From riches to rags: the demise of Richmond Park


We had a bit of a trot around Richmond Park today, partly to check it out for DoggyNet and partly for a change of scene. There may be hundreds of parks in Glasgow, but right now I feel like I’ve exhausted them all!

I’m in a bit of a quandary as to whether I should add Richmond Park to DoggyNet. My intention has never been to add every single bit of green space in Glasgow, because in the main DoggyNet is about the places you will want to walk your dog, not places you won’t. Having said that, I’ve bit my tongue on a few – like Alexandra Park – that I just can’t fall in love with, yet may appeal to other dog walkers.

But my over-riding feeling about Richmond Park is that it’s a bit of a lost cause. Granted, we were walking round at 10am on a Monday morning, not exactly the busiest time for dog walks, but even so the park was deserted. It was the kind of place where my mind starts to wander into thoughts about all sorts of weird and not so wonderful things, like whether this is what the world would be like after the zombie apocalypse, and if the seemingly innocent looking couple walking towards me might actually be about to produce a knife.

Ok, so none of these things happened, but there was something very sad about walking round a park with so much potential – after all it’s quite a good-sized park – that has basically been left to rack and ruin.

I struck up a conversation with a nice old man whose lovely spaniel came trotting over to have a sniff of The Mewls. He said he chose Richmond Park precisely because there are no people in it; like me I think he prefers not to run the toddler-gauntlet if he can best avoid it. But he was still disillusioned with the council over the state of the overgrown bridges and confused as to why so much money is being ploughed into the Commonwealth Games, when they can’t afford to provide decent bins for the park. It may seem like a small issue, but many of the bins in Richmond Park don’t have lids, so the seagulls and crows pick all the rubbish out and spread it throughout the park. This is what he told me anyway, just as I was about to get on my soapbox about people and their filthy littering!

In addition, the big sign at the entrance to Richmond Park about poisonous blue-green algae didn’t set us up for the greatest walk. I was constantly on edge, dashing between pug and toddler to make sure neither was consuming or rubbing themselves in something that might lead to illness or hospitalization. Needless to say The Mewls did manage to find herself something that wasn’t algae of any sort. I knew it was bad when she threw herself on her back and started rolling in it. That’s a move she generally reserves for the really putrid stuff, like fox poo.

I’m not really interested in ranting about the council and/or starting a debate on whether the money for the Commonwealth Games could have been better invested elsewhere, but I would like to put it out there that we deserve a bit better from Glasgow’s parks. And likewise, Glasgow’s parks deserve a bit better from us.

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