One of my favourite things about Glasgow is that the city is incredibly close to the Scottish Highlands. You don’t have to go as far as Loch Lomond or Glencoe though, to get your mountain fix. The Kilpatrick Hills are just 10 miles from the city, easy to reach by train and the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Plan your day hike near Glasgow with this hiking guide to the Kilpatrick Hills!
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Glasgow is Scotland’s biggest city – almost 1.5 million people live in the Greater Glasgow area – which makes it a great location for a city trip. However, Glasgow is also an incredibly green city and surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
Only 10 miles up the northern banks of the River Clyde, the Kilpatrick Hills are a popular recreational area within a stone’s throw of the city.
Trails lead from the village near the river up into the hills, to beautiful freshwater lochs and viewpoints looking back towards Glasgow, the enormous Erskine Bridge or north towards Loch Lomond.
Easy to reach by train or car, the Kilpatrick Hills are great for an active day trip, but even half a day is enough to enjoy this area before returning to the bustling city. Even a micro-adventure with wild camping is possible here!
This hiking guide for the Kilpatrick Hills contains:
- A detailed trail description of a popular hike to Loch Humphrey, Duncolm and the Slacks.
- Suggestions for a detour up Fynloch Hill.
- Transport information: How to get to the Kilpatrick Hills.
- Trail information: signposts, path condition etc.
- A packing list for your day trip.
- Local information: Old Kilpatrick + nearby sights.
And some tips if you’d like to turn this hike into an overnight adventure.
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Kilpatrick Hills Hiking FAQ
Where is this hike located?
The Kilpatrick Hills are located around 10 miles north-west of Glasgow, behind the village of Old Kilpatrick. They form part of a ring of hill ranges, including the Campsie Fells and Kilsyth Hills, that lie between the city and the Highlands.
How long does the hike in the Kilpatrick Hills take?
The full hiking route described below, including Loch Humphrey, Duncolm and the Slacks is around 10 miles long and takes approximately 5 hours.
However, you might want to spend a full day in the hills to take time for detours to viewpoints and leisurely picnics.
Is the path marked and easy to follow?
Leaving from the train station, the path is initially signposted (green signs for “Kilpatrick Hills”), however, once you are on the main trail up towards Loch Humphrey, there are no more waymarkers.
The route follows a wide track initially, but after passing Loch Humphrey, the trail turns into a footpath. It can get wet and boggy underfoot and at times, the trail might become hard to follow (especially if you have to dodge big puddles). In dry conditions, the footpath towards Duncolm and the grassy path to the Slacks is easy to follow.
Getting to the Kilpatrick Hills
It takes around 30 minutes to get from Glasgow to the Kilpatrick Hills by car or public transport.
By car: From Glasgow, follow the M8 past the airport and Paisley and take the exit for M898 and cross the Erskine Bridge over the River Clyde. Merge onto the A82 north and take the next left turn to reach the village of Old Kilpatrick. Make your way through the village towards the train station and follow the signs to the car park for the Kilpatrick Hills behind the station.
Alternatively, take the A82 Great Western Road from the west end of Glasgow all the way to Old Kilpatrick.
By train: Catch a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Kilpatrick station. There are approximately 2 trains an hour.
Trail Description: Kilpatrick Hills
Stage 1: Loch Humphrey
The trail up to the Kilpatrick Hills begins at the car park behind the train station. From here, follow the pavement (sidewalk) next to the road and through the A82 underpass. Continue straight on – you’ll notice the pavement disappearing and the road becoming smaller. There is not much traffic beyond the underpass, but you should still be considerate of local traffic.
Follow the paved road for 5 minutes and turn right when you reach a large horse paddock. The road now starts climbing up hills slope and turns into a gravel track after you passed a cattle grid. Near the holiday cottages to the left (Gavinburn Cottages), you might be able to see some Highland cows relaxing in the sunshine, overlooking the deep-blue River Clyde.
The track becomes steeper and steeper, but as you near the top there is a great spot for a rest at the edge of a gully. Looking back, you’ll see the Erskine Bridge and suburbs of Glasgow.
Looking ahead (west), you can see the distinctive mound of Dumbarton Rock on the banks of the River. At its foot lies Dumbarton Castle. In the distance lie the hills of the Cowal Penisula, across the Firth of Clyde. The views here are stunning.
After a little break, continue on the gravel track through the moorland until you reach Loch Humphrey. The steepest part of the trail is now behind you.
Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like geese and herons. The loch makes for a great lunch spot as there are many wind-sheltered areas along the shore.
Stage 2: Duncolm
Follow the track around the south-east side of Loch Humphrey and it will soon turn into a boggy footpath. The moorland in this area of the Kilpatrick Hills can be pretty wet (= boggy)). While the path towards Duncolm is easy to follow on a dry day, after some rainfall, it can be submerged in large puddles.
Try to stay in a northern direction to reach the three rounded dome-summits (Little Duncolm, Middle Duncolm and Duncolm). As the path gains height once more, you leave the bog behind and continue on the grassy path.
First, you pass Little Duncolm (to your right), then the path splits in two – the right track leads to the summit of Middle Duncolm and down the steep slope on the other side, the left track bypasses the hill. They join again at the other side.
The path continues up the final slope of Duncolm and a trig point marks the highest point in the Kilpatrick Hills (401m). As expected, the views from the top of Duncolm are beautiful.
Fynloch Hill Detour
Before reaching Little Duncolm, make your way to the top of the hill on the left side of the trail. This is called Fynloch Hill, rises to around 400m and offers great views of Fyn Loch below, Loch Lomond and the Highlands in the distance.
The path up Fynloch Hill is pretty boggy and not always clear to follow, but it is pretty hard to get lost as long as you’re still heading up the gentle slope.
Stage 3: The Slacks
Backtrace your steps to Loch Humphrey and follow the gravel track back the way you came until it passes underneath a pylon line. From here, take a small grassy path to the left which climbs up the slope until it meets a fence. Turn left and follow the fence line until you reach the trig point at the Slacks (365m).
Take time to enjoy the stunning views of Glasgow in the distance and try to spot the bell tower at the University of Glasgow.
From here, follow a path down over a stile and heathery ridges, descending gently towards the gravel track you walked up earlier today.
Day Hike Packing List
What to Wear
The Kilpatrick Hills are great for beginners and outdoor enthusiasts without much hillwalking experience. You don’t require any special hillwalking equipment, but as always in Scotland, it is good to cover the basics and protect yourself from the elements.
Hiking boots are not required on the way up to Loch Humphrey. For the boggy walk to Duncolm and the Slacks, you want to wear at least sturdy and waterproof shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.
Bring a waterproof jacket and trousers just in case it starts to rain. There are very few trees along this route and nowhere to take shelter in a sudden downpour.
I recommend packing a hat and gloves regardless of the season. The area around Loch Humphrey can be very sheltered, but as soon as you reach the tops of Fynloch Hill or Duncolm, the wind can pick up significantly.
PS: This is also a great winter walk which does not require any winter mountaineering gear.
Food + Water
Note that there are no facilities along this hike (no public toilets, water fountains or shops).
Bring plenty of water and food with you for the day.
In Old Kilpatrick, there is a lovely pub called The Ettrick Bar (159 Dumbarton Rd, Old Kilpatrick, Glasgow G60 5JQ). They have a pub and a restaurant (Indian cuisine) as well as a beer garden. It’s a great place to treat yourself before returning to Glasgow.
Overnight Micro-Adventure in the Kilpatrick Hills
Why not pack your tent and plan an overnight micro-adventure in the Kilpatrick Hills? It’s absolutely possible to hike up to Loch Humphrey in the early evening, pitch your tent for a night in the hills and hike back the following day. Here are some tips and things to consider:
- Remember how boggy it is around the east end of Loch Humphrey? Don’t camp there!
- There are some flat-ish and dry-ish areas around the summits of Duncolm that are more suitable for camping.
- Pack everything you need to do your business responsibly.
- Don’t leave behind any litter, but take everything back down with you and dispose of it at home.
For more tips, read my guide to wild camping in Scotland.
HIKIN FACTS: Old Kilpatrick Hills
Distance: 9 miles (15 km)
Duration: 4 – 4.5 hours
Terrain: Wide but at times steep track to the loch; grassy at times boggy path beyond that.
What to do near the Kilpatrick Hills?
After your hike, keep exploring the local area:
Whisky Tour: Join a tour at Auchentoshan Distillery – 2 miles from Old Kilpatrick.
Local history: Learn about the industrial heritage of the area (especially the shipbuilding industry) at the Clydebank Museum (FREE) – 4 miles from Old Kilpatrick.
Visit a Castle: Visit Dumbarton Castle (£6, FREE with a Historic Scotland Members or Explorer Pass) – 5 miles from Old Kilpatrick.
The Kilpatrick Hills are a great destination for a day trip from Glasgow – away from the noisy city and into the serene landscape of the Scottish mountains.
I hope you will plan a trip to the area soon!
Have you ever gone for a hike in the Kilpatrick Hills?
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