Sometimes, outdoor places are really not far from you and you may still not know about them. Castlemilk Park definitely falls into this category. While we don’t stay far from Castlemilk, and are users of the swimming pool and regularly are in Castlemilk, its park was a big unknown.
For a while, I’ve seen this leaflet, advertising activities in Castlemilk Park, some for adults, some for families and most definitely an interesting mix of things to do (wherever else would you find African Drumming and a Snowdrops walk in the same breath?) so I felt it was high time to join the activities programme.
I’d chosen the tracks and trails walk, not for any reason in particular, just that it fitted in with my own schedule. I was also curious to find this park, which, when I last asked someone in Castlemilk for its location, prompted a shocked face and a “I wouldn’t go there all on your own”. That was on a weekday around lunchtime, and I was with my two girls and a buggy.
One of the things that bug me about such reactions is that it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If people lack confidence in using outdoor, wooded spaces, these become deserted and eventually unsafe. Woodlands that are well used however, are safe because there are always people about. Another look at this argument is also that of comparing safety in cities with that in woodlands, and somehow it wouldn’t surprise me if the city fares worse than the woodland.
It does indicate though that there is a need for re-introducing people to woodlands and parklands if they no longer feel safe to use them on their own, and if the lack of use has led to safety issues and concerns. It is laudable then that Castlemilk Park has now the status of Commonwealth Community Woodlands and an active Community Woodland initiative with activities and some funding to develop the park and improve the use of it.
When we arrived at the Tracks and Trails events I wasn’t surprised that we were the only family. It was a cold, windy and rainy day, with high winds forecast and a definite wind chill factor. No, it wasn’t a nice day. We were therefore lucky to get the full attention of the Community Woodland Officer and his two helpers who introduced us to the history of the park, it’s flora and fauna and lots of special places and anecdotes. It was perfect introduction to this unknown gem of a park, and I learned as much as my preschool daughter did.
Tracks and trails we found few, due to the heavy rain we only discovered dog prints, but that didn’t matter in the slightest because 4 year old discovered the fox close to its “underground house” (the rest of the day went along some impromptu fox theme as a consequence). The park has a lot to offer, a little stream, a pond, wooded areas, well developed paths and access from the heart of Castlemilk. There are problems of litter and graffiti, but nothing that a bit of work and making it more part of the community can’t change in the future. The walk was excellent, and the leaders came well prepared and had rucksacks full of nature things to admire, including different bird nests, owl pellets, a wasp nest, a roe skull, and much more.
You can find out more about activities in Castlemilk Park through their Facebook Page Commonwealth Community Woodlands or by contacting Richard Bolton (Community Woodland Officer) on 0141 634 2673, who is available for taking schools and groups into the woodlands or onto activities. And why not visit the park at the next walk which is themed around snowdrops and takes place on Sunday 5th February from 1-3pm (meet outside Castlemilk Stables, 59 Machrie Road, Castlemilk, G45 0AZ).