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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Scotland Day 12 - Lenzie to Milngavie

I'm a planner. The planning of this trip has given me a lot of pleasure, both solving the various accommodation conundrums and the designing of the route. It took months originally in 2019 and 2020 to decide on which paths I wanted to travel, and then it had to be done again but in reverse for 2022. And then the Scottish leg has been partly replanned for 2023. So every day's route has been carefully thought about at least three times over the years, to say nothing of the daily planning that I do every evening before setting off. That doesn't mean that I'm not happy to deviate from it if I find something interesting, but it should mean that the basic route is ok, as far as I can tell from the map. It doesn't always work out like that.

I took it easy this morning, as the weather was due to be better later in the day. So I did a load of washing, talked to friends on the phone and had a leisurely and thorough breakfast before buying a giant sandwich for later. Glasgow station was a lively place, with lots of teenagers and young adults arriving for the TRNSMT music festival. They were wearing as little as possible, and making as much excited noise as possible. And before I get comments about being old and judgemental, they really were - some of the girls were in bikinis. It might be a heatwave down South at the moment, but it very much is not the case here. They're a hardy lot. I met one girl when leaving the hotel who was off to experience the festival and she talked to me about hiking. She told me that she can't do what she wants yet because she's only 17, but that she dreams of getting out to do the Munroes with Ben Nevis as the ultimate goal. When she turns 18 she plans for the world to open up to her. It was a brilliant short conversation with a young woman who I'm sure will do exciting things with her life.

The Scotrail experience has been good so far, and my journey back to Lenzie was massively improved by Gillian, who approached me after seeing my rucksack sign and placed £10 in my hands. She didn't want a photo taken, but she did want to tell me what a good cause the Samaritans is. I often feel there's a story behind the donation.

I got a lift back to the canal to rejoin the walk with Stuart from Company cars. He was kind enough to refuse my fare, asking instead for the money to be put into the fund. He was interesting and thoughtful about the increased mental health problems since Covid, but also about the sense of community in Kirkintilloch.

He wanted to know if I'd changed my view on Glasgow since coming here. I'm not sure that I came with any particular view, but certainly I've found the people I've talked to absolutely lovely. There's an energy and hilarity about the people I've met, with a lack of pomposity too, rather summed up by the seagulls lack of respect for the statues of big people in the city.

Back onto the towpath of the Forth and Clyde canal, it's all very familiar.

I passed a Seagull Trust boat, and realised I've seen a few signs about this charity over the last few days, so looked them up. They run free cruises for people with special needs, with full access to allow everyone to enjoy the water. Entirely volunteer run, they operate across the whole of Scotland.

The Romans continued to pop up, there was another replica distance marker at the site of Cudder Fort, which was only discovered when the canal was initially dug in the late 18th century. That fact make me think in two directions, firstly that it was laid undiscovered for all that time, but then also the feat of the digging of these canals in the first place. They are so much part of our landscape that it's easy to forget the effort that went into their construction.

When talking to Damon the physio yesterday we were commenting on the lack of refreshment opportunities along these canals. Very few pubs, almost no cafes, hardly even anywhere to sit down. So when there's suddenly activity, such as when I passed the village of Cadder, it nudged me out of the almost stupor of more miles of towpath walking. There was a family rather hesitantly looking to have a go at paddle boarding, all togged up looking at the instructor and the murky water with (I felt) understandable hesitation. Inside a barge there was someone practising his saxophone.

Just beyond here was another sobering information board. Near this place had existed Mavis Valley, a village built to house mine workers and their families. They worked in the nearby Cadder pits and living in primitive conditions and working in a very dangerous environment. In 1913 a fire broke out underground, leading to 22 men dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. I knew that this sort of thing was a feature of mining a century ago, but the thing that was truly awful was the detail that the widows and children of the miners were then evicted by the company if they had nobody to take over the job in the pit.

Fairly soon after this I left the canal for the last time and took what I had planned to be a gentle bit of road walking to get to the lovely looking footpath along the river Kelvin. It was neither gentle nor lovely. The road was really busy and because it was a B road there was no footpath. Generally the motorists were considerate, but this was certainly not a road I would think to walk along normally. A kind woman stopped to offer me a lift, but by that point I was nearly at the lovely river walk so I declined. Not before I was given a proper fright by a macabre scarecrow with a football for a head. As if I didn't have enough to be worried about.

The lovely river walk was not exactly that. Although at least it didn't feel dangerous, it was extremely overgrown with wet grasses and brambles. My boots are great in many respects, mainly in that they don't hurt my feet or cause my toe nails to fall off, both issues with previous pairs. However, they are not good at keeping out the water if made wet from above. I normally wear waterproof socks if I think there's going to be rain, but today I wore my normal ones. That meant that by the time I fought my way three miles to the end of the Kelvin walkway my socks and feet were soaking. It's not a great feeling.

I was extremely pleased to eventually get to Milngavie. Pronounced mullgai, it is the beginning of the West Highland Way, which is the next bit of the adventure.

Back to Glasgow for now though, to dry my boots, buy some supplies, have a look at the city for a bit today and then have this evening and my rest day tomorrow with my lovely friend Philip. We made an excellent start by covering the table in food for dinner, no chance of getting wobbly from undereating tonight!


Distance travelled: 9.7 miles

Total ascent: 587 feet

Calories burned: 1115

Local tipple - Schiehallion lager from the Harviestoun brewery

Dinner at La Spuntini - fantastic Italian tapas

Carciofi alla genovese

Mozzarella fritta

Cacciucco (spicy fish stew)

Pizzette with goats cheese and courgette

Numbers of pairs of trousers I've bought since arriving in Scotland to replace my walking leggings (that I thought were comfortable and discovered they weren't) - 3

Numbers of pairs of trousers that I've bought since arriving in Scotland that are actually fit for purpose - possibly 1

Sponsors' music, thanks to Gillian

Boum! by Charles Trenet

Video of the day

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Unknown member
Jul 15, 2023

Very good food tonight!!


Jul 08, 2023

SEAGULLS. They are a menace.

I did not know that about Milgavie! I always pronounce it like William Hague says ‘Benghazi’ On Dead Ringers.


Jul 07, 2023

I hope you took advantage of the Clubcard offer - just the thing to power you through the highlands!

Feeling sad that we weren't able to join you for the Milngavie stretch as planned last year.

Your supper looks fantastic!

Fab view from the 11th floor and chocolate to boot 🤣😂!

Enjoy the delights of my birth town tomorrow! xxxx

Jane Smith
Jane Smith
Jul 09, 2023
Replying to

I was so sorry you weren’t there too. Another year….

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