To Neilston and beyond




June 2011
50 km








2011 is a year where I have started from zero health due to obesity and a serious illness. My finances has also taken a big hit due to these circumstances and the general recession where the food and heating prices has eaten up my holiday budget. I have had no choice than to explore the local area for interesting routes. Thankfully, I live in an excellent touring area.
So far, the area immediate south of Paisley has more or less been a white dot on my map. Only the Gleniffer Braes area and the road between Kilmarnock and Paisley has been explored. The Uplawmoor area has not been even considered as an interesting area. An email from a local man Michael Crossan on the eve of me going off for the annual Arrochar ride, which I found both boring and tedious this year, changed all that. Google Maps was given a thorough lookover and the Google Earth part revealed a lot of goodies awaiting my visit. I had never been til Neilston too so two birds killed by one stone...... The Kingston Road from Neilston to Dunlop was chosen for my first exploration of this area.



It was a nice morning with only light overcast when I started the tour by going past my local golf course and up past Dykebar Hospital on my way to Barrhead. The road were rising all the way to this big village and through it. I took the Neilston Road towards Neilston. This road were pretty steep in the beginning before it went into an almost vertical climb just before the village itself.



Looking back towards Glasgow in the distance and Barrhead below on my way to Neilston

Neilston is a pretty scenic village high in the hills above Glasgow and Barrhead. It is at 150 meters above sea level and have it's own railway station too. I did not see much of Neilston because I was trying to find the beginning of Kingston Road. But I will be back there pretty soon.
I soon found this road and the next miles was pretty special. The road climbs steady from Neilston to it's top on a ridge high above the valley floor (the Barrhead to Lugton road) at around 240 meters above sea level. The terrain was typical moor landscape and pretty nice. Unfortunate, I was so impressed I forgot to take a photo of this top. But I will be back and correct that mistake. The road towards Dunlop was pretty wild down the mountain side before it levelled out and I was soon down at the main Kilmarnock Road where I turned my nose to the north again.



Looking towards the Goatfell at Isle Of Arran in the distance and the hills above Kilwinning, Dalry and Beith in the foreground

After some hundred meters, I was in Dunlop and continued through this village first down a drop to a ravine and then up a hill and down again to Lugton. This small village, more a scattered collection of ten houses or less in fact, is an important crossroad between north, south, west and east in Ayrshire. It also has an excellent pub, hotel and a shop. I was there first time in 1995 on my bike on my way to Dumfries so I have a soft spot for Lugton. I chose the road towards Beith first and then after half a kilometer the Gleniffer Road. I followed that direct road towards Paisley for one kilometer before I took the Caldwell Road (B 776) towards Howwood.



Looking back from the Caldwell Road towards the hills on the other side of Lugton and the valley below. Plenty of cows around too.

This road were steep in the beginning before it levelled out into an up and down terrain with sharp turns and climbs. Typical my favorite cycling. This joyful cycling ended at the Barcraigs Reservoir where a small climb took me up and over to the hill overlooking Howwood and the valley below. The descent to Howwood was vertical to say at least through a residential road. The road from Howwood past Johnstone and Elderslie to Paisley were eventless with some heavy traffic near Paisley and a couple of roundabouts I was not that fond off. But I made it home safe after some wonderful hours in the saddle.

Conclusion



An great 50 km long tour which has given me a lot of taste for this previously white area on my cycling map. The climb up to Neilston is alone worthy the tour. But the Kingston Road over the moor to Dunlop is the best thing about this tour. The Caldwell Road over to Howwood is an excellent ride too. In short, this is a great short ride well worth doing. I will be back.