This is a short leg that proves an easy and wonderful introduction to the West Highland Way. It does not waste any time in leaving the town and climbing up into the Mugdock Country Park. After leaving the park it follows Allander Water for a short period before passing Craigallian Loch. It then descends to cross the River Blane and join the course of the Blane Valley Railway for a few miles.
At Gartness it leaves the old railway line and follows a road which curves to take a northerly course, climbing before falling down into a valley. A short stretch of path then climbs to reach the A811 half a mile to the east of Drymen.
5 hours 9 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
The official start of the West Highland Way is a granite obelisk in Douglas Street, Milngavie (NS553744). To reach the obelisk from the station, head through an underpass and up some steps to reach Station Road. Turn left along this; it becomes Douglas Street for a short distance before reaching the obelisk which sits on a bridge over a stream.
Leave the obelisk and take a sloping path that heads above the stream to reach a small car park behind the shops on Douglas Street. The path runs through the car park and heads straight on down its access road. Almost immediately there is a T-junction; here take a good surfaced path to the left for 100 yards with a stone wall to the right and Allander Water on the left. The path passes under a bridge under a road; take the right-hand fork in the underpass to reach a tree-lined lane that follows a disused railway line.
The path passes Milngavie Library and its car park on the left; shortly afterwards turn to the left to join another path that soon curves to the right to join the eastern bank of Allander Water. It follows the river for a distance and passes a bridge on the left; when the path forks take the right-hand branch which heads uphill across an area of grassland in Allander Park. After passing a bench at the summit it descends for about ten yards to reach a junction with a track.
Turn left to follow the obvious track north-northwestwards. After a couple of hundred yards it crosses a stream; continue on along the main path that heads northwestwards, soon entering an area of trees. It runs high above Allandale Water through Mugdock Wood with no strenuous ascents or descents. A little over a mile after the path junction go through an attractive pair of metal gates in a stone wall to reach a road above Craigallian Bridge at NS538770.
Turn left down the road for about twenty yards; as it swings to the left turn right past some boulders to join an unsurfaced track. Initially this heads in a north-northwesterly direction, crossing a stretch of wooden causey with woodland on the right and the floodplain on the left. At NS536774 it joins a track that comes in from the right before skirting the base of Scroggy Hill and crossing a bridge over a dark, peaty stream. The track heads northwards past Craigallian Loch on the right; at NS535789 the track forks; take the right-hand bend to continue along the larger track (do not continue on to the houses at Carbeth). This heads north, passing Carbeth loch and some chalets on the left. It descends to get a glimpse of the loch to the left before ascending once more. 1.8 miles after leaving the road, go through a metal gate to reach the B821 at NS537795.
At the B821 turn left and follow the road westwards for a quarter of a mile. There is no pavement and the verges are narrow so care needs to be taken; fortunately the road is not too busy. Turn right through a metal gate opposite the second entrance to Easter Carbeth Farm. A good path slowly rises in a northerly direction between two stone walls. Go through another metal gate and continue on. The path crests a hill and descends to cross a track at NS535802, with the ruined buildings of Arlehaven are out of sight on the left. Descend steeply downhill for a few yards to join another track; turn left to continue northwestwards along this.
The track twists and turns in a rough northwesterly direction. It passes the steep, wooded Dumgoyach Hill on the right; continue on as it swings to the right to climb northeastwards towards Dumgoyach Farm. Keep the farm buildings a short way away on the right to reach a metal gate. Go through this and continue on the other side.
A path heads between fences to the left of the access track to the farm, then heads through trees before joining the track. After a sixth of a mile it crosses Blane Water using a wooden bridge. On the other side of the bridge turn left through a metal V-gate to join a good path that runs along the old Blane Valley Railway line. Follow this north-northwestwards with a large bank on the left that blocks the views. The railway path slowly curves to take a more northerly direction and crosses a couple of tracks guarded by gates; the Glencoyne Distillery is in the distance to the right. After 1.3 miles it goes through a metal gate to reach the A81 at Dumgoyne (NS523834), with a pub on the right.
Turn left for a few yards and carefully cross the road, then turn right through a wooden gate to rejoin the old Blane Valley Railway line. This slowly curves to head northwestwards; after a while it parallels the A81 and passes under a few bridges (including one under the B834 road), passing through a number of gates on the way. At one point it rises up onto an old bridge over a railway line; do not cross the bridge but turn left through a wooden gate to rejoin the old line. Two miles from Dumgoyne it curves sharply to the right for a few yards to reach the A81 road at NS506862.
Carefully cross the A81 on the level and take another path directly opposite that goes through a gate to rejoin the old railway line. Follow this north-northwestwards for nearly half a mile until it approaches an old overbridge. Turn left through a metal gate to join a path that parallels Kirk Road; it emerges through another gate onto the road at NS502869. Turn left to follow the road westwards; it crosses Blane Water at Gartness Bridge and then curves sharply to the left.
The road heads westwards before slowly starting to curve to the right to take a more northerly course, climbing past Easter Drumquhassle Farm to reach a summit. It descends down the other side before curving sharply to the left; immediately before the low stone walls of a bridge are reached turn right down three steps to reach a footbridge over a stream. Cross this and take a footpath that leads up to the top of a small hillock. On the other side the path descends to cross some boggy ground before climbing uphill, initially with a stream on the left; aim for a gate in the upper-left corner of the field. Go through this and another gate to reach a slope that leads down to the A811 at NS482888.
Drymen is about half a mile away to the left; to reach it turn left and follow the A811 westwards before turning right up the B858. This soon curves to the left to head westwards into the village.
Places of interest
The town of Milngavie (pronounced Milne-guy) is a city of about 14,000 people situated on the northern outskirts of the Glasgow conurbation. It is very much a commuter town for the city, with a railway station that provides regular services between the two. An obelisk in the centre of the town marks the start of the West Highland Way, which runs northwards for nearly 100 miles to Fort William in the Highlands.
Milngavie is jammed tight between the cityís suburbs to the south and rolling countryside to the west, north and east; this means that you do not have to walk far from the centre to reach some beautiful countryside.
location UID #219
Mugdock Country Park
Mugdock Country Park is a large area of parkland situated to the north of Milngavie. It is based around the estate of Mugdock Castle, first built in stone in 1372. Mugdock Loch used to surround three sides of the castle, offering it natural protection from attack. Sadly this did not work and it was attacked on two occasions. Now only a solitary tower and other walls remain of the original castle.
The many tracks crisscrossing the park offer a great variety of walks; the West Highland Way also passes through the park.
The grounds also contain the ruins of a Regency Gothic country house called Craigend Castle. It is far from being a real castle, and is instead a grand house built in the 1800s for the Smith family. It was abandoned in the 1950s and is now ruined.
location UID #220
Duntreath Castle is situated beside the River Blane immediately to the east of the wooded Dumgoyach Hill. The grounds contain a 15th Century castle keep as well as a 19th Century residential wing, all set in extensive ornamental gardens. The West Highland Way passes about a kilometre to the rest of the castle.
A full history of the castle can be found on the Edmonstone website.
location UID #221
The whitewashed walls of the Glencoyne Distillery are situated beside the A81 in the Blane Valley to the north of Glasgow. It was officially founded in 1833, and has been distilling high-quality whisky ever since. They offer a range of tours of their distillery which are available on Mondays to Saturdays throughout the year. See their website for details.
The West Highland Way travels a short distance to the west of the distillery.
location UID #222
Blane Valley Railway and Loch Lomond Water Supply
The Blane valley Railway was part of the Aberfoyle to Glasgow railway line. This stretch of the line passed through sparsely-populated agricultural land and was only lightly used after it opened in 1866; it was an early closure in 1951. The pub beside the A81 at Dumgoyne was once part of the railway cottages belonging to Dumgoyne Station.
Now the course of the line carries both the West Highland Way and a large water pipe buried in a raised bank. The latter is part of the Loch Lomond Water Scheme, which provides 18 million buckets of fresh water from Loch Lomond to the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
location UID #223
A pretty bridge carries a road over the River Blane in Gartness. This bridge was built in 1971; do not be fooled by the carved stone that used to belong to an earlier bridge built in 1715.
location UID #224
Drymen is a small village situated to the south of Loch Lomond. It has a good range of facilities, including a shop, pub and several B&Bís.
The West Highland Way heads half a mile east of the village; it is easy to divert off to visit it. This may be important as it is the last village of any size until Crianlarich.
location UID #225
Buchanan Castle, immediately to the west of Drymen, was the seat of the Buchanan clan. It was a magnificent structure built in Scottish Baronial style, completed in 1858 to replace an earlier structure belonging to the Buchanans that burnt down in 1852. In the Second World War it was used as a hospital; it gained momentary notoriety in 1941 when Hitlerís deputy, Rudolph Hess, was taken to the castle for treatment after he crash-landed his plane nearby.
The roof of the castle was removed after the war and most of the castle is now in ruins.
location UID #226
Aberfoyle Coaches service C8 runs once a day every morning between Drymen and Milngavie (twice on Saturdays). Other services are available, but you need to change at Killearn.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.