Vehicles on the road near the Devil's Pulpit
Vehicles on the road near the Devil's Pulpit

Plans to open up the Devil’s Pulpit to tourists

Plans have been revealed today to create a tourist spot at Finnich Glen, near Killearn, in Stirlingshire.

A detailed planning application for a 150-space car park, visitor centre/restaurant, and a network of paths, bridges and viewing platforms, has been submitted for the Devil’s Pulpit beauty spot.

Architects and planning consultants Bell Ingram Design have lodged the application for the 10.9 hectare site – made famous by TV series Outlander – on behalf of landowner and farmer David Young.

Various stories and legends surround the pulpit. Some say that it is where the Devil addresses his followers, others that it was once the site of witch executions, and some will tell you that is was once used by druids for holding secret meetings.

It is estimated that more than 70,000 people visit Finnich Glen each year, putting themselves at risk by descending 100 feet into the gorge on a 200-year-old stone stairway, as well as trampling fences, leaving litter, and damaging the plant life.

Finnich Glen was used for filming The Eagle, a film about a lost Roman legion released in 2011, and in Detective Pikachu, released this year. Its popularity exploded in 2014 when episode six of the first Outlander series aired, featuring Finnich Glen as the scene of the Liar’s Spring.

Vehicles on the road near the Devil’s Pulpit

The proposals – which have been shaped by stakeholder consultation – would remove the need to abandon cars on country roads, while a network of footpaths, bridges and viewing platforms will improve the overall experience while reducing environmental damage.

Iain Cram, director of Bell Ingram Design, explained: ‘Our brief was to create a visitor experience that would allow people to get in and out safely with the minimum of fuss and the least possible amount of damage to the environment.

‘With upwards of 70,000 people now visiting Finnich Glen each year – a number that looks likely increase – parking has always been a top priority, and our plans centre around the creation of a 150-space car park which will
eliminate the danger caused by people abandoning their cars along the grass verges.’

Iain’s blueprint also includes a restaurant, visitor centre, toilet facilties, and a network of paths, bridges and viewing platforms which intricately thread their way across the stunning landscape giving safe and secure access to the site.

Iain continued: ‘Visitor safety has always been of paramount importance so that’s why we have designed smart, sound paths and bridges which allow people to enjoy the views without going dangerously close to the edge of what is a 100ft gorge.

‘Mountain rescue has seen a spike in the number of call-outs as people get stuck in the Glen. With this in mind we’ve included an emergency access stair for the mountain rescue team. This will give them fast access into the gorge, while at the same time avoiding damage to the plant life on the rock walls.’

An artist’s impression of how the new tourist attraction could look

Bell Ingram Design took its cues from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Captain Nemo, and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Land That Time Forgot, to create a visitor experience alive with striking design touches, such as mellowed timber, brushed metal work, industrial style rivets and rope-look handrails.

Iain added: ‘Visually it is a very dramatic landscape and our design is calculated to compliment and enhance the otherworldy quality that is created by the angular rock walls, lush plant life and the “red” peaty water.’

If approved by Stirling Council, Iain expects building work to commence on site by summer 2021.

He concluded: ‘Finnich Glen is a truly stunning site of natural beauty and since its use in Outlander, visitor numbers have sky-rocketed, with people travelling from across America and Europe.

‘By engaging with locals and key stakeholders to help shape our work at this exciting site, we believe our plans will make the area much safer while improving the site logistically.’

Finnich Glen, also referred to as the Devil’s Pulpit, is a 100-foot deep gorge near Drymen and Loch Lomond. It can be reached by descending a 200-year old staircase into the Glen.