Neilston & Cowden Hall
- Distance: 2.75km/1.75 miles
- Time: 30 mins
- Grade: Easy
- Ordnance Survey Explorer OL342; Landranger 64
- Start at The Bank GR NS478572
A straightforward cycle through Neilston and along the edge of Cowden Hall Estate. This route is ideal for families with younger children or less experienced cyclists. Parts of the route are off road, and any steeper sections can be walked on pavement if necessary.
From The Bank make a right and follow Main Street as it descends for 0.2 miles to reach Holehouse Brae. Turn right and drop down this steep road (a pavement means it can be walked) with the conspicuous white façade of Crofthead Mill and the long line of Fereneze Braes ahead. Watch your speed as it is picked up quickly.
Just before the old mill go left onto Crofthead Road.
Crofthead Mill was the biggest of several cotton mills that once utilised a short section of the Levern Water. The original mill opened in 1792 but was later destroyed by fire – the building we see today was constructed in early 1880’s.
During the late 19th/early 20th century Crofthead Mill employed several hundred people, primarily from Neilston and the local area. The listed building ceased to function as a mill in 1992 although today its ground floor is home to several businesses.
Follow Crofthead Road, flanked on either side by high walls, as it rises gradually; there are a couple of blind bends so be aware of any traffic. The surging waters of the Levern Water, a river crucial in the development of Neilston during the industrial revolution, can be heard nearby.
Keep on past the lovely whitewashed row of Crofthead Cottages. After the last cottage cycle through a gap in-between a fence and wall into Cowden Hall Estate.
The estate was once home to Crofthead House, which was built by Robert Orr, owner of Crofthead Mill, in 1860. The family resided here until 1914 after which it was used as a convalescent home during World War I. At one time the house was surrounded by a bowling green, tennis court and a walled garden. Today several paths run through the estate, which is joy to explore on foot.
To continue the cycle route, keep straight on along a track, one that offers easy, enjoyable cycling and great views of Neilston Pad, the highest point of the village.
At its end go around a gate then turn left over an old stone bridge that crosses the Levern Water and take the rough track of Uplawmoor Road as it climbs gradually. At the top make a left onto the main Uplawmoor Road, back towards Neilston village centre.
Another measured climb takes you past Brig o’ Lea Stadium, home to Neilston Juniors.
Formed in 1945 The Farmer’s Boys played their first match at Brig o’ Lea on the 18th of August 1945 where they thrashed Kilmarnock Juniors 9-0 (the team were originally called Neilston Football Club and played their first match in 1877 at Broadlie Park, which is near to where Station Road is today). Perhaps the greatest footballer to play for Neilston Juniors was Peter Weir, who won 2 Premier League titles and 3 Scottish Cups with Aberdeen during the reign of Alex Fergusson in the 1980’s.
A brief descent past the stadium leads onto Main Street and a short journey back to The Bank.