Ever dreamed of a path in the sky that could lead you from Glasgow to Loch Lomond? Well, good news – the much-anticipated Bowline is now open to the public. Scotland’s answer to the New York Highline, was unveiled at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire in September 2021 – and it aims to transform the lives of those living on the Forth and Clyde canal.
The Bowline located west of Glasgow means that everyone in the surrounding communities choosing to walk, wheel or cycle can now make everyday journeys towards the heart of the city. And they can now head further west towards Dumbarton, on a fully traffic-free route.
Inspired by New York’s Highline, the new linear park has transformed a railway crossing and 124-year old bridge which have sat derelict since the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway closed in 1960. It connects the canal towpath to the wider National Cycle Network, providing virtually uninterrupted off-road access from Glasgow to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Plus, the fully accessible line boasts breathtaking views over the historic canal to the River Clyde and beyond.
A new, high-quality access ramp has been installed, allowing everyone walking, wheeling and cycling to access the National Cycle Network Route 7. Bowling Harbour is also now home to several successful businesses including a gift shop, cycle workshop and a café.
John Lauder, Deputy Chief Executive at Sustrans, said: “The Bowline is a great example of how we are working with partners across the country to improve the National Cycle Network. Increasing the number of walking, wheeling and cycling journeys is a win-win for society: improving air quality, reducing noise, improving public health and reducing carbon emissions.
“As we face the climate emergency together, it’s vital that we make it easier, safer and more attractive for people to walk, wheel and cycle by delivering high-quality projects like the Bowline. And we all need to work quickly and in partnership to create a safe, consistent and accessible network of paths, and safer streets and roads; giving everyone the opportunity to travel in a healthier, greener and more sustainable way, more often.”
To mark the opening, active travellers, including a unicyclist, cyclist, child bouncing on a space hopper and mobility scooter user, made the inaugural trip across The Bowline, cheered on by newly appointed Active Travel Minister, Patrick Harvie MSP, project funders and local residents. In 2019 alone, active travellers made over 145 million trips along the National Walking and Cycling Network, which includes the National Cycle Network, Scotland’s Great Trails and the canal towpath network.