The flat, easy and convenient track: Stay on the estate (660 meters, 3 – 5 minutes)
One round on the estate is exactly 660 meters (i.e. 700 yards). No description necessary. The surface is rough in some parts, I always wore trail running shoes for better comfort and safety. Ascent per one round 1,5 m – the course is almost flat. The upside is: you are safe and you can end whenever you like.
THE WEE FINNICH RUNNING GUIDE
Here you will find some recommendations when running in this region. I have tested several tracks since our first stay here in 2010.
They will fit all ages and abilities I hope.
Some general remarks: Running in Scotland is not always easy going. You will quite often having to run on open country roads, with remarkable traffic. Sidewalks are quite rare. Roads are narrow. Please do always run on the right-hand side of the road that you do see the oncoming traffic and they will recognize you. Be careful in the curves !
It is a good idea to run with a safety vest or something in bright colours at least. Never run in the darkness !
For a good orientation, use a good map or have a good GPS system at your service. When climbing mountains, be aware of rapidly changing weather conditions and possible strong winds. Your mobile phone should be with you and fully charged.
The Eastern countryside: Balfron and Killearn (13,37 km, 1:10 – 1:30 hs)
The Eastern countryside offers a lot of options. There are many roads to explore: they all offer wonderful views into the countryside. My recommendation: Start from Balfron heading to the East, onto Roman Road, until you reach Graystone House. Here turn south across the Endrick Water on an small bridge and move on until you get to the road leading to Fintry (B 818). Follow the road for a couple of miles westwards, crossing the A875 and turning north towards Balfron Station. Turn right at the next crossing and finish your round going back to Balfron. Ascent 175 meters, undulating, Surface: tarmac
The ultimate trail and mountain running experience:
Rowardennan – Ben Lomond (12 km, 1:45 – 3 hs)
The Ben Lomond, being the most Southern of the munros, climb around 30,000 people every year. Be among them ! It is a trail experience you will never forget:
Start at the parking place at Rowardennan. Follow the marked way to the top of the mountain. The views are breathtaking. Surface: Stones and rocks, some parts are sandy. Ascent: 969 meters. Some parts are very steep ! Please remind that you are running in the mountains and be prepared for strong winds and quick changing conditions. Good trail running shoes are necessary.
Mugdock Country Park (www.mugdock-country-park.org.uk)
Mugdock Country Park, north of Milngavie, offers a lot of options for outdoor sports and amusements. The area has forests as well as marshes and moores. You can choose between many different ways. Surface: Sand and grass. Hilly.
Croy: Discovering the Antonine Wall
(22.11 km, 2:00 – 3:00 hs)
This is something for the keen trail runner. The course is taken from the Antonine Trail Race (every year in October): Start at Croy railway station (there is a large car park). After having gone alomngside the railway line for 1,5 miles, cross a bridge and you are in the middle of wonderful wildlife, boggy marshes, wonderful beech forests an steep hills. You may find your one route as the track on the map is the race course which has chosen some unusual rough parts. Surface: mud, grass, sand, gravel and tarmac. Ascent: 258 meters.
Balmaha – Rowardennan
(22 km, 2- 3 hs)
Start from the car park in Balmaha (free of charge) and follow the small road on the Eastern shore of Loch Lomond. In some parts the track is on the road, but there is not much traffic. You will have fantastic view onto the lake, as the road is always very close to the water. In Rowardennan is a hotel and the road ends there. You can continue to go on the Western Highway (traffic-free), but it is long way home ! Surface: most tarmac, sand and mud, some rocks.
Drymen – Conic Hill
(appr. 20 km, 2-3 hs)
Start from the small car park in the center of Drymen and follow the road to the East, towards Stirling. The quite busy road has a small sidewalk. About half a mile after the village the West Highland Way (WHW) crosses the road. Follow the WHW up to the top of Conic Hill. You will go through Garadhban Forest on sandy roads, but when you have reached the tree-free zone tings become tougher. The way narrows down to a footpath and there is no protection against the strong wind. However, you will be rewarded with spectacular views onto Loch Lomond and the whole area. Ascent 350 meters. Some steep hills. Surface: Mostly sand and gravel, some rocks.
Alternatively, you can climb the Conic Hill from Balmaha (8 km in total). I did not take that route.
Balloch Castle Country Park
(3,5 km, 15 -30 minutes)
Balloch Country Park is the park around Balloch Castle. Wonderful old trees, grassland and broad paved ways make it convenient running here. Surface: tarmac, sand.