Blackwood and Dunwan Hill

Hiking With Kids


With the summer holidays, and what looks like the sunny weather coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to try a hiking up a small hill, or possibly two. Blackwood and Dunwan hill are both located at the Whitelee Wind Farm, where over 200 wind turbines are located. 
Blackwood Hill, right
Dunwan in the distance

Actually, it is the biggest onshore wind farm in the UK and generates over 539MW of power from the site. The place is popular with cyclists as there is an extensive network of roads to access the wind turbines.  There are also several smaller hills in and around 300m which can be walked. For our wee jaunt we had chosen Blackwood and Dunwan, the total circuit being 5 miles in length, and which took just under 3 hours to complete.

The strange thing for this place was that on this particular day there was no wind whatsoever. At first we thought this was great as it would allow us to sit at the top of Dunwan hill and enjoy the view. It dawned on all of us after a 5 minutes or so that we had another problem - midges. A small amount of wind would have been great as it would have kept these wee blighters off us, however as there was no wind at all, they were all over us. The only solution was to keep moving. 

From the car park we headed down the track to the first giant wind turbine. From there we followed the signs for the Blackwood hill view point. we never intended to go up Blackwood as Dunwan looked closer and more interesting. At the big wind turbine we took a left and continued walking past the picnic area on brown hill, there are also mountain bike tracks here. At turbine no 69 we attempted to walk on, over the fence that would lead us straight to Dunwan. However, the long grass and sodden ground made us rethink our plan. We doubled back to the track and continued our walk following the Blackwood signs. Blackwood and Dunwan are both quite close together, the kids like going up a track that is firm underfoot and they can see where they are going by looking at the track.
Lochgoin Reserviour

They get suspicious when there is little sign of a track and muddy ground and they tend to think I'm making the route up, which of course I usually am. The track hugs closely to Lochgoin Reserviour before ascending the short route to the top of Blackwood hill. There is a nice cairn at the top here and viewpoint. The large stone circle was built, I'm sure, to protect from the wind, although there is little it could do about midges. 


Signpost

Wide track to Blackwood

Top of Blackwood

Cairn

From Blackwood we continued on along the ridge, following a faint path and down the other side of the hill and ascended Dunwan. We jumped the fence, although there was a gate further down and ascended the short route to the top. This hill is also signposted on the main track. If being walked on its own then a brisk walk to turbine 70 will give access to the hill behind. The walk from Blackwood to Dunwan was only 25 minutes and the ascent and descents are minimum. Dunwan gives great views over the Dunwan Dam and to Glasgow beyond that.  I had read somewhere that the hill used to have an old fort in or around it however, we didn't see any indication of that. 
Dunwan from Blackwood

Heading towards Dunwan

Signpost for Dunwan

Almost at the top

View of Dunwan Dam

We followed the main track back through brown hill and to the visitors centre, where there is toilets and a cafe.  

Blackwood Hill: 309m
Dunwan Hill: 300m

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