Lecket Hill and Crichton’s Carin Circular walk (plus a very icy dip)
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Date: 21 April, 2021
Location: Lecket Hill and Crichton’s Cairn, near Campsie Glen, Scotland
Distance: 14 kilometres (8.7 miles)
Elevation gain: 698 m (2290 ft)
Duration: 4 hours
Highlights: Incredible views, no human disturbances, Muckle Alicompen waterfalls
Summary: A circular route on the top of a few hills with fantastic views over the surroundings. Not marked at all, but fairly easy to navigate. You will feel the first ascent in your thighs, but once at the top, it is very flat until the descent at the end. Beware of boggy conditions! And don’t miss out on the waterfalls near the start.
On the 21st of April, I set off on an adventure with five friends from my student accommodation – Ellie, Bilge, Alex, Sahej and Ben (some who have helped contribute to this blog post)! Our day started off with a walk to Bunchan Station in Glasgow, where we hopped on a bus and headed north. Just 50 minutes later, we arrived in the little settlement of Campsie Glen. Ben and Sahej stopped to grab a coffee at a ‘wee’ cafe as we looked up at the hills surrounding us. I saw a little black dot at the top of what looked like a steep cliff and told the others, “I think that’s where we are walking,” feeling slightly concerned as I had told everyone it would be an “easy” hike. My worry grew when somebody who overheard us confirmed that not only, yes, that is where our hike was going, but that his son had previously been up there and had to be rescued after getting lost in a cloud of mist. Luckily for us, the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky, so we weren’t too worried about losing our way in the fog.
After walking along a road with a beautiful view for roughly 1 kilometre, we started our ascent. Up we went! With the path barely visible underfoot, we trudged straight up the hill. I found myself enjoying the pain in my thighs and the shortness of breath. After reaching the top, we found a flat place to sit and enjoyed our lunch.
"There is something truly liberating about cresting the top of a hill after a gruelling, thigh-burning, short-breathed crawl up a near vertical incline. The final step, when your foot makes the minute change from acute to obtuse angle, and relief rushes to your lactate-infused muscles. And for a minute, you’re not aware of the vast expanse of sky, the crisp, untainted air, the colours; green, blue and yellow, saturated to alarming pigmentation. The delicious smell of nothing, no diesel, no cigarettes, no day old chip oil.
In this first second of realisation of the new world you have discovered, there is quiet, a tranquility, an awe which envelops the group in a mute blanket. And though there are no words, you know that you have shared something, a memory ingrained into the bedrock of our minds, that we will uncover and reveal to remember that euphoric feeling.
You look around the group and smile as the melanin inducing sun beats down on your upturned, beaming faces, isolated in our mountain haven.
“Who’s hungry?” And you sit down heavily, the taste of plastic yellow “cheese” rich on your tongue." ~ Ellie (First year, studying English, Spanish and Italian at the University of Glasgow)
The hike was pretty flat for the next 10 kilometres, walking in a circle on the top of the hill, before looping around back to the beginning. With stunning views reaching for kilometres into the distance, we were all very happy when heading down the hill. We had no idea that our adventure was about to get even better!
While walking back to the bus stop, we decided to check out some nearby waterfalls. Wanting to get away from the kids splashing, we did some light rock climbing and found a hidden paradise of untouched waterfalls. I was in awe and kept repeating how in shock I was that I lived only an hour away from this magical place! We continued to follow the path of the river downstream, with some off path scrambling at points, before finally deciding it was time to get in. We stripped down and waded into the cool water.
Having not brought a swimsuit with me, I made the decision to go in topless. A simple act (that may be frowned upon in the UK) ended up filling me with self confidence and a sense of liberation. I found myself wondering why this isn't more socially acceptable? The water was actually warmer than I had expected, but we could still only spend 2 minutes in the water before having to jump out to catch our breath. While I sat by the riverside drying off and watching my friends taking turns standing underneath the waterfall, I was filled with a sense of contentment, happy I had found friends that shared my love for adventure. We have already started planning future overnight camping trips, and feel very lucky that Scotland allows wild camping, unlike many places in Europe. It also made me happy knowing that I have the ability to get on a bus whenever I want and come to this sanctuary of nature. Scotland, you are full of surprises and I still have so much more to discover of you!
"There comes a time in everyone’s life where they lose their shoe in a bog. Where the hungry earth swallows up your footwear with the intention of chowing them down, never to be seen again. Your arm the only bulwark to stop the ground from consuming the shoes you hold so dear as you attempt to yank your crepes out from the clutches of nature’s grasp...this was me on the hike.
For context, I have only one pair of shoes – some old walking boots – which, in my mind, is a perfectly adequate number. They get you to where you need to go, and look (at least in my eyes) pretty stylish. This is not a popular opinion, as I have been told countless times to acquire more. However, in this specific scenario, I had the perfect attire for the situation...walking boots. And to show to my compatriotes, nae, the World that I had (for once) appropriate footwear, I decided to walk over a large patch of bog. I’m sure you can imagine how that went...I did manage to pull my boots out in the end, somehow, but alas, the sheer amount of bog water and muddy reeds flowing from my once pristine shoes told me that there was no way I’d want to walk the rest of the hike in them (keeping in mind there was another 8 km to go), lest I end up with what I can only assume would be the initial stages of trench foot. Because of this, I ended up chucking my shoes in my bag, along with my manky socks, and travelling the rest of the way barefoot. Strangely enough, my feet survived the excursion, albeit with a few scrapes, and whilst I trekked the top of the grassy hill, I couldn’t help but feel like one of the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings, traversing the Riddermark on a quest to drop off some ring into a volcano...keeping in mind my feet aren’t quite as hairy, nor durable, as that of the hobbits, since I found out that at some point a blade of grass had pierced my foot...
Eventually we reached Mount Doom, the end of our journey, in the form of a big old waterfall. I completely missed the safe way to get down by accident, and decided to traverse up and down the waterfall via a vertical wall of rocks stacked on top of one another. Eventually I got there and took a nice cold shower in a waterfall. Perfect way to end a long hike, especially when your legs and feet are smothered in bog water...
On the whole, 10/10 trip, though not sure my feet would agree." ~ Alex (First year, studying Electronic and Software Engineering at the University of Glasgow)
"This was my first hike and I must say, it was a great experience! While the beginning was tough for me as someone who is not used to it, I came to enjoy it very much. The serene views of the surrounding areas made the arduous journey worth it for me. This hike was also a great day for me to get closer to my mates and I look forward to more hiking trips with Ash!" ~ Sahej (First year, studying Politics and Economics at the University of Glasgow)
Hiking is fun, but so is getting dressed up and dancing! Due to COVID-19, my flatmates never got to have a high school prom, so we decided to make one ourselves a few days after our adventure! Quite the contrast to our hiking attire...
Getting to and from Campsie Glen: X85 First Xpress bus from Glasgow