Scotland’s late summer
I have been visiting Scotland for coming up on twenty years. Sure, it is one of those destinations that might lie under the radar for an internationally curious type, but I assure you it is well worth more than a mere gander.
From people with completely intact souls, to breathtaking countryside, to spectacular architecture, to endless innovation in art and music and onto endless raw skate spots: it has so many drawcards for any type of human.
After almost a decade away from my second home I returned this summer with the ultimate road-buddy and gracious being Leo Sharp. We were there for a miraculous five sun-drenched days in late August. Paul ‘Paul VX’ McConnach was out for every session with an avalanche of locals in tow. During my visit prior (back in 2006) it was hard to tell if Scottish street skating was going to stay as strong as it once was in the 90's. Who was going to compare to people like of Kennedy and Rattray being out on the regs?
Happily though after only the first day's session I could tell it is going to continue thriving as strongly as during that style-drenched era. With a bunch of new terrain and a gaggle of keenly honed eyes you are going to be witnessing continued world-class moments being emitted from this Northern Gem. And just quietly I am somewhat certain that Glasgow is the best city in the UK.
Aaron Wilmot – backside air
Located in Partick, Clan Skates is a true Glasgow institution. Mansfield Park lies just across the street from Clan and at some point over the last decade it has been garnished with a seductive, yet already heavily notorious obstacle. This NQP (Natural Quarter Pipe) is about as perfect and potentially deadly as a piece of street tranny gets. At two feet wide, this skinny piece of skate god material is dangerous enough for any tricks to fakie; but to turn around is no joke. Aaron Wilmot scoops a true beauty of a backside air, straight up and down with only a wheel width to play with. This was on the back of a straight up fierce three-hour red bank session that he had partaken in just prior. Aaron is a proper trooper with perfect poise. Yes, you look pretty today.
Div – backside tailslide
On the night prior to this photo being taken we had found a Glaswegian rainbow that had been discarded post Pride. Jamie Bolland snuck under it on a nollie tail and we decided to take that little rainbow for a ride. We took the colourful beast to Livi, Carnoustie and even Dundee. It was there that Div performed this glorious backtailee. Nae pot of gold, just another beer down and we took our wee rainbow back to Glasgow Town.
Tom Shimmin – bs flip
(for full panoramic glory check the desktop version)
Tradeston Bridge is also known as the Squiggly Bridge! Wait, so that’s a Squiggly Bridge and a Shoogly Train (explained later) good old Glasgow. Watching this backside flip unfold was pretty spooky and didn’t happen without a fair bit of planning and effort beforehand. Firstly Tom and a couple of devoted friends lugged an 8′ x 4′ sheet of marine ply across town to block a hole at the base of the targeted obstacle. There were jogging types unknowingly running a storey or two beneath Tom who was doing his best to backside flip within the confines of his ‘bank’. Some times the board would fall down next to an unsuspecting jogger. Not only was it narrow up there but it was also super slippery, as the Glasgow skies had just opened for one of the few occasions of the trip. There was a little bit of pressure for Tom to do it sooner rather than later as Leo and I were off for a dinner with our gracious hosts Walker and Sarah Murdoch. Tom nailed the make bang on time and we celebrated by leaving.
Colin Adam – lien air
I had never really got to spend any time with Colin before this last trip, but admittedly I had been a fan forever. I was delighted when I found out he is an even better human than he is a skateboarder: a truly proper gent.
During our stay he was finishing up shooting an interview and had a hoof injury. Even though he was running on half a tank he was still a relentless force at every spot. The Plastic Beach ramp just outside of Edinburgh is one of the most picturesque settings I have ever seen for a skate spot. You have got to love a wee pocket of shredability that’s been plonked somewhere between an industrial area and an ocean. The serenity was so thick that you could ‘carve it proper likes’. Since he handled this lofty lien, Colin and his wife Steffi have announced the birth of their second daughter: Ella. Congratulations guys!
Morgan Campbell – Howard Grind
Back when you were wee and before the Kelvingrove Park was refurbished, one of the main Glasgow meet-up spots was Bath Street. This hipped bank was often the catalyst that ignited a night’s skating. For some reason it wasn’t a bust and it was home to so many lines, including one over the very rarely found street hip. After a taxi, a couple of planes, two trains, a taxi and a lift with Leo from Cornwall to Glasgow via a cocktail in Manchester, we went straight to Bath Street. 58 hours after my departure and I was seriously delighted to skate the somewhat confined version of what was once a perfect spot. I was also thrilled to shoot my first photo there after 19 years of intermittent sessions at Bath Street. To this day I have a photo on the fridge of John Rattray doing a shifty over the hip, it is an old Clan flyer. Every time I see the spot I can’t help but think of this photo.
Ross Zajac – 5-0 grind
The convergence of two of the major Glaswegian shopping streets (Sauchiehall and Argyle) takes place at this wall-mounted rail – most locals would know it is a The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The venue has played host to the likes of BB King, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, David Byrne and Debbie Harry. The man embodied in the statue is Scottish Labour legend – the First Minister of Scotland: Donald Dewar. So many stars have graced this zone yet today it is Ross Zajac who took centre stage. That’s just one of the reasons why you have to love skateboarding, we are a fan of applauding the underdog.
Jamie Bolland – blindside kickflip to fakie
The Glasgow Subway system is the third oldest in the world (next to London’s and Budapest’s) and to a foreigner it oozes pure charm. Known affectionately by visitors as the ‘Clockwork Orange’ the wee train makes its way in both directions around a 6-mile circular route. Before The Subway was remodelled in 1977, it became known as the ‘Shoogly Train’ due to a degree of movement (or ‘shoogle’) between the backrest and the cushion on the chair. As a part of this remodelling one of the lesser-used stops, Kinning Park, received a nice brown brick volcano: well over three decades later an unparalleled skate style blessed its curves. This blindside kickflip to fakie by Jamie Bolland was far from shoogly. I was so stoked to see Jamie again, and to have him in on several of the sessions too. While we were in town Jamie not only had time to skate but he also managed to hold a launch for an indoor parkour publication. Respect is due to a very stylish enigma.
Kieran Menzies – backside tweaker
From my limited understanding of the north, Edinburgh’s Saughton Skatepark was finished around five years back. In a place that previously lacked a park, you now have a seemingly endless joint, such a vast place that upon rocking up you may get transition-based anxiety. You would also be simultaneously happy and sad to see a couple of the Bristo Square blocks lurking on the platform of the hip, (I think you can just see one on the far right of the pic). This backside mega blaster from quirky trannie to far hip was really something to watch. Why is it when you have an idea for a line when it is windy that said line is always directly into the wind? This was no exception, and Kieran would go up, straight down, backwards and sometimes sideways when he launched – this was all depending on which way the wind was heading on that second.
Freddie Lusk – ollie
Don’t you just love seeing the reinvention of a spot? GoMA has been getting skated for longer than the famous statue of Duke of Wellington has rocked that traffic cone as a hat. It has seen wizardry from all the generations of Scottish Street gurus, from your Wee Rats, to your Colin Kinetics, The Patersons and The Bollands to your Gary Browns and more. Skaters have been present for so long that Toby Paterson has even permeated the walls with a piece of his art now and forever housed inside. These days there is a new batch of skaters sessioning this place and finding new lines and it took the legs of Freddie Lusk to take one to the roads. Finally the Duke’s headgear and all its fluorescent glory can be witnessed in the skate press.
Tom Shimmin – fs pivot to fakie
In just 24 hours the Bath Street banks were home to three separate photo-shoots with Leo. I doubt this had ever happened before and seems unlikely to happen again. Two of the photos you will be seeing in this article. I guess the most satisfying thing was that they are so aggressively skate stopped that getting anything there involves a lateral approach. The gnarly razor snakes that punctuate the bank have to be diligently dodged or sometimes even skated on. I saw Tom Shimmin skate several times over the five days we had in Scotland and I am convinced that Glasgow’s next generation, and the generations yet to come are in good hands, guided by a great guy, with a pure heart and a cunning eye for a new line.
Ross McSherry – ollie
This session at the Cowcaddens M8 underpass was a classic. The not so old, yet seriously faded red underpass was home to quite the scene that day. We were down in the belly of this spot for at least three hours. Leo set up and shot several different pics from various angles, Paul VX (who may have recently changed his initials to HD) filmed some different lines by various shred lords up and down the underpass. We basically had a migratory session of around 20 people. Twice a friendly truckie stopped on the freeway and threw down supplies to enhance the team morale. This particular block ollie by Ross McSherry was incredible to watch. To get his run up he came from half a mile away and bombed the hill into the motorway’s belly. Somehow he would harness some pop from the griptape-esque surface and multiple times he cleared the chunky beast.
Ross Zajac – ride on 5050
Paul VX told us a story about the first time they went to this ride on 5050 spot. He regaled us with a tale about how one of the expensive apartments overlooking the spot had its curtains open and inside was a couple about to perform some kind of a sacred ritual when they realised a bunch of skateboarders were watching them from across the street. The girl came to the window and shut the curtains but not before giving the crew a preview of her full frontal. Luckily on this occasion full frontal nudity played no part in the session and Ross showed no signs of distraction thus handling his grind immediately.
Grant Johnstone – frontside rock
Grant Johnstone drove in from Larkhall to meet us at the Partick NQP. From the moment he got there we knew he was hell bent on some redefinition of the spot. As he began we started to wonder whether he’d maybe shot a little courage down at the whiskey bar that sits nearby beforehand. He over tweaked these frontside rocks with so much ease, nailing two before Leo had even set up. He made a few more and then moved on to more serious matters. The trick he did afterwards was a completely different affair. He did a blunt where no one would even dare. The slam that he took on the journey to the make was one of the worst we have ever witnessed and when _iron_giraffe_ drops his video it will go viral for sure. I was ready to call an ambulance and then I realised he was up and going again, for sure I thought his collarbone had been pulverised. I have a feeling we have just witnessed one of the first chapters of Grant’s rampage. GJ is a future great.