held with a curved dagger at the top. 
Blowing the doors of the castle open
Using a charge to open the doors
To open the doors of the castle, a tripod was used to hold a charge which caused a small explosion.
Making the lead pellets for the muskets
The Covenanters had a few watchwords including ‘Jesus and no quarter’ and ‘God is with us’.  On entering the Castle we had to say these words.
It was a very interesting day and we learned a lot about this important period in Scottish history.
Further Information
Grid reference: NS 398 744.

Historic Scotland:



Filed under Buildings, Castles, General, Scotland, strathclyde

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Glasgow is one of the top shopping centres in Europe and most of the up-market stores and brands are found in Buchanan Street. Brands such as Karen Millen, Apple, Omega, Rolex, Hermes, Prada, Gucci etc are sold in the shops in this famous street. 

It is the 6th most expensive street in the UK with regard to retail rents (the first five are in London).

Buchanan Street dates from the late 18th century and is named after Andrew Buchanan of Buchanan, Hastie, & Co who was a wealthy tobacco lord. He was the owner of the ground on which the current street is located.

In keeping with a city which became very wealthy through trading with the Americas and West Indies, many of the buildings are very ornate and beautiful both externally and internally.

While I was there recently I spent some time looking at the buildings as I walked from the top of the street, just outside Glasgow Concert Hall, to Argyle Street at the bottom.

 Concert Hall

It is not unusual to find an opera singer or band performing outside the Concert Hall and on the day I was there Canadian opera singer Kyla Lingley was singing some well-known operatic arias to raise money for breast cancer. Many of the other shoppers stopped to listen to a wonderful singing voice. 

Walking down the street, the beautiful carvings on many of the buildings are testament to the wealth of the City which was once known as the ‘Second City of the British Empire’ in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

 Below shows some photographs of Buchanan Street.

Outside the North Face Shop
Outside the Royal Bank of Scotland

St George’s Tron Church
Urban Outfitters
Frasers Department Store

Nationwide Building Society

As the above photographs show, Buchanan Street has some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture in Glasgow

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Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life, Coatbridge

                                          Map of Summerlee Museum in Coatbridge 

 Summerlee Museum
Summerlee in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire is a museum dedicated to industrial life and includes heavy engineering equipment, a reconstructed coal mine, a working tramcar, workers cottages equipped with items from various decades and an indoor museum.
It is run by North Lanarkshire Council and is a ‘VisitScotland’ ‘4-star’ rated visitor attraction. In the last few years 10GBP million has been spent on its redevelopment.On the day of our visit it was a warm and sunny, which made it more enjoyable.
Summerlee Ironworks
The museum is built on the site of the old Summerlee Ironworks and includes the main workshop of the former Hydrocon Crane factory, which in now used a visitor centre.The museum shows Lanarkshire’s contribution to engineering with its many items of equipment.
As it was such a good day we spent most of the time looking at the external buildings and equipment rather than the indoor exhibits. The tram was operating throughout the day ferrying passengers to the mine. We walked the short distance to the mine and the miners cottages.
Miners Houses
Unfortunately the mine visits were fully booked so we spent some time in a small street which contained the houses of former miners which were in use when the mines were fully operational. The houses were furnished in the style of different periods from the 1840’s until the 1980’s.
Street with miners houses
1840’s living room    
1880’s living room  
1900’s living room    
1940’s living room
1960’s living room
1980’s living room
 It was very interesting seeing how household fashions change over the decades.
Mining equipment  
We were only able to see the external part of the mine but there was not much to see at ground level.
Locomotive No. 4112
There a large locomotive on display. This was a No. 4112 locomotive built by the North British locomotive Company in Springburn, Glasgow in 1956. During its working life it had been used in South Africa to transport to transport freight.
No. 4112 locomotive
Rail Steam Crane
Another large piece of engineering equipment was a rail steam crane
which was made in 1944 by Marshall Fleming for Colvilles Steelworks and
used at Clydebridge Steelworks in Rutherglen and the Dalzell Steelworks
in Motherwell from the 1950’s until 1986. It is the last steam crane
made in Scotland.
Rail steam crane
They were used as railway breakdown cranes and are often seen on heritage railways in the United Kingdom.
The above is a short description of the day. There were many items of equipment indoors and I will write about these in a later article as well as the visit to the mine. It is a great day out and well worth a visit.
Further Information

Heritage WayCoatbridge


North Lanarkshire Council:

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Lochleven Castle

Recently I visited  Lochleven Castle in Kinross, Fife. The castle is situated on a small island on Loch Leven in Kinross, Fife. It was the castle in which Mary Queens of Scots was held prisoner between 1567 and 1568.

The  castle is maintained by Historic Scotland, a government body responsible for maintaining ancient monuments and buildings.  A small ferry is operated by Historic Scotland to take visitors on the 10 minute journey to the island.

Lochleven Pier

Lochleven Pier

Ferry to the island

Ferry to the Island

Ferry to the Island

Lochleven Castle

The castle dates from the 1300’s and is one of the oldest castles in Scotland. Among the important visitors to the castle were King Robert the Bruce, David lll, Mary Queen of Scots, James Douglas and the 4th Earl of Morton.

However, the castle will forever be associated with Mary Queen of Scots because of her imprisonment and escape from the castle. The life of Mary Queen of Scots was eventful, to say the least.

Lochleven Castle

Lochleven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots Early Life

Mary Queen of Scots was the daughter of James V and Mary of Guise. Mary was brought up in France, the country of origin of her mother, which had at the time, the most sophisticated royal court in Europe.


In 1558, when she was fifteen, she married the King of France – Francis II. He was fourteen, but died two years later on 5th December,1560.

On 29th July 1565 Mary married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley in Mary’s private chapel at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh in a Catholic ceremony.

Murder of Lord Darnley

However, on 10th February 1567, Lord Darnley was murdered in Kirk o’ Field in Edinburgh and it was believed that James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell was behind Darnley’s death.

Marriage to the 4th Earl of Bothwell

Bothwell was later acquitted of the charge in April 1567, and in the following month he married Mary. However, the couple were unpopular in Scotland because of the possible involvement in Darnley’s murder and this led to Mary’s imprisonment in Lochleven Castle.

On 24 July 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son, James. Mary escaped from the castle on 2nd May 1568.

Escape from Lochleven

Mary escaped from Loch Leven with the aid of George Douglas, brother of Sir William Douglas, the castle’s owner.

After her escape, she rallied a large force which cumulated in the Battle of Langside on 13th May 1568. Mary’s troops were defeated, and after this, Mary left for England to get support from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. However this support was not forthcoming and Mary Queen of Scots was executed on 8th February, 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

Back to Lochleven Castle in the 21st Century

In the 16th century, the castle would have covered most of the island, as the island was much smaller than it is today. The water level on the loch was lowered by a meter in the 19th century causing more land to be exposed.

The castle is a ruin, but is still worth visiting because of its historical significance.

After disembarking from the ferry, it is worth having a look at the exterior of the castle before entering the interior. At the entrance, there are two small cannons which are a modern addition and date from around the 1800’s and the Napoleonic Wars. They do add some character to the castle.

Lochleven Cannons

Lochleven Cannons

Entering the castle, there are the ruins of some of the buildings which were originally there and the tower, which had been quite well preserved. We first climbed the steps to the tower. This is where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive.

There were originally four floors in the tower and Mary was kept in the upper stories. The wooded floors have long gone but the outline of the features such as fireplaces are still intact.

The rooms where Mary was kept captive can be seen. The window which Mary used as a prayer area is mainly intact and is worth stopping at. This window looks out on the curtain wall and is also interesting in that it was specially organised for her spiritual needs. For example, there is a small piscina, which was a basin used to wash alter items after Mass, and a small cupboard for keeping valuables.

Oratory used by Mary Queen of Scots

Oratory used by Mary Queen of Scots

Access to the upper floor of the tower was by a wall which remains today, but visitors are not allowed to walk on it. This can be seen on the photograph below.

Curtain Wall

Curtain Wall

Catholic Queen of a Protestant Country

Mary was a Roman Catholic at a time when Scotland was embracing the Presbyterian church of the Reformation. By 1560, a provisional government was established and the Scottish Parliament renounced the Pope’s authority and mass was declared illegal. Scotland had officially become a Protestant country.

John Knox, the Scottish Protestant reformer had heated arguments with Mary Queen of Scots to renounce her faith, but the Queen refused – this did not help her popularity in Scotland.

Glassin Tower

This is situated at one corner of the castle and dates from 1550. It is an impressive structure and was built to improve the appearance of the castle and also to improve the defences.

Glassin Tower

Glassin Tower

The tower has a vaulted basement which is defended by a gun hole, and two small rooms above. It is possible to walk up the internal staircase to the upper floors of the tower.

The Great Hall

Remains of Great Hall

Remains of Great Hall

The original castle had a great hall which was where Mary’s jailer lived while she was confined in the tower. All that remains of the great hall is a window and a fireplace. This can be seen in the photograph above.

Review of the Visit

The day was very enjoyable and allowed visitors to get a better understanding of important events from history. It also encouraged events from history to be explored further in order to gain a better understanding of them.

Further Information:

Region – Perthshire, Kinross and Angus
Postcode: KY13 8UF

Opening arrangements

1 April – 30 September, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

1 – 31 October, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm


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