News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Kilpatrick Hills walking link to John Muir Way

The Kilpatrick Hills offers a taste of the Highlands on Glasgow's doorstep, just nine miles from the city centre with spectacular views over Glasgow and the River Clyde, as well as hill walking and bike-riding and the chance to spot red deer, otters and ospreys.

 An urban view

Our Land Management Plan sets out ongoing improvements for the management of the site, including tree felling. Different tree species are to be planted at Kilpatrick Hills, including conifers, broadleaves and a wide range of native woodland types, which will benefit the flora, fauna and wildlife across the Hills.

Robert Clamp, District Forester Planning in Forest Enterprise Scotland, said: "Our vision is for Kilpatrick Hills to be a highly accessible area providing a wilderness experience for the public to enjoy with more recreational opportunities. This has been incorporated into the Land Management Plan, which aims to increase the ease and access to the hills by linking up existing routes into longer loops including the John Muir Way."

Linking to the John Muir Way

A new five mile section of the John Muir Way is due to be completed in the Autumn, and will provide a stunning, scenic alternative to the Balloch to Carbeth section of the John Muir Way, which currently runs on a public road and path.

To kick start work on this, three bridges and other path materials were airlifted on to the Kilpatrick Hills by helicopter over three days.

Helicoper flying in materials

The new section will be slightly shorter and over more challenging terrain as the Kilpatrick Hills are an expansive hill range above Dumbarton and Clydebank. The existing lower level option is an easier route and will remain open.

The new section of the path will provide different types of visitor experiences: a circular route from Edenmill Farm Shop, a longer option from Milngavie to Balloch making use of both train stations and an upland option for people who are walking the entire route from coast to coast.

Peter Mitchell, Project Manager, Forest Enterprise Scotland said: "Airlifting the materials on to the Kilpatricks for this part of the path's development is the most economical option given the remote location.

"This is a really exciting development for the John Muir Way. People enjoy visiting the Kilpatricks for the amazing views, sense of space, rugged beauty and wildlife. All of these qualities reflect what John Muir was all about, which is why we're delighted to be part of this project."

Kilpatrick Hills

Partners, sportscotland, Legacy 2014 Active Places, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forest Enterprise Scotland have funded the £500,000 project to provide an upland experience to the 134 mile coast to coast route from Helensburgh to Dunbar.

Stuart Davies, SNH's Policy and Advice Officer, said: "When the new section opens in October, people will have the option to walk through the Kilpatrick Hills and enjoy a great upland experience within Central Scotland. The present low level route, which makes some use of the West Highland Way, will still be available as an easier option particularly suited to cyclists.

"The John Muir Way is an easy and enjoyable route for the 3 million people who live in the Central Belt to enjoy the outdoors every day by foot, bicycle, and even by horseback in some places. Walking some or all of the Way is a great way to reduce stress and spend time with your family and friends."

Walking at Kilpatrick Hills

The new section of the path is due to be complete by October 2015 and is set to officially open in spring 2016. 

About the John Muir Way

The John Muir Way was completed in 2014, and boasts some of the most beautiful coastal scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland's heartland. The route is way-marked with John Muir Way signs, and a website, book, leaflets and map will give people all the information they need to complete all or part of the trail.

The new path extension will deliver on the Scottish Government's aspirations as part of the Central Scotland Green Network action plan, part of a 40 year initiative with a remit to change the face of Central Scotland. The vision is to restore and improve the rural and urban landscape of the area, for communities and local businesses to prosper. The John Muir Way was developed by SNH and was the concept of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership Board.