The Kelly Cut
What is The Kelly Cut?
The cut is a narrow 4 mile long non navigable canal which once fed water from The Kelly Reservoir on the hill behind Wemyss Bay and Crawhin Reservoir on Crawhin Hill near Cornalees to The Compensation Reservoir at Cornalees which in turn fed The Greenock Cut
which fed water to Grenock for industrial and domestic use.
Built in 1845, the Kelly Cut is less substantial than the Greenock Cut in terms its construction and footbridges, as can be seen within this article. The cut runs around Wenchly Top, Brown Hill and Crawhin Hill at around 500 feet above sea level.
This article describes a 12 mile circular route based on the cut and (mostly) minor roads. There is no maintained footpath for most of the length of the cut, but it is walkable with care if boots are worn. Experienced mountainbikers shouldn't have a problem, but I would not recommend it for a family bike ride due to the generally muddy and rutted narrow paths. Best stick to the adjacent Greenock Cut
if cycling with children.
How To Get ThereBy road:
Grenock Cut Centre (formerly known as Cornalees Bridge) is clearly signposted in both directions from the A78 main road from Greenock to Largs.
Take a Wemyss Bay train from Glasgow Central and get off at Inverkip (the last station before Wemyss Bay) and it's a three mile journey from there, past Inverkip Church and up the picturesque Shielhill Glen Road to Cornalees. The service is hourly and the journey from Glasgow takes about fifty minutes.
Alternately, to tackle the route in the opposite direction, stay on the train to Wemyss Bay which is the terminus.
Bikes are carried free on these trains and there is no need to book. Look out for the cycle logo on the side of the train to show where the bike accommodation is located.
Greenock Cut Visitor Centre
Formerly known As Cornalees Bridge, the centre and the cut lie within the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
. Much of the park is desolate moorland, which is an attraction in itself, but there are many other areas which can be easily accessed on foot or by mountain bike. This is one of several ranger manned visitor centres within the park which stretches from the moors to the Clyde Coast beaches.
Toilets, parking and hot & cold snacks are available at the centre or at the adjacent Ardgowan Fishery which appears to be open 24 hours all year round.
Kelly Cut Bridges
There are many bridges along the cut, mostly quite narrow and providing access across the cut for sheep. There are one or two wider ones which can handle tractors or quad bikes. The Kelly Cut bridges are simple girder and concrete prefabricated section constructions, much less substantial than those on the Greenock cut as can be seen below.
. . .
Kelly Cut Bridge Examples
. . . Greenock Cut Bridge Example
Water flowed from The Kelly Cut and the adjacent Loch Thom into this reservoir which in turn fed The Greenock Cut, keeping the water there at a constant level. The reservoir is a stocked fishery which attracts anglers from many parts of Scotland and beyond.
Start Of The Cut
Kelly Cut enters Compensation Reservoir near the spillway which feeds the Greenock Cut. A signpost near the road at Cornalees Bridge shows the start of the cut.
Shielhill Glen Section
The first half mile or so of the cut is part of a circular nature trail centred on Greenock Cut Visitor Centre. This stretch of the Kelly Cut runs parallel with The Greenock Cut, but on opposite sides of Shielhill Glen. After the boardwalk off to the right, the path will become less busy and also less maintained.
Crawhin Hill Section
After passing the boardwalk, the cut skirts around Crawhin Hill. The path gradually deteriorates, as does the condition of the cut itself, but is still walkable for those with suitable footwear. A pair of sluice gates mark the spot where Crawhin Burn joins the cut from Crawhin Reservoir.
Brown Hill Section
After the sluices, the cut continues around Brown Hill which is part of Leap Moor. Daff Reservoir and Leapmoor Forest can be seen to the north.
Wenchly Top Section
The cut continues through Leap Moor, winding its way along from Brown hill to Wenchly Top, following the the contour line to avoid the need for bridging the many small glens encountered along the way. The halfway point between Cornalees Bridge and Wemyss Bay is passed within this section.
The final section of the cut, around Wenchly Top to Kelly Reservoir, has been upgraded and runs in a concrete channel. It appears that this section feeds water from Kelly Reservoir to Daff Reservoir via Glenshilloch burn, which runs under the footbridge in the first photo below, to the southeast corner of the Daff.
Kelly Reservoir is the starting point of the Kelly Cut. From here, a dirt track leads down the hill to Kelly Bank Cottage at which point a tarmac road continues all the way down the hill, through the caravan parks to Wemyss Bay.
Track To Wemyss Bay
It is down hill most of the way from Kelly Reservoir to Wemyss Bay station on the Firth of Clyde, the only uphill section being a few hundred yards near the beginning.
Road to Inverkip
Wemyss Bay station has an hourly service to Glasgow Central and is around 100 yards from the entrance to Wemyss Bay Holiday Park. Alternately, return to Inverkip or Cornalees by following the A78 north for three miles. A detour along Wemyss Bay Road (turn left at Wemyss Bay Hotel) provides sea views and is a worthwhile diversion from the A78.
Inverkip Power Station, currently being demolished (2012) is passed between Wemyss Bay and Inverkip. National Cycle Network Route 75 can be joined near the toilets by the war memorial, from this path you can cross the A78 by the footbridge at Kip Marina to return to Inverkip station. Alternately, follow the coastal path beyond the marina to Lunderston Bay and Gourock, where you can catch one of the three trains per hour to Glasgow.