Greenock Cut

Jazz at bridge over the Cut

Today felt like the first day of Spring and for a change we headed north to do the circular walk around the Greenock Cut.  This is a great piece of engineering completed in 1827 that takes water from reservoirs in the hills above Greenock along a channel down to the town following the contours. The weather was lovely and we noticed our first frog-spawn of the year, Skylarks singing, and Buzzards doing display flights.

Washing over Greenock

Greenock Cut at Overton

We parked at the Visitor Centre and headed north past the Compensation Reservoir and Loch Thom down to the edge of Greenock at Overton.  Here we join the Cut for the 9km path back to the Visitor Centre.  Admittedly, Greenock isn’t the prettiest place but the view over the Clyde to the sea lochs, and the hills around Loch Lomond is superb. The Cut is perhaps 2m wide and has a raised embankment all the way along its length with a well-maintained path.  The Cut has various streams feeding into it and various sluice-gates to control the flow along various sections.  The water is clear and flowing: well, until a certain Springer Spaniel decides to have a swim. 1

Showers over the Clyde

First frog-spawn of the year

We followed the Cut in an anti-clockwise direction at roughly the 160m contour. This is sufficiently high to look over Greenock to the hills of the Cowal.  Eventually we leave Greenock and get views over to the Isle of Bute and the lower Clyde: much better.  We could also see the rain showers coming in from the west, but we stayed dry all day – even a little warm in the sunshine.  The problem with doing the walk in this direction is that you are continually climbing.  I know the gradient is shallow but the effect of the slight incline and the water flowing past is like the monks climbing the infinite staircasein an Escher print.  As we near the Visitor Centre the Cut passes a lovely tree-lined gorge where the outflow from the reservoir goes.  This would be worth seeing in spring or autumn.

Kelly Cut

Sluice gate screw on Kelly Cut

After returning to the car we still had a lot of time and it was such a lovely day that we decided to walk the Kelly Cut: another aqueduct that comes into the Compensation Reservoir.  Unfortunately this is a linear walk (there and back the same way) and not so well maintained.  It is very muddy and in places the Cut and its embankment are merging.  We followed it for a couple of miles but with sheep on the moor Jazz had to be on the lead and so not a happy camper. The views over to Bute were nice though, even if the path is currently not worth it.

This is a great walk, mostly on the level along a well-maintained path, with great views over to the highland hills (especially if you can avoid Greenock).


  1. The residents of Greenock have been told to boil their drinking water for a few days as a precaution.
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