The John Muir Way: Balloch to Strathblane

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright May 2014, Lairich Rig; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


NS5379 : West Highland Way at Easter Carbeth by Lairich RigNS5380 : West Highland Way near Arlehaven by Lairich RigNS5184 : The West Highland Way near Killearn by Lairich RigViews near Easter Carbeth, West Arlehaven, and Killearn

The John Muir Way is a new long-distance footpath between Helensburgh and Dunbar. The route was officially opened by Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, at noon on the 21st of April 2014. Muir was born on April 21st (John Muir Day) 1838, and 2014 was the centenary of his death.

In January 2017, the John Muir Way was officially designated one of Scotland's Great Trails.

When this article was written (in May 2014), the website for the John Muir WayExternal link divided the route into ten stages. The present article contains a selection of photographs taken along the second of those stages, namely, the section from Balloch to Strathblane. Many of those pictures were taken when I walked the Balloch to Strathblane stage on the 18th of April 2014, three days before the official opening of the route. However, to avoid the pointless uploading of near-duplicate images to the Geograph site, I have also used some of my earlier pictures where appropriate (and where the appearance of the route has not significantly changed in the meantime).

NOTE: These articles should not be used as a guide to the John Muir Way.
They are intended only to show the route as it was at the time of its opening.
For current details of the course of the John Muir Way, please refer to the official website:
Balloch to Strathblane | John Muir WayExternal link.


For an article similar to the present one, but featuring photos from the previous stage of the route, see The John Muir Way: Helensburgh to BallochExternal link.

In mid-2016, I updated the present article to show a newly-created part of the John Muir Way: a walkers' route over the Kilpatrick Hills. It diverges from the existing route about halfway around the Horseshoe (near Balloch), and meets up with it again near Carbeth. I walked that new section on May 9th 2016, and some of my pictures from that journey are on the final pageExternal link of this article.


Balloch to Strathblane

Through Balloch

This first part is from Balloch Bridge, through Balloch Park, to the start of the Horseshoe.

NS3981 : View across Balloch Bridge by Lairich RigNS3982 : Riverside pathway at Balloch by Lairich RigNS3982 : Path in Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich Rig(left) A view across Balloch Bridge
(middle) A riverside path
(right) Balloch Park
NS3882 : Path in Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich RigNS3882 : Path in Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich RigNS3882 : Path in Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich Rig(left) Further along the path
(middle) On the right are the mound and defensive ditch of the original Balloch CastleExternal link
(right) Further ahead again
NS3883 : Path in Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich RigNS3883 : Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich RigNS3982 : Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich Rig(left) Near the old boathouse and slipwayExternal link, turn right to head uphill
(middle) Carry on past Balloch CastleExternal link
(right) Take the left path, as the marker post indicates
NS3983 : Road to the north lodge by Lairich RigNS3983 : North Lodge, Balloch Castle Country Park by Lairich RigNS3983 : A country road in Balloch by Lairich Rig(left) The road to the North Lodge
(middle) Passing the North Lodge
(right) After the North Lodge, keep straight on, along this country road
NS4082 : A country road in Balloch by Lairich RigNS4082 : Approaching Stirling Road by Lairich RigNS4083 : One end of the Horseshoe by Lairich Rig(left) Further along that road
(middle) Approaching Stirling Road
(right) The start of the Horseshoe

The Horseshoe

The Horseshoe is the local name for a 10-kilometre routeExternal link that is named after its shape. The John Muir Way follows one leg of it (for about 4.2km), to the point, almost halfway around the Horseshoe, where a road branches off for Croftamie; the John Muir Way then takes the Croftamie Road.

NS4083 : The Horseshoe by Lairich RigNS4083 : Bend in road near Ballagan by Lairich RigNS4182 : The Horseshoe by Lairich Rig(left) The start of the Horseshoe; a view back down to Stirling Road
(middle) Near Ballagan
(right) About a kilometre further on
NS4183 : The Horseshoe by Lairich RigNS4283 : Cottages on the Horseshoe by Lairich RigNS4283 : Road at Easter Blairquhanan by Lairich Rig(left) Near Caldarvan Loch
(middle) A view back from a little further ahead
(right) Near Easter Blairquhanan
NS4283 : Road junction near Lochend by Lairich RigNS4383 : Road junction by Lairich RigNS4383 : Road to Croftamie by Lairich Rig(left) A junction at Lochend; the John Muir Way carries straight on
(middle) Another junction; again, the route carries straight on
(right) Leaving the Horseshoe to take the Croftamie Road

To Croftamie

Like much of the preceding part of the route, this section is also on cycle route NCN 7. For much of this part of the walk, there is a long straight mound near the road; this is the raised trackbed of the dismantled Forth and Clyde Junction RailwayExternal link.

NS4383 : Road to Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4483 : Road diversion by Lairich RigNS4484 : Balquhain Farm by Lairich Rig(left) The start of the road
(middle) Passing the cut-off to Gallangad Farm
(right) Passing Balquhain Farm
NS4484 : Dismantled railway line by Lairich RigNS4484 : Meikle Finnery by Lairich RigNS4584 : Mavie Mill by Lairich Rig(left) From beside the route: looking along the dismantled railway line
(middle) Passing Meikle Finnery
(right) Near Mavie Mill; there is a sculpted hedgeExternal link there
NS4584 : The Catter Burn by Lairich RigNS4585 : Millfaid by Lairich RigNS4585 : Cattermuir Crossing by Lairich Rig(left) The Catter Burn is close to the road here
(middle) A side view of the road at Millfaid
(right) Cattermuir Crossing; a ramshackle hutExternal link nearby was once a railway parcels van
NS4686 : A bend in the road by Lairich RigNS4686 : The road to Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4686 : Shandon Farm by Lairich Rig(left) The road makes sharp turns here
(middle) Passing some cottages
(right) Shandon Farm
NS4786 : Road and cycle route near Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4786 : Cycle route near Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4786 : Cycle route near Croftamie by Lairich Rig(left) NCN 7 and the John Muir Way leave the road here
(middle) The start of the footpath and cycle path
(right) The path follows the course of a dismantled railway line
NS4786 : Water pipeline access by Lairich RigNS4786 : Cycle route passing through Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4786 : Croftamie by Lairich Rig(left) The mound of the raised trackbed now contains water pipes
(middle) About to cross the main road in Croftamie
(right) A view of Croftamie village from off the route; the John Muir Way crosses the main road about 120 metres ahead

To Gartness Road

The John Muir Way, which here follows cycle route NCN 7, leaves Croftamie, crosses the Endrick Water by means of a former viaduct, and then meets Gartness Road. At that point, the John Muir Way meets up with the West Highland Way, which also follows Gartness road.

NS4786 : Cycle route at Croftamie by Lairich RigNS4886 : Farm track crossing cycle route by Lairich RigNS4886 : Approaching the Endrick Viaduct by Lairich Rig(left) Leaving Croftamie by the cycle path
(middle) A farm track crossing the path
(right) Approaching the Endrick Viaduct
NS4886 : The Endrick Viaduct by Lairich RigNS4886 : The Endrick Viaduct by Lairich RigNS4886 : Bench beside cycle path by Lairich Rig(left) Crossing the viaduct
(middle) A view back from the other side
(right) A bench beside the eastern end of the viaduct
NS4886 : Cycle path near Gaidrew by Lairich RigNS4886 : Cycle path near Gaidrew by Lairich RigNS4986 : Cycle path meeting Gartness Road by Lairich Rig(left) A reminder that a railway line used to follow this route
(middle) Passing near Gaidrew
(right) Meeting Gartness Road

Through Gartness

The West Highland Way now accompanies the John Muir Way for several kilometres, as far as Easter Carbeth. The cycle route, by contrast, goes its own way just a short distance along the road.

This section of the route crosses the Endrick Water by means of a bridge in the little village of Gartness. The current bridge dates from 1971, but the date stone of the much earlier bridge that it replaced has been built into a section of the parapet.

NS4986 : Gartness Road by Lairich RigNS4986 : Gartness Road by Lairich RigNS4986 : Gartness Road by Lairich Rig(left, middle) Two views back to the gate
(right) Near Upper Gartness FarmExternal link
NS5086 : Entering Gartness by Lairich RigNS5086 : Gartness Bridge by Lairich RigNS5086 : Endrick Water from Gartness Bridge by Lairich Rig(left) Entering the village of Gartness
(middle) Crossing Gartness Bridge; look out for the date stoneExternal link from the original bridge
(right) The Endrick Water, as seen from the bridge
NS5086 : Path leaving Gartness Road by Lairich RigNS5086 : Former railway bridge by Lairich RigNS5086 : West Highland Way near Gartness by Lairich Rig(left) Leaving Gartness Road
(middle) A bridge over the dismantled railway line
(right) Heading south on the course of the dismantled line
NS5086 : West Highland Way near Gartness by Lairich RigNS5086 : West Highland Way crossing road by Lairich RigNS5086 : West Highland Way leaving roadside by Lairich Rig(left) A view back along the path
(middle) About to cross the A81
(right) On the other side of the road

Near Killearn

The path making up this part of the John Muir Way is also on the West Highland Way. It is prominently accompanied here by a mound, which is the raised trackbed of the dismantled Blane Valley Branch Line. The mound now contains water pipes; the small brick structures that can be seen at intervals along the mound are associated with those water pipes.

NS5085 : Farm track crossing West Highland Way by Lairich RigNS5085 : Farm track crossing West Highland Way by Lairich RigNS5085 : Road bridge over the West Highland Way by Lairich Rig(left) A farm track crossing the route near Croy Cunningham SteadingExternal link
(middle) A view back through the same gates
(right) Another bridge over the dismantled railway line
NS5185 : Gates on the West Highland Way by Lairich RigNS5185 : West Highland Way near Killearn by Lairich RigNS5184 : West Highland Way at Laighparks by Lairich Rig(left) Looking back through more gates
(middle) A view ahead, from the mound beside the path
(right) At Laighparks, near a garden centreExternal link; an old milestoneExternal link can be seen nearby
NS5184 : West Highland Way near Woodside House by Lairich RigNS5184 : The West Highland Way near Killearn by Lairich RigNS5284 : The West Highland Way near Killearn by Lairich Rig(left) Passing near some houses and a sewage worksExternal link
(middle) Some gates, seen soon after passing some houses at LettreburnExternal link; the peak of Dumgoyne is visible ahead
(right) A view back towards Lettreburn

KML

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