Showing posts from September, 2015

Walk: Tinto - Hill of Fire

South Lanarkshire | Tinto Hills | Half day walk | ★★★★

If you live in southern Scotland you'll probably already be familiar with Tinto. Standing tall amidst low ground, this is a great spot to pick out many of the country's hill ranges. The Pentlands, Moorfoots, Lammermuirs, Campsies, Trossachs, Cheviots and Galloway Hills are just a few, and that's before you include the peaks beyond the Scottish mainland: the English Lake District and Arran should both easily be visible on a clear day. This is the most popular ascent route: the path is wider than some roads, and leads past a double-walled Roman Fort directly to the 43 metre-wide, Bronze Age summit cairn - adding four metres to the hill's height and visible from the car park. The path splits at one point, but it doesn't matter which branch you choose.

📌 Walk: Tinto - Hill of Fire ★★★★
Start / finish at car park on minor road 1 mi southwest of Thankerton, G.R.: NS 964375 ///scars.relax.rationed

▶ 7 km / 4 mi | ▲ 49…

Walk: Hawk's eye view from Beinn Chabhair

Stirling | Crianlarich Hills | Full day walk | ★★★

Starting promisingly with a steep climb alongside the attractive Beinglas Falls (though the best views are from the other bank) this relatively straightforward but soggy Munro ascent encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly of Scottish hillwalking. The ridge path to Beinn Chabhair (Hill of the Hawk) is a joy: it's just a shame there isn't more of it, and that it's preceded by two relatively featureless miles of wet ground (albeit on a path throughout), spoilt further by power lines to the south. Plan to visit after at least a week of sunny weather - next forecast for summer 2022. The Drovers Inn at the end of the walk serves food all day and is Scotland's oldest pub, first opening in 1705. According to the website: "Pub of the year 1705"...

📌 Walk: Hawk's eye view from Beinn Chabhair ★★★
Start / finish at car park on A82 opposite The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan, G.R.: NN 318185 ///bagpipes.whiplash.pheasant…

Lower Nethan Gorge

South Lanarkshire | Crossford | Gorge & castle | ★★★★

The deepness of the gorges carrying many of the upper River Clyde's tributaries has restricted human development and preserved the ancient woodland within. The Mouse Water, Jock's Gill and the Avon Water at Chatelherault are some of the best examples, but the Lower Nethan Gorge nature reserve has the added attraction of a fascinating castle at one end. A mile-long path links the castle to Crossford village at the other end, although dense woodland restricts views from the route.

Location & info

📌 Craignethan Castle★★★★
💬 Superb 16th century castle set above the gorge, with lots to explore inside an extensive tower. Don't miss the unexpected artillery chambers at the bottom of the defensive ditch.
Off minor road 2 mi west of Crossford, G.R.: NS 815464 ///juicy.engrossed.grazes
Open daily, April to September | £6 adult / £3.60 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

📌 Lower Nethan Gorge★★★
💬 Unspo…

Walk: Black Hill - Lanarkshire idyll

South Lanarkshire | Auchenheath | Short walk | ★★★

Black Hill is an idyllic viewpoint that looks out over a particularly attractive part of South Lanarkshire, a few miles west of Lanark. Deep valleys, rolling farmland and winding lanes make the area feel more like the English Peak District than anywhere else in Scotland. The summit is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is topped by faint remains of an Iron Age hillfort. Easy to reach through grassy fields, and a perfect place to take a picnic on a warm summer day; pity about the parking arrangements (or lack of).

📌 Walk: Black Hill - Lanarkshire idyll ★★★
Start / finish at National Trust sign on minor road 2 mi east of Auchenheath, G.R.: NS 834431 /// Very limited parking indeed (don't block gates).

▶ 1 km / <1 mi | ▲ 40 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Summits:Black Hill (290 m)
Terrain: Faint tracks and paths across short-cropped, grassy fields.

Route & map

Start - Black Hill (just aim for the high point!)…

Carrick Forest Drive

Dumfries & Galloway / Souh Ayrshire | Loch Doon | Scenic road | ★★

This 6 mile driving route allows visitors to explore an otherwise remote part of Galloway Forest Park between Loch Doon and the outflow for Loch Bradan, making use of private logging tracks owned by Forestry and Land Scotland. Care needs to be taken with the potholes: we found it OK in a normal vehicle but it's probably inadvisable for those with low ground clearance. If you're used to dramatic hill walks to Munro summits, you may be a little disappointed; if not, the expanses of brooding forest broken up by quiet lochs, all from the comfort of your car, may be just the ticket. Which you buy (before or after depending on your direction of travel) from the Roundhouse Cafe at the north end of Loch Doon. Also check out the similar Raiders' Road Forest Drive elsewhere in the park if this is the sort of thing that floats your boat.

Location & info

📌 Carrick Forest Drive★★
The best viewpoint, above Loch Ri…

Loch Doon

Dumries & Galloway / East Ayrshire | Dalmellington | Loch | ★★★

Stretching about 10 kilometres from Ness Glen in the north to beyond Carrick Forest Drive in the south, Loch Doon is southern Scotland's largest loch. Although now a reservoir and surrounded by forestry plantations, this is remote country - at the far end you're a long way from the nearest shop or petrol station. A winding road follows the western shoreline with views into the wild interior of Galloway Forest Park, the Rhinns of Kells hill range prominent above swathes of trees. Keep heading south and you'll reach a 13th century castle with a difference: when the water level was raised in 1935 most of the ruin was transported, brick-by-brick, from an island in the middle of the loch (now underwater) to the safety of the mainland. It seems extreme, but then again, it's not every day that you come across a castle with 11 sides.

Location & info

📌 Loch Doon ★★★
Dumfries & Galloway / East Ayrshire, G…

Walk: Ness Glen - drama on the straight & narrow

East Ayrshire | Loch Doon | Short day walk | ★★★★

A sign at the start boldly proclaims Ness Glen to be one of Britain's finest rock gorges, so it may come as a surprise to hear that this dramatic spot is situated in gentle East Ayrshire! Nothing to do with the river of the same name flowing from Loch Ness - instead, the water originates in the Galloway Hills surrounding Loch Doon. Historically a popular tourist attraction, the paths fell into disuse for decades before massive upgrades by the Craigengillan Estate have restored access in recent years. Excellent paths and dozens of bridges follow white water into the dark confines of the glen, with further new paths back along the top. A tiny, useful takeaway provides refreshments (and toilets) at the start.

📌 Walk: Ness Glen - drama on the straight & narrow ★★★★
Start / finish at car park at Loch Doon dam, 3 mi south of Dalmellington, G.R.: NS 476012 ///estimates.richest.lives

▶ 2 km / 1 mi | ▲ 70 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: N…

Walk: Dalcairnie Linn (other spellings available)

East Ayrshire | Dalmellington | Short walk | ★★★

If parking was easier, Dalcairnie (/ Dalcairney) Linn (/ Falls) would be better known, whatever you wanted to call it. A slightly overgrown path also does no favours to its popularity, but for now a circular exploration is still straightforward enough. If you're passing through Dalmellington towards the Galloway heartlands, the waterfall and leafy amphitheatre setting is deserving of your time.

📌 Walk: Dalcairnie Linn (other spellings available) ★★★
Start / finish at Dalcairney Farm, near minor road end a mile southwest of Dalmellington, G.R.: NS 467045 ///look.crossings.activity. Parking space for one small car only at start, on corner where path leaves the road. More space further back along the road.

▶ <1 km / <1 mi | ▲ 30 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: Dalcairnie Linn
Terrain: Grassy path to falls, overgrown at times, with two footbridges over the burn. Then good track for return.

Route & map

Start - Dalcairnie Linn (via r…

Walk: Cort-ma Law - Central Belt solace

East Dunbartonshire | Campsie Fells | Half day walk | ★★

The canny hillgoer tackles the Campsie Fells after a prolonged dry spell (or heads for Meikle Bin), and this mantra most certainly applies to this circuit via Cort-ma Law's weathered trig pillar. Picnickers and hurried sightseers drop off during the first mile of steep ascent: missing out on the best views from the edge of the escarpment, but also missing out on the boggy spots which grow in severity on the way to Lecket Hill. A good way to escape the Glasgow crowds, but wet boots may be inescapable except for the fleetest of foot. If it's really that wet, you might want to consider visiting the upper waterfalls in Campsie Glen, accessed from the same car park.

📌 Walk: Cort-ma Law - Central Belt solace ★★
Start / finish at Crow Road car park, B822 2 mi north of Lennoxtown, G.R.: NS 612801 ///motivates.hillside.flipper

▶ 9 km / 6 mi | ▲ 350 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Tough
Summits: Cort-ma Law (531 m); Lecket Hill (547 m)


South Ayrshire | Town | ★★

Girvan is in many ways a typical Firth of Clyde seaside resort, with a long beach and picturesque harbour. From the summit of Byne Hill its unusual cross-shaped street layout can be seen. Ailsa Craig and Arran loom large out to sea, and most boat trips to the former depart from here. You might imagine that the town's isolated southerly location (and the appeal of foreign beach resorts) must limit its appeal today... but not if the number of thriving, old-fashioned cafes and coffee shops is anything to go by. This is probably the sort of timeless place where you could buy a hot meal for a few quid and still have change left over for the excellent sweet shop. In fact, it definitely is (well, at least on our last visit).

Location & info

📌 Girvan ★★
South Ayrshire, G.R.: NX 185977 ///curry.squirted.deadline

🚶 The town centre is compact; use the coast path to reach the start of our Byne Hill walk route.
🚌 Infrequent trains run on the Ayr to Stranraer lin…

Walk: Byne Hill panorama

South Ayrshire | Girvan | Half day walk | ★★★

Byne Hill's rocky northeast ridge is a delight - short-cropped grass alternating with scrambly conglomerate knolls. Owing to local access issues this is an underused route to the top, which is blessed with superb views towards Girvan, Arran and Ailsa Craig. The return leads past a ramshackle memorial to an Archibald Crauford of the local estate, surrounded by curious ponies when we visited. A straightforward track gently descends through typical Ayrshire farmland back to the start - the catch: how do you get from the start to that lovely ascent ridge? Access tracks via Daltippan Farm or Brochneil breaker's yard are usually out of the question, which leaves a traverse along field boundaries.

📌 Walk: Byne Hill panorama ★★★
Start / finish at Shalloch Mill (space for a few cars), A77 2 mi south of Girvan, G.R.: NX 179957 ///panic.freely.disposal

▶ 5 km / 3 mi | ▲ 270 m | ⌚ Half a day | ⬤ Moderate
Summits: Byne Hill (214 m) | Features: C…


South Ayrshire | Village sights | ★★

Culzean Castle is undeniably the star attraction in the wider area, but Kirkoswald has its own attractions. This understated village sits astride the busy A77 road, a few attractive thatched buildings drawing the attention in particular. This is Robert Burns country - many of the poet's family and friends, and therefore characters from his poems, are buried in the churchyard here. The settlement has the monks of Paisley Abbey to thank for its founding though; they built nearby Crossraguel Abbey as a daughter house in the early 13th century, and Kirkoswald's church at the same time.

Location & info

📌 (Old) Kirk Oswald ★
💬 Ruins of a 13th century church built by Cluniac monks from Paisley Abbey, with several characters from the life of Robert Burns buried in the graveyard.
Main Street (A77), Kirkoswald village centre, G.R.: NS 239075 ///letters.observes.mixing
Always open | Free

📌 Souter Johnnie's Cottage★★
💬 Thatched cottage, forme…