I have previously written about 10 of my favourite half-day walks close to Glasgow. These walking routes are great for runners, too. Here are five more great walks that can be easily accessed from Glasgow.
5 of the best walks close to Glasgow
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1 Walking route: Dumgoyne & Earl’s Seat, Campsie Fells
Distance: 16km / 10 miles
Height gain: 719m
The walk follows the “Pipe Track” from St Kessog Church in Blanefield, next to Strathblane. The Pipe Track is so called because it follow the route (underground) of an aqueduct that feeds drinking water from Loch Katrine further north to reservoirs near Glasgow.
After a couple of kilometres, look out for a silver farm gate and a wooden kissing gate going north (your right hand side). This is just before a black farm gate across the track. It is marked as Cantywheery on the map.
This is the start of a climb that takes you north and then northwest to reach Dumgoyne just below the summit. After short push uphill to the north-east, you reach the summit at 427m above sea level.
The views from here on a fine day are stunning in every direction.
Take a route to the north off Dumgoyne and down a steep path. The route now heads in a generally north-easterly direction going up and down a number of rises, some with cairns atop.
Finally, you will see the trig point of Earl’s Seat in the distance. Earl’s Seat is the highest point in the Campsie Fells at 578m.
Again the views are tremendous and extend over the fells as well as across to the mountains of Ben Lomond, the Arrochar Alps and further afield. I have even spotted the peaks of the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig in the far distance on a sunny day.
The return route is similar, except you can choose not to go to the summit of Dumgoyne again. To follow a well-trodden path stay on the north westerly side of Dumgoyne hill.
Fort a shorter off-track route, head to the south-east of Dumgoyne.
You will then pick up the path towards Cantywheery and back on to the Pipe Track. (Read about the history of the Pipe Track.)
For a shorter route, you could start and finish at Glengoyne Distillery (stay on the X10 bus to reach the distillery on the A81).
Map: See route map.
2 Auld Wives Lifts, Craigmaddie Muir
Distance: 2.3km / 1.5 miles
Height gain: 96m
Start/finish: Roadside near Baldernock village. Look for old war bunkers next to a farm gate in a field just off the road.
Getting there: Drive to the start point and park nearby. You could also cycle to the start and lock up your bike at the start of the walk. See bike and walk to Auld Wives Lifts
The Auld Wives Lifts comprise a pair of very large boulders with a third larger boulder balanced on top. They are located in a natural amphitheatre in a peat bog (it can be very soggy underfoot).
The boulders have become a heritage site on Craigmaddie Muir. A short walk to the site is easy to do and there is an option to complete a circuit taking in a trig point and some standing stones.
Be sensitive to the farm animals and it’s unlikely the farm itself will welcome people walking a track through their land. Choose to walk the route I have suggested instead.
What are the Auld Wives Lifts?
It’s most likely that the boulders were left behind as glacial deposits but there are tales from folklore surrounding the Auld Wives Lifts. For example, according to the Modern Antiquarian, the name derives from this story: “The traditional account of this monument is, that three old women having laid a wager which of them would carry the greatest burthen, brought in their aprons the three stones of which it is constructed, and laid them in their present position. Verily, there must have been giantesses in those days.“
Also, there is another story of absolution of sins, or fertility…: “Between the upper and the two lower stones of this monument there is a triangular opening from east to west which, if passed through according to the course of the sun in a truly penitential spirit, was formerly believed to have procured complete absolution for previous sins.
“…And superstition still holds it necessary for all strangers visiting this enchanted place for the first time to creep through it if they wish to avert the calamity of dying childless.”
There are many fascinating inscriptions that date back 200 years, as well as a series of Celtic head carvings. Footholds have been carved into one corner making it relatively easy to access the top boulder.
Note: Beware the electric fences on this farmland.
Map: See details of route.
3 Cort-ma Law & Lecket Hill, from Clachan of Campsie
Distance: 10km / 6 miles
Height gain: 520m
Start/finish: Clachan of Campsie
Public transport: Bus X85 takes you to within a three-minute walk of the start. See Traveline Scotland.
This route leaves Clachan of Campsie, a small settlement where there is a cafe, to climb a fairly steep zig-zagging path through trees. This path leads to a car park on the Crow Road.
Cross the road and head east to ascend a series of bumps along the Campsie Fells. You’ll come across a cairn at around 480m and another high point at 510m before a larger cairn at 531m, which is Cort-ma Law.
From Cort-ma Law cairn, look north to see a trig pillar on a neighbouring hill. Just over a kilometre takes you to Lecket Hill at 547m. The views on a fine day from the Campsie Fells are superb (the sky might not always be clear so it’s a good idea to carry a map and compass).
The descent route heads west to meet the Crow Road again but higher up. You descend almost 2km on the tarmac to reach the car park and path that zig-zags back to Clachan of Campsie.
Map: See details of route.
4 Slackdhu and Dumbreck Hill, Campsie Fells
This is another walk or run that starts from Strathblane but visits lesser known hills. Some people call this the “Back, Slack and Crack” route!
Distance: 12km / 7.5 miles
Height gain: 545m
Many people head to Dumgoyne and sometimes Earl’s Seat at the southern end of the Campsie Fells, north of Glasgow. But to the south-east are two hills much less walked and therefore away from other people.
You could choose to do an out-and-back to Slackdhu (summit 495m) or complete the circuit visiting Dumbreck Hill (508m) as well.
The route starts on the Pipe Track from St Kessog Church. Again, turn off at Cantywheery (like the Dumgoyne & Earl’s seat route above) and start to climb.
At a junction, less than a kilometre on, take a right fork. The path is grassy here and heads into bracken. It’s easy to miss this but you aim is to climb to the hill plateau up to your right, rather than heading over to Dumgoyne, located prominently on your left.
Keep walking uphill through bracken and over a wall to cross a burn (small stream). The path is fairly obvious. The route turns towards the east and then south-east to continue to climb up to Slackdhu, above Black Craig (crags).
The views are fantastic on a clear day. There is the start of a path west towards Sandy Hill (488m) but it disappears and you need to cross grass moorland. It’s surprisingly easy going although you should look out for green bog that can swallow a leg if you step in the wrong place!
From Sandy Hill, look down north-easterly to see a fence. The fence is a good waymarker and allows you to descend safety even in poor visibility.
Ahead of you rises the steep slope of Dumbreck. Simply climb up the side of the hill (again there is little evidence of a path) until you see another fence ahead of you. Follow this – and a wide Landrover track – south to climb up to a trig point on Drumbeck Hill.
The Landrover track shows the way to head down the hill to the south east.
Look out for where the route leaves the fence and then joins a more significant track that zig-zags downhill towards Ballagan Farm.
Cross the road (A891) and follow a track due south towards an obvious craggy outcrop ahead of you.
You’ll meet the Strathkelvin Railway Path, that travels west to east. Turn right and follow this to return to Strathblane. You will regain the start point by walking or running along the pavement on the main A81.
Map: See my route details.
5 Auchineden trig and the Whangie, Kilpatrick Hills
Distance: 8.7km / 5.4 miles
Height gain: 280m
Start/finish: Edenmill Farm Shop, off the A809. It is easier to drive here, or cycle along the John Muir Way from Milngavie.
Many people walk to the Whangie, a large slash in the rock, from the Queen’s View car park on the A809. However, there is another route that is usually quieter.
Start at Edenmill Farm Shop car park and follow John Muir Way signposts back out of the car park (the same way that you have driven in).
Keep following the JMW signs up a tarmac road and then a gravel track for some 2.5km. At the top there is a signpost that points left or ahead. Go straight on here (unless you want to extend the route to do a circuit of Burncrooks Reservoir.)
Just before the back of a large metal sign, look to your right to see a path heading up hill towards the north.
Follow this, climbing over a high deer fence on wooden steps (there is a door in the fence for dogs). You will see the strange looking Whangie rock formation ahead of you. Head for this and climb up and walk through the high rock faces. This is a popular place for climbers.
Take a lower track northeast to descend away from the Whangie and then look out for a path that heads south and uphill again. There are a number of junctions of paths but you should be able to pick one of them to successfully climb back uphill to a trig point on Auchineden Hill (357m). There are several boggy sections so you will end up with wet feet if you are wearing running shoes.
The views north are over Loch Lomond and its many islands, as well as Ben Lomond in the distance on the eastern shore of the loch.
Take a south-westerly path off the top of the hill to regain a path towards the high fence and wooden steps. Return the same route that you came up.
Map: See my route details.
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