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Kelvin, River

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Kelvin, a river of Stirling, Dumbarton, and Lanark shires, rising in the great strath of the Forth and Clyde Canal at a point 3 miles E by N of Kilsyth, and 160 feet above sea-level. Thence it flows 21 miles west-south-westward and south-south-westward, till it falls into the Clyde at Partick, the western suburb of Glasgow. It bounds the parishes of Kilsyth, Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch, Campsie, Cadder, Baldernock, New Kilpatrick, Maryhill, Barony, and Govan, under which and Glasgow full details are given as to the towns, villages, and other features of its course. Followed pretty closely along its left side by the Forth and Clyde Canal, it is very slow and sluggish over the first 12¾ miles, where it formerly was choked with aquatic vegetation, and often dispread itself far and wide in a manner betwixt lake and morass. But it was straightened, deepened, and embanked; and now it crawls along with all the appearance of a large ditch. For several miles it is one of the tamest lines of water in the kingdom; but afterwards it has green and wooded banks; further on it is fringed with luxuriant haughs, and overlooked by pleasant braes or hanging plains; and all along, till near its entering its far-famed dell, it borrows much interest from the Kilsyth Hills and Campsie Fells, which flank the N side of its basin. The affluents which come down to it from these heights contribute the larger portion of its volume; and at least Garvald Burn is entitled to rank as the parent stream. At Kirkintilloch, the Kelvin receives on the right hand the Glazert coming down from the Campsie Fells, and on the left Luggie Water creeping in from a region of moors and knolly flats. But it still continues languid, and can boast no higher ornament for several miles than the luxuriant Balmore haughs. Below these it is joined on its right side by Allander Water, and passes into a total change of scenery. Its basin is henceforth a rolling surface of knolls, with no overhanging fells and few extensive prospects, but with intricate and endless series of winding hollows, abrupt diversities, and charming close views. And here at Garscube, 5 miles NW of Glasgow, the Kelvin awakens into activity, and enters on Kelvingrove. Its course thence to Partick lies generally along a dell of similar character to that of the North Esk between Hawthornden and Dalkeith, but with less brilliance and more diversity. Some parts contract into gorges, others expand into vale; some wall in the watercourse between steeps or precipices, others flank it with strips of meadow or shelving descents; some are comparatively tame and soft, while others are wild and harsh. But the dell, as a whole, is all feature, all character- most of it clothed with trees as thickly as a bird's wing with feathers-some parts streaked with cascades, and many picturesquely-studded with mansions, bridges, and mills. Its waters below Maryhill are intensely polluted by factories; but they elsewhere contain trout, pike, perch, and roach, and were formerly frequented by salmon.—Ord. Sur., shs. 31, 30, 1867-66.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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