Some areas however lie under the map radar and this is one of them.Its a rural gem.A lush oasis in an area only locals normally frequent but it has some of the best scenery for photographers anywhere in the Central belt.Its also a fantastic walk with stunning views yet I only discovered it a year ago after driving past it in the car for decades.I,ve been back four times since then in every season.Says it all really.
The photo above is Knapps Loch and its low semi wooded escarpment behind.There are a couple of lay bys beside this on the A761 just south of Kilmacolm,an upmarket country town in Inverclyde that is one of the most sought after locations in the country for folk with a few million to spend on a property.
What a way to start a walk.
The Walk itself.
Park in one of the two laybys.Knapps loch has a fishing hut,three small rowing boats on it,several wooded islands and is popular with local dog walkers.Most of them just go round the loch which is why I,ve always
passed by it in the car considering it too short for a decent walk in the past.I have parked here to start a cycle ride though.(The first layby right beside the loch is also beside a fast road so watch when driving out and keep animals and children safe)
How wrong can you be? Its actually a fantastic and varied walk of several hours duration if you link the low escarpment, nearby Glen moss,and Knockmountain together.A stunning tour de force combination.
I already know what a joy is is to cycle across this landscape,each ridge a real prize on a bike,as big a buzz to reach the top as any mountain summit.Now I,ve also found a walk to do this remarkable landscape justice.A cornucopia of different habitats,terrain and creatures in a surprisingly wild upland area.
Once the escarpment has been traversed the path runs down along the south side of Knapps loch.From the fishing hut go back across the dam then cross open meadows to reach Kilmacolm itself.There is a walkers access gate near the first houses beside the Kilmacolm signs on the A761.This keeps you off the road.
From here going along the main road into town take the 2nd street on the right (Houston Road) a quiet serene gem with wood pigeons cooing in the garden canopy above.Glimpses into a different world of opulent luxury on a grand scale.I love the trees and shrubs here.Many rare types from all around the world.On a sunny day this walk is so close to heaven you can sometimes hear the angels sing in these woods over the sound of lawnmowers and strimmers.
This particular sweet angel stopped signing and asked me if I,d come to fix the drains but I replied no and passed through her world like a visiting ghost. Great houses often require great money and maintainance alas. She was also a visitor.A singing Nanny.A young,very attractive Mary Poppins.Told you this was a land of fairytales.
The road continues up towards a golf course.Once past the houses keep your eyes peeled for a signposted path on the left which takes you across this golf course protected by a screen of silver birch trees on both sides.You then come to a deep, dark fir wood with orange dots on tree trucks highlighting the way (Hansel and Gretel anyone) down to Glen Moss.A nature reserve and one of the few places left in central Scotland that has true elephant swallowing bog.
floating reed munchers and other fairy folk.There are duckboards and several paths around the reserve though you can,t complete a full circle of this body of water.Not without wet feet and good slithering ability anyway.
After exploring follow the duck boards back to a lane with several grand houses scattered around. (tiny car space for wildlife enthusiasts here) Its a dead end cul de sac but you take a rough rustic track that leads down a wooded semi gorge with railings past two sets of open golden gates. ( It is a fairy tale after all.Can,t not have golden gates in it,can we?) This takes you out near the town centre where you can still get a good impression of the old country village of Kilmacolm before the serious money moved in around it.
Knapps loch is man made along with the golf courses.Glen Moss ,a sunken relic of the last ice age used to be drained and managed every winter as a curling pond in years gone by but now its been left to revert to its wild state.
Like a little chunk of Louisiana swampland only without any Alligators.
For those with energy left however there is a path marked on the map that leads up over Knockmountain towards Langbank with views over the Firth Of Clyde.
To those that do though.... Keep it secret.Keep it safe.I know you will.There are wonders here on the very edge of imagination.A landscape of the mind.
To die for.....My wonderful Magic Kingdom.My Real Life land of Oz.