Dams to Darnley Country Park is a green oasis in the southside of Glasgow. Stretching from the busy M77 motorway and the suburban town of Barrhead, Dams to Darnley offers a variety of landscapes and trails for a walk in Glasgow. Use this guide to plan a trip down to Dams to Darnley.
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Did you know the Gaelic name of Glasgow (Ghlaschu) means “dear green place”?
Glasgow is a green place indeed and there are parks and country parks all over the city. But parks in central Glasgow and even the south side can get BUSY!
Not so, the Dams to Darnley Country Park – a hidden gem within easy reach.
Sometimes also called the “Barrhead Dams” (which are just one part of the park), the Dams to Darnley Country Park is a beautiful place for walking in Glasgow. From the woodlands of Darnley Mill and Waulkmill Glen to the deep blue water of the interconnected reservoirs, the park offers a variety of landscapes to explore.
In this walking guide for Dams to Darnley I will give you:
- the rundown of my favourite route through the park,
- options for parking and public transport links,
- and suggestions for what to wear and bring.
Dams to Darnley FAQ
Where is this hike?
Dams to Darnley is a country park in the south side of Glasgow. It connects the neighbourhood of Darnley near the M77 motorway with the suburban town of Barrhead.
How long is a walk in Dams to Darnley?
Since there are so many different trails and several car parks, you can choose how long or far you’d like to walk at Dams to Darnley.
You could explore the park’s highlights in one go by following my favourite route below, or discover it step by step by making use of the different car parks throughout the area.
My route is around 5.5 miles (9km) long and takes around 2 hours on foot. Highlights on this route include the serene woodland at Darnley Mill, glimpses of the spectacular waterfall at Waulkmill Glen and a series of reservoirs, the “Barrhead Dams” which is the name many locals will use to refer to the entire area.
Are the paths marked?
While there are some signposts pointing towards the reservoirs and the park entrance at Nitshill Road, there are largely no waymarkers or specific waymarked trails in the park.
If you are uncertain about which paths to take through the woodlands of Dams to Darnley country park, you can follow my route on the Komoot app. It’s free to use and a handy tool to have for walks all over Scotland.
Note that I forgot to stop recording on my drive back home, which is why there are a few extra miles on my recorded route.
Public Transport Link
There are a couple of ways to get to Dams to Darnley country park from central Glasgow.
The easiest, is to jump on the Kilmarnock train from Glasgow Central station and get off at Priestley & Darnley. From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the park at Nitshill Road and Corselet Road.
Bus 57A also makes its way from central Glasgow to Nitshill Road, but it takes approx. twice as long as the train.
Parking at Dams to Darnley
There are 3 car parks at Dams to Darnley country park.
The largest is at the south-western entrance to the park in Barrhead. You could park here and follow my route in reverse, beginning by Balgray reservoir and making your way to Darnley Mill woodland.
There is also a parking area next to a closed down restaurant at the top entrance to the park on Nitshill Road/Corselet Road. I parked here to follow the route I describe below.
Finally, there is a car park in the middle of Waulkmill Glen, approx. 1 mile down Corselet Road. I like to park here if I am short on time. However, note that Corselet Road is not gritted, and there might be snow on the road in winter.
Trail description: Dams to Darnley
From Nitshill Road to the Reservoirs
I often start my walks at Dams to Darnley Country Park at the entrance on Corselet Road.
Before heading into the park, you could walk across Nitshill Road to take a close look at the Darnley Sycamore Tree. Mary Queen of Scots is said to have sat under this tree in the 16th century, although, the tree standing here today is possibly not old enough for this story to hold up. Still, a pretty impressive tree.
The northernmost section of the country park covers the woodlands at Darnley Mill. There are trails running on both sides of Brock Burn and you could easily veer off my route a bit to walk on either side of the water.
Eventually, you will briefly emerge back onto Corselet Road before turning right onto a footpath through Waulkmill Glen. There are a few options here – two wider tracks to the west, following roughly the shape of Brock Burn. Or a smaller footpath through the woodland. I prefer the latter.
After a short while, the path crosses a playground and picnic area (the car park here is another great s tart point for walks). From here the footpaths through the woodland become even smaller and rougher with some wooden bridges, boardwalks and tree stumps to avoid muddy sections.
Shortly before reaching the top of the glen, you will once again reach Corselet Road and this time, follow it all the way up to the reservoirs. Through the trees you can see a roaring waterfalls. There is no clear footpath closer to it, so take great care, if you decide to explore off the trail.
Along the Reservoirs
When you get to the top of the road, you see the first of several interconnected reservoirs – Waulkmill Glen Reservoir – that give the area its other name, Barrhead Dams.
From here, the route follows mostly paved tracks shared by walkers and cyclists. For a brief detour, follow the track round Waulkmill Glen Reservoir to the left, even if only to take a closer look at the pump tower.
To continue on my route though, continue walking straight with the reservoir on your left-hand-side. Cross underneath the Victorian arches of Waulkmill Viaduct to reach Ryat Linn Reservoir.
I have seen people taking a dip at this smaller reservoir in the past. But as always with swimming in reservoirs, make sure you consult local wild swimming groups as they can be treacherous places to swim.
There is a lovely waterfall at the far end of Ryat Linn Reservoir. From there, the track climbs a small hill before emerging on a busy-ish road (Aurs Road). Take great care crossing!
On the other side, walk through the gate and follow the embankment around Balgray Reservoir, which is the largest of the Barrhead Dams. The flat footpath leads all the way around the southern edge of the reservoir and ends at the largest car park of Dams to Darnley Country Park.
Backtrack your footsteps from here along the reservoirs and back to the Nitshill Road entrance. You might want to explore some of the other woodland trails on the way back.
Day Hiking Packing List
Depending on how much time you’d like to spend at Dams to Carnley Country Park, you won’t get away without bringing anything for your hike.
As on any hike in Scotland, I recommend wearing layers including a waterproof jacket. However, since this hike does not include a significant ascent or exposed hillsides, the temperatures will be very similar throughout this hike. The only place where windchill could cause you to put on an extra layer is around Balgray Reservoir.
If the weather is nice, you might want to bring a picnic. There are some nice picnic spots around the park.
The woodland trails can be muddy and boggy at times, so wear sturdy trail shoes or hiking boots.
Note that there are no toilet facilities at Dams to Darnley Country Park.
HIKING FACTS: Dams to Darnley
Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
Duration: 2 hours
Terrain: Mostly waymarked trail with steep sections.
Map (on Komoot)
Dams to Darnley might be a little harder to get to than other country parks in Glasgow, it is well worth the effort.
Have you ever been to Dams to Darnley? Or have I inspired you to plan a walk here soon?
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