Walk: Sublime Loch Skeen with a sting in the Tail

[Loch Skeen, backed by Mid Craig (left) and Lochcraig Head (right)]

Moffat Dale must be one of the UK's most underrated hill walking regions: a surprisingly remote region in the heart of the Southern Uplands with scenery befitting of the Highlands. Many visitors come just for the Grey Mare's Tail, the UK's fifth highest waterfall amongst spectacular surroundings - seen from a viewpoint a short distance from the car park (although the view is better higher up on the hill path). What lies hidden beyond the waterfall is perhaps even more stunning. The hanging valley suddenly opens out to reveal sublime Loch Skeen, backed by the crags of Lochcraig Head. If you can bear the initial bogs, this is the next target. White Coomb lies further to the south-west, but the two are linked by a broad horseshoe ridge which gives easy going. Beware the steeper descent, with hands probably needed on one scrambly section. There's also a sting in the Tail (Burn): crossing this usually involves a walk upstream or wet feet. Again...

[Grey Mare's Tail]

Name: Walk: Sublime Loch Skeen with a sting in the Tail ★★☆
Length: 12 km / 7 miles
Ascent: 750 metres
Main summits: Lochcraig Head (801 metres, Donald); Firthybrig Head (766 metres); Firthhope Rig (800 metres); White Coomb (821 metres, Corbett / Donald)
Points of interest: Grey Mare's Tail waterfall & nature reserve; Loch Skeen
Start / finish: National Trust car park (with charge) on A708 10 miles north-east of Moffat, G.R.: NT 186145 / reconnect admires hiker

Route: Car park - Grey Mare's Tail (east bank) - Loch Skeen - path to east side of Hogg's Well - The Causey - Lochcraig Head - Firthybrig Head - Donald's Cleuch Head - Firthhope Rig - White Coomb - Upper Tarnberry - cross Tail Burn - start.
Terrain: Excellent path to Loch Skeen, though quite steep at first. There's a path for the remainder, but it's often faint: notably boggy before the slopes of Lochcraig Head are reached. Burn crossing on descent could be tricky in spate.
Wildlife today: Lots of sheep; wild goats also roam this area, but none seen today.
Weather today: Sunny with scattered clouds - forecast heavy showers didn't materialise. Forecast to be just below freezing on the summits but felt comfortable with light winds and warm sun.

[Loch Skeen and White Coomb (right distance) seen from Lochcraig Head]


Route credit: Walkhighlands (modified)

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