Looking for a hike near Glasgow that is just a few miles from the city edge and as easy on the legs as it is on the eyes? Duncarnock Fort makes for a pleasant walk with 360° views of Glasgow and East Renfrewshire. Pack your hiking boots and plan a trip with this hiking guide for Duncarnock Fort.
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Glasgow is framed by hills in the north and the south. No matter where in the city you are, as soon as you gain a little height, you can see the gentle hills stretching south in East Renfrewshire and north towards the Kilpatrick Hills and the Campsies, and eventually the Highlands.
While these hills are no Munros, they make for great adventures in close proximity to Scotland’s largest city.
One of these wee hills near Glasgow is Duncarnock Fort, just a few miles south of city edge and near the suburbs of Barrhill and Neilston.
Locally, it is also often referred to as The Craigie.
In this hiking guide – which is really more of a “walking” guide – I will give you:
- a rundown of the route,
- options for parking and public transport links,
- suggestions for what to wear and bring,
- and some of my own observations on this walk.
Duncarnock Fort FAQ
Where is this hike located?
Duncarnock Fort is located about 1 mile south of Barrhead and 2 miles east of Neilston, two southern suburbs of Glasgow.
The hike lies within 5 miles from the Glasgow City Council border – good to know if you plan this walk while Scotland is in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Is there a fort at Duncarnock Fort?
Yes, of course! At the top of Duncarnock hill, you can find the remains of a prehistoric fort initially built and used 1200 BC to 400 AD and used again between 400 and 700 AD.
However, not much is left of the fort today and in the snow, it was too hard to make out much of the remaining walls and rocks left behind.
How high is Duncarnock Fort?
The hill of Duncarnock Fort stands at 204 m (approx. 670 ft).
How long is the hike to Duncarnock Fort?
The hike from the bottom at Glanderston Dam to the top of Duncarnock Fort and back is just over 1 mile.
You could be up and down again in half an hour, but since the views from the top are so beautiful, I recommend taking 1-1.5 hours.
Is the path marked?
The path to Duncarnock Fort is not waymarked, but it is very straightforward and easy to follow.
If you are uncertain about my directions below, you can use my route on the Komoot app to follow my footsteps. It’s free to use and very handy for lowland walks like this.
Note that I forgot to stop recording on my drive back to Barrhead, which is why there are a few extra miles on my recorded route.
Parking at Duncarnock Fort
There is space for 2-3 cars at the start of the trail at Glanderston Dam, as well as a few laybys on the road there where you might be able to park.
If these parking spots are busy or road conditions keep you from driving all the way (these roads are not gritted during winter), you can park in the Auchenback area of Barrhead and walk from there.
I parked on Springhill Road and it took me around 20 minutes to walk to Glanderston Dam from there.
Public Transport to Duncarnock Fort
It would be easy to take the train from Glasgow to Barrhead or Neilston and walk from there to the start of the trail at Glanderston Dam.
Trail Description: Duncarnock Fort
The start of the trail up Duncarnock Fort is impossible to miss – the hike starts right where the road makes a 90° bend.
Coming from Barhead, go through the gate (this was open when I hiked here) and continue down the farm track for about 160 yards.
You will see a small gate to the right of the track, next to some large trees. Go through this gate and follow the path onto the embankment of the dam.
Follow the embankment all the way around the water of Glanderston Dam. On a warm and sunny day, you might see ducks and geese in it. During my visit in winter, the reservoir was completely frozen over and covered by a soft blanket of snow.
At the end of the dam, there is a small metal bridge. You can cross this, or walk across a smaller wooden bridge a few meters below.
From here, you can see the knoll of Duncarnock Hill in all of its glory. It’s local name is The Craigie – undoubtedly inspired by the dramatic north face of this wee hill. Despite its modest height, the hill looks pretty intimidating from this side.
Once you have crossed either of the bridges, keep walking straight ahead on the left side of a row of hawthorn trees, aiming to walk around the north-west side of the hill.
Keep right after the trees. You will see a stone wall to your right with a wooden stile. Climb over the stile – there are a few rocks to step upon, but take great care if it is icy or slippy.
Pick up the footpath on the other side of the wall, leading further around the north-west side of the hill and past some medium-sized rocks and boulders.
The path now starts ascending, gradually at first, but soon it gets pretty steep. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t last very long. As you turn a corner to the right, you are almost there.
Soon after you can see the summit cairn marking the top of Duncarnock hill.
Before you return down the hill, explore the wide rounded back of Duncarnock Fort stretching south of the summit and take in the views of East Renfrewshire.
To the north, spot the peaks of the Scottish Highlands and the hills on the Cowal peninsula in the distance. You might spot Dumgoyne (another great hike near Glasgow) in the Campsies, and Ben Ledi rising dramatically far in the distance. On clear days, you can even see the top of Loch Lomond, the peaks of the Arrochar Alps and many more on the horizon.
To the west, you can see the gentle hill of Cathkin Braes with its solitary windmill and before that the deep blue of Balgray Reservoir.
Continue looking south to spot the windmills of Whitelee Windfarm – the largest on-shore wind farm in the UK – and the trees on top of Neilston Pad.
To the east, spot the top of Fereneze Braes on the other side of Barrhead – another great walk in East Renfrewshire.
Return by retracing your steps down the hill, across the wooden gate and the footbridge to Glanderston Dam.
Day Hike Packing List
Since this is a short walk, you might get away without bringing a backpack, snacks or any extra equipment.
On a nice day though, there are many places along this hike that are PERFECT for a picnic. Either along the water at Glanderston Dam or at the top of Duncarnock hill.
Since the path can be boggy, I highly recommend wearing hiking boots or other sturdy trail shoes to keep your feet try.
Avid photographers might want to consider bringing their camera and a tripod. On clear days, you can see as far as Ben Ledi, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps. With a good zoom lens, you could take some impressive photos from the top of Duncarnock Hills.
One thing to consider is that the wind at the top can be pretty cold, so bringing an extra layer and a hat is a good idea if you want to spend some time at the summit.
Note that there are no toilet facilities at Glanderston Dam.
HIKING FACTS: Duncarnock Fort
Distance: 1.2 miles (2 km)
Duration: 0.5 – 1.5 hours
Terrain: Clear path. Short but steep ascent.
Map (on Komoot)
There is no shortage of great walks near Glasgow and Duncarnock Fort is no exception.
I’d love to hear from you if you hiked Duncarnock hill yourself or know of another walk near Glasgow I should try!
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