Glasgow is rich in diversity and interesting architecture, and the scenery surrounding Scotland’s biggest city is breath-taking. From exploring the historic city centre to riding down serene canals, you have many options when cycling in the ‘Dear Green Place’.
There are over 300km of cycleways within the city, including new cycle lanes, and even more cycleways further afield. Therefore, Glaswegians and visitors alike are spoilt for choice when selecting the perfect route for an afternoon ride or a weekend wander.
Let’s explore these options in more detail – here are the 5 best cycle routes in and around Glasgow.
- Forth and Clyde Canal: The Falkirk Wheel
- Forth and Clyde Canal Path to Kirkintilloch
- Glasgow to Uddingston
- Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycleway
- Pollok Park
Map: Download here
This easy-to-follow, flat, and largely traffic-free cycle route is ideal for cyclists of all abilities.
The specific route along the Forth and Clyde Canal contains a large stretch of pathway and towpaths to the incredible Falkirk Wheel. More on that later.
Starting in Cowcaddens just outside the city centre, you’ll cycle northwards up the A81 and A879, pass through small towns such as Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch and Bonnybridge.
There are some challenges along the way, including the Tak-Ma-Doon Road in Kilsyth - the largest incline on the journey.
However, you can reward yourself for tackling this incline by stopping for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the local eateries. These include pubs such as The Tables and The Bridge Inn.
This route ends at the Falkirk Wheel, and here you can sample the area’s stunning views and incredible infrastructure.
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in central Scotland which connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal to Edinburgh. It’s considered a feat of engineering – and you’ll see why when you’re face-to-face with it.
Elevation: Mostly negligible
Map: Download here
The Forth and Clyde Canal Path to Kirkintilloch route is another traffic-free path suited to all abilities and group sizes.
It’s part of the National Cycle Network 754, which runs across central Scotland and boasts an array of impressive sights.
Starting on the canal path at Cleveden Road in Kelyindale, this route contains mostly flat terrain and beautiful scenery, which makes for a pleasant ride.
There are plenty of stopping points throughout the journey, including Cadder Wharf in Cadder, where the water is open to paddle boarders and docking for canal boat owners.
When you arrive in Kirkintilloch, you can visit the Grade A listed Auld Kirk, which is one of the town’s finest landmarks.
Another listed building is the town hall, a building of historical and architectural interest which has been closed since 2004 for restoration works and maintains a valuable link to Kirkintilloch’s past.
Map: Download here
This route starts in the city centre’s Glasgow Green park and follows the north bank of the River Clyde east past Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
Heading through the two small towns previously mentioned, in Rutherglen, you’ll be able to stop for a break outside the old parish clock tower.
The Rutherglen Old Parish Church was built in 1902, but the freestanding clock tower dates back to the 1600s.
In Cambuslang, the most notable historical sight is Gilbertfield Castle, which was built by William Hamilton, a retired solider in the early 17th century. However, this site has come under fire as it may be the centre of a new housing estate – which is less pretty for cyclists to look at.
Towards Uddingston, you’ll need to cycle on the roads leading into the town centre, pulling away from the usual greenery of this route.
Uddingston is home to the Tunnock’s factory, famous for its caramel wafers and teacakes. Visitors can take a tour of the factory, which needs to be booked in advanced.
Map: Download here (the map is located on page 2)
You can start anywhere on the banks and head west. It’s perfectly signposted and almost completely free of traffic, so it’s a cyclist’s dream.
A big chunk of your journey will be spent cycling past the disused Partick to Yorker railway. Encased in moss and intertwining ivy that is perfectly nestled into the woodland, this railway offers incredible views. Once you’re at this point, it’s hard to believe you’re a mere few miles from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you follow the route long enough, you can ride through Bowling, Dumbarton and all the way up to Loch Lomond. This iconic landmark is the perfect spot for a picnic once you have completed the route, Glaswegian weather permitting, of course.
Distance: Various routes
Elevation: Various elevations
Map: Download here
Also known as the Glasgow Mountain Bike Circuit, Pollok Park is situated in the south side of the city.
The park is an ideal place to visit by bike and can be easily reached by following Route 7 and 75 of the National Cycle Network, or the local link routes.
A short green circuit provides an easier introduction to off-road cycling with a slightly easier terrain, while the steeper blue circuit offers slightly more challenging terrain. For example, there are a few rollable jumps if you’re looking for more of a rush in the peaceful park.
Indeed, if you’re an advanced rider seeking a thrill, the red circuit is closer to the real deal. This contains faster single tracks, with some obstacles and rockier terrain thrown in along the way to challenge any keen cyclist.
After training on the various coloured ranges, you can take a brisk ride through the park itself for a gentler cycle to lower your adrenaline levels.
You may be lucky enough to pass some deer along the way, and you will also get to see the historic Pollok House and the Burrell Collection*. If you’re planning to park up your bike for a break, the latter attraction features an eclectic selection of objects and artefacts once owned by Sir William Burrell. A wealthy Glaswegian shipping magnate and art collector, Burrell gave his art collection to the city in 1944.
*At the time of writing, the Burrell Collection is temporarily closed until spring 2021. Please check on its website for current updates.
Now you know exactly where to ride your bike in Glasgow, make sure you’re safe when you do so.
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