Rugged Run – Holehead Radar Station

Holehead is the third highest point in the Campsie Fells after Earl’s Seat and the Meikle Bin. The weather radar station is a relatively new structure that was erected in the early 2000’s. It is a replacement for a similar station at Eaglesham which had to be decommissioned when a wind farm was built there.

Normally there is a great view from the top looking down over the Crow Road across to Meikle Bin and over carron valley reservoir but unfortunately not this time.

Murphy law states “what shall go wrong, will go wrong” but I think the trail running equivalent should be Todd’s law – “Whatever can block your view will block your view! When I got to the to the radar station there was nothing to see. It was beautiful clear blue skies for the whole run except the ten minutes I was at the station! Check out the video below to see how fog comes from nowhere to block the view.

This is a great loop that start at the top of the crow road in the Campsie hills. Park at the entrance to the forest trails, follow the path until it take you back to crow road. Run back up crow road until you see the road up to the radar station. When you get to the top follow the stone wall and you will end up back at your car.

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A tale of two half’s. The first half was much easier than the second.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There’s a small car park in Clachan of Campise. You can park on the street if the car park is full. It can be busy on a nice day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are cafe’s and a supermarket in Lennoxtown.

Run Surface

90% track. 10% road

Dog Friendly

Sort of – look out for sheep and keep your dog on the lead when you leave the forest as its near a farm. The road up to the radar station is used to graze sheep so even if it looks clear keep your dog on a lead.

Elevation

354M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Campsie Hills – Finglen Circular

This is a great route that will make you feel you are exploring a valley in the wilderness even though you are only 10 minutes from a MacDonald’s fast restaurant.

This route can be done either way but if you’ve not been here before then do it reverse to the way I did it. That way it’s easier to find the bridge over the river.

Start at Calhan of Campsie and take the road up past the Schoenstatt  nuns. Take the turn which says “walkers this way”. Walk until you reach the green gate and then come the path and walk along the wall past the stone house. Follow the rough path. It will lead to a small bridge.

On the other side follow the trees up the side of the valley. There is a pile of stones that make a great spot to admire the view. Keep heading up onto the top. From here you want to cut down into the valley to cross the river. The further you walk the less steep the valley becomes so walk as far as you need until you find a spot to come down.

Cross the river and follow the fence. It will rake you to the path that leads down the other side.

They say a picture paints a thousand word so a video must be billions of words! Watch the video and my description will make more sense but remember I’m doing it the opposite way. Play it backwards to see the route as described 🙂

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A tale of two half’s. The first half was much easier than the second.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There’s a small car park in Clachan of Campise. You can park on the street if the car park is full. It can be busy on a nice day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a cafe at the start and end of the run.

Run Surface

50% track. 50% off road (mud, tall grasses and lots of heather)

Dog Friendly

No – the farmer who has the field at finglen has a sign requesting no dogs even if they are on leads.

Elevation

452M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Kilpatrick Hills – The Whangie (Iain)

 

The plan was to walk to Burncrooks Reservoir from the Whangie and then return by the same route. That was the plan but…

The Whangie is a hill I don’t go to very often. It is usually too busy and the route is too muddy. Neither of which I enjoy. The last time I was here was with my dad. He first climbed it 50 years ago and hadn’t done it since. He climbed it when he was 18 years old. He had been drinking in a local bar, the Carbeth Inn, and someone had told him about an interesting rock face nearby. He’d wondered off drunk to see for himself. I’m impressed that he found it and that he made it back to the pub to tell everyone what he’d seen.

My wife and I came here early to make sure it was quiet but even at sunrise there was already five cars in the car park.

We didn’t have to worry about the mud as the recent cold weather meant it was very frosty under foot. Unfortunately my wife had the wrong type of shoes and struggled to get a good grip on the icy sections. After slipping and sliding our way to Burncrooks we decided to take a different way back.

During the walk one of my dogs tripped up my wife. She was fine but amusingly I was filming at the time and caught it all on camera. Does You’ve Been Framed still exist and do they still pay £250 for a funny faceplant video?

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Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It started well but going to carbeth was a mistake.

Parking

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Parking can be tricky on a nice day as its a popular spot.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a café nearby at Eden mill (https://edenmill.co.uk/) and a coffee stop (https://www.facebook.com/stmocha/) on the main road at Carbeth.

Run Surface

30% mud, 60% fire track path, 10% road

Dog Friendly

Yes – I’ve never seen sheep here.

Elevation

252M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Campsie Three Peak Challenge (Iain)

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature

 

Cort-ma-law is gaelic for “steep climb, boggy on top”

I must admit I failed Gaelic in school. The only phrases I know are “how are you?” and “I am cold” which in Scotland is appropriate conversation for 90% of the year.

So my translation may be wrong but its a steep climb as well as often being wet and boggy on top. I find the boggiest section is the run between Cort-Ma-Law and Lecket Hill. I’ve often ended up ankle deep in a bog.

This route follows a popular walks on well-defined paths. I’ve done it in mist and rain but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are familiar with the route. The car park can be extremely busy so get here early on a nice day.

From the car park, cross the road and make your way up the broad grassy shoulder going east. The ascent of Cort-ma Law is fairly relentless but the gradient eases off as you reach the high ground. Remember to look behind you to get the great view down the valley towards Strathblane.

Follow the cairns all the way to the Summit. Once at the summit. Walk north and jump over the fence. A clearly defined path takes you all the way to Leckett hull. Turn west and follow the path all the way back to Crow Road. Run down the road to finish off the route. Keep an eye out for Jamie Wright’s Well on the south side of the road, a memorial to a local angler who tapped the rock to provide drinking water on his walks to go fishing. 

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Not yet!

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Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A hilly 10k on paths that are easy to navigate.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Parking can be tricky on a nice day as its a popular spot.

Facilities

Rating: 3 out of 5.

None although on a nice day an Ice Cream van is usually at the car park.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a good cafe in Clachan of Campsie and there are a couple of options in Lennoxtown.

Run Surface

90% grass, 10% road

Dog Friendly

There is normally sheep roaming on the hillside.

Elevation

207M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Sir John De Grahams 10K (Iain)

I know ‘Sir John De Grahams’ as a car parking spot in Carron Valley but in the 13th century he was one of Scotland’s best knights. Although this did prevent him getting killed at the Battle Of Falkirk when the English overran the Scottish army.

The inscription on his gravestone reads:

Here lyes Sir John the Grame, baith wight and wise,
Ane of the chiefs who rescewit Scotland thrise,
Ane better knight not to the world was lent,
Nor was gude Graham of truth and hardiment

When I die I’d also like to have a poem written about me.

Here lies Iain the Todd, both clever and wise
He loved eating cake until he grew to twice the size
Now he’s buried 2 meters deep and 10 foot wide.

This is a great alternative route to nearby Meikle Bin. I think the views are actually better here as there’s more variety and much less people about.

The video below will show you what the route is like. It was from a run done on the same course but with some off road sections added to it.

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Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Quiet, good surfaces and easy to navigate.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Parking near Mikle Bin can be tricky on a nice day as its a popular spot.

Facilities

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

None

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is nothing close but there’s two good options a short drive away. The Fintry Inn is great for beer and hot food and on the outskirts of Fintry the Cafe in the Courtyard is great for for soup and treats.

Run Surface

100% fire road.

Dog Friendly

Yes – no sheep or animals spotted on route.

Elevation

207M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Earl’s Seat (Iain)

Earl’s Seat (578 m) has been described by The Scotsman newspaper as “…at times a tedious traverse, but the effort is well rewarded.

I’ve done this route during the Summer and Winter. I don’t think its tedious although it can be a bit of a bog slog in wet weather. It is actually a great Winter route on a cold frosty day. The bogs are frozen and the heather has died back. It’s much easier to run than in summer.

The common route is to do Earls Seat from Dumgoyne as an out an back route https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=62636 I met some cyclists pushing their bikes along this route as they planned to cycle back down. They’d never done it before. They asked if they had far to go. I gave them the same answer my Dad gave me whenever I asked that question – “its round the next corner and over the next hill.” Which basically means, its miles away, stop your moaning and get on with it. I felt sorry for them as they looked knackered pushing their bikes and they’d barely reached half way.

My prefered route is to start at the car park in Clachan of Campsie and run to the war memorial in Strathblane via Earls Seat. Before starting out, I left a car in Strathblane so I’d be able to drive home. If you fancied a longer run you could run back to Clachan from Strathblane via the old railway track

Run up the road next to Schoenstatt until you reach a sign that says “walkers this way.” Follow the path until you are past the houses and then cut down off the track and follow the wall of the stone house. This will take you to a small bridge over Finglen river. Head over the bridge and aim for the top of the hill. Eventually you will find a fence. Follow the fence to Earl Seat. Easy 🙂

That’s the directions I was given when I first attempted it. It did work although If you are stuck I’ve included a map below.

The video below will show you what the route is like. It was a beautiful day but the video doesn’t show just how cold it was. It was difficult to start the camera as I’d lost feeling in my fingers!

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Quiet but can be slog if the ground is bad.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Plenty of parking in Clachan but parking in Strathblane near the war memorial can be trickier on a nice day as its a popular spot.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a cafe at the start and end of the run.

Run Surface

80% moor/grass. 20% off road (through trees)

Dog Friendly

No – the farmer who has the field at finglen has a sign requesting no dogs even if they are on leads.

Elevation

722M of elevation.

Rugged Run – John Muir Way – Longniddry to North Berwick (Iain)

John Muir was one of America’s most famous and influential ‘Outdoor Enthusiasts’ – although in a letter back to his native Scotland he did describe himself instead as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.” Which must be annoying to write when he was filling in the job title section of forms.

The John Muir Way is a 130 mile walking/biking route that stretches from his birthplace of Dunbar to where he left Scotland to head to America – Helensburgh.

John Muir Way - Falkirk, Scotland | AllTrails

I didn’t realize, until I looked at the route map, that I have actually done all of it but unintentionally whilst exploring various routes and paths along the Central Belt.

One of my favorite sections is Longniddry to North Berwick. I love the beaches in East Lothian and this section includes a run along one of the best: Yellowcraigs.

This section was easy to run. I parked my car in North Berwick. Got a train to Longniddry (10 minutes away) and then jogged back following the easy to follow route. There are lots of signs pointing out the route.

Check out the video to see the route in full.

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Its not a wild trail run, more like a mild trail run as it passes through some of the most affluent towns in Scotland. Its mostly flat and there are some sections near roads.

Parking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I had no problem parking in North Berwick but it can be busy on a nice day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

No facilities.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of options allong the route and in North Berwick.

Run Surface

80% off road, 20% pavement.

Dog Friendly

It depends on your dog. I ran with mine but she had to be on the lead a lot due to nearby traffic.

Rugged Run – Devilla Forest (Iain)

Devilla Forest is just north east of the Kincardine Bridge. I’ve always been intrigued by the name. If it has ‘devil’ in the title it must be a pretty scary place – right?

Wrong! According to https://fife-placenames.glasgow.ac.uk/placename/?id=317 Devilla means “bad farm” because the land is bad for growing things. How boring. I’d have written he farm was bad because of devil worshiping. That would be a more exciting story.

The forest is slighly scary. It has a stone which a local legend says is marked by the grooves from a witches apron string. Do witches have aprons? I though aprons are just used by great British Bake Off contestants?!

Other than a dubious connections to baking witches there are four lochs, burns, meadowland and rich wildlife – including red squirrels. Lots of variety packed into a small area.

The route I choose was an eight mile loop from the car park. The routes is signposted but I’d advise taking a map or a GPS device with you. I took a couple of wrong turns and its easy to lose track of how to get back to the car park.

The paths were a mix of firetrack road and muddy trails. There isn’t much elevation on the route so its good for a flatter trail run.

It was pretty wet when I visited But I look forward to going back in better weather so I can see more of it. I might even spot a witch.

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I’ll need to go back and film one!

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Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

An interesting and varied route. Good running surfaces but I’ll need to go back on a nice day to fully explore it.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There’s a car park that was pretty full even on a bad weather day. It might be pretty congested on a good day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

No facilities.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I was too wet to be bothered looking for one. I’ll look next time.

Run Surface

100% off road

Dog Friendly

Yes – although mine jumped off a wall before realizing he couldn’t get back up again. I had to lift him back over the wall.

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.

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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.

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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.