Wander where the bluebells grow
A band of pretty, open woodland clothes the hillside above Johnstone, criss-crossed with paths that meander between the trees and bridge the peaceful Craigbog Burn. It’s a wonderful place for children to play or for a peaceful walk and some fresh air.
Altogether, there are about 4 ½ miles (7.2 km) of paths through the woods, so you’ll have plenty of choice. The paths are mostly wide, smooth and flat, with a mixture of firm gravel, loose gravel and grass surfaces. Some places can be muddy, and two short sections of in the southern part are moderately steep, with two short flights of steps.
In Rannoch Wood you may notice a number of pink dots on some of the trees. These dots indicate trees that will be removed for a thinning operation which is planned for the coming winter 2016 - 2017. The thinning works involve the selective removal of trees throughout the wood. Thinning is a vital part of the ongoing improvements and management of the woods, and will create more space and light in the woods. This will benefit the flora on the ground, allow young trees to grow and improve the timber quality of the remaining trees. The additional benefit of opening the woodland to more light is that it will help to dry out some of the wetter sections of path and give a more open feel to visitors.
There are shops, places to eat and public toilets in Johnstone.
Mountain biking trails
Get fit and have fun
With its easy access by train and bus and wide variety of paths, Bluebell Woods are a great venue for walking groups or health walks.
The wood of many names
The whole area was once the policies of Johnstone Castle, a tower house from the 1600s that now stands in the middle of modern housing. When the castle’s grounds were sold off, different bits were given different names. Bluebell Wood stretches along the burn towards Auchenlodment Road, the area between Beith Road and Rannoch Road is Rannoch Wood, and Craigston or Elderslie Wood is the backdrop to Chestnut Drive on the Johnstone Castle estate. If it all gets too confusing, just call them ‘the woods’ – plenty of folk do.
Each section of woodland has its own character. You can make a varied, interesting journey from the parkland-like atmosphere of Rannoch Wood, past the burn and dramatic rocky outcrops of Bluebell Wood and out into open countryside in neighbouring Windyhill. There are open views from Windyhill to the east towards Paisley and Glasgow, and north towards the Kilpatrick hills and Ben Lomond.
Bluebell woods are one of fourteen Commonwealth Woods, designated as part of the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which provide outdoor spaces for you to enjoy free events and activities, get active or just go for a walk in the fresh air. The network of green spaces around the city includes a mix of well-established and newly-planted woods, and a new riverside park created out of derelict land opposite the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village.
How to get here
The woods are easy to walk to from Johnstone, Elderslie or Cochrane Castle, with lots of entry points. If you want to bring a car, there’s plenty of on street parking on Elm Drive or Maple Drive, at grid reference NS 428 619. Alternatively, park on Rannoch Road or Tower Road.
PA5 9TG is the nearest postcode.
The forest is less than ½ mile (800 metres) from Johnstone railway station, and there are bus services along Beith Road and Rannoch Road on the edges of the woodland. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
Windyhill is the forest next door. It makes a great extension to a visit to Bluebell Woods. If you’re looking for more space to stretch out in, head for Gleniffer Braes Country Park or the wilder countryside of the Kilpatrick Hills across the Clyde.
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