What does a city need for you to consider moving there? What are the non-negotiable characteristics you could not live without? Maybe you need a thriving arts culture, great arthouse cinemas, versatile theatres, well-curated museums as well as contemporary gallery spaces; or are you looking for an energetic entrepreneurial atmosphere, loads of co-working spaces, start-up initiatives and project hatcheries? People are important too – who would want to live in a city with grumpy locals where it is hard to meet new people, or a place where everybody works so much to afford life there that there is hardly any time to enjoy said life to its fullest.
All these things are important to me, but when it comes to the most basic requirement a city must fulfil in order for me to feel at home, is its landscape. I recently went to Toronto and realised something about the city which was probably the same cause why I never fully adapted to life in Berlin – it is more or less entirely flat. I asked myself, where have all the mountains gone?
The great thing about Glasgow is that not only it provides almost all of the above, plus an excellent food scene may I add, it is also super close to the mountains. Heck, I can even see the hills rising north of town from my partner’s third-floor flat. The mountains (or let’s rather say hills) are always there. While some people might need a lot of free space in sight to feel comfortable, I don’t see anything claustrophobic about mountains towering over a city. That’s why Innsbruck, which is surrounded by tall mountain chains, is one of my favourite cities ever. I think I blame it on my childhood in Vienna where the closest hill to climb was always just a mere 15 minutes away by tram.
But back to Glasgow.
I had moved to the East End of Glasgow last winter and yet had not explored further East than venturing to the cinema at Glasgow Fort shopping centre once. I had basically not appreciated what was at my doorstop – but that should all change with a trip to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park.
The Seven Lochs Wetland Park is Scotland’s largest urban nature park spanning over 20km2 of woodlands, lochs and nature reserves between Glasgow and Coatbridge a bit further east. The name already gives it away, the park encompasses seven lochs, but also 5 local nature reserves and a country park. It houses one of Glasgow’s oldest buildings, the Provan Hall and offers a great network of trails for walking, cycling and trail running.
Adventures around Lochend Loch
We started our adventure at in Blairhill on the south-eastern-most corner of the park and ventured from the train station to Lochend Loch. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed, because the trail was actually a paved road most of the way (despite very few cars passing by) – somehow I had expected this to be more wild. When we reached Lochend Loch, I was further disappointed to find that the loch’s shores had been regulated, the trail leading around the loch was paved and nothing here seemed to be really natural.
All it took though was taking a turn away from the main path into the woodlands, where all of a sudden asphalt gave way to the soft forest floor, and the tamed nature of the loch turned into the unpredictable wildness of a forest. Knowing that ‘civilisation’ was just around the corner made venturing out into the woodlands without a map the kind of no-risk adventure we needed on this overcast day.
We explored the woodlands south of Lochend Loch and hardly met a soul on our way. Excitement reached new heights when we found the most perfect climbing tree and I ignored the fact that I was wearing a skirt to find myself a cozy spot in the branches. Slightly terrified of heights, my partner preferred to stay on the ground and take my picture instead. Don’t I look happy?!
We kept walking west until we hit the main trail and found a signpost pointing out how to get to Bishop Loch. We didn’t have to think twice, and instead of returning to Blairhill over the paved road, we decided to hit up a second loch. I picked some flowers on the way, marvelled at a black snail, and got lost in the views of the woodlands. While we were walking it started to drizzle slightly – nothing that would bother you under the cover of the trees though.
It was only when we hit Gartcosh Road and had to walk a while along the main road until we noticed that is was actually downright pouring, and the wind didn’t make things easier. We moved quickly, past some barren fields and bright purple thistles to return towards the shelter of the light woodlands surrounding Bishop Loch, but alas, it on’y got worse.
Soaking wet and cold we decided to abort our mission of visiting two lochs in a day, found our way to Easterhouse train station and made our way back to Glasgow. I guess Bishop Loch and the others will have to wait for another day.
Plan your trip to Seven Lochs Wetland Park
There are loads of trails to choose from around the seven lochs, but if you feel particularly motivated you could walk the entire Seven Lochs Trail, or just sections of it, as we did. The website contains with little maps and additional info.
Every now and then you will find signposts marking the trails and showing you the way towards the next loch, but mind that I only saw these along the main trail, not on the woodlands paths.
My internet reception worked pretty well in the park and I was surprised that most trails seem to be registered on Google Maps, as I could always locate where we were on the map and navigate us in the right direction if we couldn’t see a signpost.
Getting to Seven Lochs Wetland Park
How you get to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park really depends in which loch you chose to explore, or how many. There is no ‘main entrance’ or starting point, so you can join the trails wherever suits you. The park’s website gives you a great overview of which busses or train stations will get you to which loch.
We chose to make our way towards Lochend Loch and arrived there by train (Blairhill station). You can catch this train from Queen Street or High Street in central Glasgow. At the end of the day, we caught the train back from Easterhouse (on the same line as Blairhill).
Do you live in a city that is close to nature, mountains and wilderness as well? Tell me about it in the comments!
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.