Great Scottish Bike Climbs – Lowther Hill

Wanlockhead is Scotland’s highest village. The area has Scotland’s highest hotel, Scotland’s highest pub, Scotland’s highest…you get the idea. The pub should sell its beer with the tagline “beer with altitude”

Above Wanlokhead there is a prominent golf-ball like structure on the summit of Lowther Hil. It is a radar station used by NATS (National Air Traffic Services).

The radar is known locally as “The Golf Ball” due to the ball shaped covering that protects the large rotating radar dish inside from wind and ice. It sits on a tee-like concrete structure.

I first attempted the climb in 2008. It was supposed to be the finish line of a bike sportive but the weather was so bad the road to the top was closed. Since then I’ve done it regulalry as a race against my brother. We call it the Tour De Golf Ball.

Check out the video to see what the route looks like

Here’s some images from the route

Video

Climb Review

Difficulty:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It can be brutal on a bad weather day. I wouldn’t advise doing it if its windy. The climb is 2.6miles long and there are a number of steep sections.

Views:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great views across the Lowther hills On a clear day you can see for miles around.

Traffic: 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Its normally a quiet road and I hardly see a car but this time (Sep 2020) it was a a bit busier. I’m assuming more people are visiting now that lockdown has eased.

Parking

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a big area to park on the edge of Wanlokhead. Don’t park in the Lead mining museum. That’s for people visiting the museum.

Toilets

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There are toilets in the Museum but they were closed when I visited. Usually they are open and available

Cafe

Rating: 1 out of 5.

No Café stops on the route as Drumlanrig castle is currently closed to visitors. Normally you could stop there for a snack. They used to do excellent Scones.

Route

Great Scottish Bike Climbs – The Crow Road (Iain)

Crow Road (towards Lennoxtown)

An episode of the channel 4 house hunting program “Location, Location, Location” featured a flat in Glasgow that was described as a desirable two bed home, in a quiet neighborhood, with stunning views across the city.

I recognized the flat because I lived around the corner from it. The flat was not at all desirable. It was next to a very busy noisy road and the only view out the window was of MacDonald’s drive in restaurant.

The flats location is on Crow Road. So when I heard cyclists say they were off to cycle Crow Road this is where I thought they were going. I couldn’t understand why they said the climb took them 30 minutes. I could walk it in 5. Maybe they stopped for a MacDonald’s McFlurry?

It was only once I got a road bike that I discovered the other Crow Road was on the outskirts of Glasgow in Lennoxtown.

The first time I saw it I didn’t think it looked too hard. Little did I know that from below I could only see half of the climb. The first section up to a car park. Then there is a big right turn over the hill.

 

One year I decided I was going to be the quickest man up Crow Road. Now this is quite a challenge because allot of good cyclist use the climb for training. The Scottish Tour De France Cyclist David Miller used to ride a dozen reps of it as training in preparation for the Tour.

So my choice was either train hard and smash it or be smart!

I choose to be smart. So one new years day I got up early and became the first man up the Crow that year. Which also meant I was the fastest that year….as long as I didn’t check Strava again for 12 months.

Climb Review

Difficulty: 6/10

Its not a steep climb. I’d describe it as steady. Although when the wind is in the wrong direction it can be a bit of slog!

Views: 8/10

Great views on both sides of the Campsie hills. Ona clear day you can see for miles around.

Traffic: 8/10

Its normally a quiet road. Especially on Sunday mornings or weekday evenings.