Bob Law’s Blog: Crookston Castle and Pollok – walking and photography

Crookston Castle

Unlike Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle, both of which are very obvious prominent landmarks for visiting tourists to be drawn towards, Glasgow’s last surviving medieval castle within the city boundaries is much more illusive to find. Crookston Castle sits 5 miles to the south west of the city centre and is not as grand or extensive as those other examples. However,  those who make the trip by bus or train, as I did, will be suitably rewarded.

For one thing it’s completely free to enter from April to September. Every day 9:30am to 5:30 pm. Last arrivals by 5:00pm as it has locked gates by 5:30pm.  Whereas Edinburgh Castle is a hefty entry fee of £50 to £60 for two adults and two children. Seeing the main tourists attractions in Edinburgh can make for an expensive day out whereas Glasgow’s many attractions are either free or tend to be cheaper.

Part of Househill Park. Pollok

Part of Househill Park. Pollok

Although a picturesque ruin set on a hill top Crookston Castle does not have the crowds attracted to the other pair and walking around the castle can often be a solitary, unguided experience. The deep earth ditches that surround the present stone castle date to the 1100s guarding a much earlier wooden fortress build by Sir Robert Croc, which gives nearby Crookston it’s modern name, (in the distant past Croc’s town).  Likewise Queen’s Park and Darnley refer to the owners of the early 1400s stone built castle you see today. Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots drawing the likes of poet Robert Burns and writer Sir Walter Scott to later romanticize and imagine their presence around this location during their courtship as a prelude to a troubled marriage.

Once inside, although two of the original four towers were destroyed by cannon fire on the orders of King James the IV (The castle owners unfortunately backed the wrong side) the remaining rooms and other enclosed towers are interesting enough, the highlight being the three steep metal ladders leading upwards to the roof.

ladders crookston castle

There are excellent views over Glasgow, Paisley and the surrounding Pollok from this airy perch, especially as you are liable to be up there exploring alone, give this castle a very different feel to the more famous and usually mobbed interiors of the other pair.

Brockburn Road and North Pollok

Brockburn Road and North Pollok from Crookston Castle

Crookston is definitely  a castle for the off the beaten track connoisseurs but it is worthwhile and as one of the oldest buildings in Glasgow open to the public and the first property to be gifted to the National Trust for Scotland it should be better known than it is.

great wood of albion

The Great Wood of Albion. A view over Pollok.

Anyone visiting by bus or train should also consider the nearby Leverndale Hospital Grounds with obvious high tower, The White Cart Way, Rosshall Park, Househill Park, and Silverburn Shopping Centre which provide good extra walking routes/ further local interest without returning to the same spot as you arrived. For a quicker short visit by car, however, obvious quiet minor roads off Brockburn Road directly beside the castle entrance are available for a half to one hour exploration.

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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