Did you know there is a mystical gorge located in the heart of Scotland? It is a sight to behold.
What is it?: A short steep gorge which is up to 70 metres deep, carved by red sandstone from the Carnock Burn. The real name of the gorge is Finnich Glen. The Devil’s Pulpit name comes from a circular rock that looks similar to that of a church pulpit – although presumably the red coloured water / sandstone seemed more satanic than saintly to early visitors.
How to get there: The Devil’s Pulpit can be reached from Loch Lomond in 30 minutes, Glasgow in just over 30 minutes and Edinburgh in under 1 and half hours. There are no signposts visible from the roadside of your arrival at Finnich Glen and no Parking signs either.
Here are some maps of the location-
Location- A809 | Dumgoyne, Glasgow, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Where do I park? There is parking nearby but it is not signposted. If coming from Glasgow you will pass the access point to the trail, there is a layby with space for 2 cars opposite or drive further up and at the corner/ junction of B834 and A809 there is a good area to park. Also, people appear to abandon their cars on the side of the road as it can get busy, looked like this is also okay to do. All parking is free.
Have a look at the map below: car park circled on map in blue, layby lined in blue.
How to actually get to the Devil’s Pulpit: A short walk from the car you will cross a bridge then pass a stone wall, the gate is sometimes open, otherwise walk a few more steps to the end of the wall and there is a break in a barbed wire fence that you can walk through.
The trail can be extremely muddy, follow this through the forest. Be warned there are no safety rails or fences and the drop down the gorge is far. Take extra care if you are visiting with kids! The trail will take about 5-10 minutes before you see a clearing where the steps take you down to the gorge. The staircase known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is steep and in poor condition (having been built back in 1860!), it can be muddy and slippery with some steps missing making it quite a perilous journey, there is a rope hand rail to help assist you though.
What is there to do?: When you reach the bottom it opens up and you will feel like you have been transported somewhere entirely different. Take a walk to the left, you will get wet, there is water to wade through, although not too deep, still wet. You will see a large circular stone which represents the pulpit, beyond that you will be able to see the rushing lovely waterfalls. Take a walk to the right of the steps too, to see the gorge close in and tower above you, the water in this part looks even more satanically red.
What to wear: Now as you have read, you will get wet. WEAR WELLIES!!! Hiking boots will get you only so far, but are the best alternative. We witnessed many, many people in trainers who abandoned them and their socks and waded bear foot through the water (it was early spring and the water super chilly). We bought our wellies from Decathlon for £8.99. The water we waded in did not go past our boots. And of course, it is Scotland so dress appropriately for the weather, in any season. You wont need any special hiking equipment.
What to bring: Most definitely a camera. A towel if you need to dry off. And a sense of adventure!
Can anyone do this?: There are a few things to be aware of when visiting the Devil’s Pulpit. Firstly, if you have mobility difficulties it will be hard to get down the steps, but you could look from above. If you have a serious fear of heights this might be too hard, as mentioned, there is no railings and it is quite a height.
When to go: On a sunny day the colours of the water and the walls of the gorge will come alive more. Try early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Where to stay: There is no accommodation on site but you are close to the beautiful area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Park, stay a night or two there or the nearby town of Drymen*
What else to do: Climb up The Whangie in the Kilpatric hills, make sure to visit near by Loch Lomond
Outlander: Are you an Outlander fan? (If you aren't, then you should be) The Devil's Pulpit was used in episode 6 of season 1, where Dougal asks Claire to drink from the spring. When she does, he accepts that he should trust her.
Overall, a trip to the Devil’s Pulpit will be an awesome experience and a joy to see, don’t worry to much about the level of difficulty getting there, just use basic common sense and you will be fine. It truly is an awesome site (If Outlander isn't your thing you may be happy to hear that the new Pokémon movie has scenes here).
More Outlander sites and blog posts