Pocket Mountains – The Campsie Fells

Meikle Bin from Queenzienburn

Distance – 14km 
Time –
4 hours
Terrain –
minor road and access track; boggy moorland and forestry firebreaks
Map –
OS Explorer 348 
Access –
regular buses to Queenzieburn from Kilsyth  

Rising high above the long escarpment of the Campsie Fells, the 570m summit of Meikle Bin is a familiar sight for drivers heading north past Glasgow. Although the more popular route up the ‘Big Hill’ starts from the Carron Valley side in Stirlingshire, there is another much less frequented way up from the village of Queenzieburn, west of Kilsyth, on the southern Lanarkshire side. This challenging route is steep and boggy in places with exposed moorland which can be confusing in poor visibility.

Start from Mill Road, off Kilsyth Road, in Queenzieburn (parking available at the Community Hall opposite the school) and bear left up Dykehead Road. Keep on this steeply rising minor road which soon shadows the Queenzie Burn to reach a crossroads. Pass a tempting bench to continue on the rough track ahead, enjoying the view back down over the Kelvin Valley and Croy Hill as you go. Eventually there’s some respite from the climb as the track turns right towards the ruined Corrie farmhouse. Rather than continue through the gate, however, take the signed stile into the small plantation on the left.

Make your way up through this deer-fenced woodland to emerge on trackless boggy moorland with a little waterfall up ahead to the left. Bear northeast up the damp hillside to soon meet the much firmer access track to Birkenburn Reservoir. Follow this all the way over the top of the escarpment and down the other side to the isolated reservoir, known locally as Johnnie’s Dam.

The prominent summit of Meikle Bin on the other side of the forestry is the next target. Cross over the dam and the outflow of the reservoir to pick up a vague path through the rough ground to meet the corner of the plantation. Continue along the boggy edge of the trees on either side of the wire fence until you reach a firebreak. 

Make your way steeply down through the firebreak to emerge in a quiet little glen and cross the burn. Climb steeply back out of the plantation on the other side to gratefully pick up the clear path over open ground to the summit.

The wonderful view of the Southern Highlands which abruptly greets you as you near the summit trig point is well worth the slog through the trees. Pick out your favourite peaks and no doubt welcome other walkers who have made it up the more popular route from the Carron Valley below. As well as the view north, you should also be able to see right across central Scotland from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde on a clear day. 

Just below the summit is a part of the wreck of the Royal Navy Fairey Firefly that crashed here in low cloud in January 1950. Both crewmen were killed and other scattered sections of the plane can be found further down the hillside.

After enjoying the views, the return is mostly by the same route; from the reservoir it is easier to stick to the access track all the way down to Corrie farmhouse to avoid some of the boggy ground climbed through earlier. Bear right towards the woodland, however, as you approach the ruin to cross a stile by the gate and return down the track and road to Queenzieburn.

Pocket Mountains are available from Waterstones Byres Road

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