Meet team behind woodland park
New-look Cuningar Loop project is well underway
An orchard in the middle of Glasgow, it’s quite a thought
The walk from Farme Cross towards Downiebrae Road isn’t the most inspiring.
Industrial buildings and old tenements hint of a by- gone age, while the only noises seems to be the clattering of warehouses and the distant rumble of the M74 motorway.
But hidden nearby a transformation is taking place that will create a green jewel in the middle of this urban jungle.
Cuningar Loop is known to almost anyone who has seen a map of Glasgow. The distinctive meander in the Clyde cuts deep into the city while remaining very much part of Rutherglen.
Previous guises include a quarry and a landfill, but the loop – or at least 15 hectares of if – will soon play host to a £5.7million woodland park.
The project is being taken forward by Forestry Commission Scotland, and project manager, Joneen Clarke invited the Reformer for a look round at the work being done as they push towards an opening date next year.
So, on a typically bleak December morning, we leave the industry of Downiebrae behind and head for what is set to become a major attraction right on Rutherglen’s doorstep.
“We hope to be 95 per cent done by the end of April,” Joneen explains as we head down what will be the main boulevard through the park. “We’re actually hoping to be open to the public weekends onlyy byy June. “The five per cent is the bridgeg (that will link the park with Dalmarnock)
Initially, the plans in place were simply for a woodland park, but additional funding has allowed the Forestry Commission to expand their vision.
The first evidence of this is work on the bike tracks, which is the first thing we come to on our journey.
Joneen explains there will be four bike tracks ranging from a balance track for young kids to a top of the range pump track.
The shape of the balance track can already be seen on the ground, but Joneen wants the area to be about more than cycling: “There will be a shelter here as well. “We want an area for kids to hang out and talk to their friends as well as for the bikes, but at the same time something that encourages positive the place would be unrecognisable.
No longer an almost impenetrable landscape, it now seems open, with the lack of leaves on the trees making it even more so.
“There were pictures taken in June,” says Joneen. “And everything was really green.
“But I wanted to keep as many trees as we could to keep that cover.”
Next up is the bouldering area. Four two-metre and five four-metre boulders will create Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park.
As we head along the River Clyde comes into view, and the talk turns to wildlife.
An ecologist has been on hand throughout the project to make sure the work doesn’t interfere with the habitats of the animals who call the of otters as well as a plethora of birdlife.
But it’s likely the star attractions will be the 10 deer who are known to live here, and as we approach the 400 metre boardwalk along the banks of the river, we are treated to the site of one of the Roe Deer emerging from the long grass and bounding away.
It’s a magical moment, although the stunning animal, a youth according to Joneen, is too fast for our camera.
The boardwalk area is the highlight of the visit. Joneen says: “Imagine all the noise from the other areas and then you come here and get a really different experience.” It is hoped the boardwalk and bridge areas will link Cuningar with another Forestry Commission project at Auchenshoogle, and it’s easy to