The Americans have a
saying “It licks creation,” but this is too tall talk even for
Kirkintilloch : as regards drives and walks, however, it may fairly
challenge Scotland, and, possibly, England and Ireland, too.
Owing partly to the
configuration of the country, and partly to the circumstances of the
town being intersected by both canal and railway, it stands pre-eminent
for roads and walks.
The tourist who wishes to
visit Kirkintilloch may travel by rail or by canal; but if he prefers to
drive, and is within ten miles of the town in any direction, he need be
at no loss for a road, for he can enter its streets by any one of eight
different and distinct public roads, converging from all points of the
compass. In ancient times, in Italy, the people there had a saying, that
“all roads led to Rome,” but whether more than eight entered its streets
is a matter of speculation.
If our traveller has the
good sense to remain for a period, and breathe the fresh air of the
Kelvin valley, he will find everything required for the outward or
inward man, or woman either. In strolling through the town should he be
a pedestrian, and fancy a walk in the surrounding country, he has ample
choice, for there are no less than seventeen roads and walks ready at
his pleasure: and whether he travels one, two, three, or four miles, he
need not return the same way, as he will always have an alternative, and
often two or three; not one of which will he find barren or
The people of Helensburgh
are justly proud of their town, which they fondly call the “Brighton of
Scotland.” And it must be admitted that it is pleasantly situated on the
bank of the Clyde, with streets in general broad, and many handsome
villas. A stranger, however, is apt to tire of the place in a short
time, without knowing the reason. All the streets are good, and many are
so wide as to hive trees growing in them; there is an infinite variety
in the villas, which are invariably adorned with shelter trees, shrubs,
hedges, etc.; and in the season the show of flowers is worth seeing.
“Then what is wrong with
the place?” says the reader; “you’re ill to please?” Well, then,
Helensburgh is laid off too formally—in squares—just like a draught
board; the streets, although pretty, are too much alike, and the
This in no way applies to
Kirkintilloch, no one street is like another; all is infinite variety,
and never-ending interest. The curve is the line of beauty; the straight
line tires; and the curve rules in Kirkintilloch—no danger of the eye
becoming fatigued with long straight streets, wearisome squares, or dead
In case our readers
should think we are “bouncing” about the town and the surrounding
country, we import a neutral and outside opinion, which in part at least
In the year 1859
Kirkintilloch had the honour of a visit from a full battery of Her
Majesty’s heavy artillery, of six guns, completely equipped with the
requisite number of officers, men, horses, etc. They were en route for
Dublin, but owing to some delay in the transport, they stayed over a
week in the town. The officer in command was the afterwards notorious
Major Yelverton, who with his wife Teresa Longworth, lived in the Crown
Hotel. It was a novel sight for the town people to have sentries pacing
before the officers’ quarters.
Every day the battery
took a circuit for exercise out by the Kilsyth Road, thence round by
Milton and back. The farrier sergeant declared that the “avenues” at the
Martyrs stone, and Antermony, were the finest he had seen in all his
travels, either in Great Britain, India, or elsewhere.
The disciples of Isaac
Walton have still some scope for their energies, although the Luggie and
the Kelvin are both now much polluted. Above their confluence however
the Kelvin still yields good baskets, that stream being long known as
one of the best breeding rivers in the kingdom. The trouts are pink in
colour and rich in quality, the build being superior and resembles that
of the Lochleven trout.
About forty years ago
when the Kelvin was comparatively free from impurities, large hauls were
sometimes made. Mr. Robert Rodger informs us that about the year 1850 on
a fine day in June he fished six hours from Broomhill upwards and
creeled fifty trout weighing 25 lbs. On another occasion 'he got thirty
large trout—with the worm—in the month of March. A trout was caught
weighing 3^ lbs. which was stuffed and is still to be seen at Hayston,
and Mr. Andrew Stirling—another enthusiastic angler—caught one of 4 lbs.
not long ago, despite the impurities of the river.
The Burgh Seal has a
representation of a fish, but whether the designer had Mr. Stirling’s
trout in view we do not know. It is appropriate however, for another
reason, viz., that in old times the salmon fishing of the Kelvin was of
some value, as we have elsewhere shewn. The castle on the seal must be
Kirkintilloch Castle; but as for the three stars, the reader must form
his own interpretation—they are above us.