Dams to Darnley

  • Distance: 12.25km/9 miles
  • Time: 1 hour 45 mins
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer OL342; Landranger 64
  • Start at The Bank GR NS478572

or, alternatively

  • Distance: 11km/7 miles
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Grade: Easy
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer OL342; Landranger 64
  • Start at Balgraystone Road Car Park GR NS507573

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The tracks through the magnificent Dams to Darnley Country Park bestow excellent cycling and this route offers 2 options, one easy, the other a little longer and more energetic. The first option leaves from The Bank and utilises quiet, scenic roads on either side of a ride through Dams to Darnley.

There are some steep ascents on this route. The 2nd option leaves from Balgraystone car park and makes its way through Dams to Darnley, using the predominantly off-road tracks, to reach the historic Darnley Sycamore.

There are a couple of steady pulls on the return journey and one busy road to cross. Whatever route taken the scenery and wildlife are exceptional.

From The Bank, turn left onto Main Street, cycle through the village and turn right onto Kirktonfield Road. When the road narrows cyclists must give way to oncoming traffic. A speedy descent soon reaches a roundabout and here bear left onto Springfield Road.

Once through traffic lights sweep right alongside Sykes Terrace before a steep pull climbs over a blind summit. Continue along Springfield Road enjoying some far-reaching views, keeping straight on at 5-Ways Junction. After another 0.4 miles turn right and ascend Balgraystone Road over a blind summit.

Once under a railway bridge and past the entrance of Balgraystone Road car park turn left into Dams to Darnley Country Park (option 2 directions begin here).

Follow the cycle/walkway anti- clockwise around Balgray Reservoir, the easy, cycling letting you enjoy some superb scenery; the views across Glasgow to the Campsie Fells and Southern Highlands are beautiful. Lapwing, ringed plover, redshank, common sandpiper and great-crested grebe may be seen.

After 1 mile carefully cross the busy Aurs Road, bear left onto a paved track and descend alongside the Brock Burn (although off-road keep an eye out for works traffic). The track soon curves right (signposted Waulkmill Glen and Nitshill Road Darnley) beside a spectacular waterfall and crosses the Brock Burn. Here it runs alongside Ryat Linn.

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This was one of a number of reservoirs built in the 19th century, utilising the Brock Burn, to provide clean water for the villages along the south side of the River Clyde.

When the track splits keep left, descend under a red brick railwayviaduct then sweep left past Waulkmill Reservoir to another fork. Go left and drop down through the fine woodland of Waulkmill Glen along an access road – this can be slippy with leaves so keep the speed down.

Once around a barrier the narrow, Corselet Road continues (again be aware of traffic), descending gradually through open countryside. As Darnley is approached keep on past a number of houses to reach Nitshill Road (A726) at Darnley.

Standing opposite is the magnificent and historic Darnley Sycamore. It is reputedly where Mary, Queen of Scots nursed her cousin (and future husband), Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, back to health in the mid- 16th century.

Return to Balgraystone Car Park, taking into account a couple of steepish ascents.
To continue option 1 turn left from the car park onto Balgraystone Road, which ascends past the ruin
of a cottage; there is also a great view across Balgray Reservoir.

After this a sustained rise of 0.4 miles culminates at a junction. Turn right and follow Glanderston Road, with the pronounced outline of Duncarnock Fort ahead.

Known locally as The Craigie its 204-metre summit holds the visible remains of an iron-age fort and its association with humans extends back to prehistoric times. It is also said that Mary, Queen of Scots enjoyed the remarkable panorama from its top.

Continue along Glanderston Road taking in an amazing vista of Glasgow, the Campsie Fells, the Kilpatrick Hills and Ben Lomond.

The road bears right past a farm after which a short, sharp rise passes the entrance road of Glanderston Dam, which used to be the water source for Springhill Bleachfield’s and South Arthurlie Printworks.
At Springhill Road turn left where the thighs receive another good workout as a steep pull reaches Kirkton Road on the right. Take this narrow road as it winds its way above Neilston (watch out for traffic).

After the road descends past the entrance of Kirkton Mill Cottage a final steep ascent returns to Neilston. At Kingston Road go right then left onto Station Road and return to Main Street and The Bank.