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At a height of 578 m (1896 ft), Earl’s Seat is the highest of the Campsie Fells. Relatively unspectacular-looking, it fades into the background behind it’s impressive neighbour Dumgoyne Hill. That said, the summit is a great vantage point with panoramic views across to Loch Lomond and the Scottish Highlands on one side, and the city of Glasgow and beyond on the other. Mostly grassy tracks, the route can be wet underfoot and boggy in places. It is a very exposed area with no shelter so do go prepared! There is a steep section near the start before the route levels off to a far more gentle gradient.
Car parking available in lay-by off A81 immediately after passing Glengoyne Distillery (G63 9LB). Bus stop on A81 outside Glengoyne Distillery.
Route: From the north end of the lay-by, cross the A81 onto a single track road at the other side, passing some houses on your right. Continue gently uphill for approx 800m. Along the way you’ll pass a house on your left, cross a bridge over a burn and then pass a third house. Just beyond the third house you will reach a wide track which you cross straight over (East) onto an open grassy area. Follow a grassy path leading towards some trees at the foot of the mountain and after crossing over two stiles you are ready to start your ascent at a particularly boggy area! Take care at this point: the most obvious track heads east towards the summit of Dumgoyne Hill. Whilst you can go that way, it is extremely steep and is actually unnecessary, so instead….. Look out for a track which bears left (North East) from just beyond the stiles. Note that it is very easy to miss this fork (see image below for an illustration). Walk uphill for a distance of 400m then keep left (East) at a fork at 280m elevation to skirt around the side of Dumgoyne Hill. The land soon starts to flatten out. 500m along at a crossroads continue ahead (North East). From here the track begins to climb again. Continue in a north-east direction, gaining height for the next 1.2km, and ignoring any trails off to either side of you. The track goes around Garloch Hill. Continuing north-east, another 600m along the trail you will pass through a fenceline. 1km along from here you will come to a fork – keep right (East). The path soon changes direction (South East) to reach the summit of Earl’s Seat. To reach the trig point you need to climb over the fence. From the summit, retrace your steps back to the lay-by.
WALK REVIEW: 5th August 2016
Earl’s Seat was suggested to me by a couple of friends when I had asked for recommendations for my Trail 7 Summits Challenge. I had ventured out to attempt it a couple of weeks prior to this trip but had ended up only climbing Dumgoyne due to time restrictions. That day I got a good look at Earl’s Seat and the route involved so I knew exactly what I was coming to this time!
The track was visible all the way. It was mostly short grass and easy to walk on. There were some up and down sections but all very gentle gradients and nothing challenging. Ideal terrain for walking and talking at the same time, as us girls tend to do!
My friend LJ came with me on this walk. I didn’t know until we were there but this turned out to be her first hill walk! I was surprised because I have known her husband since primary school and he has been into hillwalking from a young age so I assumed LJ would have been hiking a few times already. In one sense I felt honoured to be taking someone on their first walk in the Scottish hills; at the same time I was nervous, hoping that she was enjoying the experience and that it was instilling in her the beginnings of a passion for getting out into the hills.
The summit is a funny place, funny in the ‘strange’ sense. To reach it you need to climb over a barbed wire fence (the jagged parts have been clipped off). I wondered why a stile hadn’t been built over the fence…. and indeed why the fence was even necessary? In any case the trig point provided a welcome wind-break for us as we sheltered from a cool wind to eat our packed lunch 🙂
At the summit we got chatting to a group of guys from the Rolls Royce Mountaineering Club, one of whom told us about a Ben Nevis trip coming up and invited us along. I couldn’t make that date but do regret not asking how I find out about future trips. He explained that they aren’t allowed to advertise it so no Facebook page etc, only word of mouth. He did say they have a newsletter so I wonder how you go about being added to the distribution list. I haven’t been able to find anything online at all. I did tell them about my website and they seemed keen to have a look so guys, if you are reading, get in touch 🙂