Ever dreamed of a path in the sky that could lead you from Glasgow to Loch Lomond? Well, good news – the much-anticipated Bowline has opened to the public. Scotland’s answer to the New York Highline was unveiled at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire back in 2021 – and it’s expected to transform the lives of those living on the Forth and Clyde canal. The Bowline, which is located west of Glasgow means that everyone in the surrounding communities choosing to walk, wheel or cycle can now make everyday journeys towards the heart of the city. And they can now head further west towards Dumbarton, on a fully traffic-free route. Sounds like a good excuse to see more of the Scottish countryside to me!
Inspired by New York’s Highline, the new linear park has transformed a railway crossing and 124-year old bridge which have sat derelict since the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway closed in 1960. It connects the canal towpath to the wider National Cycle Network, providing virtually uninterrupted off-road access from Glasgow to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Plus, the fully accessible line boasts breathtaking views over the historic canal to the River Clyde and beyond.
A new, high-quality access ramp has been installed, allowing everyone walking, wheeling and cycling to access the National Cycle Network Route 7. Bowling Harbour is also now home to several successful businesses including a gift shop, cycle workshop and a café. In 2019 alone, active travellers made over 145 million trips along the National Walking and Cycling Network, which includes the National Cycle Network, Scotland’s Great Trails and the canal towpath network.
That number will only grow thanks to this new route. As John Lauder, Deputy Chief Executive at Sustrans, said upon the route’s opening: “As we face the climate emergency together, it’s vital that we make it easier, safer and more attractive for people to walk, wheel and cycle by delivering high-quality projects like the Bowline. And we all need to work quickly and in partnership to create a safe, consistent and accessible network of paths, and safer streets and roads; giving everyone the opportunity to travel in a healthier, greener and more sustainable way, more often.” Maybe one for your Scotland bucket list then?