The Devil’s Pulpit is a mind-blowing gorge, officially known as Finnich Glen, located in Scotland. This breathtaking natural attraction is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction. Indeed, the popular beauty spot has experienced a rapid rise to fame. With the resultant mass tourism, unfortunately, there’s been a spike in incidents such as injuries, accidents and rescues at the natural site. Sadly, there have even been deaths.
With this in mind, we’re going to tell you eight essential things to know about visiting to ensure a fun yet safe visit to the Devil’s Pulpit in Scotland.
Make sure to visit the nearby Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park after exploring the Devil’s Pulpit.
How to Find the Devil’s Pulpit, Finnich Glen
The natural wonders of Devil’s Pulpit are tucked away and hidden in the sublime gorge called Finnich Glen (AKA Finnich Gorge). In this guide, we’re going to tell you, step-by-step, how to find the gorge. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect during a visit and can prepare for and plan your adventure.
But, first, what exactly is the Devil’s Pulpit?
What Is the Devil’s Pulpit?
Basically, most people refer to Finnich Glen, which is the gorge, as the Devil’s Pulpit. But, strictly speaking, the Devil’s Pulpit is a standalone structure found in the gorge. The Devil’s Pulpit is actually a rock that resembles a church pulpit. So, in reality, you’ll visit Finnich Glen (the gorge) to find Devil’s Pulpit (the rock). But, given the natural beauty of the gorge as a whole, many visitors happily explore and enjoy the gorge without too much focus on the rock formation itself.
To keep things simple, we’ll use the name ‘Devil’s Pulpit’ when talking about the gorge, as this is how most people refer to the gorge. So, where exactly is the Devil’s Pulpit located?
Where Is Devil’s Pulpit, Finnich Glen?
The Devil’s Pulpit is found in an area called Gartness, roughly 20km (12 miles) northwest of Glasgow, Scotland. The natural site is located just outside the southeast border of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It’s located in the county of Stirling southeast of Drymen and just north of Craighat. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.
8 Things to Know About Exploring Devil’s Pulpit
To visit Devil’s Pulpit, there are some important things to know. Below, we’re going to tell you eight essential things that you should know before visiting. By following these tips, you’ll enjoy a memorable and safe trip. Let’s start with getting to the Devil’s Pulpit in the first place.
1. How to Get to Devil’s Pulpit, Finnich Glen
There are a few options for getting to the Devil’s Pulpit. Although, most visitors will drive there. After all, driving there yourself is the quickest and easiest way to get there. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
2. Where to Park For Devil’s Pulpit
When it comes to parking, there are two options. The most convenient and best place to park is on a roadside verge on the A809, referred to as The Devil’s Pulpit Path Start on Google Maps. Indeed, officially speaking, this is where the walk to Devil’s Pulpit begins. So, parking on the roadside verge is the logical option. Unfortunately, there’s only enough space for three vehicles maximum. So, most of the time, the spaces there are taken.
The second option is to park at the unofficial dirt car park at the crossroads of the A809 and the B834. This parking spot, labelled ‘Finnich Glen‘ on Google Maps, has enough room for around 10–15 vehicles. In reality, most people park there, given the very limited parking at the trailhead.
But, please keep in mind that roadside parking around this unofficial dirt car park (on either the A809 or B834) is strictly prohibited. There are double yellow lines on the sides of these sections of the roads. Also, this area has been designated for emergency service use only. Parking on the roadside is extremely dangerous. So, please don’t park there. Other than being dangerous, you’ll likely be fined. Additionally, police have tweeted to say your car may be uplifted and taken away!
3. Public Transport Options
Given the limited parking in the area, using public transport seems like a logical choice for visiting. Unfortunately, there is no direct public transport to or very near the Devil’s Pulpit. From Glasgow, your best bet would be to get a bus to Killearn or a train and bus to Drymen. From either place, there are no safe paths for walking to the trailhead for Devil’s Pulpit, nor is it particularly close or exciting to walk there from the towns. So, from either Killearn or Drymen, we recommend catching a taxi to the Devil’s Pulpit. We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey.
With all this in mind, it’s much simpler and straightforward if you can drive to the Devil’s Pulpit yourself. If you can arrive early or visit during the week, you’re much more likely to find a parking spot.
3. Devil’s Pulpit, Finnich Glen Tours
If you don’t have your own vehicle and public transport seems like too much of a ball-ache, then an organised tour might be your best option. Viator offers an excellent tour called Find a Hidden Glen in Scotland’s Woods, which visits Devil’s Pulpit from Glasgow. The highly-rated small group tour (maximum of eight people) takes around three hours. The tour includes roundtrip transportation and a guided walk.
4. The Devil’s Pulpit Walk
Once you arrive in the area, it’s time to finally discover and explore the incredible gorge. Below, you’ll find trail specs and a GPS-guided map for the Devil’s Pulpit Walk.
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 0.6km (0.4 miles)
- Time: 30–60 minutes
- Accumulated elevation gain: 20m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: The Devil’s Pulpit Path Start
- Map: AllTrails
The trail specs and GPS-guided map above are assuming you’ve been able to find parking on the A809 verge, where the walk officially begins. If you’ve had to park on the dirt car park, you’ll have to do some additional walking to reach the trailhead. In total, from the dirt car park, the return walk will be approx. 2km (1.2 miles).
Please refer to the image below for rough instructions on this extra walking from the dirt car park. Be mindful that there is no safe walking path or infrastructure to avoid road walking on the section of the A809 road to reach the trailhead. Please exercise caution when road walking to reach the trailhead. As far as we’re aware, there are plans to improve infrastructure in the area to allow for a safer visit. But, for now, please be careful!
Anyway, to start the walk to the Devil’s Pulpit, you’ll find a small gap in the rock wall. Once you’ve passed through, you’ll see an official sign. You’ll then follow a well-defined trail through the lovely forest. After a fairly short distance, you’ll start to enjoy your first glimpses of Finnich Glen.
Along this walking trail, there are short side trails to unofficial vantage points. People have fallen into the gorge from these lookouts. To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid accessing these spots. Simply, continue the walk to reach the Devil’s Steps.
5. Getting Down to the Devil’s Pulpit
Soon, you’ll reach the intimidating Devil’s Steps (AKA Jacob’s Ladder and Zaine’s Ladder). It’s necessary to walk down the Devil’s Steps to reach the floor of the gorge. Climbing down the steps is an exhilarating experience, where you first immerse yourself in the depths of the splendid gorge. But, the steps are a bit on the sketchy side of things. Let’s go into more detail about the steps, in regard to safety, below.
6. Safety on the Devil’s Steps
The Devil’s Steps are old Victorian steps that were initially laid around 1860. So, as to be expected, the steps are showing signs of wear and tear. The steps are very steep. Plus, the presence of loose and sometimes crumbling steps doesn’t help much with clambering down. Additionally, in wet conditions (it’s Scotland after all), the steps are quite slippery. So, extreme care must be taken when descending the steps.
7. Wading: Get Ready to Get Your Feet Wet
Once you’ve managed to descend the Devil’s Steps, you’ll arrive at the floor of the amazing Finnich Glen. You’ll notice the red-coloured sandstone floor and riverbed contrast brilliantly with the vivid green gorge walls. Certainly, it’s by no coincidence that the Carnock Burn, flowing through the gorge, is also known as the Blood River. The flowing red-tinged river is an awe-inspiring sight. Indeed, the Devil’s Pulpit is one of the most extraordinary places in Scotland!
At the base of the steps, there is a small area to walk around and explore the gorge. From this area, you’ll even get to see the pulpit rock in the distance. But, to see Finnich Glen’s superb waterfalls and cascades as well as setting foot on the Devil’s Pulpit Rock, you’ll need to wade through the gorge. Indeed, gorge walking in Devil’s Pulpit is a memorable experience and one that will really get your heart racing.
Of course, it’s worth noting that there have been several rescue missions for people experiencing hypothermia and other injuries when gorge walking. So, please be honest with your ability and only proceed with wading through the gorge if you’re experienced and able.
By wading through the gorge, you’ll pass a bend in the gorge. This reveals outstanding views of waterfalls cascading with a vibrant red river stream. Truly, this is nature at its best!
8. Tips For Taking Photos at the Devil’s Pulpit
Some of the best photos you’ll see of Devil’s Pulpit are of the cascades flowing through the gorge. So, to snap these waterfalls, you’ll have no option but to wade through the gorge. If possible, we recommend taking a tripod for your camera, in order to capture the waterfall with a slower shutter speed. Try and arrive earlier in the day for optimal lighting conditions. Also, try and use a wide angle to capture the gorge which envelops the river stream.
What to Do Near Devil’s Pulpit and Finnich Glen
What next, after exploring the Devil’s Pulpit? Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is just a stone’s throw away. Make sure to visit this beautiful national park whilst you’re in the area. By heading to Balloch, you’ll be able to easily access the divine and famous Loch Lomond. Balloch is actually one of the best places to take a Loch Lomond Cruise. Indeed, a Loch Lomond cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy and experience Loch Lomond.
After doing a Loch Lomond cruise, you should explore more of Balloch. We recommend heading to the gorgeous Balloch Castle Country Park. Otherwise, just around the corner from Balloch, you’ve got the delightful Duck Bay. This small bay is known for its outstanding restaurant and hotel, whilst being a popular area for open-water swimmers.
Where to Stay Near Devil’s Pulpit
We recommend staying in Balloch in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Balloch is just a stone’s throw away from Finnich Glen and is the gateway town for the national park. So, Balloch is a great place to stay for visiting Devil’s Pulpit and also exploring the national park. Below, we’ll reveal the best budget, mid-range and luxurious accommodation options in Balloch.
- Budget – Lomond Park Hotel: you won’t find much in the way of ultra-budget options in Balloch. The most affordable option is the Lomond Park Hotel.
- Mid-range – Queen of the Loch: Marston’s Inns’ Queen of the Loch is one of the most popular mid-range hotel options in Balloch. You’ll find accommodation is located separately from the bar and restaurant, so you’ll enjoy a quiet stay that’s just a short stroll to the famous pub.
- Luxury – Duck Bay Hotel: certainly, Duck Bay Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Located near the famous Cameron House, the Duck Bay Hotel is beautifully set on the southern shores of Loch Lomond. As mentioned, on-site, you’ll find a fantastic restaurant and bar.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the Devil’s Pulpit in Scotland.
Why Is It Called Devil’s Pulpit?
As local folklore goes, back in the day, the devil would address his followers whilst standing on the pulpit-shaped rock. Ipso facto, that’s where the name ‘Devil’s Pulpit’ comes from. Certainly, the red-coloured waters beneath would seem a fitting place for Satan to be preaching!
Why Is Devil’s Pulpit Red?
That’s because of the red sandstone riverbed that partly reflects the red colour, whilst small fragments of sandstone also discolour the water.
How Old Is Devil’s Pulpit?
It’s unknown how long Finnich Gorge has been in existence. But, it’s accepted that the Devil’s Steps, built to access the gorge, was built around 1860.
How Long Is the Devil’s Pulpit Walk?
From the official trailhead, it’s an approx. 0.6km (0.4 mile) return walk. Although, the amount of gorge walking you do may obviously make the walk a wee longer. From the unofficial dirt car park on the crossroads of the A809 and B834, you’re looking at an approx. 2km (1.2 miles) return walk.
How Long Does It Take to Do Devil’s Pulpit?
Most people spend around an hour at the site.
Do I Need Special Gear to Get to Devil’s Pulpit?
No. But, as mentioned in our What to Wear and Take section, a pair of water (aqua) shoes are very useful for gorge walking.
Can You Swim in Devil’s Pulpit?
It’s possible to swim, but it’s not recommended as it’s inherently dangerous. Most people will simply wade through the river to reach the Devil’s Pulpit rock and see the waterfalls.
How Deep Is the Devil’s Pulpit?
Finnich Glen is a roughly 30 metre (100 foot) gorge.
Is Devil’s Pulpit Dangerous to Visit?
Inherently, yes. There are steep and slippery steps required to reach the gorge floor. Then, exploring the gorge requires wading and navigating an unpredictable river stream. With this in mind, please follow our tips and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe visit.
Who Owns Devil’s Pulpit?
Farmers David and Carole Young own the property where Finnich Glen is located. They’re seeking council approval for a project to turn this natural site into a tourist attraction. Watch this space!
What to Wear and Take
Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for visiting the Devil’s Pulpit.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll want sturdy footwear, with good traction, to help with grip and safety when descending the Devil’s steps.
- Water shoes (aqua shoes): these are great for wading and exploring gorges. You’ll have additional traction and grip to wade more safely through the gorge.
- Quick-dry towel
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
This is the photography gear that we used whilst exploring the Devil’s Pulpit.
- Sony Cybershot RX100: this camera is the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, this camera takes awesome photos and 4K videos.
- GoPro HERO: great for taking action footage during a hike.
- DJI Mavic Air: this is a top-notch drone that takes brilliant aerial footage.
- Arrive early or visit during the week: this will help guarantee a parking spot.
- Devil’s Pulpit weather: we’d recommend checking the forecast for Gartness (BBC Weather).
- Other waterfalls in Scotland: other than the waterfalls found in Finnich Glen, there are many beautiful waterfalls in Scotland. We recommend visiting Rogie Falls, Wailing Widow Falls, Falls of Kirkaig, Steall Falls, Falls of Glomach, Falls of Dochart, Falls of Shin and Falls of Clyde (guides coming soon).
- Walking in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: read our 26 Best Loch Lomond Walks Guide.
Does any of the information in this guide need updating? Please let us know in the comments below.