The Forth and Clyde Canal - Maryhill to Kirkintilloch
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Click here to view the photographs of this section of canal
After a short but worthwhile diversion to look at the Glasgow Branch, we now return to the main line of the canal as it goes out east, on its way towards Kirkintilloch. After leaving Stockingfield Junction, the canal very quickly has a rural feel to it, although it is actually still traversing the suburbs of Glasgow. The first features encountered are a bridge and some old canal stables at Lambhill. These stables are not the best preserved ones on the canal and could do with some restoration work.
Possil Loch, a nature reserve, is to the north as the canal approaches Bishopbriggs. The bridge here was too low and for years prevented large boats from navigating the complete stretch from Kirkintilloch to Glasgow. It was earmarked for raising along with Glasgow Road, Ruchill and Firhill bridges back in 1990, but the project ran out of money before it could be done. Now, thanks to the Millennium Link project, the bridge has finally been replaced, clearing one of the canal's most annoying obstructions.
The Nolly Barge, a community boat from Glasgow, navigating the new Farm Bridge at Bishopbriggs, 1/4/2000
Leaving Bishopbriggs behind, the canal is truly out in the countryside now. At Cadder, it cuts through the Antonine Wall (the 18th century equivalent of the A80 cutting through the canal?) in a pleasant wooded area, giving picturesque views of the Kelvin valley to the north. The bridge at Cadder has recently been raised slightly by taking it off its abutments, building them up a bit and putting the bridge back again. This was to ensure that there was still enough headroom under the bridge once the water level in the canal was raised. (When the canal was closed, the water levels in most of the pounds were lowered to reduce maintenance costs, and as part of the restoration process they were be raised again).
A pretty wooded section of the Forth and Clyde Canal at Cadder, near the Antonine Wall
Leaving the trees, the canal passes under the oddly-named Hungryside Bridge, and soon reaches the restored Glasgow Road Bridge. A restrictive Armco culvert, installed as recently as 1974, was replaced by the new bridge in 1990, allowing through navigation to Kirkintilloch. A canal stables block here has been restored too, as "The Stables" pub and restaurant. There are often many large craft moored by the bridge here: restaurant barges from "The Stables" and canal society trip boats.
The next town, Kirkintilloch, owes much of its success to the canal. Not only did the canal effectively allow it to become an inland port, yet a port on both coasts simultaneously, but it has also been pointed out that without the essential drainage the canal provides, much of Kirkintilloch would be permanently under water!
Ironically, for the last thirty years, what most people in Kirkintilloch saw of the canal was the disgusting, stagnant mess of weed which accumulated in the culverts at Townhead Bridge, right in the town centre. But now that's all changed: Townhead Bridge really is a bridge again, and passers by on the road can look down onto the canal water flowing and swans swimming by underneath.
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