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16th November 2011

2011 Compass Challenge
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During the riding season, intrepid RC readers zigzagged around the UK, visiting various point of the compass. Keith Kintrea found his four points in and around Glasgow...

Inspired by Ian Sinclair's book London Orbital but holding the conviction that local nether regions would be much more interesting, it was decided to travel in the course of only one August Saturday afternoon to the furthest administrative extremities of the City of Glasgow. I was accompanied by fearless pillion daughter (age nine) and we were equipped only with Sheet 342 Ordnance Survey Explore map and a 35 year old MZ.

Equipped only with Sheet 342 Ordnance Survey Explore map and a 35 year old MZ... South!

Starting up with the traditional full choke and two kicks, we were away. First was compass point South, the village of Carmunnock. Alas no 'Welcome to Glasgow' sign awaited us. Maybe the douce residents of conservation-area Carmunnock like to pretend they don't live in Glasgow at all. Here was a bucolic scene of cows grazing on meadows and detached 1930s homes of the kind lived in by William Brown in 'Just William', displaced 400 miles north.

The journey to compass point East took us first through golf course country, then via Greggs HQ Scotland (picture taken for sausage-roll loving Brother), an old steelworks site and a half-built housing estate stalled by the recession.

Eastern bike, eastern Glasgow.. East!
MZ Bits on Right Now......

Compass point East turned out to be in the middle of a field which, even with its ISDT heritage, seemed a challenge too far to the MZ. So we settled for a nondescript spot on the road near Bargeddie, where the first of three mighty municipal welcome signs awaited our camera.

'South, East, North, West' doesn't sound as right as North, South, East, West... North!

The longest leg was up to compass point North. We ping-pinged on, accompanied by some mild exhaust smokiness through former industrial villages swollen by the proximity to the city, and passing through grazing land and old mining landscapes in the green belt. At compass point North we found ourselves just beyond the reach of the Roman Empire, with the Antonine Wall to the south of us inside modern day Glasgow. Here we were among wild Scottish thistles while the River Kelvin flowed towards the city and the Clyde. To the north lay the Campsie Fells and, beyond them, the Highlands proper.

Heading for compass point West provided an economic contrast to equal any that the diverse landscapes of the city margins provided. First, with a bit of small end rattle on through Bearsden, one of the richest areas in Scotland, all sandstone detached houses, clipped hedges and BMW Minis and Audis. And then straight into tenemental Drumchapel, a 1950s peripheral estate built in the era of mass council building, and now one of its most disadvantaged areas.

Remember those old Coburn and Hughes ads for Moto Guzzi? 'Long legged and easy to live with'... West!

Compass point West was on the border between Glasgow and Clydebank; a very urban boundary. The city welcome sign here was shadowed by high rise flats and nearby they still build ships on the Clyde, as least for as long as those government defence contracts last.

And then back to base in Glasgow's southside where a cup of tea and a strawberry milkshake welcomed the conquering heroes back to more familiar territory…


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