Tinto Hill1 is the largest in a small group of hills called the Tinto Hills or 'hills of fire.' The name 'hills of fire' derives from the exposed red felsite rock that can be seen near the summit. The Tinto range can be found five miles south of the town of Lanark, South Lanarkshire, Scotland (OS Map Grid Ref NS953343 OS 1:50,000 Landranger Map 72).
How to Get There
The main road, the A73 Biggar Road, skirts past to the east of Tinto. The nearest motorway, the M74, is only seven miles to the west of these hills, and provides easy access at junction 13 (Abington), or junction 11 (Happendon). If you come off at junction 11, follow the A70 for five miles east to join the A73 and head south for two miles to reach the carpark. There is no off-ramp southbound at junction 12, but you can use junction 12 if you're northbound. Come off the motorway and turn right onto the A70 for six miles, joining the A73 south for two miles to reach the carpark. The nearest train station is in the town of Lanark, which has a train service to and from Glasgow.
This can be found just off the A73 at the Thankerton junction: take the unlit road past the farm and outhouses for 200m, which leads to the gravel car park. Refreshments can be bought at the Tinto Hill tea room which opened in the 1930s. The tea room is next to the car park entrance and is run by Mrs McIntyre. You can get a meal here which is good value for money. As the weather can sometimes be unkind to those who venture out into the hills and mountains, be sure to take clean dry socks (You cannot buy these in the tearoom).
The climb to the top of Tinto Hill is well worth it, and people of all ages find that this grass and heather-covered hill gives them the hill-climbing bug. To do this walk you will require good strong shoes, as the route follows a well-defined but stony path which has short steep sections. Be prepared for what the weather will throw at you up there. Walking time is around two hours to the top, and about one hour 45 minutes to return back to the carpark.
Leave the carpark and pass through the gate, remembering that you are crossing farmland at this point where you may meet the odd sheep and a few rabbits; please leave gates as you find them, and if you have to open one please close it again. Head up the well-kept path and you will pass the concentric remains of an Iron Age fort on your left with a small group of Scots pine trees at the back. Not much is left to view of the fort, and people do pass these grass bumps thinking that they must be giant molehills. There is a large cairn made of loose stones at the top of Tinto Hill with a guide to help pick out other hills that can been seen from the top.
A sedimentary rock mix (which was scraped by glaciers 10,000 years ago) gives this graham2-classified hill a height of 711m. From the top you will be able to see many towns and cities in the central lowlands of Scotland. A lower hill (Scaut Hill, 586m) can be incorporated into your walk, if you don't mind adding around 40 minutes to your total route time. Return to the carpark by the same route.
Other Things To Do Here
Hang-gliding has been popular over Tinto Hill for a number of years, and the distance record for a hang-gliding flight from within Scotland was broken at Tinto Hill in 1996, with a flight that ended south of the border in England. Due to the hills being classified as SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) the hang-gliding club which uses Tinto has an agreement with the relevant body to allow its members to fly over the hills.
The Scottish Hill Runners organise a race to the top of Tinto Hill every November and the race record to date is just under 30mins for 4.5 miles. Tinto has been described as a great muddy autumnal event with a fast hard climb to the top and a bone-shaker descent.