THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers' groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield.

Auchmountain Glen to Whinhill Circular, Inverclyde

By John McIndoe & Thomas Jones, Inverclyde Ramblers

Start: Auchmountain Glen

Distance: 2.5 miles/4 kilometres

Time: 2 to 2.5 hours

Terrain: A 300ft ascent via a network of stairways and bridges criss-crossing Auchmountain Glen, then on to a well-used track to Whinhill Reservoir and a grassy path to the Whinhill trig point.

Level: There’s a load of stairs in the glen but plenty of places to rest and take in the views. Enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace.

Access: By train to Whinhill Railway Station, exit to Kilmacolm Road and the Auchmountain Glen sign is visible with the stag sculpture about 500 yards uphill from the station. By bus, McGills 543 to Levan Road departs Greenock Bus Station.

By car, from Glasgow follow the A8 through Greenock and turn left at Greenock fire station onto the B788. Follow the B788/Kilmacolm signs uphill for about two miles passing Whinhill Station. Auchmountain Glen is on the right-hand side of Kilmacolm Road.

What makes it special: A historic and scenic gem that has been given a new lease of life.

AUCHMOUNTAIN Glen links the Strone area of Greenock to the Whinhill Reservoir. It is a place of outstanding natural beauty where the Cartsburn descends the 300ft ravine through a series of spectacular waterfalls.

HeraldScotland: The scenic route of the Auchmountain Glen to Whinhill Circular in Inverclyde. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde RamblersThe scenic route of the Auchmountain Glen to Whinhill Circular in Inverclyde. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde Ramblers

During the economic depression of 1887, the landowner, Sir Shaw-Stewart, gave permission for local unemployed men to create a pathway through the glen. The “Glen Boys” received materials from local shipyards and set about creating paths, stairways and bridges across the many waterfalls..

Their "fairy glen" was a major local attraction and the inspiration for the photograph Waterfalls in Auchmountain Glen (1890) by James Valentine, a pipe tune Auchmountain's Bonnie Glen (1903) by Pipe Major John Balloch and a poem In Auchmountain Glen (1893) by Daniel King.

In more recent times, an eye-catching girder stag sculpture titled Monarch of Auchmountain Glen (2000) by George Wyllie was displayed at the entrance.

Auchmountain Glen was hugely popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. The “Glen Boys” created a fishpond and drinking fountain, as well as displaying figureheads of Sir Walter Scott, James Watt and Robert Burns acquired from old sailing ships.

HeraldScotland: The eye-catching girder stag sculpture titled Monarch of Auchmountain Glen (2000) by George Wyllie. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde RamblersThe eye-catching girder stag sculpture titled Monarch of Auchmountain Glen (2000) by George Wyllie. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde Ramblers

However, in the late-20th century, the glen deteriorated in condition due to vandalism and the destruction of the bridges, benches and walkways, as well as persistent fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour. It became a no-go area – a local eyesore.

Since 2013, the Auchmountain Glen Project volunteers have spent countless hours clearing rubbish, removing fallen trees, excavating paths and repairing walkways and bridges.

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Today, Greenock’s former “lost glen” is once again glorious, recently recognised in the Scottish Walking Awards as “the most improved walking place”.

Route: Starting from the girder stag sculpture Monarch of Auchmountain Glen, the route follows a well-reconstructed path through the “fairy glen” ascending 15 staircases and crossing eight bridges.

Take at a leisurely pace and enjoy the natural beauty of the waterfalls as the Cartsburn cascades down the glen.

Follow the path out of the glen to reach the Whinhill Reservoir. Turn right at the reservoir and follow the path over the bridge and along the public access track skirting the fairways of Whinhill Golf Course to reach the whitewashed clubhouse.

Turn right after the big modern shed into the club car park and proceed to the yellow shaded “no parking area” at the end. Follow the path which sweeps behind the clubhouse and opens to panoramic views of the River Clyde.

Travel 500 yards along this path to the radio mast. Whinhill trig point is on an adjacent hillock. Ascend the grassy path to the trig point and enjoy the views across to Ben Lomond, the Gare Loch, Rosneath and Helensburgh.

HeraldScotland: The Whinhill trig point on the Auchmountain Glen to Whinhill Circular in Inverclyde. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde RamblersThe Whinhill trig point on the Auchmountain Glen to Whinhill Circular in Inverclyde. Picture: John McIndoe and Thomas Jones, Inverclyde Ramblers

Look down on Greenock town and see the many ships in the Great Harbour, James Watt Dock and the busy container terminal and, if you’re lucky, the PS Waverley berthed at Custom House Quay. Descend from the trig point to the path and turn right.

Walk uphill behind the rustic van feature and along a meandering grassy path back downhill with views to Dumbarton Rock and the distant columns of the Erskine Bridge.

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About a half mile on, the grassy path joins a deserted narrow tarmac road. Follow this road downhill, back to Kilmacolm Road and towards the stag sculpture that marks the entrance to the glen.

Don’t miss: The Whinhill Golf Club welcomes visitors. It serves tea/coffee and refreshments. There are also toilet facilities. Enjoy views of the tranquil Whinhill Reservoir.

Useful information: To view the current walks programme for Inverclyde Ramblers, visit: inverclyderamblers.org.uk/programme/

Non-members can call the walk leader to book (details listed on each walk). Everyone can try out three introductory walks prior to joining, then annual membership is £36.60 for individuals or £49 for couples.

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Families are welcome. Children under 18 can join a walk for free with their parent, grandparent or guardian.

View the Inverclyde Ramblers virtual tour of Auchmountain Glen by Thomas Jones on YouTube. Click here to view

  • Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email susan.swarbrick@theherald.co.uk