Strathblane to Kilsyth

Canal near Kilsyth

Canal near Kilsyth

A bit of good luck today: the Missus wanted to cycle to see the Falkirk Wheel and offered us a drop-off and pick-up: this meant we could do another linear section of the John Muir Trail. So we were back in Strathblane heading east. It was a lovely summer’s day and the only grit in the oyster was the memory that last time we did a section of the Forth-Clyde Canal the cycling hordes were a pain. Surely I was just in a bad mood then; it’ll be better today. Nope.

Dunglass

Dunglass

Strathblane Hills

Strathblane Hills

Looking west towards Strathblane

Looking west towards Strathblane

The first section from Strathblane is along the level, immaculate tarmac of the Strathkelvin Railway Path. This follows the edge of the Campsie Fells escarpment with lovely views north, east and west. Just outside the village is the volcanic plug of Dunglass: this is one seriously contorted piece of rock and it was easy to see why people were rock climbing on it. As the path nears Lennoxtown it starts to get enclosed by trees along the old railway. This has the disadvantage of losing the view of the Campsies but then helpfully blocking out the new, ugly housing that is spurting out here. However, the path is great and well looked after. At one point I thought the vegetation was starting to encroach a bit too much only to turn the next corner to find a council-chappy with a mower getting it back in shape – on a Saturday, too. Nice work East Dunbartonshire. This path is heavily overloaded 1 as it is part of the National Cycle Route, the John Muir Trail, the Strathkelvin Railway Path and the Thomas Muir Trail – this makes for very busy signposts. I have to admit the last chap was new to me but consulting Mr Google gave a pile of intestesting information 2 on this local lad, his political trial at the end of the 18th century, and his place as the head of Scottish Democratic reform – worth a read.

Looking east towards Lennoxtown

Looking east towards Lennoxtown

Old station platform, Lennoxtown

Old station platform, Lennoxtown

Having passed Milton of Campsie we turn south towards Kirkintilloch and we thought this would be good spot for lunch beside the Glazert Water. With the sandwiches dispatched 3 we were relaxing 4 when a piping call got my attention and a Kingfisher flew past a couple of metres away. Stunning. Pity Jazz missed it: she needed that for her list. We were therefore in good spirits as we followed the Strathkelvin to where it joins the Forth-Clyde Canal at Kirkintilloch.

Looking back along Campsie Fells

Looking back along Campsie Fells

Kilsyth Hills

Kilsyth Hills

I had a bad feeling when I saw that our lovely tarmac path had turned into the rough canal tow-path. And then we had the cyclists. We had them on the Strathkelvin but they were, on the whole, a decent bunch saying “thanks” as we gave them space. But not here. And so we came up with a modified version of our Friendliness Theorem: it isn’t the speed that is the main factor in determining friendliness – it’s how many kilometres they have cycled on the tow-path on badly padded bike seats – and from their attitude these people were suffering. Good.

Cattle beside the canal

Cattle beside the canal

And so we headed for Kilsyth muttering at the rude cyclists. The canal is also lined by trees and so we don’t have much of a view. The canal itself is pretty boring after a while: there were no boats on the water, and we only saw one bird: a Heron. Things did improve on the section after Twechar as the trees beside the canal were lovely and the sunlight was catching them nicely 5. There were also a herd of cattle wading in the reeds looking a bit like Scottish Water Buffalo. So it was good to finish and join up a couple of sections: we’d recommend the Strathkelvin section but not the canal part.

Previous section of JMT: Balloch to Strathblane
Next section of JMT: Kilsyth to Castlecary

Notes:

  1. As we say in the software biz.
  2. I’d include a link but I think you need to polish your online search skills.
  3. I make the best cucumber and tuna mayo sandwiches.
  4. Me reading the map; Jazz trying to catch fish – don’t ask.
  5. I must remember to come back in the Autumn to photograph them against the canal.
Distance:21km
Effort:
Scenery:
Do It Again:
Duration:4½ hours