Back out with The Stray Cats again, I must stop feeding them, they keep coming back for more!
After a big day out up Beinn Bhuidhe last Saturday I promised we would do a longer, flatter(!) route the following week. As any walk closer to Glasgow gets a thumbs up and since none of them had been up the Kilpatrick Hills yet (possibly my favourite viewpoint of Glasgow and Loch Lomond) I plotted a big loop starting at Old Kilpatrick, heading over The Slacks and Cochno Hill then on to Auchineden Hill and the Whangie before returning via Duncolm back to the start.
It should give us a good 28km or so, roughly half of the Three Lochs Way, so a good warm up and with no big rocky mountain to climb or exposed paths to scramble it should be easier. I didn't mention that overall our total ascent would probably end up being more than Beinn Bhuidhe but it would be subtle and just lots of ups and downs once we were up on the top of the hill.
It was the same 4 in the group as last time with Fiona joining us again for the first time since Glen Loin. Wullie needed collected so after my breakfast stop I picked him up and we were soon at Old Kilpatrick and luckily found a space in the already almost full car park despite an earlier half 8 start!
I had warned of high bog rating probability for this walk especially after some torrential rain the night before and as a result Janice was wearing her fancy new gaiters. Turns out they weren't needed!
We set off past the workmen and headed up the long straight single track road heading diagonally up the hillside, of our first target hill, The Slacks, also a Tump with a great view over Glasgow. The Erskine Bridge behind us:
KilpatrickHills (14) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Glasgow behind us with Cathkin Braes, arguably Glasgow's supreme viewpoint, visible back right in shadow:
KilpatrickHills (18) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The steep part, for some reason the group didn't believe me that this was the worst slog uphill for the day:
KilpatrickHills (22) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Misty Law, the Hill of Stake and Clyde Muirshiels behind us as we approach the turn off for The Slacks:
KilpatrickHills (34) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Time to turn right and head for the summit of The Slacks:
KilpatrickHills (37) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We passed a fair few other walkers as expected, the Kilpatrick Hills are a popular destination:
KilpatrickHills (38) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we wander along The Slacks, to the north is Fynlock Hill with the tops of the Loch Lomond hills peeking out:
KilpatrickHills (42) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm is also on our left with the Strathyre Munro's and Corbetts behind it and Auchineden Hill far right, our destination before we will turn back and head to the start via Duncolm a fairly long amble!
KilpatrickHills (43) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Approaching the summit of The Slacks we were surprised to see a summit camper!
KilpatrickHills (44) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We approached and a guy was trying to make his breakfast and we had a brief chat, turns out he had been advised that a summit camp here would be a good option and nice and quiet. We jest that his friend may have been taking the **** and he agrees having seen dozens of dog walkers already this morning!
Heading east towards Greenside Reservoir and Cochno Hill, sharing the name with the famous Cochno Stone way down the hillside:
KilpatrickHills (53) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Cochno Hill ahead:
KilpatrickHills (59) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (60) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we dip down one hill and head up the next the view of Glasgow is framed on our right:
KilpatrickHills (64) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Another ascent up Cochno Hill but the weather was fine and spirits were high, I think they may have forgiven me for taking them up Beinn Bhuidhe last week :
KilpatrickHills (68) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Heading up Cochno Hill now:
KilpatrickHills (74) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Benvane, Ben Ledi and the snow covered Strathyre Munros:
KilpatrickHills (76) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Gradually moving our way around Duncolm, Ben Lomond now in view:
KilpatrickHills (89) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Glasgow on our right:
KilpatrickHills (90) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm, the upturned bowl of a hill fort and high point of the Kilpatrick Hills on our left:
KilpatrickHills (97) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Crianlarich Munros now in view along with most of the Loch Lomond hills. Still a lot of snow on Stob Binnein!
KilpatrickHills (99) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Wullie and I pop up to the summit of the hill just off to the side of the path, we might make a hill-bagger out of him yet! Cochno Loch down below:
KilpatrickHills (100) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Our route ahead, cutting down over the land bridge between Cochno Loch and Jaw Reservoir then following the tree line from right to left:
KilpatrickHills (103) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We head down the hillside:
KilpatrickHills (112) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (113) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm now ahead of us:
KilpatrickHills (116) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Another exposed path, this won't go down well after last week! Luckily it's not a big drop, any slip here would just result in a dunking!
KilpatrickHills (119) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We reach the land bridhe between the two reservoirs and head across:
KilpatrickHills (122) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (125) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I waited with Fiona who had to adjust her newish boots and new insoles that were giving her grief already, not a good sign and it would get worse later:
KilpatrickHills (130) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The others waited at the fishing hut and as I waited for Fiona to catch up, Cochno Loch was being ruffled by the wind while Jaw Reservoir was completely still, stunning:
KilpatrickHills (135) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Cochno Hill and our route down from it. What a cracking day to be wandering around the Kilpatrick Hills, everyone was loving the scenery already and commenting on how peaceful it was despite being on the outskirts of the city:
KilpatrickHills (139) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Here comes Fiona:
KilpatrickHills (140) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
To the south east I can make out the tip of Tinto in the distance:
KilpatrickHills (143) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm again from across Cochno Loch:
KilpatrickHills (144) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Together again at the fishing hut, we follow the path left:
KilpatrickHills (148) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
What we should have done was take the path lower down next to the Loch!
This path seems to peter out and continue further down!
KilpatrickHills (149) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A little off-piste downhill never hurt anyone!
KilpatrickHills (151) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we waited for the others two arrive we took in the view of our first two Tumos for the day, Cochno Hill:
KilpatrickHills (152) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
And The Slacks:
KilpatrickHills (153) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's a glorious wander, nice and easy and very scenic, definitely one to take visitors to the city up to. At this point we tried to cut through to Birny Hills but were blocked off by some fallen trees. Luckily a grassy path was available to take us alongside a wall to the left of Woodie Craigs:
KilpatrickHills (156) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Not quite as planned but luckily a path is still available:
KilpatrickHills (158) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We come out just next to Dennistoun's Craigs and Meikle Longveggan:
KilpatrickHills (162) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Thankfully the forestry track on the OS map is still there! Our route ahead now towards Auchineden Hill and our halfway point the Whangie:
KilpatrickHills (167) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Heading alongside Kilmannan Reservoir now towards Earl's Seat and Duncolm:
KilpatrickHills (176) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm from the east now:
KilpatrickHills (177) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As we round the corner at the dam a few folk are fishing down below:
KilpatrickHills (178) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (179) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We ask if they'll have some lunch ready for us on the way back around then continue on towards Auchineden Hill :
KilpatrickHills (182) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We now have a boring section of forestry track to walk through but it doesn't take too long and we soon reach a gate at the bottom of Auchineden Hill:
KilpatrickHills (191) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We now had a choice, left or right and there should be a path either way. We head left and it's a very faint grassy path up the flank of the hill:
KilpatrickHills (198) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm now pretty far away again but we'll be heading towards it after this:
KilpatrickHills (200) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
At an easier section we pop up onto the normal path and the summit is now within view:
KilpatrickHills (211) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
At this point just about halfway into our walk Fiona was struggling so Craig waited with her while she sorted out her feet and boots. Janice and Rosie catch up with myself and Wullie before Janice does her usual and falls over a blade of grass!
KilpatrickHills (219) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the proper path at last it's a quick jaunt along to the summit and as we approach the view over to Loch Lomond is a cracker:
KilpatrickHills (231) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Craig and Wullie in album cover photo although the perspective makes Craig look even more like a giant next to a hobbit!
KilpatrickHills (235) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Poor Fiona's heels were in a state but with less ascent and a decent path she's managing ok again:
KilpatrickHills (238) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As she approaches the summit the others rejoice!
KilpatrickHills (242) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking north west:
KilpatrickHills (243) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We drop down from the summit to find shelter for lunch and I suggest we have it at the Whangie. We skirt across the heather and down to the path:
KilpatrickHills (248) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Strathyre hills again:
KilpatrickHills (251) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It's been years since I was here but the approach to The Whangie doesn't diaappoint:
KilpatrickHills (253) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Instead of the main path through at the start we veer right and sit within the rocks to have lunch and enjoy the view. Duncolm in the distance reminding us how much further we still have to walk after this!
KilpatrickHills (258) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I take out the big lens for a closer look at the Loch Lomond Hills:
KilpatrickHills (267) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Arrochar's brilliant mountains showing off now:
KilpatrickHills (269) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Ben of Lomond:
KilpatrickHills (271) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (272) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (274) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
At around this point I heard someone singing happy birthday and turned around... Rosie had a cake with some candles on it and the group were singing... for me!
I was more than surprised, even with it being my birthday just a few days before this was completely unexpected!
Craig brought out a wee dram for the lads and the girls had some champagne as we tucked into a lovely lemon drizzle cake and our lunch. Brilliant, thanks so much everyone, much appreciated!
As Craig would say later on, if only it was someone's birthday every walk!
While eating and chatting I have an even closer look at some favourite hills i've been up, starting with Beinn Eich:
KilpatrickHills (275) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (279) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (285) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Lomond with Ben Lui popping out to the right:
KilpatrickHills (286) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Beinn Chabhair, An Caisteal and Beinn a' Chroin:
KilpatrickHills (290) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (294) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (298) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Our Whangie picnic spot:
KilpatrickHills (310) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Wullie loving the view:
KilpatrickHills (311) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Time for a group photo:
KilpatrickHills (324) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We accost a passing tourist and he kindly takes a photo of us all:
KilpatrickHills (328) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Right it's time to start heading back now, 16km done so far in around 5 hours but with a casualty, through the Whangie we go:
KilpatrickHills (329) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Now, The Whangie may be rocky and it's not the most difficult feature to walk through but true to form, Janice does her best by falling on her arse again!
KilpatrickHills (331) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Made it, time to press on towards our distant target:
KilpatrickHills (335) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Back on the good path:
KilpatrickHills (345) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Campsies to the east:
KilpatrickHills (347) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
South east to the distant Pentlands:
KilpatrickHills (352) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Tinto and Lanarkshire:
KilpatrickHills (355) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The group in front were tourists, a mix of American accents and French so I suspect they were Canadian. As the group walked past I was last and overheard them discussing where to walk, they sounded a bit lost! My conscience raised a red flag and I turned back to ask them if they needed some help navigating.
They were chuffed at having some help and asked about the way back to the car park at the other side of the hill. I said their best bet was back over the summit and down again on the good paths, otherwise they may get lost on the many routes up here, especially with no map or navigation aid. "We'll just follow you" one said, "Not unless you want to end up at Old Kilpatrick over at the other side of the hills" was my reply! Yes we're doing a big walk today!
I pointed out where they were on viewranger before it turned into a few minute long sales pitch on the app and how useful it was to plot, follow then record a track for a walk.
I caught up with the others as we headed down the main path and turned right to join the track we took up:
KilpatrickHills (363) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We now had a nice gradient and fairly direct route straight towards Duncolm on the track. Ben Arthur on our right as we walk along:
KilpatrickHills (365) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Earl's Seat behind us:
KilpatrickHills (367) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm in front, it's a lovely way to approach the summit:
KilpatrickHills (373) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
After a while the track turns into a grassy track, a little boggier but fine to traverse. We had noticed that my warnings about this being a boggy walk at the start were turning out to be nonsense, suits me being wrong this time!
KilpatrickHills (376) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
As I was taking some photos I never noticed the group had stopped, Fiona was in trouble!
KilpatrickHills (377) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
I went to help and discover that Fiona's skin had come almost completely off of one heel!!
Ouch, luckily we had a first aid kit so Wullie and I turned nurse for the nurse and helped to bandage up Fiona's heel as best we could so she could at least manage it back to the car without the embarrassment of Mountain Rescue being called up to the Kilpatrick Hills!
I said not to worry as they would likely just drive up here anyway, saving the need for a chopper and further embarrassment! With the patch up job done we were all hoping it wouldn't come down to that.
With the other heel also giving her jip it meant progress would be slow but at least the worse of the walk was over now. Onwards we go, Duncolm getting closer now:
KilpatrickHills (382) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It may be the long route but like our Conic Hill XL from Drymen recently this is a much more pleasant way to approach the summit, less tourists too!
KilpatrickHills (389) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking back at the track we took with Cort ma Law in the background:
KilpatrickHills (392) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Between the end of the track and Duncolm the path is very faint but we pick up remnants of it and skirt around the summit:
KilpatrickHills (397) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A wee break, you've been doing great so far Stray Cats, still smiling too, Fiona less so!
KilpatrickHills (405) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Rosie and Janice:
KilpatrickHills (406) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We follow the path around and the others aren't keen on summiting Duncolm so I tell them to continue along the path back to the start then begin ascending. Wullie isn't far behind, he's definitely catching the hill-bagging bug!
KilpatrickHills (411) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Up like a rocket, it only takes 5 minutes to summit from the path down below, the others are missing out:
KilpatrickHills (416) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm and the view south and east, showing our route from right to left along the hillside then down to the reservoirs:
KilpatrickHills (418) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Loch Lomond again, looking even better in the late aftenoon light:
KilpatrickHills (419) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Duncolm is a superb viewpoint for the central belt, one of the best:
KilpatrickHills (422) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ben Ledi and co:
KilpatrickHills (423) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Looking back at the route we took, Campsies back right:
KilpatrickHills (424) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Auchineden Hill and the Whangie:
KilpatrickHills (426) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (427) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Distant Galloway hills further south:
KilpatrickHills (433) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Happy with our pic taking we set off downhill to catch the others, Arran summits peeking out over the Hill of Stake:
KilpatrickHills (437) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Ailsa Craig also in view to the south west:
KilpatrickHills (439) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Down we go to follow the path around Middle Duncolm:
KilpatrickHills (441) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
KilpatrickHills (442) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
There they are:
KilpatrickHills (445) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Wullie said he was so glad he reached the summit and knew he would have regretted not doing it by the time we got back to the car. I agreed he made the correct choice!
KilpatrickHills (449) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Passing Loch Humphrey:
KilpatrickHills (458) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Clyde Muirshiel Hills:
KilpatrickHills (462) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The final track downhill, almost there:
KilpatrickHills (469) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Fiona was an absolute trooper and still going strong albeit with the occasional grimace especially with any ascent or descent. I'm not sure I could have walked this much with no heels!!
KilpatrickHills (476) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
The Clyde, Dumbarton and Cowal hills:
KilpatrickHills (479) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
A few final shots of our descent into Old Kilpatrick:
KilpatrickHills (483) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Culter Fell and Tinto look great across the city as we make our way down:
KilpatrickHills (485) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Fiona still going somehow, well done!
KilpatrickHills (502) by Chris Mac, on Flickr
We passed a large field of horses, one with chilled cows then another with lots of lambs and before we know it we were back at the car park and Fiona was more than relieved! The group were also impressed with our stats, 29km in just over 8 hours, pretty much half the Three Lochs Way so a good indication of what we have in store next month. 1062m of ascent meant we had a bigger day than Beinn Bhuidhe last week but all agreed that it didn't feel like it.
We will have to up our pace for our challenge next month but there won't be as much off-piste walking or ascents like we had, it will all be on good tracks/roads/paths and and easier gradient to deal with, just a long walk to handle. When it comes to it hopefuly everyone will have their heels intact and a few less breaks and we'll be able to do it in our target time.
Also, remember how Wullie said he was glad to summit Duncolm or he would have been regretting it by the time he got to the car park? Well Rosie now proved his point by saying she wished she had gone up to the summit too!
Later that evening everyone said how much they really enjoyed our walk up the Kilpatrick Hills - it may have been long but it was very varied with brilliant views throughout and a varied landscape of hills, woods and lochs to explore. It may be the long way to do it but I would still recommend this route if you have lots of time to spare and fancy something different up Glasgow's best wee hill.
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