TINTO HILLS

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Tinto dominates our skyline and has many moods – some of which I have tried to show here. Please see below the best information about Tinto that I have to date.

Tinto Hill; a graceful cone shaped hill, 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, and possibly deriving from the Scottish Gaelic word teinnteach, meaning “fiery”.

The Tinto range can be found five miles south of the town of Lanark, on the west bank of the River Clyde, and some five miles west of Biggar, South Lanarkshire, Scotland; and is located near the small villages of Thankerton and Wiston.
The hills are classified as SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest)

Tinto is not part of the Southern Uplands. At 707 metres [2320 Ft] it is the highest point in the Central Lowlands, formed by magma swelling up under the earth’s crust but not breaking through. A sedimentary rock mix (which was scraped by glaciers 10,000 years ago) gives this graham-classified hill a height of 711m.
[ This apparent height differential is accounted for by the cairn mentioned below!]

On the clearest days the view from the top takes in the Lake District, the mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland, Ailsa Craig and Arran in the Firth of Clyde, the Arrochar Alps and as far north as Lochnagar in the Cairngorms.

The peak is called “Tinto Tap” and on the peak there is a large cairn made of loose stones and a guide to help pick out other hills that can been seen from the top.

An old Scots children’s rhyme tells of the “kist in the mist” at “Tinto tap”, kist being the Scots word for “chest”.

On Tintock tap, there is a mist,
And in that mist, there is a kist,
And in that kist, there is a cup,
And in that cup, there is a drap.
Tak’ up that cup, and drink that drap, that’s in yon kist, on Tintock tap!

It seems Tinto has always been special. Bronze Age people built Scotland’s largest summit cairn, most likely as a burial cairn but maybe also as way of determining the date of the winter solstice. The cairn is a registered Ancient Monument

An old rhyming couplet – “Twixt Tintock Tap and Culter Fell, there is just one-third part of an ell” (15 ins.) suggests that Tinto was at least as high as Culter Fell just across the Clyde. An early survey stated that this was the case but a more accurate 19th century survey puts the gap at 31 metres in Culter’s favour.

Since then, locals have encouraged the carrying of a stone to the top to grow Tinto to 749 metres. At the present rate of growth, it will take another 32,000 years!.

It is accessible for walking and is one of the premier locations for hanggliding and paragliding. Tinto is also the venue for one of the most popular hill running races in Scotland which is held annually in November. It is also where local people come to mark the New Year, roll their Easter eggs… and cure hangovers!

Tinto Trout Fisheries nestles on the north-western side of the Tinto hills. The fishery comprises two reservoir lochs (Lyoch and Cleugh) each approximately 5 acres in size containing both rainbow and wild brown trout. Also only a mile SE of Tinto is the remains of Fatlips Castle.

Latitude, Longitude
55.591649N, 3.662554W

Archaeological Notes
A cairn measuring approximately 45m in diameter and nearly 6m in height occupies a commanding position on the summit of Tinto. Even if it is partly of natural origin (Geog J 1954) and has had stones added to it by visitors, it remains one of the largest cairns in Scotland. .