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When living in the central belt of Scotland, it is easy to forget about the beautiful scenery located right on your doorstep. I have lived around Glasgow all my life, and only recently actually heard of the Devil’s Pulpit. Immediately, my other half and I agreed to go one weekend. And this has become one of my favourite locations around Scotland and, in my opinion, the best day trip from Glasgow.
From my experience of meeting people who have visited Scotland, there is plenty of people who only travel to Edinburgh, see the sights, and then move on, without seeing any other part of Scotland. There is so much more to offer than Edinburgh city centre.
This day trip is located only 1 hour 30 mins from Edinburgh, and a mere 30 minutes outside Glasgow. It is also not far from Loch Lomond if you want to enhance your day with another of Scotland’s beautiful landscapes.
The Devil’s Pulpit – or more correctly called Finnich Glen – is a perfect getaway from the city without having to travel too far. The name ‘Devil’s Pulpit’ actually refers to a large rock within the gorge at Finnich Glen. However, nowadays, the term is probably more common than Finnich Glen. Therefore can be used interchangeably. So, I’ll stick with Devil’s Pulpit.
There are many potential stories where the rock first got its name, like being used as a Witch’s execution table, Druids holding secret meetings here, or the rock where the Devil stood upon as he addressed his admirers. Thankfully for us, there are no longer any signs of Witches or the Devil.
How To Get To The Devil’s Pulpit?
The Devil’s Pulpit is not the easiest place to find if you do not know what you are looking for. The easiest access to here would be by car, although there are some public transport routes which you may want to use, but may require a bit more of an initial walk.
If travelling by car, there is a small car park (see map below) where you can park. This is a very small area of land and was actually full when I arrived, so I had to park down in a small lay by. If doing so, be aware that the B834 and A809 are country roads with a 60mph. Be courteous when parking and walking.
As shown above, there is a simple leisurely walk along the roadside before cutting into a very missable entrance into the woodland area. This will take you along a straightforward path at the top of the gorge when you will finally reach the staircase down to the more exciting part; the gorge itself.
The fittingly named ‘Devil’s Steps’ – also known as Jacob’s Ladder – are very steep and not the most level so caution is advised at this point. I would not recommend this to anyone with any serious physical health issues (especially in wet conditions – and it’s Scotland, chances are it’s going to be wet!). We were there in bright sunshine and getting down still caused some difficulty.
What To Pack For The Devil’s Pulpit
What to bring varies very much on the weather. As you are in Scotland, plan appropriately as the weather may change.
Hiking boots or sturdy footwear is advisable as the path and stairs may be slippy.
A change of clothing is always useful in case of any mishaps.
And, of course, don’t forget your camera to capture your trip. You will get some amazing shots down there.
Another option is to bring a snack or a picnic to spend a little more time here. Apart from that, you don’t really need too much.
The Gorge / Devil’s Pulpit
Once you have descended the Devil’s Staircase, you will be surrounded by colour. The moss-covered rock either side of the water really bring the gorge to life. The sun and blue sky, cutting through the surrounding greenery, and reflecting off the blood-red water makes for a stunning location. The red water effect is caused by the sandstone lying on the riverbed. The gorge itself has a sense of untouched nature makes this an amazing place to escape and feel transported to another world.
If you enjoy photography, you will no doubt have a field day here as the Devil’s Pulpit is incredibly photogenic.
The river runs through the gorge so there are a number of rocks and obstacles that you can use to cross at various points. Some of these are easier than others. Channel your inner Takeshi’s Castle and hop across some stones and along a fallen tree to head upstream.
The next phase is to manoeuvre around a narrow, slanted rock face which can prove quite tricky. A helping hand is very useful here to steady yourself as you move. Or, alternatively, get your socks and shoes off and get dive right in (not literally!).
You will then be faced with the rock itself, known as the Devil’s Pulpit. Unfortunately, I was too busy focusing on the scenery to snap a picture of this, but you can see its poking out next to Claire’s head! Or… you will just need to make the journey yourself to see it. Fans of Outlander will possibly recognise the rock and this area of the gorge. It was used in episode 6 of the first series. However, unfortunately, you will not find anyone dressed in traditional Scottish outfits I’m afraid!
The Exit / Way Out
The exit is the same as the entrance, so it’s back the way you came to head back up those stairs. And, if you are like us, take a quick selfie in the not so frequent Scottish sun!
If you fancy something more illuminating, check out my time at Itison’s Glasglow. Have you ever visited the Devil’s Pulpit, Glasgow? Let me know in the comments!