AS a heron lands on the bank and tucks in its wings, a hush descends on the opposite side of the canal.

Apart from the sound of other birds singing, the only noise is the clicking of cameras.

On a sunny spring morning, a group of about 20, mainly pensioners, have been walking along the towpath of the Forth and Clyde Canal from Lambhill to Maryhill.

Catching sight of the wildlife on the water is just one of the highlights.

It is so quiet here you'd never imagine that we are in the middle of the city.

Just a few hundred yards away, cars and lorries thunder by on Balmore Road but down here it is another world: butter-coloured daffodils dance in the morning breeze and the sun sparkles on the water.

The group meets every Friday for these one-hour walks along the banks of the canal, and the benefits are obvious.

"It's good to get out in the fresh air. We are out in all weathers but we've been lucky, the weather has never been too bad," says Rebecca Lavery, who leads the walk with John Reilly. "The walks are great for your health and most people come out for the company too."

The group gathers at Lambhill Stables, next to the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Possil Marsh wildlife reserve, and heads off on different routes along the canal for a one-hour walk every week.

"We started a few years ago and it has been going strong ever since," adds Rebecca, from Lambhill.

"Today we're walking along the canal to Maryhill, passing Ruchill golf course. Sometimes we see the swans and other wildlife along the way."

To help local people get healthy, Scottish Canals has been working with Glasgow City Council and invested £750,000 in the 35 miles of towpath network, increasing visitors by 15%.

As we make our way along the northern edge of the canal, snaking through Lambhill, cyclists and joggers pass by.

The estate of hew houses on one side and towering electricity pylon on our side of the bank are the only reminders we're so close to a residential area.

Anne Gray, from Lambhill, has brought along Macey, her daughter's dog on today's walk.

"I've not been coming on the walks for long, just for the past few months," she says. "I just came down myself one day and thought I'd give it a go. I've had health issues, I've got problems with my breathing, and I thought this would be good for me. I feel so much better after being out in the fresh air."

She is in step with Sheena McCafferty, from Cadder, who only started walking with the group recently.

"I read about the walks and just wanted to get out and meet people. I thought for health reasons the walks would be good too," she says.

"I enjoy the company, the fresh air and meeting everyone; we always have a good laugh."

To find out more about walking routes along the canal, visit

Lambhill Stables has also produced booklets high-lighting heritage-focused walking routes.

Ronnie Ritchie and his wife Martha, originally from South Africa and now living in Milton, have found the group is a great way to get to know Glasgow.

"It's good to socialise and get to know people better," he says.

"It's a different culture from South Africa; different scenery and a lot of rain. It doesn't matter what the weather is like, we still come out."

MARTHA adds: "Walking is good for the mind and the soul and gives you the chance to meet new people.

A friend who goes to the same choir, and the same gym, told me about this group, so I started coming with her.

"Now I've dragged my husband along with me too and he enjoys it as well."

The ethos of the walking group fits perfectly with our year-long campaign to improve the health of Scots in the year of the Commonwealth Games and build a lasting legacy of wellbeing.

Working with partners Glasgow Life, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and SportScotland we'll be creating exciting opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses to get active as we bid to improve the health of as many people as possible.

The message of this campaign is that even the smallest of changes in lifestyle can make a huge improvement in health.

"Whether you are tackling them by boot or bike, the towpaths of Scotland's canals offer a fantastic venue for leisure and exercise," agrees Alasdair Smart, Lowlands waterway manager for Scottish Canals. "With the Commonwealth Games coming to the city, there couldn't be a better time for the people of Glasgow to take some simple and easy steps to get active.

"The Evening Times Active 2014 campaign shows just how many ways there are to keep fit and healthy in our great city and how even the smallest change in activity and lifestyle can make a huge difference.

"Scottish Canals is proud to support the campaign and we hope to see the people of Glasgow following Rebecca and the walking group's lead and tackling the towpaths of the Forth & Clyde Canal."