Edgelands are those places that are on the periphery of urban sites. The concept was wonderfully explored in a book of the same name by Paul Farley & Michael Symonns Roberts and has become a pervasive enough concept to warrant a Wikipedia entry. However, the notion has a longer history that tracks urbanization and alienation from the 18th century onwards. Such sites have become entwined with other concepts as urban exploration (urbanex) and microadventures.
The book focused on sites around England but the places and themes, ‘wilderness is not that far away’ are applicable to many places. Often the sense of remoteness in these spots is as much to do with the human infrastructure penning in an area as the more familiar wilderness experience of the Cairngorm Plateau or a remote Corbett that demands ‘the long walk-in’. For me it has been more the MTB recon around and about to find some of these places.
We’ve been out looking at suitable local walking routes for people in a number of places but I found a particularly striking parallel between the leafy spaces filled with trees in the landscapes of Caithness and Sutherland, where I would normally be doing some upland ecological survey work around this time of year, and the dark glades in the valleys of the western part of North Lanarkshire around Coatbridge and Airdrie. The steepness of water features, whether a steep burn that excludes deer or a steep valley of the North Calder river that has shrugged off development or cultivation due to the precipitous slopes and crags leading down to the water course itself. Viewpark Glen is a fine example of these features.
The biggest surprise was finding these interpretation boards on the edge of a housing estate called Viewpark on the other side of the A8 and M8 corridor from Coatbridge. The Clyde Valley has a number of impressive and significant sites but I had no idea there were similar sites in this area too.