Exploring The Whangie

Through the hidden opening to the training ground of generations of rock climbers


The Whangie


2.5 miles (4kms)

515ft (157m)

About the walk

Queen Victoria stood near the start of this walk for her first view of Loch Lomond. She never ventured further up the hill and so missed the opportunity to explore the Whangie, a strange cleft in the rock that has fascinated generations of rock climbers.

A Gash in the Rock

Geologists would have us believe that this gash in the rocks, 50ft (15m) deep and 300ft (91m) long, was caused by a landslide, when the surface layer of black basalt moved slowly over the underlying sandstone. This created stresses within the basalt, which eventually fractured, producing thin slices of slab. However, ask any local about the Whangie and you will be told the truth. It was created by the Devil himself on his way to a witches' coven near Stockie Muir. He got so excited that he gave one flick of his mighty tail and carved a slice out of the hillside creating the Whangie. 'Whang' is a common Lowland Scots dialect word meaning 'a slice'.

Early Pioneers

Whatever its origin, the Whangie is still a valued training ground for Glasgow rock climbers, successors to the mountaineering pioneers of the 1920s and '30s. These working-class men from Glasgow started walking out of the city to explore the surrounding countryside. Clad only in their ordinary clothes and with little in the way of equipment, save perhaps some army surplus kit or an old clothes line, they went looking for adventure. After a week of hard work they would leave Glasgow late at night, take the last bus to the outskirts and walk into the countryside. They had no tents and found shelter where they could, under a hedge, behind a drystone wall or in a cave. Some of the great names in Scottish climbing were among these early pioneers, including W H Murray, the celebrated Himalayan climber and environmentalist, and Tom Weir, who climbed with Murray and went on to make a series of television programmes called Weir's Way. Weir continued to write a monthly column of his outdoor adventures in The Scots Magazine until his late 80s.

Escaping the Slums

From Glasgow they would head to Milngavie and a campfire near Craigallion Loch. Some, like the legendary Jock Nimlin, were fortunate to have friends who possessed huts at Carbeth, not far from Craigallion and from there they would walk out, 'up the pipe', to Loch Katrine in the Trossachs. They explored all the glorious countryside they could see from the hills around the Whangie - Ben Lomond, the Kilpatrick Hills and the Arrochar Alps. During prolonged periods of unemployment in the Depression years these hardy climbers and others like them took to the hills every week to escape the slums of Glasgow. Some even walked all the way to the Highlands.

Walk directions

Head towards the left of the car park on to the small hillock where Queen Victoria stood for her first breathtaking view of Loch Lomond. Descend and cross a stile over the wall where a well-defined path crosses duckboards, goes through a gate in a deer fence and meanders uphill. Turn right to follow the edge of a wood. After the duckboards this is a pleasant grassy walk.

As you get to the top, stop for a while to admire the view. Look away to your right for the expanse of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond towering over it to the right and the Arrochar Hills away to the left. When the fence ends turn left, off the main path, and head uphill on a faint footpath.

When the path forks, go left towards a deer fence and head uphill. Head towards a cairn on the horizon. As you pass this you will see the Ordnance Survey pillar on the summit of Auchineden Hill. Head towards this on a clear path. The ground round here is often boggy and you may have to leave the path to bypass the worst bits. To the south of here are the Kilpatrick Hills and, beyond them, the River Clyde. Look for Burncrooks Reservoir to your right and Kilmannan Reservoir to your left. Beyond that is Cochno Loch, another reservoir and a favourite excursion for the residents of nearby Clydebank.

Looking towards Ben Lomond, the area in front of you is the Stockie Muir, where the Devil was heading for the tryst that created the Whangie. Walk towards the Ben on a path leading away from the Ordnance Survey pillar and then go downhill into a dip. Another path runs across this. Turn left on to it and follow it round the side of a small hill. Where the path curves right, look for crags on the right.

This is where you'll find the hidden opening to the Whangie. It's easy to miss so look out for a spot on the right where it is simple to climb a few steps up to the crags. It's as if the wall opens up in front of you. Climb into the Whangie and walk to the other end on a path.

Exit the Whangie and head to the right on another footpath. Continue on this until it rejoins the path you took on the uphill journey. Go back to the stile, then retrace your steps downhill and back to the car park.

Additional information

Hill tracks and well-trodden footpaths, 2 stiles

Hill, woodland and lochs

Suitable for dogs, but keep on lead near livestock

OS Explorer 347 Loch Lomond South

Queen's View car park

None on route

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