Meet team be­hind wood­land park

New-look Cuningar Loop project is well un­der­way

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

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)

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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

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