Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Central Glasgow to Milngavie

This was to be the last day of walking in 2013, with the modest objective of reaching the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie (pronounced mull-GUY), a suburb some six miles North of the city centre. The route was to be by the Kelvin Way, which follows the River Kelvin for most of the way, and then the Allender Way for the last quarter of the walk. It’s marked on the map as both a footpath and cycle way.

A view from the Kelvin Walkway
And so it is for the first section, which runs through the valley of the Kelvin, a moderately sized river, through Glasgow’s Western suburbs. There were plenty of dog-walkers and cyclists, but no other obvious long-distance travellers. It’s pleasant enough walking, with the city largely hidden behind trees, and much of it is parkland. It also goes through the City’s Botanical Garden and arboretum.

At Maryhill the path leaves the river, and cuts the corner to rejoin the Kelvin a couple of kilometres away to the North of Summerston, a much newer suburb.

Glasshouses in the Glasgow Botanical Gardens
There the character of the path changes. It’s no longer a metalled path, but a muddy riverside walk, which involves pushing through waist-high vegetation and dodging nettles for much of the next few kilometres. After half an hour of this the path enters a wood, where at lest there was he vestige of an old road. Then one reaches the A879, which is busy and dangerous for walking. So it was more of the riverside path.

More of the invasive Himalayan Balsam that's all
around Glasgow's rivers
The Kelvin Walkway involves a great loop to the East, with the result that it’s probably twice the distance as by road. It’s also obvious that after the A879 it’s no longer a cycleway, so goodness knows why it’s marked as such. It’s not even much of a path. For most of the next couple of miles it’s more wading through vegetation with uncertain footing – very slow going. I don’t think I’ve had a more overgrown route since walking along the Severn near Bristol last year. It was astonishing that I didn’t get more badly stung and scratched. I certainly regretted not having walking poles, as I’d expected a totally flat and easy route. Poles serve the additional purpose of pushing offending vegetation out of the way.

At last this overgrown section was over – and the reward was the Tickled Trout, a pub just off the riverbank. Here I had a very welcome pint.

The final stretch into Milngavie
Then it was time for the last two miles into Milngavie. This was much easier, and the first time that I had seen anyone else walking the path. In the centre of the town there were reassuring signs that this was indeed the start of the West Highland Way.

I arrived at the station just in time to catch a train back to Glasgow. There I visited the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art - GoMA, to mirror New York’s MOMA, but in my view little to recommend the visit apart from the building itself. Then it was back to the Argyll Hotel to change out of my boots and retrieve my luggage, and a taxi to the central station for my train back to London.

The start of the challenge for 2014!
This was a wonderful, comfortable trip – First Class for £33.50. The complementary dinner and drinks alone would have cost more in many establishments. The train was less than half full, and it was a fine way to finish the week, hurtling through continuous rain which I would have had to experience if my walk in Scotland had lasted a day longer.

So, that’s it for 2013. No blisters, and the hip  has held up well – though Ibuprofen has been a real help. I had only one minor cramp attack, unusually when actually walking rather than in the night. And after spending most of the last few days walking East to West, I’m ready to resume in a Northerly direction next year.

Very bright and promising to start, but cloud building steadily, so that apart from a brief sunny spell at lunchtime it was overcast. 17-20C. 16.96km. Max altitude 63m, but mainly below 30m. 119m of ascents, 95m of descents. Good paved paths until re-joining the River Kelvin North of Summerston, but then a rough riverside walk and extremely difficult going for about 5km. A good path for the final 3km into Milngavie.

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