The Gryffe Valley Circuit

April 2012
60 km

Gryffe Valley is a small distinct valley running from Johnstone up to the hill over to Port Glasgow. Major villages in this valley is Bridge Of Weir, Quarriers Village, Houston and Kilmacolm. Since I first cycled through this valley some years ago, I have been a real fan of this valley. It has some subtle charm and scenery. It also has great calm ambience. Kilmacolm is a very beautiful village. The valley is a bikerider's paradise, ranging from the flat Port Glasgow to Johnstone cyclepath to the many excellent and rather vertical smaller roads criss crossing this valley. I think this valley is vastly underrated. But don't tell anyone that. Let's keep it a secret, valued by the few selected ones.

I had wanted to do this bikeride for a long time. But the weather was not nice and when I had time to spare, I went on longer bikerides instead of this one. But a four hours short weather window early in the morning made me prepare the bike and clothes the day before and my alarm clock was set to 0600 for an early morning.

I woke up to a pretty grey day and made myself ready for this bikeride. I readied myself and cycled down to and through Paisley for the cyclepath up past Johnstone and up to Bridge Of Weir. I had never done this cyclepath in this direction before and I found it good fun. I was the only one out too and there was hardly any life at all. Just me, lots of sheep and newborn lambs. The birds was singing their hearts out. The skies was a bit threatening further up the valley though. But I cracked on up to Bridge Of Weir and then took the rather steep Torr Road up to the B786, the Kilmacolm to Lochwinnoch road. I was keeping a steady tempo due to the oncoming rain. It seemed like the rain was arriving a lot earlier than forecasted and I was not pleased about that. But I cracked on and reached the crossroad where I took the road in the direction of Kilmacolm. It was starting to rain now. Not heavy rain, but not comfortable with my glasses. A vertical drop was followed by a vertical climb and some light undulations before I reached a small crossroad just after a bridge. I took the small road signposted South Newton up the hill and through some crossroads and chasing after some sheep and lambs they went down another road and I rejoined the B788 mainroad again further up the valley. These small roads was excellent though and an essential part of this bikeride. Check out my map and then Google Earth.

I had cycled down this road five-six times previously, but never cycled it up this hill. And that was a revelation. It was a pretty hard climb, yes. But it also gave me time to study the landscape a lot more (and to heavy breathe in the local air). And I was really impressed and awed by what I saw. This area has a mix of farming and moor landscape. It is only 150 meters above sea level though. It was more like another planet. Very strange and very beautiful. This road over to Greenock really deserves to be explored. But don't telly anyone.....
The climb was hard and the descent down to the valley again to River Gryffe was a bit hairy in light rain, greasy road and sidewind. The farmers was attending to the newborn lambs and I had good fun. I hit the foot of the final climbs up to the hills at the head of Gryffe Valley. Halfway up, I took a picture.

Looking down towards Gryffe Valley and Kilmacolm to the left

The climb is not hard. Neither is it long and it tops out at around 200 meters above sea level. It was good fun and I really enjoyed the climb, the landscape and everything that makes bikeriding so fun. The weather was also easing up and my heart was singing. No, I was not on some funny drugs. I was just having fun on my bike. After this good climb, it topped out at some huts and I took the picture below towards the water reservoir and the Clyde River deep below.

From the top of this climb

I descended down to the water reservoirs and took the minor road at the dam up to the right over to Port Glasgow. The road started with a twisty steep climb before it eased up and it first descended gently and then as a vertical drop towards Port Glasgow. I did not go all the way to sea level. I ended up on the higher part of Port Glasgow, far above Clyde River. I took the Auchenbothie Road up the hill again, through a housing estate and then up to a small hilltop where I rejoined Gryffe Valley again. A totally different world than Clyde River and Port Glasgow. I was back in the farmlands again. This excellent road took me down to one of my favorite places in Renfrewshire; Kilmacolm. A fabelous typical inland Scottish village. I am incredible lucky to have the possibility to include both Kilmacolm and Largs in the same bikeride. Both excellent villages. Kilmacolm was quited and empty. But it was still very beautiful. I headed down the hill down to Bridge Of Weir again though. I passed a kind of a ceremony at the water's edge at Knapp's Loch and the road was overcrowded by parked cars. I was soon down in Bridge Of Weir again where I chose the Houston Road to the left.

Glasgow and Paisley from the Bridge Of Weir to Houston road

I passed some anglers going to the lake in the picture above. That too is a great way to spend an Easter Sunday. Must try that when I get older..... I passed through Houston village on my way to Paisley. The rain was staying away and I had great fun on the bike. I passed Inchinnan and Renfrew and then stopped at my local Tesco to get a breakfast. I arrived home, very happy after some excellent hours on the bike.


An absolute brilliant bikeride and one of the best ones in the Renfrewshire area. No doubts about that. It goes straight into my classics list. It is also a pretty hard ride with some severe short and long climbs. The views and the landscape is also excellent all the way. From the ride up the valley to the balcony bikeride over Clyde River with views over to Helensburgh. Kilmacolm is also a real bonus. I cannot recommend this bikeride highly enough.