We tend to think as the countryside as the place to go to find nature reserves, and green spaces in cities tend to be managed as neat parkland.
However, Dundee has a couple of small nature reserves at the north and south sides of the city, as well as the wilder areas of parkland in Camperdown and Templeton Woods, and on Balgay Hill.
The nature reserve near the Esplanade in Broughty Ferry / Barnhill is covered in one of the other walks, and there are pages devoted to Camperdown Park and Templeton Woods, and Balgay Hill (along with the Law). It seemed a pity to leave out the other nature reserve, which is easily overlooked. It runs along the east side of Lochee, along a section of the disused Newtyle to Dundee railway line, but you could walk past either end and hardly notice. It can be walked on its own, or in conjunction with Balgay Hill and the Law (see the end of the story).
The southern access is not easy to spot - at the end of Old Kings Cross Road, which runs off Loons Road in Lochee, between Lochee High Street and Balfield Road. The northern access is off Clepington Road just across from the massive Kingsway West retail centre. If you can see the "Land of Leather" sign on one of the metal facades, the entrance to The Miley is just across the road. And it runs for (surprise surprise) about a mile between the two, with a couple of bridges carrying intermediate roads over it. Both ends are marked by wrought iron gates, as seen in the photos.
I had run along it quite a few years ago when the Dundee Roadrunners were based at Lochee Baths, but hadn't been back since. However, I had been handed a leaflet by someone from the Scottish Wildlife Trust in 2005, telling me that it was now adopted as an urban nature reserve (details on the SWT website - look for "Miley, The" on the drop down list).
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So I stopped off in Lochee one beautiful spring afternoon in early May 2006 to seek out this hidden ribbon of wildlife.
It was probably less than a couple of hundred metres from the laybye near the lights on Lochee High Street, round the corner into Loons Road, uphill (a reminder of many breathless efforts running up here) past a street of housing on either side and straight after that the access along Old Kings Cross Road. It didn't look very inviting, and there were no signs for the nature reserve or footpath, but a short way along here I reached the metal gate. Inside was an information board defaced by graffiti, but with "The Miley" still clear at the top.
I set off along the path, which was in pretty good condition all the way apart from one slightly damp bit halfway along. The bed of the old railway track would have made a well-drained and firm base for the path. As you might expect in the middle of a city, there was some unsightly litter, but it wasn't too bad, and far better than the last time I ran along it! Now it makes a find short walk, taking half an hour at an easy pace. I just saw one other walker, with his dog, and enjoyed this stretch of seclusion that cuts through a busy part of Dundee.
In a way it's a bit like the canals that you find in some of our cities - I remember years ago returning to Birmingham and looked for somewhere to go running in a city centre dominated by big buildings and roads. I found my way to a canal towpath that you wouldn't have known was there, running right through the city centre but out of sight (now it's been renovated - see the photo on the England page). You can live somewhere for years and not be aware of some of these special places.
This one-mile stroll can easily be added on to a longer triangular walk, taking in Balgay Hill and The Law (see separate page). As you can see from the photos below, The Law is within sight of the Clepington Road end, and Balgay Hill is visible from just below the Old Kings Cross Road / Loons Road end. Both distances are about half a mile (a kilometre).
Contributed by: Andrew Llanwarne - May 2006
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Not far from the Loons Road end of the path - the junction with Ancrum Road, and Balgay Hill in the background
Looking back up towards Cox's Stack from the same spot (the daffodils were very late in 2006, after the cold March)