You’ll be thinking what the devil have I been up to now. Don’t worry, I’m not in cahoots with the devil, just popped down for a visit and a wee drink of Irn Bru!
The Devil’s Pulpit was a place I really wanted to visit this year. It’s a 100 feet deep gorge just south of Drymen on the A809, near Loch Lomond in Scotland.
The only reason I knew about this magical gorge was watching the fictional TV series Outlander. It was used as a filming location for Liar’s Spring, the water of truth! Drink from the water, if you die you’re lying about what was asked of you! A bit of a gamble with your life don’t you think?
Normally it would just be myself and Alan exploring but this time my children came with us, now aged 16 and 12.
As usual, they were not too keen in going out with us, but for once I made sure that we all went together. They both really needed time out from electronics, with some fresh air and exercise. I knew deep down they didn’t share my excitement going on a new adventure. It makes me sad sometimes how things change when your children get older into the teenage and hormonal years. I’m assured that’ll change again one day though, so I look forward to it.
It only took us just over an hour to get there. There was a small layby for parking about three cars just across from the entrance, but this was full when we passed and drove a little further up the road where there was a turning for Killearn and parked in another layby. It looked like lots of people were going to explore the gorge as another car was parked beside us with a lovely couple visiting for the first time too.
On stepping out of the car we were greeted with walking boots simply hanging on the bushes beside us … where were the owners? Possibly paddling down the gorge in their bare feet? Or most likely left without them.
So we packed what we needed and walked down the road to look for the entrance.
Very quickly we came to the bridge and looked down into the gorge. Wow, the photo doesn’t show it well, but it was a long way down!
My daughter looked down, I said excitedly “that’s where we’re going.” She looked at me shaking her head and said “I’m not going down there.” I assured her there was an easier route down and she’d be fine.
We noticed a solid metal gate, but this was padlocked shut. I’m told it’s locked because adventuring down into the gorge and the surrounding area is at your own risk. It is very dangerous at places with drops of between 80 and 100 feet.
A kind gentleman on the other side of the fence recommended walking a little further up the road where there was a low fence that we could climb over. To avoid the muddy parts he said it was best to climb up the hill into the field and walk along the top then down. There were plenty of trodden paths to follow.
We stopped off at different parts of the path to look down into the gorge, being very careful not to go too close to the edge. Below are a few photos taken from different places.
The photo above shows the actual stone that is called the Devil’s Pulpit as it looks like one you would normally see in a church.
My children don’t like getting their photos taken, so lots of photos from the back! The monkey manners seemed to appear as they were climbing trees and hanging. I liked seeing that, I was hoping that they were enjoying it a little.
At one point my son did venture a bit too close to the edge where there was a hidden hole next to a tree and his foot slid. I could see how dangerous this could be and kept repeating myself saying “don’t go too close to the edge.”
We eventually came to the steps that take you around 100 feet down into the gorge. We waited for a wee while as people were going down with a small child, so we let them have their space and then followed after.
The steps, known as Jacob’s ladder or the Devil’s staircase, were muddy, wet and slippery. When I was researching the location I read that they were 200 years old!
There was a rope to help you down, but at certain bits it was also muddy and wet. You could also hold on to the walls around you and at one point there was quite a high rock to step down. Walking shoes or boots with a good grip are certainly needed. My children only had trainers on their feet and managed okay, but did slide sometimes. Maybe I should have borrowed those hanging boots for them!
It didn’t take that long to get down and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Just be prepared to get muddy!
It was so worth the effort though, what a reward. It looked like a hidden Jurassic world with different colours of green, red, orange and brown. The water was red/orange in colour. It looked like blood, whisky or Irn Bru … take your pick!
The tourists below were taking photos of the gorge with a real glass of whisky! It was starting to get quite busy with people so we waited until some had left to take our photos.
Immediately my children started to explore, jumping on the logs and rocks to the other side. They both climbed up the gorge and sat there for a wee while.
I decided to try the same and stepped across the water, it’s called the Carnock burn. It was slippery but I wasn’t too bothered about getting wet. I was so glad I did climb up as wild shamrock with little white flowers was scattered all around.
I have this type of Irish clover in a plant pot at home, passed down from my Nana, so that’s why I recognised it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it grow outside.
I take photos with my Android HTC M8 phone as I don’t have a really good camera yet. It can be difficult to capture great images, so Alan had his camera and tripod and he helped with the photos. Enjoy some more photos below of this stunning unique location.
When I look back on those photos I keep seeing faces in the rocks. I wondered why it was called the Devil’s Pulpit. Alan said it’s because of the rock that looks like a Pulpit, a platform or raised structure in a church. You’ll see this in the photos above. The water was too deep for us to get close to it though and we didn’t bring a full set of extra clothes.
There was a geocache there too, sitting out in full sight and all around the walls and edges were stones carefully placed with people’s names scraped on them.
I thought this was lovely and did the same for myself and Alan. I couldn’t find a stone long enough for my name so initials it had to be. I scraped one each for my children too. My daughter placed her stone a little further away from the rest, my son threw it back in the water. Probably not his kind of thing, yet!
We stayed down there for an hour and a half! My children were starting to get bored and we still had another adventure to go on that day. Inchcailloch island! So back up Jacob’s ladder it was.
I’ve read online about many legends around this magnificent gorge such as the devil addressed his followers here, trials and execution of witches in medieval times took place here and also that it was used as a secret meeting place by druids.
Whatever its history, I can honestly say it’s the most beautiful place. It didn’t look scary and in all its natural Scottish beauty it was totally magical for me.
I wish we’d had the place all to ourselves though. I feel another visit in the summer will be on my explore list. The water might be slightly lower so we can wade in it and we’ll try and get there really early in the morning.
Read my short steller story about the Devil’s Pulpit
Sorry, these clips are not the best. I’ll need to go back one day and recapture this beautiful gorge.
Balmaha in Loch Lomond was our next stop to visit Inchcailloch island. I was hoping that the bluebells would be in full bloom. Read all about it in my next post.
Thanks for reading.
Update – safety message
I’ve read online that there has been an increase in call outs to rescue people from the gorge. Please be sensible and careful at all times.
Please also note the comments below from ‘endrickwater’, a local person who lives there.