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Nature outing from Glasgow?

I am traveling to Glasgow for just a couple of days later this month. While doing research I fell in love with the idea of taking a daytrip to Glencoe. We can't make the earliest bus so according to the schedule it would be 2.5hr there, 2.5hr back and only 2 or so hours there in between buses (we can't take the latest bus). After 4.5hr on the trail from London the day before, I think that will be too much bus for one day and too little time at our destination.

Any suggestions for a breath of fresh air and some lovely vistas closer to Glasgow? (Accessible by public transport.)
Is all the bus time worth it to see Glencoe?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
14917 posts

I can think of two options, one of which we have done, and the other something we would like to do in the future.

The first involves a train ride of 2.5 hours so just as long as Glencoe, but the train timing works out so you could have more time to walk. Take the train from Glasgow Queen St. to Bridge of Orchy. There are three trains a day each way and if you leave Glasgow at 8:21 you arrive at 10:45 and could have until almost 7 pm for the return train. Have a light supper in the hotel before catching the train back. For the rest of the time, you are right on one of the nicest sections of the West Highland Way if you head north. Walk as far as you like, then turn around. If that is too much time there are other train combinations that will work.

The second thought would be to take a walk on the John Muir Way, a new coast to coast trail opened in 2014. It starts at Helensburgh, a small town just a short train ride from Glasgow---may 20 minutes? There is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh house there you might like to see. Then walk the John Muir Way to Balloch on Loch Lomond, 9 miles. There are buses back to Glasgow from Balloch, about an hour away.

The one caveat here is I have not done this myself, so have no idea how scenic this section of the Way might be.

Posted by
6 posts

These both sound like wonderful options.
I am a big fan of Muir and his nature writings - my jaw dropped when you mentioned his name. I would love to see the trail named for him and I was just looking at Balloch on the map when I was notified of your reply.
I will report back if we end up on the John Muir route!
Sincerest thanks!

Posted by
14917 posts

I am a John Muir fan as well, having living and worked in Yosemite long ago. When I heard of this trail opening in 2014, I briefly considered putting a walk on the whole length on our itinerary for May of that year. It occurred to me that if I completed it I might be the first to complete both John Muir Trail in the Sierras (did that in 1970) and the new John Muir Way in Scotland. ( There is an older, much shorter John Muir Trail in Scotland near his birthplace in Dunbar).

But it turns out much of the John Muir Way is more of an urban path than a mountain trail, and more suitable for biking than hiking. So we nixed that idea and chose some other walks instead ( including the walk on the West Highland Way mentioned above).

But for a subsequent UK trip (in 2016) I identified that section from Helensburgh to Balloch as a possibility for a nice walk, as this section has an alternate route for bikes---suggesting it is more of a hiking path than roadway. It it became too complicated to add it to our planned trip, so Instill have not seen it.

If you get feedback that starting in Helensburgh might not be that good a nature outing, you could bus directly to Balloch and walk backwards on the trail a bit, returning to Balloch to enjoy Loch Lomond.

Posted by
5677 posts

I've not been there yet, but Arran might also fill the bill for you. You can take the train from Glasgow to a ferry that takes you over to Arran. It too is about two hours. Sounds like a good trip. Here's a link the tourist page. Here's a link to the WalkHighland page that has walks out of Brodick where the ferry drops you off. And here's a link to the flyer that you can probably pick up in the TI. It looks like the TI is right across from the ferry landing. :)


Posted by
1577 posts

The options are 'gangin doon the water' to the Firth of Clyde islands (Arran, Cumbrae, Bute) or the Cowal Peninsular. Up to Loch Lomond or the falls of Clyde at Lanark. There is also Chattelerault Country Park by Hamilton in a place called Ferniegair, accessible from the Chattelerault railway station on the Glasgow commuter network.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the feedback on my question to all who replied.

We ended up taking Lola's advice. Thank you Lola!

On Saturday afternoon we took the train from Glasgow to Helensburgh (which is a beautiful town I wish we had more time to explore) and walked the John Muir Way (currently sharing a diverted path with the Three Lochs Way as some of the JMW is under construction) to Balloch. The views were spectacular and the hike itself was easy to moderately difficult. (We did get a little off-track at one point but found our way back to the route with the help of two farmers! A real adventure.) At the end in Balloch we took the train back to Glasgow.

Our pace was leisurely (and as mentioned, we had a bit of time delightfully lost) and the whole trip from Glasgow and back again was around 8 hours (if you were hiking with a purpose and don't get lost, the entire outing, including trains, could be done in about 6 hours I think). The train rides cost about 7 pounds each way and took around 40-45 minutes.

A HIGHLY recommended outing if you want to get out of the city of Glasgow, away from people, into nature and enjoy a nice hike.