THE relationship between Glasgow’s West End and its South Side is similar to the one between Vincent van Gogh and his younger brother Theo. Vincent was wild, creative and bohemian to his bootstraps. (Not that he owned many bootstraps. Or boots. Times were tough.) Theo, on the other hand, was a man of steady application who created a secure financial footing for himself. A square, in other words. Though at least he had two ears.

In my analogy, the West End is groovy Vincent (of course) while the South Side is… Well, let’s just say there’s no shortage of ears in Glasgow’s South Side.

It also has plenty of accountants, solicitors and other middle-class professionals, mostly living quiet, respectable lives. Though appearances can be deceptive. The South is no soporific suburbia. It also meets its quota for quality quirk.

For example: Cathcart. A curious enclave that blends the sleepiness of a village, spectacular parkland and urban delights. It even has its own river, the White Cart Water, which locals believe is more bonny than Clyde.

Historical highlights

Cathcart retains some of its ancient mystery. The origins of its name, for instance. Several derivations have been suggested, the most popular being caer cart, which is Celtic for the fort by the stream. Presumably an ancient fort loomed over the neighbourhood. The fairly similar word cathair means village, which could be a clue to more humble, humdrum roots.

Paper making came to Cathcart in 1729, and in 1753 the road through the village was upgraded. By 1782 the village was a thriving metropolis. Okay, not quite. Though there were 36 houses. (There are slightly more now.)

Originally part of Renfrewshire, Cathcart was gobbled up by greedy Glasgow in 1912. Much of it is like other parts of the city, with rows of red sandstone tenements. The area surrounding Snuff Mill, however, retains its village vibe, while Linn Park adds greenery to the scenery.

Things to do

Hopping off the train at Cathcart Station, you’re already in the bullseye of the burgh. Most things you’ll want to see are only a few minutes’ walk away. To reach the comeliest part of Cathcart, stroll along Old Castle Road, which takes you close to the demolished castle. Ruins of this once imposing edifice remain, though they’re sketchy. The few scattered stones look as much like a castle as a lumbering orange businessman looks like an authentic U.S. President.

Snuff Mill Bridge is very much intact, and the view from it is as pretty as a biscuit tin lid. (The fancy kind of biccy tin. The one kept on the top shelf of the cupboard that’s only set free when grandma visits.)

Next to the bridge is Lindsay House, an imposing tenement block predating most Glasgow tenements. It’s prettier too, with a fetching gable roof. Keep walking and you’ll soon be strolling through Linn Park, the second most expansive park in the city. There’s waterfalls, parkland and trees galore. A picnickers paradise.

A mention of paradise leads to thoughts of the afterlife, which in turn takes us to Cathcart Cemetery, off Clarkston Road. It’s on a steep hill, so you’ll need plenty of puff, something the residents ran out of long ago. Though they clearly didn’t run out of dosh, as there are numerous ornate tombstones to delight in.

Cathcart Trinity Church is on the other side of Clarkston Road. The congregation are friendly, and welcome visitors when they’re not too busy. When I popped in, I was shown the Memorial Corridor, which commemorates the fallen of World War II, and the impressive stained glass windows. A few doors down is the B listed Couper Institute, designed by James Sellers in 1887.

The most impressive building in Cathcart is Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s Holmwood House (61-63 Netherlee Road). A Category A-listed building owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it’s believed to have influenced Frank Lloyd Wright. If you’re not sure who that is, he’s the fellow Simon & Garfunkel crooned about in that famous song. (To be clear, he’s not the alter ego of Mrs Robinson.)

Where to eat

On your way to Snuff Mill you’ll spot The Old Smiddy on Old Castle Road, which is not to be missed. An authentic oak-beamed village pub with a wide selection of real ales and hearty meals. The Now on Clarkston Road is a more modern affair. So modern its vegan nosh isn’t called vegan nosh. It’s called plant based food, instead.

Opposites attract, which might explain why next door to The Now is the Steak Lounge and Grill (5A Clarkston Road). As you’d expect, it’s mostly about the munching of meat. Or should that be dead animal based food? Talking of animals, the White Elephant is nearby on 128 Merrylee Road. They say elephants never forget. Unfortunately the last time I was in the White Elephant my waitress did forget. To serve me. So I left, with what could probably be called a ravenous based rumble in my stomach.

Where to shop

Bumblebee @ Paul Hodgkiss Designs (200 Clarkston Road) is one of those stores packed to the rafters with cute clutter. Candles, jewellery, clothes etc. Watch the step on your way in, or you could end up with a cute clunk to the head.

The Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland charity shop on Clarkston Road is shabby chic without the chic. That’s probably unfair. The service is friendly, and there’s lots of second hand odds and ends to browse, and a wide selection of books. Especially if you like the authors Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson and Bill Bryson. (Not forgetting Bill Bryson.)

One of my most fun finds in Cathcart is Koo-ee Interiors and Gifts (1 Old Castle Road). I’d go so far as to say it’s my favourite interior design studio slash café and gift shop in the whole wide world. And not just because it’s the only interior design studio slash café and gift shop I’ve visited. If you’re in dire need of both a posh pineapple tart and a freshly upholstered sofa, this is the place to come.