All posts by Glenda A. White

Saturday, 11th January: Almondell Country Park

I’m afraid, the countryside is really muddy – in stretches quite dangerously – so after two reccés I’ve left the advertised walk for later in the year when, hopefully, some of the mud will have dried. Instead, I’ve resorted to tried and tested routes in roughly the same area. and we’ll have a relaxed start to the year.

Please meet in the car-park just beyond the Visitors’ Centre in Almondell Country Park at 10.30. (We have permission to drive CAREFULLY – IT’S ONE WAY AND THERE ARE PEDESTRIANS) down the main drive to park on the right in an open space beyond the Visitors’ Centre.

Getting to the park is very simple and should take about 50 minutes from Glasgow. Leave Glasgow on the M8 heading east towards Edinburgh and stay put for about 30 miles until JUNCTION 3 (not Junction 3A which you come to first) where you leave on the left to take the A899 to Livingston (and West Calder). You swing around the slip road, back over the motorway and come to the roundabout with a whalebone structure in the centre. Take the first exit down the main Livingston dual carriageway but after 800 yards take the road to the left sign-posted Pumpherston and Uphall Stations. (There are a pile of Livingstone estate names – ignore these!). You come down to a main road where you turn left and at the roundabout also take the first exit on to Houston Road and the Houston Industrial Estate. At the traffic lights, go straight on – now sign-posted for the Country Park.

Go past a new housing estate and then travel about a mile along an increasingly countrified road to a cross-roads. There’s a big sign to Broxburn pointing left, a country road straight on but the sign for Almondell Country park is hidden until you’ve actually turned right! Drive down this single-track country estate road till you come to the Estate Entrance. Go past the North car-park, through the two-pillared Estate entrance, and down the drive past the Visitors’Centre. There are toilets here – and for once, we’ll have coffee!

The walk: First Half 3.25 miles

We go down to the river’s edge and turn right along the river to the magnificent Nasmyth Bridge which we cross, taking the main drive up to the South Car Park. Here we turn right for a short distance and then re-enter the park to walk through open farm land to the Camps Viaduct and the wonderful views of the River Almond below. This time, instead of taking the steps down as usual, we continue along what was an old miners’ path for about 0.7 miles, turning left at a junction of paths, through a gate and continuing through open farmland. This takes us along Powies’ Path (a track) to good steps back down to the main path in the Country Park. We turn left here picking up the canal feeder (see Second Half). We go under the viaduct and through a curious structure to protect walkers from anything falling from aloft. We then cross a bridge over the River Almond with the canal feeder under the footway. A good path takes us back to Nasmyth Bridge and the Visitors’ Centre.

Lunch: I have booked a room in the Visitors’ Centre from 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm for lunch in case it’s raining.

The Walk cont: Second Half 3.25 miles.

After lunch we go back down to the river and turn left to the Mandella Swing Bridge. A short, steep climb takes us up to the canal feeder again. This is a flat walk, in good condition, with lovely views across the River Almond and with the water running along beside us. There are several styles and one short very muddy stretch.

The path brings us to a set of steps now, I’m told very firmly, in the care of Edinburgh Council. I found these difficult but I did get up! If you prefer, you could turn round here. Once up, we continue a short way to the Lin Mill Aqueduct, again with magnificent views across the valley.

If you want to go under the canal to the other side, either return to a path sloping down or go down the stone steps (with a rail) immediately beside the stone wall of the canal. Then go under the canal and at some very tall gates, go up the stone steps on the right to bring you to the other side. We come back the same way.

We’re booked in the Deer Park Beafeater for a meal at 4.30 just before the M8 and on the way home. To get there, go back up the main drive to the entrance, turn left and go back the way you came to the Houston Interchange. Go straight on following blue signs to the M8 to Edinburgh and Glasgow. At the slip road on the left, signposted M8, just on the bend, watch for traffic coming from the right, and again on the dual carriageway. You don’t have right of way. Come back to the roundabout with the whalebone structure and take the first left to the Services and the Beefeater. Afterwards, to go home, it’s the first left to the M8 to Glasgow.

A walk around the Kelpies

The walk starts at Helix Park, just north of Falkirk, and after passing The Kelpies takes to the south side of the River Carron westwards towards the site of the old Carron Iron Works. The walk is about 8 miles and mainly flat.

Near Mungal the route crosses to the north bank of the river and picks up a cycle path along a disused waterway. Near Camelon the route re-crosses the River Carron and traverses a cemetery before joining the Forth & Clyde Canal for the return journey to the start point.

Starting Point:

OS Reference NS 904 814 which is the first car park at Helix Park.

Getting there: 30 miles/41 minutes

Take your favourite route out of Glasgow towards the M80 (Stirling).  Exit M80 onto M876 (Falkirk).  Continue on M876 and join M9 (Edinburgh).  Leave the M9 at Junction 6 (just past the Kelpies on the right) onto A905 (Falkirk).  At the traffic lighted junction approach in the left hand lane and turn right, then get in the middle lane.  At Earl’s Gate Roundabout turn right (A904 Falkirk) going under the M9. On exiting the roundabout move to the right hand lane and continue to the Westfield Roundabout.  Turn right onto the A9.  At the Etna Road Roundabout turn right into Helix Park.  The free car park is on the left.  Toilet facilities are at the Kelpies Information Centre where there is a café. 

The walk, which is essentially flat, starts from the car park and heads towards the Kelpies.  Head for the right side of the Kelpies and follow the path over the canal and skirt the sewage works before enjoying a good path through woodland and wetland – the River Carron is on the right.  After crossing the Bainsford Burn there is a crossroad of paths.  

For a 3 mile walk turn left and follow the path south through woodland eventually exiting onto Abbots Road close to a roundabout.  Cross the A9 using the underpass and continue down an unnamed road.  At the canal turn left and rejoin the main routeø.

Continue straight on and past some artworks.  The path then resumes it way adjacent to the River Carron before skirting some habitation and heading into Cobblebrae Community Woodland.  Exit the woodland and take the underpass (under the Carron Road), past a place of worship, and at the bridge turn right.  

For a 5 mile walk turn left (Stenhouse Road) then after a short distance merge right onto Carron Road (B902).  Continue down Carron Road and into Main Street and at Bainsford turn left onto the canal towpath and rejoin the main routeø.  

Having crossed the River Carron turn immediately left onto a small road.  This is still used so take care.  Continue past the Carron Phoenix works and take a gently rising path to the right.  For a loop around the Carron Dams bare right and downhill off the tarmac path. This optional extension adds 1 mile to the walk.  The path is generally good but includes sections of netted boardwalk.  Exit the Carron Dams loop by climbing a flight of steps and turning right to rejoin the main path.  Continue on this path as it follows the route of an overgrown lade.  When the path meets a narrow lane turn left.  After about 500 metres cross the bridge onto the south side of the River Carron and follow the tarmac path as it swings to the left – playing fields are on the right.  At the top corner turn left and take the inclined walkway up to the cemetery. Head towards the south-east corner of the cemetery and follow the Exit signs.  At the cemetery entrance turn briefly left, cross Dorrator Road and head up the lane opposite, past the Rugby Football Club and onto the grass (with the playing field on the left) and then go slightly downhill to join another tarmac path.  Turn left on joining the path and follow it to the main road (A9).  Cross the road using the protected crossing area and head for the minor road which is only a short distance away.  Turn right and just before the Clyde & Forth Canal turn left onto the towpath.  Follow this for about 4km, passing Bainsfordø, until reaching Helix Park.  Cross the canal and head back towards the car park or for a more interesting end to the walk, cross the access road and take the broad boardwalk pass the ponds back to the car park.

Making an Impression

This circular walk from Clachan of Campsie makes use of the Strathkelvin Railway path and is mainly flat but can be a little muddy in places. The route taken is through an area steeped in history, and an industrial past, when Lennoxtown was a thriving village with a print works. It then turns away from the flat path and makes gradually for a viewpoint of the beautiful Blane Valley, and then winds through the grounds of the old Lennox estate with the ruined castle before ending up in the grounds of a peaceful retreat. The adventurous can also walk to waterfalls from the Campsie Hills.

Starting Point:

The starting point is at OS Reference NS 610 795 which is the parking area at Clachan of Campsie.  

Getting there: 16 miles/32 minutes

Take your favourite route out of Glasgow towards the A81 and head for Milngavie.  Continue on the A81 to Strathblane and at the roundabout turn right onto A891 (Lennoxtown).  Follow this road until Clachan of Campsie is reached and turn left (signposted Campsie Glen). Continue up this road (which is a dead end) until the small parking area next to the bus terminus.  There is also plenty of parking on the road.  There is a public toilet (20p) to the right of the small shops. 

The Walk:  Clachan of Campsie Circular – 8 miles/13 km

The walk is mainly level, on signed paths with one steeper section in the middle.  For those who would prefer a shorter walk, there are various options.

Head back down the road towards the A891 and turn right, crossing the busy road with care to take the signed path (Thomas Muir Way) in the direction of Lennoxtown.  Follow this track which becomes both the Strathkelvin Railway path and the John Muir Trail.  Continue on this until the sign for Glazert Country House Hotel where there are toilets.

After making use of the facilities, return to the path and take the track opposite.  Continue on this as it becomes a little rougher and steeper until a T junction with South Brae is reached and turn left.  Continue uphill until the road evens out and keep going straight on (signed Lennox Forest Walks). Pass a car park on the right and follow the rougher track forward until a fork in the path.  There is a smaller trail straight ahead and this leads towards Blairskaith Muir.  A trig point lies to the right and a distinct path towards it can be seen after crossing a fence. There are great views from here of the Blane Valley towards Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps. 

Retrace the path till it returns to the main track and turn left.  Continue down this track, keeping to left at any junctions and passing Lennox Castle (a ruin).  Continue on this path until it becomes the Thomas Muir Way and head towards the A891 but turn left to follow the path along the burn, around the back of cottages to Haughhead and the main road.  Cross the road into Schoenstatt, and take the footpath to the right across the bridge, through woodland, across a second bridge, through a garden and then to the right up to large wrought iron gates.  Turn right out of the grounds onto Knowehead Road.  Follow the road to the end and turn left to arrive at Clachan of Campsie.  To visit Campsie Glen, river and waterfalls, follow path right around the back of the bicycle shop – an extra half mile. 

Coasting

This walk from Prestwick to Barassie takes you along the seashore with views of the Clyde coast and reminds you that in years gone by, such an outing as this would have been a welcome opportunity for families from Glasgow to take the sea air! The walk will start on the seafront and follows the Ayrshire Coastal Path.  The walk is flat and approximately 9 miles with opportunities along the way for an ice-cream or a cuppa.

Starting Point:
The starting point is at OS Reference NS 345 263 which is the Links Road Car Park, Prestwick opposite the 2nd flight of steps to the dune path. This is adjacent to the old swimming pool (now a play area).

Getting there: 35 miles/50 minutes
Take your favourite route out of Glasgow to join the M8 and then the M77 (Kilmarnock/Prestwick Airport). Continue onto A77 at Fenwick. At the Dutch House Roundabout, take 3rd exit onto A78 (Irvine/Prestwick) and at the next roundabout (Monktonhead) take 2nd exit onto A79 (Prestwick Airport). Continue on the A79 (passing two more roundabouts) and at the Shawfarm Roundabout take the 3rd exit continuing on A79 (Ayr/Prestwick). At the traffic lights in Prestwick turn right towards the seafront (Station Road). Pass Prestwick Town Station (on the right), go under the bridge and at the bottom of the road (observing the toilets on the right) go right towards the parking area. Parking & toilets are free.

The Walk: Prestwick to Barassie – 8.3 miles (other routes [2.7 miles to 10.5 miles] also available)
This walk mainly follows the Ayrshire Coastal Path (ACP) along or near the dunes/shoreline.

Starting from the car park, climb the second set of steps and turn left to join the path that leads to the dunes. The sea will be on the left and the golf course on the right. At a junction of paths with directional arrows to left and right (both for the ACP) continue onwards through the dunes on the path that bears and climbs slightly right. The practice area of the golf course will now be on the right. The sandy path takes a loop around the headland returning with the Pow Burn on the left. Depending on the state of the tides there is the option to paddle across the Pow Burn close to where it joins the sea. To do this descend through the dunes to the seashore and turn right. NOTE: Walkers choosing to do this do so entirely at their own risk!

If you want to keep your feet dry continue on the loop emerging onto the golf practice area and bearing left onto an obvious grass path. At the gravel path turn left [1] (now the ACP) and cross the Pow Burn. Close to the entrance to the Holiday Park go through a kissing gate and turn left. The tarmac drive leads into a grass path. Go through a gate and onto another sandy path with another golf course on the right. This path emerges onto the seashore where those undertaking a paddle should be waiting. Continue along the seashore until the southern outskirts of Troon. Join the promenade for the walk into Troon – part of it is sheltered from a westerly breeze. Toilets 20p. (End the route at Troon Station for a 4.8 mile walk). Continue round South Bay and at Port Ronnald climb the grass bank for excellent views over the Firth of Clyde and Glennon Brothers Group (timber processing). Follow Port Ranald Drive and North Shore Road round North Bay. After entering an extensive grass area return to the seashore and turn right. At the Barassie Burn turn right and at the cycle path turn left and follow it to its end opposite Hillhouse Road. Continue up the road, under the bridge [2] and turn right into Barassie Station. Return to Prestwick Town by train from Platform 2.

Options:

[1] For a 2.7 mile walk, turn right at this point (also the ACP) and follow this back into and across the dunes (passing the directional signs previously encountered) and at the seashore turn left. Join the promenade and return to the car park.

[2] For a 10.5 mile walk, ignore the station and continue under the second bridge and into Adam’s Gate. Cross B746 (Kilmarnock Road) at the lights and turn right. As the street path rises take the downward path on the left. It soon turns left to parallel the railway. Continue past Marr College to the junction with A759 (Dundonald Road) and turn right. Take the first left into Harling Drive and continue to Troon Station. Return to Prestwick Town by train.

Circumnavigation

This circular summer walk around Loch Leven takes in many beautiful spots including varied woods and marshland.  It is particularly renowned for its birdlife.  There are several opportunities for caféstops along the way! The ruined Loch Leven Castle sits on a small island in the loch and can be visited by ferry (from Kinross pier) in the summer.  Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here in 1567.  The largest island, St Serf’s, has the remains of an Augustinian Priory founded in 1150.Loch Leven is a National Nature Reserve and the route skirts the RSPB Loch Leven Reserve which sits on its southern shore.  Ospreys fish in the loch in the summer and there are also red squirrels.

Starting Point:

The starting point is at OS Reference NO 125 019 which is the parking area, near the toilet, at Kirkgate, Kinross (see map >).  

Getting there: 47 miles/60 minutes

Take your favourite route out of Glasgow to M8 (Edinburgh) and exit at Jct 13 onto M80 towards Stirling.  Continue on M80 until Jct 8 where the road splits – keep to the left and continue onto M876 (signed Kincardine Bridge).  Continue on M876 and merge onto M9 for a short distance leaving at Jct 7 back onto M876 (Kincardine Bridge).  At the roundabout take the second exit (A876) and cross the Firth of Forth.  At the Kilbagie Roundabout turn left (A977) and at the Gartarry Roundabout take 3rd exit and stay on A977.  Continue on A977 and at the roundabout on the outskirts of Kinross go straight on (2nd exit) onto A922.  Note the tourist sign for Loch Leven Heritage Trail.  At the next roundabout go straight on (Kinross).  This is now Station Road (B918).  Go straight on at small mini-roundabout and at the end of the road go right at the large mini-roundabout into High Street (B996).  Continue down this cobbled street and take the 3rd left (after passing the hotel) into Burns-Begg Street (signed Kirkgate Park).  Take second turning on left into Kirkgate (signed Kirkgate Park).  Continue along this narrow one lane road into the park and head for the second parking area opposite the toilet (20p).  Parking is free.

The Walk:  Loch Leven Heritage Trail – 10.0 miles (shorter if the small hill detour is omitted)

The walk is level, except for the detour, and follows the Heritage Trail in a counterclockwise direction from the Kirkgate car park towards the Boathouse and a cashmere factory.  The path continues and winds through fields with the loch on the left and views of Castle Island.  Although the path veers away from the loch side the next section is popular with nesting sand martins and in the spring and summer the fields are often busy with lapwings, oyster- catchers and other birds.  

Continue onwards along the path for just less than 4 miles until a covered viewing area is reached.  This is slightly raised and may be a suitable place for lunch before arriving at the RSPB Visitor Centre at Vane Farm.  Here the RSPB has set up an excellent viewing area upstairs with telescopes, enthusiastic staff, and a café- this is free.  However, if you wish to enter the reserve and visit the hides there is an entrance fee (unless you are an RSPB member).  You can have coffee here and stay to enjoy the sights.

RSPB Visitor Centre Amenities

Viewing screen past picnic area allows close-up views of birds using feeders.  

Indoor viewing area in café.  Telescopes, including one adjustable, overlook Loch Leven.  

Three hides on Wetland Trail.  Live birdfeeder camera action shown on large screen in café.  

Those wanting a elevated view over Loch Leven can continue on the Woodland Trail (1 mile) which leads through birch woods to a viewpoint at the top of Vane Hill (248m) and then back to the Visitor Centre.  From the RSPB Visitor Centre retrace your steps along the Heritage Trail to the Boathouse and then to the parking area at Kirkgate.

Those wanting a much shorter route can stop at the Boathouse and get a ferry to Castle Island and visit Lochleven Castle which has an interesting history.  The ferry (maximum 12 people per trip) is weather dependent.  There is an entrance fee but it is free to Historic Environment Scotland members.  Booking is recommended. 

Alternatively, another walk option is a circular signed walk (3 miles) going clockwise from the parking area.

Drymen in the Highlands

This walk takes you from Drymen along the West Highland Way through Garadbhan Forest towards Conic Hill, descending to Milton of Buchanan and returning via Buchanan Castle grounds.

The ruined country house, Buchanan Castle, was built c1852.  The house replaced Mugdock Castle as the official seat of Clan Graham. Sold in 1925 it was used as a hospital during the Second World War.  The roof was removed in 1954 which accelerated its deterioration.

The walk takes you through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park which covers some of Scotland’s most-loved locations including Ben Lomond.  Conic Hill, with a summit at at 361m, sits above Balmaha.  On a good day it provides an excellent viewpoint.

Meeting Point:

Take your favourite route towards Bearsden Cross then follow the A811, then B858, to Drymen.  In Drymen turn right at the Green into Stirling Road and the car park is a couple of hundred metres on the right. From Glasgow it’s about 17 miles and should take about 35 minutes by car.

Start at OS Reference NS 475 886 which is the car park in Stirling Road, Drymen.  

The Walk: Drymen and Garadhban Forest- 9.0 miles

Turn right from the car park and continue along Stirling Road to the sign for the West Highland Way (WHW).  Turn left and then follow the WHW until leaving the Garadhban Forest.  There are fine views here of Conic Hill and across Loch Lomond.  Next, reverse the outward route for about half a mile until a cross roads.  Turn right and walk past Creity Hall (just a farmhouse) down to the main road at Milton of Buchanan.  Turn left onto the B837 and after crossing a bridge turn right at a way-mark sign onto the ‘Gort Daraich Walk’.  Then turn left towards Buchanan Old House and skirt most of the housing at Buchanan Castle.  Having left the housing behind turn left towards Buchanan Home Farm.  Just before the farm turn right onto a track/minor road through woodland to emerge on the B858.  Turn left and head north towards The Square, Stirling Road and the car park.

Going Forth in Aberfoyle

This walk in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park near Aberfoyle will take in the beauty of this part of Scotland.

Aberfoyle is a gateway to the Trossachs and is well known for Rev Robert Kirk and his book “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies”.  This book was written in 1681 but not published until much later, 1861. Perhaps he should be equally remembered for an early translation of the Psalter in Gaelic (1684).

The plan is to exploresome of the forest trails to the south of the town.  Aberfoyle has plentiful parking and it is from here that the walk will start.  Public toilets are available near the main car park.

Starting Point:

The starting point is at OS Reference NN 520 009 which is the car park behind the Forth Inn at Aberfoyle.  

Getting there: 25 miles/50 minutes

Take your favourite route out of Glasgow towards Strathblane on the A81 (or towards Carbeth on the A809 and turn right onto the B834 and then left to join the A81 towards Aberfoyle).  At the Rob Roy Hotel by the roundabout on the outskirts of Aberfoyle turn left (A821) and in the town centre turn left at the sign Parking/Scottish Wool Centre.  Parking is free and there are toilets.

The Walk:  Aberfoyle Forest Trails – 9.0 miles (There are options for shorter walks of 2.8/4.5 or 7.5 miles)

The route starts by leaving the car park by the west exit.  Turn left into Manse Road and cross the River Forth onto the Rob Roy Way. Pass Aberfoyle Old Church and Burial Ground on the left, then ignore the road on the left and continue onwards. Bare right where the road splits ignoring the track on the left signed Downhill Fairy Trailand enter Loch Ard Forest.  Continue on and ignore the path on the right.  After a further 100m turn right off the Rob Roy Way.

Continue on this track and at the next junction turn left; then right at the next junction.  At the cross-roads, 1for a short walk turn right and return through Kirkton to the start point.  For the main route continue go straight on and at the next junction turn left.  The track passes Lochan Spling on the left before a short climb along the west side of Creag nam Fairenean.  Ignore the tracks to the left and to the right before gradually descending, via a series of meanders, to cross the Duchray Water. The track then emerges at the Forest Car Park near the hamlet of Milton.

2For the 4.5 mile route turn right towards Milton and pick up the route in the next paragraph. For the full walk turn left from the Car Park and head south west, passing Dalzell Wood on the right, and intermittently parallel the Duchray Water.  Ignoring the tracks going off to the left continue on the forest track as it gently climbs to Lochan a’ Ghleannain.  There is a scenic area at the east end of the lochan.

3For the 7.5 mile route turn right, away from the Lochan a’ Ghleannain, and return to the Forest Car Park and then on to Milton for the last leg of the route (see below).  For the full route, continue anticlockwise around the lochan, ignoring the tracks going off to the right.  Once past Creag Bhreac ignore the track on the left, then at the next junction turn right and shortly afterwards turn left.  As the track approaches Loch Ard turn right and follow this track, often close to the shore, back to Milton.  2,3At the hamlet of Milton turn right onto B829 (Aberfoyle) for the final level footpath that leads back to the starting point.