Russ Stewart: London, March 2021
The early 70s, was a simpler time – pre computer games, pre mobile phones and pre scandal surrounding some of the tv icons of the day like Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
In those days Kilmardinny Loch, a mere five minute walk from Bearsden Academy, was a hive of activity and an after school playground for early teens and older.
It was our ‘hangout rendezvous’ with some kids going home first to change into more suitable clothes, whilst many others just went straight there from school.
Coarse fishing took place at an area called “sandbank”, which should have been called “fagbank” given the amount of discarded cigarette butts.
Roach, perch and pike provided meagre fare, whilst a gigantic pike was rumoured to eat ducks.
In fact I remember a 14lb pike being pulled out of the loch but the catch was deemed invalid for the record book, as the method used to snare the monster fish involved a butcher’s hook and a frog attached to the end of a rope, tied to a tree, overnight.
Being a wooded area tree climbing was popular amongst the more simian of character. Alcohol fuelling the desire to climb and, on occasion, the type of descent.
An investigation, with respect to a fall from a tree into the loch, prompted a police probe into the source of the bootleg whisky being sold by the loch for 50p a bottle.
I often wonder if that local moonshine operation is still in existence!
There were some great “off road” bicycle runs around the loch which enabled the rider to ramp up decent downhill speeds, culminating in a semi doughnut shaped skid in the mud at the foot of the tracks.
Cyclists had to beware though as there was a spate of incidents involving fishing lines being stretched across the cycle paths, at mouth height.
Perhaps this was the frogs revenge!
At nearby Mosshead a perpetual footie game took place, often continuing till the light failed, with players coming and going as they returned from having their tea ( not dinner) and maybe after a bit of homework.
It wasn’t exactly Hampden and the ‘pitch’ had a pronounced incline for the benefit of whoever was shooting downhill.
The slope had other purposes however, and also served as a pretty good ‘bogie’ point to point racetrack for the dexterous few who’d put together their own carts.
Every winter there was an insane challenge to be the first on the loch ice.
I recall playing footie on the frozen loch, and the surface would rise and fall in rhythm with the players congregating and dispersing around the ball.
If football wasn’t your thing it was always worth investing in ice skates as the loch would freeze annually, in fact the ice proved thick enough on occasion to sustain a bonfire in the centre of the loch, which did, of course, occur .
I’m not really sure when the loch area fell out of favour as a post school social hub, perhaps when Bearsden Academy relocated.
From all accounts it is very quiet now.
I’m guessing computer games and mobile phones are the order of the day now rather than those seat-of-the-pants outdoor pursuits we used to enjoy at the not-so-exclusive Kilmardinny Country Club…..