I’m not the ‘fangirl’ type, and I prefer fact to fiction in life and TV, but when my mother-in-law messaged me saying, ‘You must watch Outlander’, I gave it a go. Over 60 hours of my life spent in front of the screen appreciating Jamie Fraser and before we know it we are headed to Scotland on an Outlander quest.
We graced Doune Castle (Castle Leoch), Dunure Castle (Silkies Island), Hopetoun House (Duke of Sandringham’s house and the site of the duel), Midhope Castle (Lallybroch), Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth prison), and Blackness Castle where we were serenaded by bagpipes after fun facts from Ray, the guide (the flogging and Claire & Jamie’s escape from Fort William, which we re-enacted). All of these places are great, notwithstanding the Outlander connection, definitely worth going to. By far the trickiest Outlander location to visit is Finnich Glen, Devil’s Pulpit, the scene of Claire’s test of honesty by Dougal MacKenzie. Had she attempted it, I’m not sure mother-in-law would have lived to tell the tale.
Finnich Glen – The Devil’s Pulpit (Liar’s Spring)
The first thing to say is, I think for now, the Scottish Tourist Board would really rather you did not go. Why?
- It is quite dangerous
- Parking is inadequate and oversubscribed
- Locals are having their space, and driveways, invaded
Hence, parking restrictions are now in place and are being enforced.
However, if you are a determined Outlander fan (most likely), you will go to Finnich Glen. There are plans afoot to make it more visitor friendly, but in the meantime, here are some details you need for a safe and enjoyable visit.
Parking at The Devil’s Pulpit is a Devil of a Job!
First off, there is a layby that lies almost opposite the access to the surface of the glen, alongside but behind the new double yellow lines. Do not park here, you will get a ticket!
Where to park to visit Finnich Glen/The Devil’s Pulpit/Liar’s Spring
Be prepared for very limited parking, avoid busy times, try to go during the week or early morning/late afternoon/evening. The surrounding roads for miles around now have double yellow lines, every driveway has a sign asking people not to turn/park. There is an area that can hold around eight considerately parked cars, a short walk away from the steps down to the Devil’s Pulpit (See info later re how to locate the steps).
- Limited parking for approximately 8 cars
- Access to the top of the glen beside wall
- Location of the top of the steps down to the glen
Once you have successfully parked (and you may have to wait for a space), walk along the A809 until you reach a wall on your left. There is a gate in this wall that is probably locked, at the end of the wall is a space that you can climb through
Next, find the steps! You can either use What3Words app, type in ‘ratty.access.airtime’ or follow the edge of the gorge until you happen across them, don’t go too close, the 70 foot drop is almost vertical, the going is tricky underfoot and the edge is, edgy.
About the steps…
They are potentially slippery, and to say the least, uneven. Flip-flops are not a great choice. There are ropes to hang on to beside the steps most of the way. If you suffer from vertigo you won’t find this part heaps of fun.
The Devil’s Pulpit
The descent, and the glen itself are worth the effort, quite spectacular. Emerald green walls, water that appears red, this place feels magical.
What is it about people who leave litter?
I’m not sure what goes on in a person’s head to think it’s OK to drop litter. Most of us wouldn’t consider doing that anywhere, let alone in our beautiful countryside. It’s a bugbear of mine wherever it is, these people’s filthy habits harm wildlife and spoil the beauty of nature for everyone else, don’t be that person.
Finally, stay safe, have a great time, take a towel, you need to get wet if you’re going to venture around the glen.