For years I had seen the Clyde Coastal Path (CCP) signposts dotted around my community, but never followed them.
Like many people, I would stick to more familiar local routes, such as the West Highland Way (WHW) and John Muir Way (JMW), and save my exploration on foot or by bike for more places. distant on weekends.
Then came the Covid-19 lockdown and the same old trails lost their appeal after walking them repeatedly – and many destinations became congested.
I started to crave adventure – and suddenly the green signs on the Clyde seemed to promise just that.
With strict restrictions on where we could go – this was the first lockdown – I sat down with a map and walked through the countryside to my doorstep in East Dunbartonshire.
My plan was to challenge myself to find new and different routes for a series of one-day mountain bike tours, each starting and ending at my home in Bearsden.
With a week of sunshine expected, I set off for the first ride, riding the CCP towards the Kilpatrick Hills. Cycling first through a pretty forest on the edge of a housing estate in the nearby town of Milngavie, I am amazed that I have never seen the path before.
On the way up, the views are suddenly vast and stretch from the hills to the coast and over urban Greater Glasgow.
Pedaling an uphill mountain bike over rough terrain is tiring, and according to my schedule, I still have 518 meters (1,700 feet) of elevation gain left.
A short descent leads to Douglas Muir Quarry, strangely silent due to the lockdown. An information sign indicates that an older part of the quarry has been returned to wildlife in the form of moors and wetlands.
More descent on a peaceful single track brings me to a stretch of road that is again familiar as access to one of my local mountain tracks.
Here, I leave the CCP, which continues west, to join a short section of the tarmac before turning onto a new track for me which climbs northwards in the middle of farmland.
At the front, I am a sign for Jaw Reservoir, walking a narrow path between two fenced fields. In a field, a trigonometric pillar stands at a height of 229 m (751 feet).
A trig always calls for a photo and I admire the view of the rolling countryside giving way to the clutter of the city.
Climbing further, over the track and the cut grass, Jaw’s waters suddenly appear.
A rugged path climbs up from the reservoir, where I see a causeway that I hope will lead me north. It takes a short bike ride over a thick fern bank to reach Jaw’s swampy shore, then I jump in the saddle for a nice ride over two flat, narrow grassy causeways that cross the waterway via a small island.
Glad to find a narrow path that winds along the edge of the forest. Heading north, I climb to the highest point of the day at 320 meters (1,050 feet) and, just as I begin to wonder where I am, I turn a corner and see another expanse of water. ‘water.
I recognize the triangular shape of the Kilmannan tank, then an elegant wooden sign for the JMW.
The JMW, which opened in 2014, crosses East Dunbartonshire on its journey from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland.
I can either go straight down or bypass another reservoir, Burncrooks. The weather is still warm and I embark on the three mile roller coaster style loop.
The way back is deliciously downhill, first on the JMW and then on the WHW. Although it’s easy to speed up, I relish the opportunity offered by a reduced workload and sublime conditions to stop to look at bluebells blankets and learn about local history from a series. artistic installations.
I call my adventure the road of the four reservoirs.
The next day I feel like driving even closer to the mountains and planning a 35 mile circuit north, bringing together the WHW and the JMW.
More sun and ‘taking my time’ make for an adventure which, although tiring due to the greater mileage and the total ascent of 823 meters, is wonderfully diverse on paths, tracks and tarmac.
I pass the Kilmannan and Burncrooks reservoirs again before entering a wild forest on a seemingly endless descent to the village of Croftamie on the edge of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
On a southern part of the WHW, I follow the eastern edge of the prominent Campsie Fells before heading to a trail system in Mugdock Country Park and back home on roads and trails that I know very well.
The Great Bike Adventures Trio finale visits an ancient landmark that I had heard about for a long time, but never found the time to locate.
Joined this time by my husband Gordon, who is sure to remember going to Auld Wives Lifts as a teenager, we were mapping another 20 mile (32 km) loop.
We follow familiar trails, including the WHW, as well as less traveled routes, such as the Strathkelvin Railway Path, to reach the vast Lennox Forest.
Plotting a route as we drive, but generally traversing the forest from north to south, we come across another trig pillar with a fantastic view up the hill, then drive down a quiet country road near tiny Baldernock.
Leaving our bikes by the side of the road, we walk to Craigmaddie Muir where, in a natural amphitheater, is a pair of large boulders with a third balanced.
The Auld Wives elevators are covered with carvings dating back hundreds of years, including Celtic inscriptions.
Really, we note, we would never have visited this fascinating place without the lockdown.
We also wouldn’t have lingered looking for another trig pillar and lying in the sun for awe-inspiring views of the city and countryside before heading home with new finds and new sights expanding our minds.