The launch of the Trail

The pipetrack runs from the Kirkhouse Wood through to Strathblane. It provides access to the two aqueducts that run from Lock Katrine to Milngavie with drinking water for Glasgow. The pipetrack also offers a level walking route to Strathblane.

In 1848–9, a cholera outbreak in Glasgow killed over 4,000 people. The city council realised that the supply of drinking water needed to be improved. In 1855, it approved a scheme designed by John Frederick Bateman. He proposed to dam and raise the level of Loch Katrine and to pipe the water from there to a holding reservoir by Milngavie and then onwards into the city. The route to Milngavie was 41.5 km long. Some 14.5 km of aqueducts were built, sometimes above ground and some parts in an open cut into the ground. A further 21 km was tunnelled, by hand, through hard rock. The final 6 km to Milngavie involves bridges over rivers as well. The flow of water was by gravity, with a drop of 16 cm for every kilometre. The complete system was opened by Queen Victoria on 14 October 1859 at Loch Katrine.

As Glasgow grew, so did its need for water. In 1885 approval was given for the construction of a second aqueduct from Loch Katrine, which was completed in 1901. Both aqueducts pass through the village, as outlined below.

From the north, the aqueduct enters the parish over the Ballachruin Bridge which carries the aqueducts pipes. The house next to the bridge was constructed for a waterman to monitor flow over the bridge. Latterly the monitoring was done remotely. In 1999, one of the pipes sprang a leak and the road surface was partially destroyed. This is the reason that the road now uses a replacement bridge. From here the route goes to the water control point on the road to Balfron just past Heron’s Court. The planting around the stone-built structure has grown up, but in the last century it was kept as neatly as if it were a Glasgow park.

The route then goes across the fields. The first pipeline passes just above Ibert farm and continues straight to the bridge that takes the aqueduct over the Kirkhouse burn close to Main Street. From there it heads under the Branziert to the Lettre Byewash and Access Chamber just above High Lettre farm. Here it is joined by the second pipeline which has taken a higher route from Heron’s Court. It passes through the garden of Auchenibert (the positioning of the house was restricted by the presence of the pipeline). It then travels through Kirkhouse Wood close to the pipetrack and on to the chamber building above High Lettre farm. From there the second pipeline takes a higher route that the first as both head towards Strathblane.

Part of the land now occupied by the Branziert estate was the site of a hut encampment for the builders of the second pipeline during the 1890s.