Neilston & Newton Mearns
- Distance: 23km/14.25 miles
- Time: 2 hours
- Grade: Moderate
- Ordnance Survey Explorer OL342; Landranger 64
- Start at The Bank GR NS478572
The quiet back roads in and around Neilston offer excellent cycling and an attractive means of enjoying the local countryside. Certainly the scenery comes to the fore when following this route as it makes its way into Newton Mearns, via a designated cycle lane alongside a scenic section of the A77. Some stretches of busier B-roads and a couple of steepish climbs means this route is one for more experienced cyclists.
From The Bank follow Station Road to High Street and turn right. At Kirkton Road go left and after Neilston Bowling Club a short climb rises over a blind summit. A speedy drop leads to a sharp climb, but once the gradient eases the cycle continues high above Neilston, with superb views of Fereneze Braes and the Campsie Fells.
At a junction turn right onto Craigton Road from where a marvellous descent allows you to zip through gorgeous countryside, passing Walton Dam and a fine view of Neilston Pad. Keep on as Craigton Road winds through the landscape for a further 1.3 miles to reach Dodside Road (B769).
Make a left then right onto Malletsheugh Road and after 0.4 miles turn right onto Pilmuir Road. This quiet, narrow road winds its way past several cottages, an old quarry and mill, culminating at the A77.
Turn right onto a shared use cycle footpath and follow this south alongside the A77. En route the cycle lane crosses the entrance of both East Renfrewshire Golf Club and a refuse site and at both points watch for traffic entering or leaving.
After passing through an underpass beneath the M77 keep on for another 200m until opposite Mearns Road (signposted for Mearnskirk). Carefully cross the A77 and follow Mearns Road past the monument for Robert Pollock.
Pollock was a Scottish poet born at North Moorhouse, Eaglesham, in 1798. He gained international fame as the author of the monumental ‘The Course of Time’. Other works included ‘Tales of the Covenanters’. Unfortunately Pollok never lived to witness the success of his work as he died in 1827 from tuberculosis in Southampton. The memorial was unveiled in 1900.
After passing the entrance of Eastwood Golf Club a steady pull climbs through fine countryside. Beyond a garden centre the road drops gradually, granting superb views of Glasgow, the Kilpatrick Hills and the Southern Highlands, to gain a junction.
Turn left, take a bridge over the A726 then go left at a roundabout onto Mearns Road. As the road continues, go straight through the next 2 roundabouts then go left onto Eaglesham Road. This is easily followed to the centre of Newton Mearns at Mearns Cross.
Today Newton Mearns is the largest settlement in East Renfrewshire but its history stretches back to the 12th century when King David I granted Walter Fitzalan the lands of The Mearns. It is thought mearns translates from Gaelic ‘a’ Mhaoirne’, meaning ‘the stewardship’, signifying an area controlled by a steward – Fitzalan’s lands may have extended into the Stewarton district of Ayrshire and the surname Stewart means steward. Newton Mearns grew around its agriculture and by the 18th century quarrying and several textile mills were the dominant industries.
Go left onto the A77 then right onto Barrhead Road. At Netherplace Road turn left. At its far end the road narrows and continues to Hunter Drive. Go straight across onto a paved path, which then opens back out onto Netherplace Road and continue through an avenue of beech trees. Just before a farmhouse turn right (still Netherplace Road) and keep on under the M77.
Soon after the road sweeps sharp right and drops down to what was once Netherplace Bleachworks.
This opened in the early 19th century. When it operated as a bleachworks and calico printing works it employed over 400 workers.
Follow Netherplace Road to Stewarton Road. Go right then left onto Fingalton Road, a marvellous, narrow country road which sweeps along, high above Glasgow and grants superb panoramic views, as far afield as Ben More and Stob Binnien above Crianlarich.
Once over Fingalton Bridge, which crosses the fast-flowing Brock Burn, Glanderston Road continues through more spectacular scenery for just over 1 mile to Springhill Road. Keep left and take a deceptively steep climb to Kirkton Road. Turn right and retrace tracks back to The Bank.