Location and Geology: Finnich Glen, situated in Stirlingshire, Scotland, is a breathtaking gorge up to 70 ft deep. The Carnock Burn has carved this stunning glen from the red sandstone. The site is most famous for a circular rock known as the Devil's Pulpit and the Devil's Steps, a steep staircase constructed around 1860 that leads down to the gorge.
1. The Unique Formation and Name:
The Devil's Pulpit is a mushroom-shaped rock formation within the steep Finnich Glen. The name is thought to have originated from the rock's appearance, which is similar to a pulpit used by Christian preachers. The 'devil' part of the name adds to the site's sinister reputation.
2. The Blood-Red River:
The river in the gorge flows blood-red due to the sandstone beneath the water. This red hue adds to the ominous aura of the place, allowing the imagination to run wild with eerie possibilities.
3. Legends and Folklore:
Several legends have grown around the Devil's Pulpit. The most famous is that the Devil would appear by the rock and address his followers, standing over the blood-red water. Witches were also believed to gather around the rock to cast their spells, and some tales speak of druids holding mysterious meetings within the gorge.
4. Connection to Popular Culture:
Fans of the TV series "Outlander" may recognize the Devil's Pulpit as St Ninian's Spring or Liar's Spring. It was featured in episode 6 of the first season and has contributed to the place's popularity among tourists.
5. Warning to Visitors:
Accessing the Devil's Pulpit is not an easy task. The trek down the gorge, often referred to as the Devil's Steps (or Zaine's Ladder), is slippery, and extreme care must be taken, especially as parts of the staircase have crumbled away. Visitors should be well-prepared, and it is highly recommended not to travel alone.
Cultural Impact and Recent Popularity: The Devil's Pulpit became widely known after being featured as St Ninian's Spring in the TV series "Outlander" in 2014. It also served as a filming location for "The Nest." The exposure led to an explosion in tourism, with an estimated 70,000 visitors flocking to the site annually.
This surge in popularity has brought challenges, such as damage to the 200-year-old stone steps, emergency rescues, and parking issues on the adjacent narrow rural road. Concerns over safety and the impact on residents have led to proposals for significant development.
Safety Considerations: Visitors to Finnich Glen should know various natural hazards, including unstable gorge edges and hidden, sheer drops. For your safety, please keep a safe distance from the edge of the gorge, supervise children closely, wear appropriate footwear, and keep dogs on a short lead and under control at all times.
Access Rights and Responsibilities: Finnich Glen is privately owned, but members of the public have access rights under The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Your access rights and responsibilities are explained in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code: take responsibility for your actions, care for yourself and others, respect the interests of others, and treat the environment with care.
Future Developments: Landowner David Young has proposed a £2 million development plan to transform the site into an official tourist attraction. This plan includes constructing a visitor centre, restaurant, toilets, a 150-spot parking lot, new footpaths, viewing platforms, and bridges. This ambitious proposal includes a new wood-and-metal staircase to replace the crumbling stone steps. The plan is pending approval from the local council.
Conclusion: The combination of natural beauty, geological features, and cultural significance has made Finnich Glen and the Devil's Pulpit a must-visit destination in Scotland. The proposed developments aim to preserve the site's unique charm while accommodating the growing number of visitors. Whether a fan of "Outlander" or simply a lover of scenic landscapes, the Devil's Pulpit offers a glimpse into the fictional world and the captivating natural beauty of the Scottish countryside.
Note: Tourists are encouraged to visit responsibly and stay informed about ongoing developments, access restrictions, and safety guidelines. The information in this guide serves as a general overview and is subject to change. It is always advisable to consult with local authorities or manuals to ensure a safe and responsible exploration of Finnich Glen and the Devil's Pulpit.