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!
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.
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.