The Whangie

The Whangie is a dramatic rock formation nestled in the Kilpatrick Hills, perfect for kids to climb and explore, with an equally dramatic legend of its creation. This family friendly walk isn’t too difficult, with beautiful views over local countryside and a stunning view of Loch Lomond from the top.

Located roughly 25 minutes from the eastern side of Loch Lomond and 30 minutes from Glasgow, The Whangie is a natural rock formation formed during an ice age, when a glacier would have slowly cause the crag to open creating a chasm. It stands at an impressive 10m tall and is roughly 100m long, and you can walk right through the chasm in the rocks from one end to the other, surrounded by the steep sides of the rock face.

The Whangie is a bit of a weird name. It is thought to have come from the old Scot’s for a slice: a ‘whang’, as in a whang a’ cheese. And so it became the whang between the rocks; The Whangie.

The Route

From the car park the route begins by hopping over a wall and following a wooden pathway that’s been built to get across the marshy meadow at the bottom of the hill. Then head through the gate (or the gaping hole in the fence!) and start on your upward journey. This first part of the path is wide and grassy and feels quite steep but it doesn’t last long. The path eventually narrows and becomes a well worn, sometimes rocky, and at times rather muddy trail that meanders at a gentle gradient up the side of Auchineden Hill.

The trail is easy to follow and eventually you’ll come to a fork. You can either head to the right and continue along a similar gradient along the side of the hill or take the path to the left. This path leads more steeply upwards to begin with, quickly levelling out and leading very gradually round to the right. Both of these trails form a loop and both lead to either end of The Whangie.

Surrounded by grassy hillside, this huge rocky outcrop just seems to appear from nowhere. The first thing the kids did was head along the narrow passageway through the middle of the rock formation. You can walk right through the entirety of this chasm in the rocks and it . And outside this passageway is a big natural playground with loads of rocky bits to climb. The kids made up a story about the ravine being a giants house and had great fun exploring this whole area. They also enjoyed watching the rock climbers finding their way up the front of the rock face.

The higher you get along the trails, the farther you can see (weather dependent). From The Whangie itself and from the summit of Auchineden Hill there are views out over Loch Lomond and the islands within the loch. You can see Conic Hill at Balmaha, the Campsies, and the hills of the Highlands in the distance too on a clear day. 

In warmer, lighter months the trail is lined with ferns and foxgloves and loads of wildflowers. No matter what time of year we’ve gone though the trail has been varying degrees of muddy. In October parts of the trail were full of huge puddles and muddy bogs that we had to clamber round. Waterproof shoes or wellies are advised for this particular walk.

The Highlights

The Whangie itself was definitely the biggest highlight. The rock formation is so impressive and being able to walk through the chasm is a really cool experience. The kids (and us adults) all loved climbing around the rocks. The kids played for ages up there, playing imagination games about it being a giants house, playing hide & seek and climbing as high as they could. Husband found a few different routes up the 10m rock face which he was delighted with too.

The legend of how The Whangie was formed was also a big highlight for the kids. We told them the story on the way up and they couldn’t wait to see it. There are a few different versions of the story, but legend tells that one evening the devil was late for a meeting at the local witches coven (he may also have been super angry because he wasn’t invited but either way he was in a rush). Anyway, he rounded the hill so quickly that his tail sliced right through the hillside creating the bizarre cut in the rocks called The Whangie.

The views from the top of the hill and from The Whangie looking out towards Loch Lomond are stunning. You can see where the lowlands meet the highlands from up here, and it’s really beautiful.

The Stats

  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation: 300m / 984ft
  • Duration: It took us roughly 90 minutes to get to The Whangie with a stop for snacks on the route. 
  • Difficulty: 3/10. The Whangie is a pretty easy walk. After the initial 10 minutes, although it is a constant climb, it is a very gentle climb. Our just 4 year old managed it without even a complaint about tired legs so it’s definitely not difficult.

The Logistics

  • Wheels: Although this is a super kid friendly walk, this trail is not suitable for wheels. 
  • Parking: Queensview car park does get full so you might need to wait on a space. Stirlingshire Council are pretty brutal with parking regulations so make sure you don’t try to sneak a parking space on the roadside or you will most definitely end up with fines.
  • Toilets: There are no toilets here and no tree cover at all so if your kids aren’t fans of a wild pee make sure you are prepped beforehand!
  • Clothing: Dress for the weather. The trail can be muddy no matter what time of year you go, so take waterproof shoes/wellies/spare socks. It is a very open landscape and the wind can be biting if the temperature is cooler. So although at the bottom kids might be reluctant to wrap up, by the time you’ve walked about 10 minutes up the hill they’ll probably want all layers on.
  • Dogs: This is a good place to walk pups too. Most of the dogs we met were off lead.

The Location

The Whangie is located 20 minutes from Loch Lomond at either Balloch or Balmaha, and 30 minutes from Glasgow. It is easily accessible by car and has a reasonable sized car park right at the start of the trail. The car park does get quite busy at times though.

The Cost

Parking and visiting The Whangie are completely free.

The Verdict

The walk up Auchineden Hill to The Whangie is one of the most kid friendly walks we’ve done in Scotland. The dramatic rock formation is stunning to see and is like a natural playground for kids who like to explore. It’s easy enough for young kids to walk by themselves and is generally really family friendly. A great few hours out!

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