The Garrel Burn

From its source with the Birkenburn to the north of the town, the Garrel tumbles down almost 1000ft, waterfall by waterfall, then crosses the historic old town of Kilsyth more sedately, flowing under a number of ornate cast iron bridges. It ultimately joins the River Kelvin to the south of the town.

Its main tributary, the Colzium Burn, flows spectacularly down through Colzium Glen, becoming  known as the Ebroch Burn as it reaches more level ground at Stirling Road and continues on its course to join the Garrel at Burngreen.

A partial diversion of the Garrel, the Lade, was engineered almost 250 years ago to act as a feeder to supply water to the Forth and Clyde Canal (opened 1790) A series of the old boundary stones engraved FCN, Forth and Clyde Navigation Company, can still be seen within Colzium Estate where the Lade meanders through woodlands to Banton Loch, officially known as Townhead Reservoir. A watercourse links the reservoir to the canal at Craigmarloch. Still standing here are the old stables once used for resting the barge horses.

In years gone by, the Garrel provided essential power for various mills. On Tak-ma-doon Road an existing example, now in residential use, shows the dates1700, 1774, and 1808.The shallower waters at Burngreen were used for”retting” flax – a process of prolonged soaking to remove the tough outer fibres, while Burngreen itself served as a bleaching green in the subsequent processes.

It is claimed that total immersion was carried out by a local church using a pool just to the north of Innsbridge but this practice was soon abandoned by dint of being “too cold”!

When Main St was pedestrianised three round structures to serve as seating were built on the paving (the paving is set in a wavy pattern to represent the Garrell Burn which runs through the town)

One structure was set at the top end of the street, one in the middle position and one at the lower end of the street.

The following three verse poem was inscribed – one verse on each of the structures, although the one bearing the first verse was subsequently removed. This poem was composed by local man William Bell

Waters of the Garrell flow
By bracken slopes, by wooded walls
By rapid gushing waterfalls
Between the gorges through the glen
And through half hidden swirling dens
Remember rest and pause.
Comes and goes
Fades and grows
Donner roon aboot
And search for minnows in the burn
Till come the time to home return
Wee place to leave my heart.