Hiking the Corrie of Balglass and Earl’s Seat

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Ever since I started coming to Scotland, I’ve wanted to do more hiking in the hills near Glasgow. Aside from a short walk my wife and I had earlier this year, and despite of (or due to?) lockdown, I hadn’t found the time to get up in the nearest hills known as the Campsie Fells, which loom fairly large in the distance from our neighborhood.

Last week, a visit from my brother-in-law spurred the desire to organize a hike and I finally got out on the hills.

The hike that caught my eye (from the Cicerone Guide to the Ochils, Campsie Fells and Lomond Hills) was a route up to the Corrie of Balglass from Fintry. The corrie is on the north side of the Campsie Fells and is “the most prominent and striking geologic feature” of the range, according to the book. The recommended route also included Earl’s Seat, which is the highest point in the Campsies (578 m or 1,896 ft). The book also had it tagged as taking three and half-hours and with a difficulty of 4 out of 5. 😬

This video is going up the “little corrie”, and not the same route we took, but it is an example of the views you get on the way

Seemed like this was a good enough challenge for myself and my two brothers-in-law (aka the “Fitness Bros” on WhatsApp) to tackle. We made a point of setting out early, leaving at 6am from Chryston and getting to Fintry and on the trail just before 7am after a short detour trying to chase a sheep off the road so it wouldn’t get hit by a car.

The sheep wasn’t listening, but we saw plenty of his kin on the hills a short while later. We’d like to think he made it. 🤷

As advertised, the hike was fantastic. It took us much longer than the guidebook indicated (around 5 hours including a few short stops here and there) and was harder than expected (walking over layers of bog, grass, and heather is hard going), but the views of the corrie were more than worth it.

I will save you a detailed trip report (this post does a good job of that) but here are some notes for me for next time I do it:

  • 🧭 Yes to a compass and a proper map – These items were key to navigating, and I also used the OS Map app and tracked my route, which really helped to stay on course as there is no trail for most of this hike
  • 🥾 Hiking boots > hiking trainers – I wore trainers and it was ok but the ground is hard going at times, you are on uneven ground constantly. and your ankles are constantly getting turned
  • 👖 Long pants = probably a good idea – Two of us had shorts on, and even though it hadn’t rained in a couple weeks and was warm on the day (24), the grass and brush meant a lot of scratched, chances for ticks, etc
  • 🌬️ No to windy or icy weather – there aren’t very many steep portions but there are enough to mean doing this hike in poor weather would not be fun

I recorded the hike on my Garmin in two parts (the way there and the way back):

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