About the country park

Waulkmill Glen ReservoirEast Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils are developing a new country park called Dams to Darnley.

The country park covers over 1350 acres of greenspace around the East Renfrewshire and Glasgow City boundary, encompassing the green belt separating Barrhead, Darnley and Newton Mearns. The country park aims to provide recreational activities for local residents and visitors through a network of paths for walking, cycling and horse riding. Possibly opportunities for non-motorised watersports, including angling, will also be looked at in the future.

The country park landscape

The country park is made up of a patchwork of different landscape features, including open water, wetland and burn, woodland, grassland and scrub. The area is important for its wildlife, whilst it also has a rich history.


The Barrhead dams are the most striking feature within the country park, dominating its southern half and covering over 220 acres. The dams are made up of a series of interconnected reservoirs, Balgray, Coalhill, Ryat Linn, Littleton and Waulkmill Glen, owned and managed by Scottish Water.

The Brock Burn flows northwards through the middle of the country park, bisecting Waulkmill Glen and Darnley Mill, whilst the Aurs Burn heads east from Barrhead, before joining the Brock Burn.


Large areas of grassland can be found throughout the country park, collectively making up one of the most important habitats within it. The grassland around the Darnley area is particularly rich in wildflowers.


There are pockets of woodland across the country park. The ribbon of woodland which runs through its heart, from Waulkmill Glen in the south to Darnley Mill in the north, is the most important. Waulkmill Glen, the largest woodland within the country park, is an important ancient semi-natural site. Other woodland includes Patterton Wood and the pocket next to the Mearns Grove estate, off Stewarton Road.


The country park is especially important for its wildlife. The reservoirs, all of which are Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), are home to a range of different wild birds all year round, whilst the country park also attracts many winter visitors. Across the changing seasons there is always something new to look out for.


Waulkmill Glen is not only an important ancient semi-natural woodland but is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the outstanding carboniferous geology section found within it, which forms the best outcrop of upper limestone formation in central Scotland. Two limestones, Lyoncross and Calmy, are found within the glen, in addition to a major sandstone, Barrhead grit, which forms the spectacular waterfall at the head of the glen. These, together with siltstones and the Arden coals, represent a 324 million year old tropical, marine marginal environment.


The country park and its surrounding area are also rich in history. There are links to Henry Stewart (Lord Darnley) and Mary Queen of Scots, whilst the story of Charles Tennant and the Darnley Bleachfields helped shape the industrial landscape of the west of Scotland and beyond.

Responsible access

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everyone access rights for walking, cycling, horse riding and all other forms of non-motorised access, to most land and inland water. These rights only apply if they are exercised responsibly by respecting people’s privacy, safety and livelihoods, and Scotland’s environment. A summary of the main responsibilities of anyone exercising their access rights is contained within this website.   

Access rights and responsibilities are explained fully in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Working farmland

Responsible access is particularly important within the country park as much of it remains as working farmland in private ownership, so everyone visiting the country park has an important duty to act responsibly. The Land Reform Act also requires land managers to recognise access rights and to manage their land and water responsibly in relation to these rights.

Country park path network

Although the Land Reform Act establishes a right of responsible access to most land, people generally prefer to use paths. As the country park develops a network of paths is being established.