This is a pleasant if unexciting walk linking up a few rivers, canals, places and footpaths which you will sort-of know. The canal is lovely, although the metalled bit is sore on the calves. Cadder Church and graveyard are a treat as is the walk alongside Cadder Golf Course. The walk along the River Kelvin is geographically enlightening and the route through Torrance and along the railway line is fine with open farmland on both sides, unfortunately accompanied by the dubious smell of rotting sprout stalks. At Hayston Golf Club you can opt out for the delights of Kirkintilloch. Otherwise you take a circuitous route to Birdston, which officially gives this walk its name, and a tedious walk along the Glaizert River. The path is almost entirely flat and firm underfoot apart from an occasional short muddy stretch.
Despite calling itself a ‘Walker-Friendly’ town, Kirkintilloch has no convenient car park which will allow you to park for more than three hours and you really need longer than that, especially if you are stopping for coffee or food anywhere along the route. We parked at ‘The Stables’ restaurant, and the notes below assume you are parking nearby. There is a layby on the main road (and you might be lucky to get a drink from a mobile van here). Opposite the layby and across the canal from The Stables is a large overspill car-park. If you are eating at The Stables afterwards, as we did, you might ask permission to park in their car -park.
To get there
The postal code for The Stables Inn (G66 1RH) worked well but takes you along the M8 towards Edinburgh, then off at Junction 15 towards Springburn and the A803. Follow the A803 straight through Colston and Bishopbriggs. At the roundabout at Cadder take the first exit (i.e. go straight on) and at the next roundabout (with Torrance and Lenzie options) take the second exit i.e. continuing on the A803 along Kirkintilloch Road to Kirkintilloch. You will see the Stables Inn on your left as you go over the canal. The layby is on the right, before the canal; and the overspill car park on the left.h
The walk as described here begins immediately in front of the Stable Inn, where you turn right towards Cadder, Bishopbriggs, the Leisure Centre etc. The canal can be joined from the main 803 on either side. Just BEFORE Cadder Church (up to the right, and a particularly picturesque spot) turn right up the hill, with the church on your left. It is worth stopping to look in the graveyard – and especially at the two railed graves and the heavy iron coffin ‘lid’. to prevent grave-robbers stealing the bodies. The road becomes a path and levels out through the Kelvin Valley. Once past Cadder and then Keir Golf courses (keeping going straight on a narrow path), at a bridge on the left, and sign-post right to Torrance, take a good track right along the River Kelvin.
The path comes out at a set of pedestrian traffic lights on the A807, Torrance Road, and you should cross the road and turn left up towards the Torrance roundabout and the main street of Torrance. Go up to the second bus stop on the right, just by a little children’s play-park. Go through the park taking a path on the left which then straightens to take an old railway track across farmland. At a disused railway bridge, turn sharp right and at the next corner, signposted Kirkintilloch and the Forth and Firth Canal, go sharp left. At the end of this track you reach Hayston.
You can turn right here, sign-posted Kirkintilloch and make your way back down to the canal. A path to the right leads onto a bridge which you will cross over to take you onto Hayston Road. At the end of the road cross over and head to the right and join Campsie View. At the end of this road there is a path leading to the canal with another small bridge to cross leading to a short steep hill to the canal. Turn left and return to Kirkintilloch or right to return to The Stables.
If you’re doing the whole circuit, go diagonally left (not the main track sharp left) up a red path towards the Hayston Club House where you turn left to take the driveway down to Campsie Road. You have to turn left here and walk along this country road for about 300 yards and there is no pavement. It is normal to face oncoming traffic (i.e. walk on the right) but you are going slightly uphill at first so I suggest you stay on the left so that you can see the traffic more easily, and then cross over when it is safe. You come to a very dodgy set of wooden steps on the right going down to the railway line you were on before. There is an equally dodgy hand-rail until the bottom where you are left to your own devices. At the bottom is a path to the right going round Kirkintilloch Golf Club! At a very sharp left-hand turn, turn left on an improved path and this leads up to a huge kissing gate and a T junction on a track with Wetshod Farm to the right.
At this point you could be seriously lost, since the map goes blank and the East Dunbartonshire notes leave you stranded! However your bold reccéist followed her nose and with the help of the USA satellites, turned right and eventually emerged on Birdston Road. Turn right here, cross the road, and at the bottom of the hill continue, as signposted, towards a Heritage cycle track. This bit was short but attractive. You reach an astonishing bit of railway industrial architecture with information boards about same and then turn right along what turned out to be the Glaizert Water. I found this bit boring, but it isn’t long and you eventually reach a foot bridge across the River Kelvin. Cross this, and continue on to pedestrian lights at Kilsyth Road (and the Indian Cottage if you’re still with me!). The path continues (dog-leg right) on the other side and emerges at the Hillhead roundabout. Take the second exit to the right (NOT up Canal Street – I got lost here) on the Peter D. Stirling Road and then almost immediately turn left into the grounds of the Nursing Home. Just before the tunnel, take steps up on the left to the Firth and Forth Canal and turn right towards Kirkintilloch. Cross the Barleybank car-park and the main road and continue along the canal, noting the John Muir Information Board as you go down the steps. Continue to The Stables.
About 9 miles: almost entirely flat and therefore boggy in winter!