Out Searching in Pollok County Park

I recently met a lady who thankfully reminded me of all the parks waiting to be discovered in Glasgow. Having developed the habit of asking everyone from strangers on the bus to hairdressers (whether they happen to be doing my hair or not) what their favourite hidden away attractions are, I was feeling a little embarrassed to admit that I had only visited a handful of Glasgow’s parks in my quest. ‘It’s not called dear green place for nothing, you know’, she pointed out, and I noted this duly and planned a visit to Pollok Country Park. Admittedly I may have been slightly swayed at first by the fact that this lovely spot is home not just to Pollok House, otherwise known as Glasgow’s answer to Downton Abbey, but also the wonderfully designed Burrell Collection.  Nonetheless, after few hours wandering about the woodlands in the spitting rain looking for ducks who may be interested in eating the mouldy bread I couldn’t bear to waste, I started to feel reasonably outdoorsy and carefree; perhaps all this green space was doing me some good.

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Wildlife lesson 1: it is far far easier to chuck the bread in the water and wait for the birds to come to you.

With the bread bag empty and that warm, good-deed sort of feeling well and truly instilled, it was time to start the visiting with the Burrell Collection. This museum had always been intriguing for a few reasons – firstly, the items were collected by one individual and those sorts of collections are always exciting as you can try to pick out the links between them or create an idea of the taste William Burrell might have had. Admittedly, this may be a stretch as the collection is HUGE, over 9000 objects representing a life’s work of searching, but hey, if you don’t try, then you’ll never discover the joys of pondering how he brought together such a huge selection of stained glass windows. They did’t even have Ebay then, I would love to know how he found them all.

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Secondly, the building itself was designed specifically to house the collection, showing the pieces on display to their best advantage. It is not quite the rural setting exactly 16 miles from Glasgow which Burrell had originally requested, but it is still a fascinating building with big windows to let in the light and true size replicas of some of the rooms in Burrell’s home and the courtyard in order to display the way in which  he had chosen to present some of the artwork and sculptures. Each of the pieces, from stone archways to suits of armour to line drawings from China live alongside each other in peaceful harmony in their custom made Glasgow residence.

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Aside from being a lovely place to visit, I also noticed that it is not lacking in benches and seats. Some people sit waiting, others read or sketch or admire the views of the park outside, and in the event that all that lovely culture gets a bit overwhelming there’s always the café for a cup of tea. Simply put, it would be easy to wile away a few hours in the Burrell Collection, and I’m sure I will be back soon to do just that.

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Across the park stands a building rather older than the Burrell; as what use is a country park without a country house to lord over it? Maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, Pollok House, built in 1752, is currently decorated in all its 1930’s splendour and highlights of the collection (in my opinion, anyway) include Lady Maxwell’s scrapbooks and some incredible paintings by William Blake. They also have a very popular tearoom down in the servant’s quarters looking as though it hasn’t changed a bit in the last 80 years, and I can vouch for the deliciousness of the cakes.

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When the rain stops, there is also plenty of exploration to be done in the walled gardens and woodlands surrounding the house.

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From ducks to tearooms to more fabulous artefacts than you could shake a stick from the woodlands at, there are plenty of reasons to visit the country park. Bonus points if you manage to choose a sunny day. Despite being well within the city boundaries it really feels like a little slice of countryside and it’s just a train journey away from the centre. What will you find when you visit?

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