Pinkston Watersports Centre has welcomed a squad of celebrities to north Glasgow as they took to the Forth and Clyde Canal for an almighty Sport Relief challenge.
Jo Whiley and her BBC Radio 2 teammates Reverend Kate Bottley and Richie Anderson tackled the The Radio 2 Dare2Tri Challenge, which included an open water swim at Pinkston Watersports Centre in north Glasgow, to raise money for people living incredibly tough lives in the UK and around the world.
A community paddlesports centre, Pinkston boasts unique urban watersports facilities including Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course and is situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal – an area fast becoming a destination for urban and water sport located just 10 minutes from Glasgow City Centre.
The demanding triathlon challenge saw the team take to the water at Pinkston before cycling a loop around north Glasgow and then running into the centre of Glasgow, finishing at George Square.
Hannah Blair, Pinkston Watersports Centre general manager and Glasgow Canal Co-op co-director, said: “It was fantastic to give the Sport Relief team an infamous Glasgow welcome at Pinkston and to help Jo Whiley, Reverend Kate Bottley and Richie Anderson complete this tremendous Dare2Tri challenge. At Pinkston we’re experienced in hosting all sorts of watersports activities and challenges and the team did extremely well to complete their open water swim in the chilly conditions.”
Glasgow’s canal is a bustling and vibrant urban hub of activity and an emerging destination in the north of the city.
The dawn of 2020 marks the start of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and north Glasgow’s stretch of waterway has plenty to celebrate, with leading cultural organisations, cutting-edge sports activities, Scotland’s first urban nature reserve and a festival, all calling the canal home.
Here’s 10 things you can do along it this year:
1. Get on the water
With wakeboarding, kayaking and a whole host of watersports available along Glasgow’s canal, there is no excuse not to get in amongst it.
Port Dundas is home to Pinkston Watersports Centre – Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, which offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding. Glasgow Wake Park also opens back up in March, where you can learn to wakeboard via a special cable system. ‘Water’ you waiting for – come along and carve up the canal this year!
2. Visit a market
A new local night market is set to light up north Glasgow this January when it launches on Friday, 31 January. Hosted by Carnival Arts Yard, the debut event will kick off at 6pm, giving people the chance to spend the evening exploring a local flea market and enjoying food, drinks and live music.
Driven by the talent found within the Glasgow canal community, local businesses, artists and makers will be selling artisan goods including arts, crafts, clothing and soaps.
3. Take in Scotland’s first urban nature reserve
Hamiltonhill Claypits, Scotland’s first urban nature reserve, is due to reopen in spring 2020. Explore the wildlife and plant life hidden in the 25-acre plot on the banks of the canal.
Substantial improvement works by Scottish Canals, including the introduction of new paths, will make it easy for anyone to access the local reserve – look out for those spectacular views across the city from Hamiltonhill.
4. Learn to skate
Get yourself down to The Loading Bay – Glasgow’s first indoor skate park and try your hand at skateboarding, BMXing and more. The stylish, state of the art action sports hub covers an impressive 30,000 square feet and is one of the largest and most advanced skateparks in the country. Skate the street plaza, bowl or modular area, check out the ‘super trampoline’ or drop in to the cafe – it’s a must-visit in 2020.
5. Come along to Glasgow Canal Festival
On Saturday, 25 July 2020, the banks of Glasgow’s canal will be bursting with activity in a celebration of the unique and iconic waterway and its vibrant surrounding community for Glasgow Canal Festival 2020.
Alongside live music, artistic performances and workshops, sporting activities and chances to explore and celebrate the area’s heritage and unique environment, the 2020 festival will feature a captivating Canal Carnival Flotilla as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.
6. Check out a world class theatre show
The National Theatre of Scotland’s headquarters Rockvilla is located on the banks of Glasgow canal. Named Rockvilla in recognition of the industrial and social heritage of the area, the building is an engine room for Scottish Theatre.
It is a place of imagination, learning and play where you can catch world-class theatre productions and take part in invigorating conversations. In June, Rockvilla will host an international conversation around the health and wellbeing of LGBTI+ people in Scotland, The Coming Back Out Conversation.
7. Try some sculpture
Glasgow Sculpture Studios run two public sculpture programmes a year, in the spring and autumn, for anyone looking to give sculpture a go.
Whether you’re returning to sculpture or trying it for the first time, you can get involved. From metalwork to mould-making, the programmes aim to introduce you to new ways of thinking, making, and doing, while creating space for you to bring your own thoughts, ideas, and interests to each session. They also run a free sculpture club for kids and families – check their Facebook page for details.
8. Attend a workshop
Every month, the spaces of Civic House are filled with workshops led by people working across art, design and sustainability that you can join in with. Test new ideas, learn through making and share skills and knowledge in this stimulating environment.
Spend the day developing a new skill, exploring a practice or learning about new topics and subjects. Then from 7pm, share a meal with everyone who’s taken part in the workshops, served by the Civic House Kitchen team.
9. Grab a bite
There’s some great wee spots along the canal to grab a bite. For something special at lunchtime, why not try Civic House Kitchen – a public canteen for Speirs Locks located on Civic Street. The vegan cafe is open over lunchtimes, and occasional weekend evenings, serving a single dish cooked on the day available for just £5.
Elsewhere, Ocho Cafe is situated on the banks of the impressive Speirs Wharf, in a corner of the original 1851 heritage building. Escape into the lovely surroundings and enjoy some brunch, lunch or cocktails or get on board one of their popular gin and whisky tasting canal boat trips later in the year on the quaint Navvie’s Barge.
10. Get out and about
The canal is the perfect place for a walk, run or cycle. We are the gateway to an exciting network of cycle paths and routes within Glasgow and that stretch all the way to Loch Lomond. Whether you’re looking for a green way to get to work, or to enjoy some time stretching your legs along the water’s edge – you can do it via Glasgow’s canal.
Glasgow’s Canal, in the north of the city, will be bursting with activity in a celebration of the unique and iconic waterway and its vibrant surrounding community, for the fourth annual festival on Saturday, 25 July 2020.
As part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, the 2020 festival will feature a captivating Canal Float.
Produced by Carnival Arts, visitors will be able to enjoy a wonderful floating display as it travels down the Forth and Clyde Canal in North Glasgow – with more details on the spectacle to be announced next year.
Hosted by Glasgow Canal Co-op, Glasgow Canal Festival is nestled on the balcony to the city between Speirs Wharf and Firhill Basin, just ten minutes from the city centre.
Sally Hobson, Festival Director for the Glasgow Canal Festival, said: “The banks of Glasgow’s stretch of canal will come to life once again this summer with a programme of live music, artistic performances and workshops, sporting activities and chances to explore and celebrate the area’s heritage and unique environment.
“Thanks to funding from the Years of Coasts and Waters, we’re excited to work with Carnival Arts to bring something really special to the waterway so put the date in your diary and join us next year for this wonderful event in the heart of Glasgow.”
The festival is one of several events and initiatives to share in £770,000 of Scottish Government funding as part of a year-long programme of activities which will shine a spotlight on the vital coasts and waters of Scotland’s landscape.
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “We have an exciting year ahead celebrating Scotland’s wonderfully diverse coasts, canals, rivers and lochs.
“Scotland’s Themed Years have been running since 2009 and we know they are a proven mechanism for us all to work together to create opportunities to diversify our tourism offer whilst promoting Scotland as a great place to visit for people from around the world.
“Whether it’s a canal boat holiday, a week sailing round the Western Isles, an afternoon kayaking or walking by our rivers, lochs or on the beaches, I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Scotland’s beautiful coasts and waters.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “We are inviting the world to dive into the amazing experiences our coasts and waters provide. Scotland’s enviable reputation for unspoiled beaches, vibrant natural and cultural heritage and thrill-seeking adventure activities will be celebrated through a packed year-long programme of events and activities”