Category Archives: Within a radius of 20 miles

Turning on the tap: Saturday, 10 March 2018

Starting from the north side of Muirsheil Country Park at the Cornalees Visitor Centre the walk follows the good paths of the standard Greenock Cut circular route. The walk is relatively flat. The walk passes 23 stone built bridges as well as two bothies – the latter provided accommodation for the workers who built the cut. The cut opened in 1827 and supplied Greenock with water for industrial and domestic use. It was built by engineer Robert Thom and was replaced by a tunnel in 1971. In good weather there are great views.

Starting Point:
The starting point is at OS Reference NS 246 721 which is the car park at the Greenock Cut Visitor Centre, Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park about 4km east of Inverkip.

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Getting there:  30 miles/60 minutes
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow towards the M8 heading for Greenock.  Just before Greenock either: [1] go left onto B788 signed Kilmacolm/Scenic Route to Largs and continue onto B7054 (Drumfrochar Road); this will by-pass the town centre; or [2] head for the town centre and at the large roundabout just past the fire station go left onto A78 towards Irvine/Largs/ Wemyss Bay and Isle of Bute Ferry.  If option [1] is chosen continue to the roundabout and go left onto A78 towards Irvine/Largs/Wemyss Bay.  Continue on the A78 past the site of the old IBM factory and look out for a sign pointing left to Loch Thom and Greenock Cut Centre and go left onto a narrow road (Dunrod Road).  After crossing the bridge over the railway line there is a stretch of straight road.  Look out for the Loch Thom sign and at the obvious ‘Y’ junction take the left fork.  Follow the road to the Visitor Centre.  Parking is free and there are toilets but these often have restricted opening times.

For a more scenic route, which may take longer, take B7054 (as above), pass the Broomhill Tavern and after entering a 20mph speed restriction area turn left just past a sign for Scenic Route to Largs/Greenock Cut Centre into Drumfochar Road*.  Continue on this road and shortly after it bears left, and just past a school entrance on the right, turn left (Old Largs Road).  At a junction (to Whinhill Golf Course) bear right.  The road continues to climb.  Ignore the small finger sign (Corlic Hill) pointing left and further on ignore the road on the right.  Views of various lochs will now be visible.  The road skirts Loch Thom.  Turn right just past a sign to the Greenock Cut Centre.  Cross the bridge and continue along the other side of Loch Thom to the Visitor Centre.
*If this left turn is missed continue ahead (Cornhaddock Street) and at the traffic light junction go left.  Then go over the railway line at Drumfrochar Station and at the next junction go right onto Drumfrochar Road.  After a short distance, and just past a school entrance on the right, turn left (Old Largs Road) and continue as above.

The Walk:  Greenock Cut/Shielhill Glen Nature Trail – 8.25 miles
The walk starts at the car park and follows tracks and paths, the surfaces of which should be reasonable throughout.
From the car park go left and follow the track past the Compensation Reservoir and Loch Thom.  Just before Overton turn left to follow the main aqueduct.  At Shielhill, not far from the end of the walk, cross the road to take the path opposite.  After about 250m go right to follow the Shielhill Glen Nature Trail through woodland.  The path crosses a stream (ultimately the Kip Water) on several occasions before exiting the woodland.  Continue on this rising path and turn left when it joins the Kelly Cut.  Follow the Kelly Cut back to the road and turn left towards the Visitor Centre and the car park.

Frontier of the Empire

Starting Point:
The starting point is at OS Reference NS 720 767 which is the rear car park at the Boathouse Restaurant.

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Getting there:  16 miles/30 minutes
Take your favourite route to the M80.  Exit at Junction 4A, using the left hand lane to exit towards Kirkintilloch/Kilsyth /B8048.  Keep left and follow signs for Kirkintilloch/Kilsyth /B8048/B802.  At Back O’ Hill roundabout, take the 2nd  exit onto B8048.  At the next roundabout (Craiglinn) take the 3rd exit (continuing on B8048) and at the next roundabout (Blackwood) take the 3rd exit onto B802 (Howe Road) signed Croy/Kilsyth.  Stay on this road for about 1.5 miles.  At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit for Auchinstarry Marina.  The Boathouse is on the left.  Please park behind the Boathouse; there is plenty of parking.

The Walk:  6.5 miles (Shorter option available)

Take the path up behind the toilets and go through a gate onto the road.  Turn right to cross the bridge and take the path down to the canal on the right.  At the canal turn right to go under the bridge.  Follow the canal path and at Twechar turn left over the canal and follow the road up hill.  Just past the war memorial turn left (signed Barhill Fort/Antonine Wall /John Muir Way) where a track goes uphill.  Keep right where it forks and turn left at the kissing gate (with John Muir Way sign).  Pass through the next gate and head diagonally uphill to reach the remains of Bar Hill Roman Fort.   The fort garrisoned about 500 men, and is located slightly south of the Antonine Wall (built c140 AD).

After exploring the fort continue ENE (from the top of the fort), to pick up a grassy path that soon climbs to the top of Castle Hill.  This is the site of an iron-age fort.  Continue on the grassy path, which curves slightly right, to join the edge of the ditch of the Antonine Wall which was built by the Romans as a northern replacement of Hadrian’s Wall.  Passing an area of forestry on the right, continue until a stone wall (with a sign about the wall) and turn right.  Shortly after turn left along a track.  At a gate continue ahead and, likewise, at a later junction.

Anyone wanting a shorter walk can take either the marked footpath to Auchinstarry, or continue to the road ahead (B802) and walk back via the pavement.

At the B802, cross the road and go through a kissing gate (adjacent to a tree) and follow the path straight ahead.  Turn right at a fenced enclosure, following a surfaced track for a short distance, then turn left after a gate signed Croy Hill.  Continue ahead to reach a path and then another gate marked Croy Hill.  Continue on the grassy path that follows the line of the Antonine Wall.  The ditch is prominent on your left and in parts was cut through solid rock.  Keep left when the path forks and climb a mound formed from material dug from the ditch.  The remains of the fort are not obvious but the two nearby platforms may have been used for signalling.  Carry on along the path on top of the ridge, from which there are excellent views, and then straight ahead crossing a path (the site of the fort itself was just to the right) towards a marker post.  Next, pass a ground-level information board about Croy Hill.  The site has been excavated twice and found to comprise two forts (one superseding the other as the plans for the Wall changed during the two years of construction) and a bath house just outside one of the forts.  Remains of a civilian settlement in Roman times has also been found.  It was probably established to trade food and services with the Roman soldiers.

Continue downhill, passing under the electricity lines and turn left onto a path signed for Castlecary.  Ignore the next turn right, signed for Castlecary, and instead go past the picnic benches to take the next path on the right which heads downhill through trees (with views of the canal) to emerge on a minor road.  Turn left and cross the canal, then turn left onto the canal towpath.  At Auchinstarry cross the road bridge back over the canal to return to the cars.

Lanark Loch, Falls of Clyde and New Lanark

There is parking at Lanark Railway Station but, apparently, there are no toilets and parking is for rail users only. The public toilets are in either the South Lanarkshire Leisure Harry Smith Centre or the South Lanarkshire Leisure Swimming Pool both of which are in Thomas Taylor Avenue behind the Rail and Bus Station so it would be best to find a parking slot somewhere along there.

You are following the ORANGE route on the Tourist Information Leaflet. The distance is a maximum of 9 miles and follows tarmac roads, gravel footpaths and a grassy racecourse. There are a number of steps – no stiles. A couple of sections are along the edges of roads open to traffic.

To get there the shortest route still seems to be:

Take the M8 east towards Edinburgh and then take the M73, quickly followed by the M74 towards Carlisle etc.  (At junction 7, on the M74, take the A72 down the Clyde valley. Continue on through Rosebank, Crossford, and Kirkfieldbank where you climb up a steep hill to a really nasty junction with the A73. Here turn right, go up the main street through the town centre and at the junction at the top (at traffic lights), take the right hand road towards the station. Turn left along Woodstock Road, just before the station, and right along Parklands Oval which becomes Thomas Taylor Avenue running parallel with the station.

The Satnav code for both Leisure Centres is: Thomas Taylor Ave, Lanark ML11 7DG

Walk back to the Railway Station.

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From Lanark railway station turn left along Ladyacre Rd away from the town centre. Beyond the tourist info turn left into Whitelees Rd. Follow for ½ mile. At Lockhart hospital continue straight on. Just beyond the hospital as the road goes to the left, go up a short slope ahead onto a disused railway. Follow the path to the car park at Lanark Loch. Leave the railway path and descend to the loch.

Go around the loch in a clockwise direction until you reach a steel and concrete bridge. Take the next left and follow the footpath uphill to the equestrian centre.

To go around the racecourse follow the road to the left of the equestrian centre and follow the obvious circuit to return (adds about one mile).

(Just seven years after the first powered flight, Lanark racecourse hosted what was only the second international airshow in the UK. More than 200,000 spectators gathered to watch and a new railway station had to be opened. The event is commemorated in a public artwork at the entrance to Lanark Loch. The redbrick tote and the outline of the circuit is all that remains of more than seven centuries of racing at Lanark. One of the races that ran at Lanark was the Silver Bell. The winner received a trophy that dates back to the early 17th century.

To continue with the route go to the main road and turn left.** Walk for about 50 yards before crossing the road that leads to the Scottish Power Bonnington Power station. Follow the road lined with beech to Robiesland farm. At the end of the tree-lined section follow the road round to the left and continue downhill following a sweeping bend to the power station. For visit to Corra Linn turn left and follow footpath uphill to viewing area (5 mins.)

(At more than 90 feet high the Corra Linn is the highest of the four Falls of Clyde and one of the most powerful in Britain. Above the viewing area is a perfectly positioned pavilion. Once lined with mirrors, anyone standing at its centre felt as though they were at the centre of the Falls. The Corra Linn has been visited by William Wordsworth, numerous crowned heads and painted by JMW Turner. Be on the lookout for the fast moving peregrine falcons that nest on the cliffs.

The village of New Lanark and its tiers of mills and tenements is an impressive site as you reach the end of the river walkway. Begun in 1786 by Richard Arkwright and David Dale the village would later be renowned for the innovative employee welfare programme initiated by Dale’s son-in-law Robert Owen. The village is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.)

Go through the arch and follow the canal on your right through New Lanark. At New Lanark hotel hook round to the right and then turn left to go through main gates. Turn left uphill past the red telephone box.

Close to the top of the hill but before the bend, turn left to follow the Clyde Walkway. Continue along the walkway to the viewing platform and then over the suspension bridge. Descend the steps to follow the Clyde downstream. The path eventually climbs in a series of bends uphill to Castlebank Park.

Turn right in the park and continue to the play park. Follow the footpath to the left of the play park uphill across a grassy area. (Castlebank Park is in the process of being refurbished … it now has a Horticultural Centre, renovated and replanted gardens, William Wallace Memorial Rose Garden, Sculpture Trail including a 7 ft high Wallace wooden sculpture and a bog garden.)

(Lanark Thistle bowling club, on the top edge of the park, now occupies the knoll on which stood Lanark Castle. In 1297 Wallace attacked the castle and killed the sheriff.)

Turn left at the gatehouse and once through the gates turn right and follow Castlegate uphill through Lanark’s historic core to St Nicholas’ Church. Turn right and follow the High Street uphill to return to railway station

**Shorter Walk – go to main road and turn right. Following the pavement, you will pass the entrance to Lanark Loch and the “Spirit of Flight” Air Show Memorial. Further on you will see on the left, the old Cemetery with St Kentigern’s ruins where Wallace and Marion Braidfoot were married. Keep straight on down the Wellgate to arrive at St Nicholas’ Church at the bottom of the High Street. Turn right, and continue on right, back to bus/ rail station.

The Semple Trail

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To get there
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow (probably via the Clyde Tunnel) to join the M8 towards Greenock.  Exit the M8 at Junction 28A onto the A737 going south towards Johnstone.  Continue past Howwood and turn right onto A760 (Lochwinnoch).  At the box junction turn right into Lochlip Road (over Calder Bridge).  Continue until the sharp left hand corner where you turn right into the car park.  Parking is free.

The Walk:  The Semple Trail – 10.0 miles (Options:  5.0 miles from Howwood; short additional extensions)

The walk starts at the car park and is well signed.  Follow the cycle track southwards to the end of Castle Semple Loch, cross the bridge and turn left .  The track joins the pavement just before the RSPB reserve.  Continue on the pavement over the railway bridge at Lochwinnoch Station, past The Loch House (where we will be eating) and up to the roundabout at the junction with the A737.  Carefully cross the A737 and take the small road opposite.  The road climbs gently to Belltrees Road where you turn left. Continue on this road past Newton of Belltrees until High Trees where you take a smaller track to the right. Follow this country track to the end and go through the gate opposite onto a grassy path with the sound of the Linnister Burn to the right.  Cross the burn using the bridge.  The path gently climbs to join a minor road at North Muirdykes.  Turn right for 200m and then turn left onto the B776 and follow the pavement downhill.  On a good day there are wonderful views across the valley and to the mountains to the north.  Just past the Catholic Church (on the right) take a small path to the left (signed Beith Road).  This joins the B787 (Main Street) at the Church of Scotland.  Cross the road and turn right for 100m and follow the road left (Station Road) towards the railway station.

Continue on this road over the railway line, the main road and Black Cart Water.  Just past a parking area on the left turn left over a stone style to follow a track across farmland.  Note the Temple on the hill to your right which can be accessed by an optional detour once the track swings to the right as it approaches the north end of Castle Semple Loch.  Follow the path until it joins the cycle track (NR7) at a gate and turn left towards Lochwinnoch.  Cross the bridge at Castle Semple and take the path down to the right.  At the gate turn left.  Pass and/or visit the Collegiate Church which is on your left and the cascades on the right.  Continue on this track until an obvious split.  Go right through a gate and into woodland (Parkhill Wood).  Take the first obvious path to the right and follow this (generally keeping right when there is a choice) as it climbs and wends its way through the trees.  The path skirts the northern edges of the wood with views over the trees below.  Where the path splits at the southern end of the woodland take the path that rises slightly to the left and then another rising path to the left shortly thereafter.  The gentle climb takes you to a Lookooterie (a lovely viewpoint) on Parkhill.  Follow the path down the other side of the hill.  There is a short stepped section before the path swings left.  At the path junction turn right and almost immediately right again towards the Grotto.  Follow this path to the bridge that crosses Blackditch Burn and turn right.  Exit the wood through the gate, cross the cycle path, and walk down to the loch side.  Turn right and follow the track back to the cars.

Keep your eyes open: Interesting artwork/seats.  Historic buildings, including a folly; the cascades; the ice house.  Butterflies and birds.

Après-walk Meal: Arrangements have been made for a meal at The Loch House.  The ‘menu’ is attached for information purposes only.  It includes parking arrangements, directions and time.  Meals cost from £9.50.

A cobble around the River Forth

There are glenda-white-cobbled-together-walks and Mark II glenda-white-cobbled together walks and this one is definitely in the latter category. Indeed, wyou actually walk through Cobleland which adds to the convolutions. But it’s all astonishingly beautiful – even in misly-misty rain. You’re never far from the River Forth sparkling over rushy weeds, tumbling over boulders and overhung by berried trees. The forests are composed of deciduous trees of every hue and, so far, the weather has conspired to produce one of the most astonishing autumns on record. This is just the walk for it.

The total walk is only about 7.5 miles but it seems longer because of the twists and turns and both the kirk with its mortsafes and the Woollen Centre are likely attractions. The route, except for the very last bit, is flat-ish. A climb of Doon Hill isn’t included (you go round the base) but of course you may want to go up.  The LRTs are firm underfoot but even they, and especially the paths, can be slippery with rotting leaves. Some of the paths are also joyously muddy but nothing serious.

To get there

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Even getting to the car park is a bit of a cobble! You can either opt for the route through Drymen (the A811 which then joins the A81) or take the A81 direct through Milngavie, Strathblane etc. Assuming you can find your way going towards Aberfoyle on what eventually is the A81, take the first road signposted (left off the A81) towards Gartmore Village. Follow this road to the sign directing you right into the village street and go up past the picturesque houses and shops. At the top you come to the back entrance of Gartmore House which is on your right. You turn left with the road (the Cunninghame Graham monument is on your right across the green). The road now curves round sharply to the right and follows the back road towards Cobleland and Aberfoyle. Not far along this road is the signpost on the left to LEMAHAMISH CAR PARK. Unfortunately, the signpost which should face you is missing so you won’t see the signpost for those coming the other way until you’ve past it! If you drive fairly moderately you’ll see the LRT going into the forest.

The first part of the LRT is reasonably good. At a sharp bend follow the blue parking signs to the left and at the cross-tracks follow the signs to the right. This section is not so good and you’ll want to take it very slowly where there are potholes. Follow this track down to the river.

The walk

Begin by taking the path along the River Forth – going down to the river and turning left. This idyllic little gander brings you on to the LRT coming in from the left directly from the cars. At an obvious path and sign post for the footbridge, turn right and follow the track through the woods, up over the footbridge across the Forth and down to the cycle track. Counter-intuitively, turn away from the massive sign pointing towards Aberfoyle, going right on the cycle path.   Cycle paths are better for conversation than for walking but you soon come to the ‘pill box’ remaining from World War II. At the road, turn right again across the river and then right down into the (closed) Cobleland camp site.  Take the track going straight down and along the river and follow this through the camp site. A very good path hugs the river, and opens out at some picnic tables. (If you continue on you’ll come to your car.)

Leave the picnic area by taking the path on the right-hand side of an unnamed (and apparently unmarked) burn. The path heads up through the woods and comes out on the LRT that you drove in on. Turn left here and come back to the cross-tracks which you also drove to. However, now turn right and walk through the forest to ‘Easter Park’ which you ignore, continuing down to where the path around Doon Hill joins. You will see that you can avoid going around Doon Hill by continuing straight on. This will save about ½ mile.

You are going widdershins around Doon Hill and the path is a little harder to find and less well-walked from this ‘southern’ end. It’s not actually marked on the OS map. However, it follows the contours around the hill (which looks high from this point but isn’t!) until it joins the LRT coming in from the northern side. Just before you emerge back on to this LRT a clear path on the left goes up to the top of the hill. However, it’s covered with trees so there are no views but you may want to go up for the fun of it. The base path continues to the junction with the LRT which you left ½  mile before and where there is a sign explaining how the minister of the kirk in Aberfoyle was stolen away by the fairies. You now follow the LRT to the road, cross the bridge over the Forth and turn right along the river path to where a ‘Welcome’ notice encourages you to visit the Woollen Centre.

Back on the riverside walk,  follow this to the junction of a contributory burn where you turn left up to the cycle track. Once on the cycle track, turn right to begin the walk back to the car. The first part is fascinating as you see Aberfoyle from a completely different viewpoint. You can also see what the Parish Council has done with devolved monies – a play park, a cycle run and a wild-life area. Well done them! The cycle track continues to the large ‘Aberfoyle’ signpost which you rejected earlier in the day, and back across the bridge to the LRT track leading to the car. If you want to go straight back, turn left here and retrace your steps along the outward route.

However, there is one more lovely bit to do if you’re up for it. Turn right, heading for Easter Park, and a little way along, on your left, is a path leading up to Easter Park. This is the only climb (ish) of the day! At the top, turn left and come down a particularly lovely path through deciduous trees which eventually reaches the outward LRT. Here, turn right and the car will be in sight.

 

Cornalees Circuit (1)

This is yet another  astonishing walk in an industrial area. You strike out along Loch Thom and quite suddenly come upon the lovely views of the Argyll Hills for which the Greenock Cut is justly famous. When you reach the Greenock Cut (or canal if you don’t know this) unusually you turn right and walk along a very-much-disused stretch of canal to the road to the golf course at Whinhill. The Old Largs Road (which you will have come by) hikes you up to the track to Corlic Hill. On the best bit of the walk you pass two ruined hamlets, the first of about six cottages and the second of about four. The path then brings you down to the two Gryffe Reservoirs and back to the Old Largs Road through Dowries plantation. The last slog back to Cornalees seemed heavy going on the reccé and, indeed, on the walk itself. For almost all the walk of just over 9 miles you’d never believe that the two industrial conurbations of Greenock and Port Glasgow are just below you. Since it’s circular, it’s an easy walk to access from Drumfrochar Station but this description assumes that you have come by car

Park at Cornalees car-park. There are toilets are usually open from 10.00 and  there’s a very good ‘hut’ nearby selling coffee and tea for £1.00 from dawn till dusk!

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To get there

You can approach Cornalees from the A78 just past IBM.  A signpost the next on the left, past the last entrance into IBM. directs you to Cornalees. However, it’s quicker and prettier to take the advertised ‘Scenic Route’ to Largs along the Old Largs Road, some of which you’ll be walking.

  • take your favourite route to Greenock and  continue to the traffic lights on the way into Greenock with the Fire Station on the left and the tug dock on the right. Turn left past the Fire Station, on the B7054 (Baker Street), go up to a roundabout, then straight on under the railway line, past the old Tate and Lyle factory and turn right along Drumfrochar Road. Keep going more-or-less straight on (Cornhaddock Road, Dunlop Street).
  • The Satnav takes you up Ratho Street (by a huge crane on the right and new flats created from the old flour mills) then turns right into Belville Street and then left on Baker Street and right on Drumfrochar Road Just follow the satnav!
  • For both routes the Old Largs Road is signposted from Dumfrochar Road just as it becomes Cornhaddock Street by a brown tourist notice. Follow the signs to take you along Drumfrochar Road, past the golf course. Turn right when sign-posted to Cornalees Visitor Centre.

The walk

 Your walk begins from the car-park turning left, as sign-posted, towards Overton (two miles). The first part is along the edge of the Compensation Loch and then the edge of Loch Thom. At the cottage take the left-hand track (not the right-hand track which leads to the dam). (Just before White Hill is a clear Scottish Rights of Way notice down the hill to a LRT on Loch Thom. The first part is apparently pathless, but the LRT along the edge is quite clear. This will take you past Killochend and on to the Old Largs Road and back to Cornaleees if you want a short cut.) At White Hill, a track from a radio mast and reservoir comes in from the left, but you should continue on, breasting the hill and then on down to wonderful views of the Argyll Hills and Greenock. Keep to the left of two small reservoirs and emerge at the canal cottages at Overton and the usual end of the Greenock Cut with the Drumfrochar car park just beyond.

Across the bridge turn sharp right through an old, rusty, wrought-iron gate, and on to a clear path beside a very reedy canal! This follows the canal a short distance apparently to a stop at a railing. However, on the left of the path, before the railing, there are some wooden steps which bring you out on to the road to Whinhill Golf Course. Turn right here to High Murdieston, then keep on the Old Largs Road, ignoring the left turn to the Golf Clubhouse.

At the track sign-posted ‘Corlic Hill’ turn left and climb gently up past Whitelees Cottage and a radio mast with ever-opening views of the River Clyde. There is a clear track going off to the right, just before a five-bar gate and kissing gate, but you should go through the gate and continue on towards Corlic Hill (sign-posted 303 metres/1200 metres – one being the height and the other the distance to it). Just below Corlic Hill the LRT goes clearly onwards and upwards, but if you don’t want to climb up take a wooden stile beside a five-bar gate just above an extensive copse of trees surrounding the first of the two hamlets.

It is essential that you find the LRT here. It is well to the right of the outer horse chestnut tree of the hamlet. If you have wandered into the hamlet, you must come away to the right and then look for the beginning of the track. It is on a line looking towards a bluff rocky outcrop to the right of the next copse with its hamlet. Don’t try to cut across the reedy bog – it is difficult and very wet.

The LRT, once found, winds very clearly to the next copse of trees with the second of the two hamlets. This is surprisingly wild. At the cottages, I don’t think it matters which way round you go, but on the second reccé I took the right-hand path, then crossed in front of the cottages, down to a gate which opened and then over a low wire fence. There are sheep dipping fences which rather get in the way but you should be able to find a way round. You are making for a bright green path which is actually the top of a pipe leading to Gryffe No. 2 and the dam between the two reservoirs.

The path goes straight across the dam, with a reservoir on either side, and over a stile or through a five-bar gate on wheels which does open. Turn right on the forest path.

The forest path winds through a harvested plantation giving views on the left of the farm at Dowrie. At a T junction, turn right – there’s no other way through to the Old Largs Road from Dowrie. Your LRT now skirts Gryfe No. 2 reservoir before coming out on to the Old Largs Road again.

Turn left here and follow the road beside the reservoir to the junction. Here turn right towards the Cornalees Visitors’ Centre away from the Old Largs Road. Another mile and you’re at the cars.

Helensburgh to Balloch

This walk covers the first section of the new John Muir Way which opened in 2014 and stretches from Helensburgh to Dunbar, with a new link for 2015 from Dunbar to Cockburnspath to join up with The Southern Upland Way. To do this part in a day, you begin with an attractive walk along the end of Loch Lomond to Balloch Station to take the train to Helensburgh which is fun and has lovely views along the Clyde from Cardross to Helensburgh. It’s a bit of a drag up Sinclair Street, very pleasant around Hill House, flat but endless on the cycle track out of Helensburgh and then OK-ish up through the woods. The deciduous-wooded track is pleasant enough but does seem to go on for ages.

Then all-of-a-sudden it’s beautiful. There’s an optional viewpoint of Loch Lomond with the islands and the Ben as you’ve never seen them – which really is a must. On the other side of the ridge there are views back along the Clyde. However, it’s the Stoneymollen Road, an old coffin route, which makes the whole walk worthwhile. This is an ancient route, quoted in every book of walks in the west of Scotland, to carry the dead from Balloch to consecrated ground in Cardross.  Look for the base of a ‘cross’ stone on the left-hand side at a gate where you begin the descent. The base might also have been used to rest the coffin. The views of Loch Lomond are stunning..

 Park at the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway car-park in Balloch.

To get there, take the A82 (Great Western Road) through Anniesland, along the Boulevard, by-passing Dunbarton, up the dual carriage-way towards Loch Lomond to the big roundabout looking like a rack of lamb with birds. Turn right here (third exit) for Balloch. At the next roundabout, turn first left for Lomondshores, Balloch Centre, National Park etc. At the next roundabout go straight over to Lomondshores marked by a large slate entrance slab. At the next roundabout, ignore all the invitations to join the red, blue or green car-parks, but go right round the roundabout to take the road to the Maid of the Loch slipway. The road passes Lomondshores (on the left) and is soon designated as the route to the Duncan Mills Slipway. Continue over the next roundabout and turn in RIGHT to the public car park. (The car-park on the left is for trailers, launching boats etc.) Its about 17 miles and should take 35/40 minutes.

There are toilets at the car-park, in the main building. There is also a machine selling crisps and sweets. The café may be open, and if you arrive early the views of Loch Lomond and the Maid of the Loch are lovely. If you arrive late, there may be toilets on the train and definitely at Helensburgh, but not Dalreoch.

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The Train

There’s a suitable train at 10.53 from Balloch to Helensburgh changing at Dalreoch. You should allow 10 minutes to walk to the station and 10 minutes to buy the tickets. The trains are every half-hour so if you miss the 10.53 you don’t have too much of a wait.

The walk

At Helensburgh you emerge from the station following the signs on the right to ‘Hill House’ wiggle past the Co-op (?) and come out on to Sinclair Street where you turn right. The route actually starts at the pier but only the purists will want to go down and back up to find out! Follow Sinclair Street to Helensburgh Upper Station. Here turn left into Upper Colqhoun Street, turn sharp right at the end, with the road. This goes past Hill House (note the Rennie Macintosh lampposts along the verge!). Straight ahead are some woods and signposts which provide a range of options for walkers – The Three Lochs Way, The Helensburgh walkers’ circuit and, of course, the John Muir Way (JM). Follow the John Muir path which is all-too-short and brings you out on to the busy A818. There’s the possibility of walking off-road by the reservoirs just to add variety. Otherwise, cross the road to take advantage of the broad cycle path.

It’s a 1½ mile slog along the cycle path. The views across Glen Fruin towards the Lomond hills improve and towards the end the cycle path moves away from the road. At two JM signs, one for cyclists to go straight on and one for walkers to turn right, go right over a stile by a gate on to a wooded, clear and gently climbing track. It’s OK but there are no views and it does seem endless. However, it suddenly broadens out and you get your first views of the moorland. Astonishingly, there are two sturdy signposts – just as if you were on a real walk in real mountains!!! They point out the Three Lochs Way and the JM way, as well as a route down to Craigendoran!

A little further on is a path to the left going up to a viewpoint over Loch Lomond. This is definitely worth a detour – even on a drizzly day it is magical. You have to come down to return to the main path. Suddenly you’re at the edge of the Kiellator Ridge and a magnificently created, sturdy path going steeply down. The new path brings you out along the old, but upgraded one, with lovely views to the left across the loch.

The central bit of the moorland is a bit bleak where the commercial trees have been harvested. Turn sharp left, rather unexpectedly, to follow a lovely path beside some woods to emerge over-looking Loch Lomond at a gate. Just to the left is the base of a cross stone where the coffins were rested. Pause here and admire the view. Then make your way down the lovely Stoneymollan track to a metalled road. You can take a path to follow the stream down on your right to vary the descent.

Watch for the JM sign to the left to take you over a footbridge across the A82 going up Loch Lomondside. Follow the road to the left from the bottom of the steps and into a little hamlet. At the road turn left, and after 200 yards right, as way-marked, down through Lomond Shores (toilets). Go straight on to the lochside, curving to the left with the path. Then go straight on (ignoring the motor and paddle boats on your left) to the main road you drove in at the beginning of the day. Turn left to, and then straight over, the roundabout to get to the cars.