Start location: A809 (Stockiemuir Road), former Craigton School, Milngavie (NS 528 760)
End location: Whitehill Farm, Cochno Road, Faifley (NS 512 737)
Geographical area: Strathclyde and Lanarkshire
Path Type: Leisure Path, Rural Path
Path distance: 3km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Stockiemuir Road to Whitehill Farm - the start is marked with a green & white sign and the route is well marked throughout by sturdy wooden posts with yellow embossed direction signs. It runs partly through fields and partly over farm tracks with varying underfoot conditions depending on the weather. The route ends east of Whitehill Farm on Cochno Road.
As a result of the quarry extension, there is a waymarked diversion of this historic route in place. We are awaiting an updated survey, so will be very pleased to hear from anyone with additional information.
OS Landranger 64 (Glasgow)
This must be quite an old path and is thought to have been used by workers in the 18th and 19th centuries to get to Craigton Bleach House to work. Bleach works were fields where cloth was spread out to be bleached by the sun or by water after having been treated with alkali and acid agents. This is a process that took months and large areas of land until the invention of dry bleaching powder, which reduced the time taken to bleach cloth and the need for bleach fields. This process was developed in the early 19th century and so the path would not have been used for this purpose for much longer.
The later use of this route is detailed in Ian R Mitchell's Walking Through Scotland's History. After the First World War, a group of ex-servicemen wrote to Barns-Graham, a landowner at Carbeth north of Milngavie, asking for land on which to build a camping hut. The letter writer was William Ferris, later Chair of the Scottish Rights of Way Society and involved in a great many outdoor organisations. Initially camping, then huts followed, the hutters paying a nominal rent - facilities were primitive, and installed at the residents' own expense. Most of the hutters came from the west side of the Glasgow conurbation, from places like Scotstoun and Yoker, but especially from Clydebank just outside the city boundary. And many of the hutters walked to Carbeth, there to spend the weekends or their summer holidays. Although the suburban railway went to Milngavie, it was time-consuming and expensive for the Clydebankers, so most simply walked over the Kilpatrick Hills via this old right of way to Craigton on the Drymen road. They then walked by Craigallian Loch (see more below) to Carbeth.
When Clydebank was devastated by German bombs during the Second World War, many used the Bankie Trek to escape the destruction. They would have had a grim view of what was happening at home. In some cases local families decamped to Carbeth, indeed so great was the displacement that many children spent much of the war there, attending the local school at Blanefield, and the men from the yards visited their families at weekends, again walking over the hills.
- see the Carbeth Hutters Community Company website for further information and links.
Further north, by the side of Craigallian Loch, a campfire was established that became legend. Here was a welcome for all those who sought to escape the poverty of Glasgow and Clydebank by heading to the hills. During the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 30s, it is said that the Craigallian Fire never went out. Until relatively recently the site of the fire lay almost forgotten beside the West Highland Way, but in 2012 a memorial sculpture was installed. Many of those ‘Fire-sitters’, such as Tom Weir, Bob Grieve and Jock Nimlin, went on to promote and protect our outdoor heritage and ensure that the great Scottish countryside would be open for all to enjoy. For more information and stories about the Fire, visit the Friends of the Craigallian Fire website; and if you have any anecdotes to share, they will be very pleased to hear from you.