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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish
Drives and Walks

The Americans have a saying “It licks creation,” but this is too tall talk even for Kirkintilloch : as regards drives and walks, however, it may fairly challenge Scotland, and, possibly, England and Ireland, too.

Owing partly to the configuration of the country, and partly to the circumstances of the town being intersected by both canal and railway, it stands pre-eminent for roads and walks.

The tourist who wishes to visit Kirkintilloch may travel by rail or by canal; but if he prefers to drive, and is within ten miles of the town in any direction, he need be at no loss for a road, for he can enter its streets by any one of eight different and distinct public roads, converging from all points of the compass. In ancient times, in Italy, the people there had a saying, that “all roads led to Rome,” but whether more than eight entered its streets is a matter of speculation.

If our traveller has the good sense to remain for a period, and breathe the fresh air of the Kelvin valley, he will find everything required for the outward or inward man, or woman either. In strolling through the town should he be a pedestrian, and fancy a walk in the surrounding country, he has ample choice, for there are no less than seventeen roads and walks ready at his pleasure: and whether he travels one, two, three, or four miles, he need not return the same way, as he will always have an alternative, and often two or three; not one of which will he find barren or uninteresting.

The people of Helensburgh are justly proud of their town, which they fondly call the “Brighton of Scotland.” And it must be admitted that it is pleasantly situated on the bank of the Clyde, with streets in general broad, and many handsome villas. A stranger, however, is apt to tire of the place in a short time, without knowing the reason. All the streets are good, and many are so wide as to hive trees growing in them; there is an infinite variety in the villas, which are invariably adorned with shelter trees, shrubs, hedges, etc.; and in the season the show of flowers is worth seeing.

“Then what is wrong with the place?” says the reader; “you’re ill to please?” Well, then, Helensburgh is laid off too formally—in squares—just like a draught board; the streets, although pretty, are too much alike, and the repetition tires.

This in no way applies to Kirkintilloch, no one street is like another; all is infinite variety, and never-ending interest. The curve is the line of beauty; the straight line tires; and the curve rules in Kirkintilloch—no danger of the eye becoming fatigued with long straight streets, wearisome squares, or dead flats.

In case our readers should think we are “bouncing” about the town and the surrounding country, we import a neutral and outside opinion, which in part at least corroborates us.

In the year 1859 Kirkintilloch had the honour of a visit from a full battery of Her Majesty’s heavy artillery, of six guns, completely equipped with the requisite number of officers, men, horses, etc. They were en route for Dublin, but owing to some delay in the transport, they stayed over a week in the town. The officer in command was the afterwards notorious Major Yelverton, who with his wife Teresa Longworth, lived in the Crown Hotel. It was a novel sight for the town people to have sentries pacing before the officers’ quarters.

Every day the battery took a circuit for exercise out by the Kilsyth Road, thence round by Milton and back. The farrier sergeant declared that the “avenues” at the Martyrs stone, and Antermony, were the finest he had seen in all his travels, either in Great Britain, India, or elsewhere.

The disciples of Isaac Walton have still some scope for their energies, although the Luggie and the Kelvin are both now much polluted. Above their confluence however the Kelvin still yields good baskets, that stream being long known as one of the best breeding rivers in the kingdom. The trouts are pink in colour and rich in quality, the build being superior and resembles that of the Lochleven trout.

About forty years ago when the Kelvin was comparatively free from impurities, large hauls were sometimes made. Mr. Robert Rodger informs us that about the year 1850 on a fine day in June he fished six hours from Broomhill upwards and creeled fifty trout weighing 25 lbs. On another occasion 'he got thirty large trout—with the worm—in the month of March. A trout was caught weighing 3^ lbs. which was stuffed and is still to be seen at Hayston, and Mr. Andrew Stirling—another enthusiastic angler—caught one of 4 lbs. not long ago, despite the impurities of the river.

The Burgh Seal has a representation of a fish, but whether the designer had Mr. Stirling’s trout in view we do not know. It is appropriate however, for another reason, viz., that in old times the salmon fishing of the Kelvin was of some value, as we have elsewhere shewn. The castle on the seal must be Kirkintilloch Castle; but as for the three stars, the reader must form his own interpretation—they are above us.

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