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Pints & Parkruns: Queen's Park, Glasgow

Up, up, and up a bit more

By Andy PottsPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
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A view across Glasgow from the Queen's parkrun summit

Before Glasgow’s Queen’s parkrun, everyone is invited to drop into the nearby church for coffee and a biscuit afterwards. Eyes are irresistibly drawn to the rather elegant late Victorian spire of Queen’s Park Baptist Church on Balvicar Street. What they don’t mention is that each of the three laps ahead involves a climb that brings you close to the top of that 200ft spire. That’s why this is Scotland’s steepest parkrun, with a total elevation gain of 113m, according to Strava.

Yet, strangely, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Sure, the climb is demanding and the encouragement from the volunteers gets more vocal on each circuit as the flagpole at the summit seems to get further away each time. But the ascent is broken into three distinct sections with a short flat between each. And, better still, there’s a glorious sweeping descent back to the start (and, eventually, the finish). The whole thing is run on paved paths and the course seems ideal for an impressive sprint finish – assuming there’s anything at all left in the tank. Once safely through the finish funnel, head to the church hall for a friendly gathering where tourists tend to get a good welcome.

Round my way, we prefer 'Whisht, lads, haad yer gobs'. The general message is the same.

Despite the challenges on the route, this is one of the most popular courses in Scotland. For many, the lure is the ‘Q’ – it’s the only one of these coveted letters north of the border, and the likes of Queen Elizabeth are far enough south to discourage me from venturing too far from my native north. Plus, it’s a great course. The reward for that climb is a spectacular view across the city, albeit a view that might be a little blurred on the third circuit.

With a glance to the right, football fans might pick out Celtic Park from that peak. Meanwhile, Queen’s Park has its own proud footballing heritage. On the far side of the park, now home to Hampden Bowls Club, a mural proudly recalls Scotland’s 5-1 victory over England in 1882, the first game played at the original Hampden Park. Nearby, you can find Cathkin Park, the so-called ‘second Hampden’ and former home of Third Lanark. And, of course, Queen’s Park FC, until recently famous for its amateur status and still the only Scottish team to reach the English FA Cup final, plays nearby. Its new home at Lesser Hampden once boasted perhaps the oldest building to form part of a football ground. However, when the park was modernized to host Scottish League football, the 19th century farmhouse was bulldozed and replaced with a nondescript modern stand.

At the finish funnel.

Long ago, my time as a student in Glasgow coincided with Queen's Park temporarily playing games at Lesser Hampden, complete with the whitewashed stone farmhouse. That's just one evocative recollection from this run down memory lane. At the time, beer money came from submitting lower league or junior football reports: as well as Lesser Hampden, there were trips to Pollok, the pride of the South Side, at Newlandsfield. Later came a work placement at a sports agency near Mount Florida station.

The pint

As a student hack, beer was an important part of my professional development. Boozy sessions on the Byers Road tended to culminate in front of big-screen sports at Tennants bar. The eponymous lager is a Glasgow staple, but the mass-produced fizz offers little to tempt ale lovers. Better to check in at the Southside Drinks Company, a well-stocked bottle shop with a good overview of the Scottish brewing scene. Open on Saturday afternoons at nearby Victoria Road, Govanhill, it’s well worth a look for an adventurous drinker.

First run: April 2023; PB 27:31 (April 2023)

Thanks for reading. For more Pints & Parkruns stories, check out my website.

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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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