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9 miles, 14.4 km
Average time to complete:
4 hours' walking, 1.5 hours' cycling


The start/finish of the route is marked by a circular stone plinth with engraved footprints and a white stone bench with John Muir quotes, located on Helensburgh's waterfront near the pier.

Starting out from this seaside holiday town is a treat. There are more than enough cafes and eateries to choose from in this west coast holiday town before you set off up the hill on your trip. Take time out to look seawards and imagine sailing off to America from those waters like John Muir did well over a century ago. If you’ve time, why not visit the National Trust for Scotland's Hill House and enjoy some arts and crafts splendour. Once up onto the hill you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Loch Lomond against the National Park mountain backdrop. With that tremendous view, the route winds its way down to Balloch, where your first set of home comforts lie.


Leaving Helensburgh, walkers and cyclists share the route along pavements and a short stretch of gravel path.  A few miles north-east of Helensburgh, the route splits.  The less physically challenging option is the waymarked cycle route, which continues on designated tarmac cycleway/pavement alongside the A818 and then runs parallel to the A82. The walking route climbs steeply up and over Gouk Hill using a combination of stoned forest track and undulating gravel woodland path, dropping down towards Balloch on rough stone hill track, quiet roads and paved path.


The first three miles of this section are suitable for most users apart from the woodland path from Hill House to A818. From Daligan the waymarked cycle route provides the gentlest gradient and more accessible option. The waymarked walking route over Gouk Hill includes some relatively steep sections, several sets of uneven, steep steps and a rough hill track which are unsuitable for wheelchairs, buggies or road bikes.

For detailed information about potential access restrictions along this section, see the Accessibility Storymap.


Trees across path near Gouk Hill

Due to recent strong winds, several trees have fallen across the path, rendering it impassable for both cyclists and walkers. Please be aware of this obstruction while planning your route and seek out an alternative. Possible options are the cycling route or the proposed alternative from the Three Lochs Way (see their website).

Getting There

By rail: there are regular trains from Glasgow to Helensburgh Central and a less frequent service to Helensburgh Upper. Balloch is served by a separate line.

By bus: First Greater Glasgow service 1B operates between Glasgow, Balloch and Helensburgh.

By car: there is free parking at the far end of Helensburgh Pier

Points of interest

Route Terminus

The route starts or finishes by the engraved circular stone plinth and seat at the entrance to Helensburgh Pier at the start of the West esplanade.

The Hill House

Managed by the National Trust for Scotland, the finest of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's domestic creations, The Hill House sits high above the Clyde, commanding fine views over the river estuary.

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Scottish Submarine Centre

Scotland's only submarine museum has a Stickleback sub on show & audio/visual displays.

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Maid of the Loch

Loch Lomond's own steam ship experience, being lovingly restored at its berth on the loch. Currently closed for hull repairs and due to reopen in 2022.

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VisitScotland iCentre, Balloch

Tourist information centre located in the old station building near Balloch train station.

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Helensburgh Town Centre

Modelled on Edinburgh's New Town, Helensburgh owes its creation to Sir James Colquhoun of Luss and is named after his wife Helen.

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Duchess Wood Local Nature Reserve

Often known as Bluebell wood, Duchess Wood is a rich and diverse woodland with a variety of different plant and animal species.

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