Milngavie (pronounced "Mill-GUY") is a town in Clydeside in the Central Belt of Scotland. With a population of 12,840 in 2020, it's a commuter and retirement town for Glasgow six miles to the southwest. The main reason to visit is to walk the West Highland Way, which starts here. Milngavie is also a good base for exploring the Campsie Fells to the northeast, and Loch Lomond to the northwest.
"Milngavie" may mean windmill (Gaelic muileann gaoithe) or windy hill (meall na gaoithe). Local lore derives it from muileann Dhàibhidh, "Davie's mill", but that was somewhere else and Davie was some other guy. It was a small farming village, sometimes allocated to Stirlingshire and sometimes to Dunbartonshire, before becoming industrial in the 19th century with paper mills and bleach works. It became a leafy well-to-do suburb once the railway arrived in 1863, then was heavily urbanised from 1950 to re-house those bombed out along Clydebank during the war. For a time the Glasgow trams even ran this far out. Those were axed in 1956 but Milngavie retained its rail and bus links to the city, and is now mostly a commuter town.
Milngavie pitched a daring bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Somehow the decision went to Tokyo, then Paris pipped it for 2024. Huh, it's obvious money changed hands . . . better luck for 2028?
By train: Trains run daily every 30 min from either Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street, taking 25 min via Bearsden. Many of these run direct to Milngavie from Edinburgh or Motherwell, but along slow lines - it's quicker to take the fast train from Edinburgh to change at Queen Street, and from Motherwell to change at Central.
1 Milngavie railway station is central in town. There is a staffed ticket office and machines, coffee kiosk, waiting rooms and toilets. There is step-free access to all platforms.
By bus: Glasgow Citybus 15 runs from Glasgow North Frederick St via Hillhead, Kelvinside, Anniesland and Bearsden to Milngavie, taking just over an hour. It runs every 30 min M-F, hourly Saturday.
First Glasgow Bus 60 / 60A runs from Glasgow Central and Hope St via Maryhill to Milngavie, M-Sa every 20-30 min and Sunday hourly, taking 45 min.
First Scotland East Bus X10 / X10A runs from Glasgow Buchanan station via Maryhill and Bearsden to Milngavie and continues via Balfron, Aberfoyle and Blairdrummond to Stirling. It runs M-Sa every two hours.
McColls Bus 47 runs between Milgavie and Kirkintilloch M-Sa every couple of hours.
By road leave M8 at jcn 16 (from east) / 17 (from west) and follow A81 north through Bearsden.
Milngavie is a small place and Mugdock Country Park is just a mile north. You need wheels to explore the Campsie Fells and shores of Loch Lomond.
Taxi firms are Ambassador (+44 141 955 0555) and Station Taxi (+44 141 942 4555).
- 1 Mugdock Country Park is a mile north from town along Ellangowan Rd, with the ruin of the 14th century Mugdock Castle. A mansion was built here in Victorian times, but burned down and has been demolished.
- Gruffalo Trail is just across the town boundary south, see Bearsden.
- 2 Auld Wives Lifts are two massive boulders on the hillside with a third perched on top. So they look like a prehistoric megalith but are believed to be a natural formation, and a circular etching on one was probably by a modern quarryman. Their name stems from a folk tale that three old women had a contest for the heaviest stone they could carry here in their aprons.
- Football: Glasgow Rangers women's team play at the Rangers training ground, south of town along A807 Auchenhowie Rd. They play in the Scottish Women's Premier League, their top tier.
- Golf: Milngavie GC is a mile north of town, white tees 5818 yards, par 70, visitor round £20.
- Dougalston GC[dead link] is a mile east, 5721 yards, par 68, visitor round £35.
- Clober GC is half a mile northwest, 4963 yards, par 66, visitor round £30.
- The West Highland Way starts here and stretches 96 miles (154 km) to Fort William. It's usually done south to north, to have the sun and wind at your back, and to have the easier southern sections prepare you for the tougher terrain ahead. There are eight stages of 10-15 miles apiece. One easy way to do it, especially for working folk who are time-poor, is to tackle each half-stage as a Sunday afternoon bimble there-and-back, no rucksack no grief, drive home three hours later and do the next half-stage whenever you please. The first stage is Milngavie to Drymen, 12 miles / 9 km, all easy lowland going. Start from the granite obelisk in town centre and plod north across the golf course and Mugdock Country Park, on into the fields and by small lochs. Zag west on B821 then on north by Dumgoyach Standing Stones, Dumgoyne village, west at Gartness to cross the river then bear north into Drymen.
- John Muir Way is a 130 mile / 215 km walking trail from Helensburgh to Dunbar on the east coast. It's named for the naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) and initially stretched from Dunbar his birthplace to Edinburgh, but in 2014 was extended to Helensburgh. Hiking east to have the weather at your back, Stage Two is from Balloch across the hills to Strathblane near Milngavie, with an alternative route for bikes via Gartness and Dumgoyne coincident with the West Highland Way. Stage Three is through Lennoxtown to join the Forth-Clyde Canal at Kirkintilloch, thence along the towpath towards Edinburgh.
- Campsie Fells are a few miles north, surrounding Fintry. Their highest point is the Earl's Seat at 578 m (1896 ft). "Campsie" is from the Gaelic for "crooked fairy", but it's best not to dwell on this.
- Bearsden & Milngavie Highland Games are held in June at the West of Scotland rugby ground, midway between Bearsden and Milngavie. The next are on probably Saturday 8 June 2024, tbc.
- Tesco is just south of the railway station, open M-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su 08:00-22:00.
- Classic India, 5 Douglas St G62 6PA, ☏ . Daily 16:30-22:00. Good reviews for this trad Indian restaurant 100 yards west of the railway station.
- Others near the railway station include Fantoosh Nook, Garvie & Co and Chinese and fish & chips takeaways. Andiamo is a block east.
- 1 Talbot Arms, 30 Main St, Milngavie G62 6BU. A traditional pub in town centre. Dog-friendly, live music Fridays and pub quiz Sun evening. 11:00-23:00, F to 01:00.
- Glengoyne is a whisky distillery in the hills north towards Drymen and offers tours.
- 1 Premier Inn, 103 Main Street G62 6JQ (south edge of town, jcn A81 & B8030), ☏ . Large reliable chain hotel. B&B double from £50.
- 2 Premier Inn Bearsen is just over the town boundary, see Bearsden#Sleep.
- 3 Ardoch House, Blanefield G63 9AW (5 miles north of Milngavie on B821), ☏ . At about mile 6 of the West Highland Way, this 6 bedroom hotel also has a cabin and 4 camping pitches. rooms from £40.
There's a good 4G and Wifi signal here from all UK carriers. As of July 2021, 5G has not reached this area.
- For the scenic east shore of Loch Lomond, follow A809 north to Drymen then B837 to Balmaha. For the busier west shore, take A810 west to join A82 north to Dumbarton, Balloch and Luss.
- Stirling northeast is an attractive miniature Edinburgh.
- Glasgow city lights are only half an hour away.
|Routes through Milngavie|
|Trossachs ← Drymen ←||N S||→ Bearsden → Glasgow|