Bet you didn’t know this about Glasgow? Around a third of the city – 32% – is covered in parks and woodland, second only to Edinburgh in the UK and among the most verdant metropolises across Europe. Across over 90 green spaces, discover historic areas such as Glasgow Green, natural wonders in Victoria Park, and, for when you want to escape the city buzz, the bucolic woodland of Pollok Country Park.
It was once the ‘shipbuilding capital of the world’, the ‘second city of the empire’, the engine room that drove Victorian Britain’s industrial revolution. Yet today, Glasgow is going back to its roots. And no we’re not talking about Braveheart, kilts, ceilidhs and a wee dram – or two – of whisky. Turns out that the city lives up to original gaelic name ‘Glaschu’ or, rather, ‘Dear Green Place’. In celebration of Spring, when the earth blooms into life, we’ve rounded up some of Glasgow’s finest leafy locales.
1.Pollok Country Park
Pollok Country Park, the city’s largest of its kind, has been ranked the best park both in Britain and Europe. Across its undulating 360 acres, it’s ideal for woodland walks and mountain biking – just watch out for the highland cattle. There’s a playground for young’uns and an orienteering trail should you need a little guidance. If the city buzz is getting a bit too much, this is the spot for you; it’s three miles out of the centre, but feels like a world away.
contact2060 Pollokshaws Rd
Something of a hidden gem, Tollcross is one of Glasgow’s more peaceful parks. With an internationally renowned rose garden featuring over 240 varieties of the plant arranged in the perfect shape of a rosebud, it’s bloomin’ marvellous. Head to the large field at the far north of Tollcross Park where a small hill overs panoramic views over Glasgow’s East End. Alternatively, discover the Winter Gardens, a copycat version of Glasgow Green’s stunning structure. From here, take the Glen Nature Walk to the small farm which is home to Shetland ponies, llamas, rabbits and geese among many animals. Who could ever say no to a little light petting?
254B Wellshot Road
By far the oldest of the city’s parks, Glasgow Green is a place of tales and triumphs. It’s the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army camped during the Jacobite uprising of 1745. Twenty years later, James Watt was walking across the Green when he conceived an idea for the steam engine that would ignite the Industrial Revolution. The park was used as a meeting place by the women’s suffragette movement. Almost a century later, it was the setting for the Dangerous World Tour, Michael Jackson’s only ever live show in Scotland.
At the heart of Glasgow’s East End, lining the north bank of the River Clyde, it’s prime for exploring. Look out for the spectacular Doulton Fountain – the world’s largest terracotta fountain – or wander across the gorgeous St. Andrew’s suspension bridge. Within the park, you’ll find the 19th century People’s Palace which tells the tale of the city and it’s people. Opposite, the Winter Gardens glasshouse brims with tropical palms and plants. Very instagrammable.
Dating back to 1817, these verdant hothouses were developed by William Hooker who later went on to mastermind Kew Gardens, London. A-listed conservatory, Kibble Place, takes centre stage. It’s filled with a riot of carnivorous plants and unusual trees such as the Hungarian Oak and Black Walnut. Once you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the fauna, head to Cail Bruich nearby on Great Western road which forages many of its ingredients from the gardens.
A 15-minute walk west from our front door, Kelvingrove Park, which straddles the River Kelvin, oozes Victoriana. Needless to say, it’s architect, Sir Joseph Paxton, also designed The Crystal Palace in London. The park rubs shoulders with the magnificent buildings of Glasgow University and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Walk the serene pathway that traces the riverbanks and keep your eye out for herons and kingfishers, foxes and otters. The park is an urban oasis for wildlife. Don’t miss the bandstand too. Dating back to 1924, it underwent a £2million restoration in 2014 and now draws in big live music acts such as Seasick Steve, Tom Jones and Jack Savoretti.
The jewel in Glasgow’s green-space crown, Victoria Park was fittingly named for Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1886. It’s artful floral displays are picture-perfect, more manicured than your gran fresh from the nail salon. It also boasts a 330-million year old grove of fossilised tree stumps. They’re older than the dinosaurs (and perhaps the same age as your gran). Open each year from April to September, the fossil grove is one of the world’s most famous carboniferous forests.
Venture south to Queen’s Park (yes, it is beside the eponymous football stadium, Queen’s Park F. C.) for incredible vistas over the city. Beside the Queen’s Flagpole, you’ll be some 209ft above sea level and able to see the Campsie Fells and Ben Lomond mountain. Look out too for the park’s flourishing rose garden. It’s a busy park, and one of the focal points of southern Glasgow, hosting a range of sports and recreational facilities, a boating pond, a bi-monthly farmer’s market and the annual Southside Festival.
520 Langside Road