Walk or Cycle | Summerlee Monkland Canal N Calder Trail
Start/Finish: Summerlee Museum
Transport: Train-Coatbridge Central, Coatbridge Sunnyside or Blairhill Railway Stations
Refreshment: Drumpellier Country Park Visitor Centre cafe 01236 422257 www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life cafe 01236 638454 www.visitlanarkshire.com/summerlee
Distance: 8 1/2 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy (moderate in places)
Terrain: Tarred traffic-free cycle paths or canal towpath for much of the way. Paths can be rough, narrow and muddy in places. There are only two short sections of road.
Almost entirely traffic free, the route follows the National Cycle Network route number 75 and North Calder Heritage Trail. Signs, information boards and a visit to Summerlee before or after your cycle will help you imagine the canal’s heydays, busy with flat-bottomed boats overflowing with coal from the many pit heads once found in what is now very peaceful, rolling green countryside.
Points of Interest
1. Summerlee Museum
– based around the site of the former 19th-century Summerlee Ironworks – vividly recreates Lanarkshire’s industrial past. There are historic trams, tours down a recreated mine, working machinery and hundreds of exhibits that tell the human story. (free entry; open daily) www.visitlanarkshire.com/summerlee
2. Monklands Canal
– (Open section) Now a reedy backwater plied by ducks and fished by heron. The canal was designed by James Watt. Started in 1770 and finally opened in 1794, it carried mainly coal to Glasgow. Closed in 1935, much of the canal was then filled in.
3. Faskine Bridge
– Painted black and white, British Waterway’s colours, this is an evocative piece of canal furniture. It was near here in 1819 that Thomas Wilson launched the Vulcan, Scotland’s first iron-hulled ship. A replica can be seen at Summerlee from the summer months of this year.
From Summerlee Museum, proceed straight ahead down Heritage Way to junction with West Canal Street. Turn left and cross to go back under railway bridge at the giant Lees’ snowballs artworks. Continue to a pedestrian crossing and cross to Farmfoods. Turn left and then first right into Ellis Street (cul-de-sac). Follow around to the left and continue past the police station up ramp at the foot of the pedestrian bridge. Go around the car park, passing Coatbridge health centre on your right.
Continue to the pedestrian crossing and continue in the direction of Caldercruix, following the path to the rear of Tesco Extra, and continue to cross the bridge over the dual carriageway. Turn left in the direction of Calderbank, NCN 75. After a short downhill ride, turn right to join the Monkland canal basin and emerge at Locks Street.
Staying on this side of the road, turn right and right again before going under the viaduct. Cycle up a ramp to reach the level of the railway path then turn left to cross the viaduct. Follow the railway path until it goes uphill past primary school. Turn left at a junction of footpaths (do not go out to main road) – signed as Drumgelloch 1¾, Plains 3, NCN 75.
Continue beyond primary school and astroturf pitch, follow the tarred path around to the left for about 100 yards. At a wooden fence, leave NCN 75 and turn right to follow path that involves negotiating a series of staggered gates. On the left is the Brownsburn Country Park.
The cycle path will then meet up with a road signed for Calderbank and Chapelhall. Cross straight over and take a path across a field, which is narrow in places. At Calderbank Road turn to the right and join the road, entering the Calderbank 30mph zone. Continue past Calderbank Primary School and then downhill through village. Turn right into Crowwood Road just before the village hall.
Take the second left – Woodhall Avenue. Go right to the bottom and pass through a narrow swing gate on the right. Descend on to a tarred road which is closed to traffic and at the bottom of hill cross the canal to take up the towpath on the left. Stay on the towpath to the end of the open section of canal, then cross the bridge over a weir and continue to Paddock Street/ Sykeside Road.
Cross the road, take up a gravel path and follow to the railway viaduct. Before going under the viaduct, go to the left and up a slope to reach the level of the viaduct and turn left to take up the railway path from your outward journey and retrace your route back.