NS3985 : Mount Misery

taken 10 years ago, 3 km from Gartocharn, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Mount Misery
Mount Misery
Previous section of the route: NS3985 : Loop walk (outward leg) - re-entering the woods.

At the time this photo was taken, the pathways that now provide access from Balloch Park to Whinny Hill Woods were fairly new, only about a year old. (The 1:25000 map shows "Whinney", but "Whinny", thought to refer to an abundance of gorse, appears to be the correct form.) At the end of the new Whinny Hill Woodland walk is a circular section; the furthest point on that loop is the location shown here, on Knockour Hill, which provides excellent views of Loch Lomond and its islands, and of the glens on the other side of the loch.

This point therefore marks the end of the outward leg of the circular route (see the first link in this item), and the start of the return leg.

It seems puzzling that the summit of Knockour Hill, which is such a scenic viewpoint, should also be known as Mount Misery, a name that does not appear on present-day maps, but which was already in use as early as 1839 (even then, its origin was a mystery). For the splendid view from this spot, see: NS3887 : The view from Knockour Hill.

There are various colourful theories to account for this name, but there seems to be no agreed explanation. As James Barr observed, in his "Balloch and Around" (1893), "how this little hill, rising immediately behind Boturich Castle, should have been dubbed Mount Misery has been a puzzle to all the scribes who have had occasion to refer to it".

Dugald Bell, in the book "Among the rocks around Glasgow" (2nd edition, 1885), made the following observations when observing the hill from a distance (looking NE from the high ground of Darleith Muir, c.NS3681): "Yonder is the wooded cone of Duncryne, and there, close to the lake, the 'delectable mount' of Boturich, strangely called Mount Misery (or Mizri), which sounds most inappropriate to the blissful prospect which it affords". Bell was presumably told the name of the hill in person, and is using "Mizri" to indicate the local pronunciation, as passed on to him. The "Lake" is Loch Lomond; for Duncryne, see NS4385 : The Dumpling (Duncryne Hill).

The OS Object Name Book (1890s) has the following entry: "Knockour Hill a prominent hill partly planted with forest and fir trees, having a trig station thereon. Its western side is very steep and on its summit there is a most extensive view of Loch Lomond. This hill is named 'Mount Misery' in the Stat. Acc. [Statistical Account] but is not known generally by this name, nor recognized by its proprietor."

The name of the hill is spelled "Knokgowr" in an old charter (made sometime between 1333 and c.1364) of the Earls of Lennox; this very early spelling leads me to suspect that the name signifies the "knoll of the goat", incorporating the Gaelic elements "cnoc" and "gobhar".

It is called "Knockowyr" on the Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox (surveyed in 1580s-90s), and is "Knockourhill" by the time of Roy's Military Survey of Scotland (1747-55).

[As just noted, Roy's map calls this site "Knockourhill". As it happens, his map also shows a "Mountmisery"; however, the latter was not located here, but was a different site, about 5 miles to the SSW of Knockour Hill. See NS3678 : Walton Farm chambered cairn for further details.]

Next section of the route: NS3985 : Loop walk (return leg) - through the woods.
Whinny Hill Woodland :: NS3984
A waymarked route, its outlying part in the form of a loop, has been created through this area of woodland. The spelling "Whinny Hill" is the one found on older maps, and it reflects the probable meaning, which is simply a hill covered in whin (gorse). Note, though, that the Woodland Trust (Scotland) tend to call it Whinney Hill; that form of the name also occurs on more recent mapping. Those looking for more information should therefore be aware of the alternative spelling.
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NS3985, 20 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 2 May, 2008   (more nearby)
Monday, 11 August, 2008
Geographical Context
Woodland, Forest 
Place (from Tags)
Knockour Hill  Whinny Hill Woods 
View > Viewpoint   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 397 852 [100m precision]
WGS84: 56:1.9897N 4:34.4079W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 397 852
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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Other Tags
Mount Misery  Viewpoint  Bench  Toponymy 

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Image classification(about): Geograph (Third Visitor for NS3985)
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