Rugged Run – Lairig Ghru (Iain)

The Lairig Ghru is one of the best-known mountain passes in Scotland. The only pass I’m familiar with is a bus pass. So I must admit I wasn’t aware of the Lairig Ghru until a couple of years ago. It featured on the BBC’s The Adventure Show.

The show covered the Lairig Ghru race. A mainly off road run which goes from the police station in Braemar to the police Station in Aviemore via the Lairig Ghru pass.

The race has been run annually for 40+ years but I can’t find any info on why the race starts and ends at a police station. Maybe race rules were officiated more strictly in those days.

The official route begins at the site of the old police station in Braemar. I got that slightly wrong. I started at the new police station. Thankfully, it only added on an extra 400m of running.

You can see what the route is like in the video below.

VIDEO

MAPS

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting route. Varied running surfaces but it is very,very long so its not going to suit most people. The weather wasn’t great when i did it so I missed out on seeing some of the amazing scenery at its best.

Parking

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Logistically the run is a pain in the a$%e! I had to leave a car in Aviemore the day before the run, get a lift to Braemar (a 90 min journey). I then stayed in Braemar overnight before running the race and then driving back to Braemar to get my stuff.

Facilities

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There is a bothy half way along the route. There are streams to get water but don’t expect to get any provisions until you are back in Aviemore.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are plenty of options for food and drink in Aviemore. My dinner in Braemar was excellent (https://braemarlodge.co.uk/)

Run Surface

80% off road, 20% concrete,

Dog Friendly

Yes – if your dog likes doing marathons.

Rugged Run – Campsie Marathon (Iain)

During Lockdown my employer made Friday’s a rest day. The idea being that having one day off a week during a pandemic is good for the mental well being and happiness of staff.

It was a great idea. I back any idea which means I work less but get paid the same! I’m not sure it was such a good idea for my productivity….

I used my Friday freedom to explore my local hills. I discovered miles of routes I’d never been on before. I wondered if it was possible to link up the best routes to make an interesting challenge. I mapped it out and the distance was 26 miles. Perfect for a marathon. Once I knew that I had to run it!

As the run is self supported I made it a figure of eight loop. This meant I could return to my car at the half way point and refuel and resupply.

The first loop of cort-ma-law is the easier loop. Its is very runnable and easy to work out a track. The second loop is harder at the beginning. The climb of Finglen is not on a clear track and encompasses a fair section of bog and heather.

The video will show you what to expect bu I don’t want to give a big description of the rout. The joy I had in running it was discovering new places. Hopefully if you try it you’ll get that thrill too.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Its my own race so of course I’d rate it 5 stars!

Parking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a car park in Clachan of Campsie.

Facilities

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a cafe next to the car park and there are pay toilets.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

https://www.facebook.com/sonascafe/

Run Surface

80% off road, 20% concrete,

Dog Friendly

Mostly – but there is sections next to sheep fields.

Rugged Run – Elie Chain Walk (Iain)

No one really knows who was behind the idea of putting chains into the cliffs that stretch from Elie to Shell Bay. My guess is that alcohol was involved. All great but pointless plans start in a bar.

The route involves using eight chains to help you up and over or along stretches of the cliff. Step are cut into the rock to aid your climbing. It is claimed that it takes 90 minutes to do it but anyone of reasonable fitness can do it in 30 minutes.

Obviously do not do it during high tide. It’s a chain walk not a chain swim!

I prefer to start from Elie and then walk back along the coast top. This gives great views across Elie golf club.

On the way down from the cliffs look out for the bench designed by Andy Scott – the sculptor of the Kelpies statues in Falkirk.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Parking

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Parking in Elie is very difficult in summer. Come in autumn or spring once the crowds have left.

Facilities

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A cafe, three pubs, ice cram parlor and deli are all in Elie. Expect high prices. Nothing in Elie is cheap, The residents are wealthy and the shops charge accordingly.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Pavillion cafe at the golf club is good value for money.

Run Surface

30% beach, 30% rock, 40% grass/tarmac.

Dog Friendly

No – unless your dog can rock climb.

Rugged Run: Antonine Trail Route (Iain)

This run follows the race route of the Antonine Trail 10K (https://antoninetrailrace.com/). The route passes by Antonine’s Wall. This was the furthest the Romans made it into Scotland. It is also referenced in the book World War Z which is about a zombie apocalypse. The wall was the last line of defence in Great Britain against zombies! I’ve done the route a few times and I’ve not seen any Romans or Zombies…yet.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2757452213

Starting Point: Croy Car Wash (https://goo.gl/maps/DMs2xoq9yicpi32E7) There is a small space for parking next to it or you could jog up from Croy Train Station.

Distance: 10K

Elevation: 255m

Description:

Start at the Roman Shield. It’s on the grass bank next to the car wash.

If that is the size of a Roman Shield then the soldier must have been huge!

Head down the hill towards the canal. Keep an eye out for a Shrine to the Virgin Mary. it was built around a natural spring in the mid 1970s by local residents.

Follow the path onto Croy Hill. I’ve heard other runners call it Mt Cookie but I’ve never found an explanation for why. Please get in touch if you know why.

There’s a few trees on top.

Head down off the hill and cross the road. Follow the path past the fields until you reach the forrest. Stay on the path. Don;t head right up onto Barr Hill. That is the way back.

Eventually you will head downhill through the Forrest.

Run Forrest Run

The run comes out in Twecher. A local told me “only Feckers come from Twecher.” I assume he had a bad expereience there! It seems allright to me.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right signposted Barrhill Fort.

The roman ruins at the top is what I call “a maybe place.” It is somewhere where all the signs says maybe as in “maybe this was where the soldiers slept” or “maybe this was one of several out buildings” I’d rather the historians just made stuff up as they obviously don’t know. Just write “maybe this was the en-suite bathroom” or “maybe this was the snooker room”

From the ruin keep left and head up to the trig point for a great view of the campsies.

The Top

Head off the trig point down back to the sheep fields. Just before you get to the main road keep an eye out for a left turn. This will take you down to the marina. From here head back up to the top.

Heading off Barrhill

Rating: 10/10

An excellent route. Varied terrain, challenging hills and great views. What more could you ask for?

Rugged Run: Glen Loin Loop

Ben Vane – 2009 Andrew

I used to be member of a Rambler’s club called Glasgow Young Walkers (https://glasgowyoungwalkers.ning.com/)

It was a great way to meet Glasgow folk who were young and liked walking. I wish all clubs did exactly what they said. I’m still scarred by my experience at a Glasgow Naturist Swimming club. I thought they were swimmer who liked being out in nature… I was wrong. It should have been called Avert Thine Eyes When Swimming Behind A Naked Swimmer Doing The Breaststroke Swimming Club.

The Young Walkers club would organise walks most weekends. One trip was a loop of Glen Loin. It was a beautiful route and ever since then I wanted to do it again.

So, last weekend I headed out to run it. It was 10 years since that walk so I was really hoping I could remember the route.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3082079705

Starting Point: Loch Long Car Park (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 11.5 Miles

Elevation: 450m

Description:

Park at Loch Long car park. There is a car park charge so bring some loose change. Cross the road and enter the nondescript road beside the bridge.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right.

Eventually the path will open up and you’ll get great views of the Arrochar hills.

Keep on the path and you’ll eventually come to a crossroads. The road to the right takes you down to the A82 and the Inveruglas Power Station. The road to the left head up to Sloy Dam

Head left towards the dam but there’s a turnoff to the left before you reach it.

Keep on the road and you will eventually spot a very small dam blocking the river.

The turning across the river just before the dam. Keep on the path for a couple of miles until you see the sign heading back to the car park.

Its now an easy downhill/flat jog back to the car.

Head to The Perch Cafe for some food and some great home baking. Although don’t go in hungry. I’ve always had a long wait for the food!

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1478699-d12801501-Reviews-The_Perch_Cafe-Garelochhead_Helensburgh_Argyll_and_Bute_Scotland.html

Rating: 8/10

The first half of the route is excellent with beautiful views. The second half isn’t as interesting as it’s mostly in trees with no view.

Rugged Run: Lennox Forrest (Iain)

Lennox Castle

This run is from Lennoxtown to the trig point in Lennox Forrest. On a good day there’s great views across Glasgow and northwards to Ben Lomond.

On the way you will see an abandoned castle and Celtic’s training facility. Watch out for ghosts in the castle!

The route is mostly on good tracks. The first half starts easy but then there is a steady climb to the top.

Starting Point: Glazert Hotel (https://goo.gl/maps/g4GNoGaYNDwbePXk6)

Distance: 10.5 km

Elevation: 186m

Description: Start at the hotel and run along Chestnut walk (in the direction away from the main road) to the start of the John Muir Way. Turn right and follow the John Muir Way until you reach the road to Campsie Circle.

The start of the trail is at the start of Campsie Circle. The trail starts to the right of the first house, next to a small car park.

The car park

Stick to the edge of the trees on the right hand side. Don’t take the path that crosses the river. That is the wrong way 🙂 The path can be muddy at first but it soon becomes a normal track.

You will soon reach Lennox Castle. It was a mental and a maternity hospital although not both at the same time. Lulu was born here but she doesn’t like to shout about it.

You can actually get to the top of the castle but I couldn’t possible encourage such wanton violation of health and safety rules. So I won’t mention there is gap in the fence. I definitely will not mention that you should make your way round the back to the entrance to the tower.

Inside the castle

The path goes round the back of the castle. Ignore the first turn you see to the right. Follow it until you come to a junction that goes up or down. If you head down the path you will see Celtic’s training ground. Keep heading up until it flattens out at a T junction.

Head right. Follow the path until you come to the next junction. Head left. The road to the right is a dead end.

The path is straight for a 1km and then veers to the left. There is a small track on the right hand side. Take this and follow it until you see the trig point. To get to the trig point ignore the gate. Walk on 20m and there’s a bt of fence you can jump over. The ground here is much drieer than the boggy area around the gate.

Lennox Forrest

After an obligatory photo at the top. Return back to the start of the small track.

The top!

Head in a straight line until you come to Lennox car park and a concrete road. Follow the road until you are halfway down the hill. You’ll see a sign that says Lennoxtown. Follow this track and it will take you all the way back to the hotel.

Rating: 9/10

This is a great 10K route…if you like running up a hill! It’s close to glasgow and you can combine it with a number of other routes nearby to make it even longer and hillier.

Rugged Run: Burncrooks Reservoir

Burncrooks Reservoir

Every winter I lead “Rugged Runs” for the Glasgow Triathlon Club (https://www.glasgowtriathlonclub.co.uk/)

A Rugged Run is a social paced 10k on a trail route. Preferably close to Glasgow so that people can get to it easily.

I’ll add the routes to this site so that they are available for anyone to run.

The Route (https://www.strava.com/activities/2916812128)

Starting Point: Edenmill Farm Shop (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 9.6KM

Elevation: 165m

Description:

In the early 1900’s Dumbarton had ran out of water sources in the Kilpatrick Hills. So it was decided to build one slightly further afield. Burncrooks Reservoir was constructed in 1914. Until that point there was only a minor river there.

Dumbarton’s gain was also a bonus for trail runners. The reservoir makes for a great looped run. You can’t get lost. As long as you have the reservoir to one side of you, you will always get back to the start of the loop.

Park at Edenmill. Run out of the car park towards the depot owned by the gardening company Route1. Head along the main road and then turn to your left up the road marked private.

Stay on this road. It is a steady climb. You come back this way so at least you finish with a downhill run.

Go through the gate next to the Scottish water plant. Keep heading up the hill.

Eventually you will come to a fork in the road. This is the start of the loop. I prefer to go right but either way is fine. If you do go left look out for the right turn that will take you to the reservoir.

If you go right follow the path until you come to the dam. There’s a stile to jump the fence here. Cross the boggy ground for 50m to join a path. FOllow the path all round the reservoir.

Rating: 9/10

The loop of Burncrook Reservoir loop is a popular route. I normally meet at least one other runner on the way round. There’s lots of options to extend or increase the difficulty of the route but I like this simple version of it.

You can find out more here https://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/2016/10/a-walk-around-burncrooks-reservoir-john-muir-way.html