A beautiful and adventurous walk to the Whangie

18 January 2022

At its toughest, hiking can mean rising well before dawn to get a jump on traffic, hitting summit after summit in deepest Glencoe, and flopping into bed at 8 pm after a well-earned bath-dinner combo.

But at other times, hiking resembles a ramble - more of a stroll than an all-out assault on the peaks.

The Queen's View in Kilpatrick Hills lives towards the sedate end of the hiking spectrum.

Just a 30-minute drive north of Glasgow, this kid-friendly, not-too-taxing trek offers fantastic views of Loch Lomond, The Campsies, and an alien rock formation known as The Whangie...

Walking to The Whangie? Wear your wellies!

Park up in the car park just off the A809 (it's free).

Once you've clocked the signpost that announces the start of the trail, it's just a short hop over a small wall and onto the narrow sleepers designed to get you through the initial marsh. Mind your step!

While this walk isn't too difficult, it’s muddy. Like, really muddy!

So muddy and boggy and wet, in fact, that in some places the path functions more as a stream, thanks to the water running off the Auchineden Hill.

But, as Billy Connolly once said, there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. So, take the Big Yin's advice and wear your wellies!

Once you've accepted mud plays a big part in this walk, you can relax and enjoy the gradual climb up the hill, flanked to your right by the wild and rugged Kilpatrick Hills.

A haunting mist obscured visibility during our visit, but we could still make out the surrounding Campsies and Loch Lomond in the distance, as well as the Burncrooks Reservoir.

Along with the boggy terrain, watch out for a few forks in the path. We zigged when we should have zagged and taken a left turn towards the top of Auchineden Hill.

4G-less and slightly confused, we had to go back on ourselves to revisit the fork and descend rightward towards The Whangie.

Strange rock

After a brief walk, and a giggle at ourselves, we approached an unassuming rock that gently announces itself toward the end of a bend in the path.

On closer inspection, this ten-metre-tall sculpture beckons you through a narrow gap to marvel at its strangeness.

Origin of The Whangie

How did The Whangie get here? Was it formed by an ancient earthquake? During an ice age when glaciers slowly cleaved a chasm out of rock? Or was it none of those things?

Was it – according to folklore – caused by a swish of the devil's tail as he swooped around the mountain in a hurry, late as he was to a witches' coven meeting?

Whatever the origins, The Whangie – thought to be from an old Scots' term from 'whang' meaning 'slice' – is arresting.

Odder still, it almost appears from thin air and lives out-of-step with the beautiful-but-featureless Kilpatrick Hills.

Once inside, its curious path juts this way and that for about 30 metres.

As you duck and dive, you're flanked on either side by huge craggy rocks that occasionally break on your right-hand side and open out onto spectacular views of the surrounding hills.

Caution is advised to those with an aversion to heights.

Aside from visiting tourists, the odd features of The Whangie make it a hotspot for climbers, although we traversed it alone on our visit.

At the exit, you can keep going and turn left to the Auchineden Hill, which then closes the loop and rejoins the path back to the car park.

This is the path we should have initially taken, but nothing was lost in the error (except for maybe a few extra calories).

And so ends the ramble up The Whangie. At nearly three miles long, the walk (including detour) took us about 90 minutes.

The forgiving gradient makes it kid-friendly, but the ultra-boggy terrain means it's unsuitable for wheels.

Make a day of it in the Kilpatrick Hills

If you're keen on making a day of it, the Kilpatrick Hills doesn't begin and end at The Whangie.

With various reservoirs and trails aplenty, this rural idyll on Glasgow's doorstep might not contain Ben Nevis, but it does boast more than enough acreage to exhaust even the keenest hiker.

Just make sure you don't fall asleep at the dinner table when you get home!

Author Michael's lovely photos from his walk