MARGARET Galloway doesn't seem to mind that her big secret is out. For decades, the 73-year-old has kept quiet about the wee hidden gem near her home in Glasgow's east end; the tranquil hideaway where she can take Cooper, her West Highland Terrier, for a walk.

The place is the walkway that follows the Clyde as it meanders through green and wooded banks, through scarred and post-industrial Dalmarnock.

"It's beautiful," Mrs Galloway said yesterday, keeping a tight rein on her dog. "We come every day and we really love it."

But would she mind sharing? "No, no." Sharing is what Mrs Galloway - and her fellow dog-walker Georgina Cassidy - are going to have to do. Within seven years, the walkway will be thronging with thousands of competitors for the Commonwealth Games.

Three days after the announcement that the 2014 Games would come to Glasgow - and to their neighbourhood - Mrs Galloway and Mrs Cassidy, who also has a Westie, are still grinning.

"Are you still levitating?" George Redmond, their local councillor, asked them yesterday. He explained: "We are all so high after Friday's announcement that we're levitating."

The Clyde walkway was one of Glasgow's secret weapons in its successful bid to host the 2014 Games. Mr Redmond and other dignitaries took all the delegates who visited the city down the narrow path by the river. "They loved it," Mr Redmond said.

The walkway will link a proposed athletes' village at Dalmarnock with Parkhead, both Celtic's stadium and the new indoor sports arena and velodrome planned next door, two of the main venues for the Games. "We timed it," Mr Redmond said. "You can walk it in two minutes."

The walkway wasn't the only big seller in Dalmarnock for the Games. Here was Glasgow's chance to get some legacy. The city, after all, already had - or planned to have - most of the sporting venues it needed to host the multi-sport events. The only big-ticket infrastructure it needed was an athletes' village. And that had to be something that would survive the Games, give Glasgow something permanent to remember them by.

The village, which will be twice the size of the home for athletes built for last year's Melbourne Games, will be laid out for 2014, true. But it must also serve as a new urban neighbourhood seamlessly linked into Dalmarnock old and new.

As an athletes' village, the roughly 40-acre site will have to accommodate - safely - up to 8000 competitors and officials, four times the currently much-depleted population of Dalmarnock. As a new community, it will have to house far fewer.

That is not easy to plan, or finance. Two years ago, Glasgow City Council hired RMJM, one of Scotland's best-known architects' firms, to come up with a masterplan. They loved the Clyde Walkway, too.

The firm devised a concept that tied the development into the riverfront, making the village greener than any of its predecessors. Dalmarnock will get natural flood defences - new lochans and water features - and eight themed areas based on Scottish glens, each colour-coded and signposted to make it almost impossible for athletes to get lost.

Not everything, of course, is finalised. Paul Stallan, RMJM's UK design director, said: "The masterplan won't be prescriptive. There has to be scope for developers to think laterally about opportunities commercially."

The bulk of the site stretches along the Clyde, sometimes mimicking the old grid patterns of streets of tenements and industrial facilities. Where Mrs Galloway walks her dog - close to tower blocks demolished earlier this autumn - there will be a bistro, a religious centre and more administrative buildings. Here, too, will run special electric buses, ferrying athletes to events.

The old derelict tenements of Ardenlea Street, a neighbourhood once home to footballer Kenny Dalglish and the grandmother of TV newsman Jeremy Paxman, will go soon. They will be replaced by a jogging track, more office buildings and a 6000-square metre refectory.

The athletes will not have kitchens in their dorms, just bathrooms (a big boost to the bid was to have no more than two athletes for every lavatory). Everybody will eat out.

Of course, that might make some of the buildings tricky to sell on. Anybody want a semi with three bathrooms but no kitchen? "The homes will have to be retrofitted," said Mr Stallan.

But how quickly? The trick will be to put the new houses on the market gradually, not all at once after the Games close. There could be as many as 1500 homes put up in Dalmarnock athletes' village alone. That comes on top of hundreds of others planned for the area as part of its wider regeneration. Clearly a massive, sudden supply of properties would depress the market.

RMJM talks of family homes, three and four-bedroom houses. Mr Redmond, a long-standing enthusiast for Dalmarnock's development, believes many will be high-end - thanks, again, to the appeal of the Clyde Walkway. But many will be social rent, more in fitting with Dalmarnock's traditional demographic. Glasgow 2014 organisers have talked of 300 homes for cheap rent. "We want to get a good mix of people," said Mr Redmond.

Many of the village's structures will be temporary, to be removed when the Games pass, not least security cordons that, for the two weeks of events, will cut the village off from the rest of the city. Mr Redmond and other organisers believe that commercial opportunities at the site will effectively mean the whole £250m regeneration comes at no cost to the public purse.

"Glasgow was the second city of the empire and the engine house of that city was Parkhead, Bridgeton and Dalmarnock," said Mr Redmond. "We gave a lot to this city and this country. Now we want something back."

Few in Dalmarnock need convincing that the Games will be good for the area. Not least Jimmy Thyne, an 88-year-old strolling on Ardenlea Street yesterday. He was passing Mr Redmond's demolished childhood home when he spotted the councillor. Could George get him a ticket for the opening ceremony in Celtic Park, he asked? "I can't wait," he said. "This is the best thing to happen to Dalmarnock in 100 years."