Beyond the grey and bustling business estate, Viewpark glen is tucked out of sight, hidden away from the sea of business-people, delivery vans and call centres. I walk through the suited crowd with my binoculars around my neck, and a quite different destination in mind. I walk through the narrow lane and the grey around me dissolves into lush green, the engines are muted with calming bird song, the heavy air becomes clear and the scent of fresh flowers positively overwhelms me.
I take a sharp left and immediately, a Black Cap welcomes me to the glen. Perched on the tallest branch of a short tree, his chest is puffed, he demands for his beautiful, flute-like song to be heard as he blasts it across the canopy. A breeze ruffles the tree and blossoms flutter to the ground like snow. And with no real purpose, I continue walking.
It is spring and the forest floor is carpeted with colour – most striking is the rich bluebells. They speckle the long, thick grass with purples and under the full canopy the calm blue-sky filters through. The sun flits through the gaps, gradually warming the morning air. A peacock butterfly dances past and comes to rest on a grassy sunspot, relaxing its wings and showing off its magnificent eye spots, designed to intimidate avian predators and spectacularly effective at aweing onlookers.
I head towards the river where the goldfinches chatter and suddenly, beyond the bench, I catch a movement. A long animal, sturdy and brown, unmistakable – an otter crosses the path. It disappears into the grassy verge. Otters are mysteriously charming, and I remember every encounter I have had with one. A conservation success story, particularly in these parts where these rivers were once severely polluted, otters are steadily re-inhabiting these areas, following the fish as the rivers clear.
I stand silently still, hoping desperately that the otter will remerge. But with no luck, I continue on. I notice that the early morning is starting to disappear from me as I am greeted by a muddy, cheerful spaniel out for its morning stroll. His owner apologises frantically as I laugh. She notices my binoculars and asks what I have seen – I tell her about the otter and she responds with delight. We talk for a moment and she tells me of her memories of the glen – walking with her father, counting birds and collecting feathers. I can see the joy in her face as she recollects.
It might not be the mountains of the Cairngorms; it doesn’t hold the drama of Glen Coe or the landscapes of the western isles but the Viewpark glen is just as magical. For the local people, a wander doon’ the glen is a daily ritual. Tucked away between upper Uddingston and the M8, the glen is a wildlife haven in an urban ocean. A perfect place to come and experience nature, bask in the beauty and ignite the wild inside.