Walk: Shafts & balls of Lowther Hill

Dumfries & Galloway / South Lanarkshire | Lowther Hills | Half day walk | ★★★

[Lowther Hill]

An odd assortment of shafts and balls grace the two highest points in the Lowther Hills, on the border between Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire. The unsightly paraphernalia of radar tracking stations, radio masts, old mineshafts and even a cluster of ski runs mean this is hardly the place to get away from all signs of human activity, but on the plus side, the tarmac access road to the summit buildings can be used to make speedy progress between the two summits of Lowther Hill and Green Lowther. Starting from Wanlockhead helps too: this former mining village is Scotland's highest settlement. The panoramas from the top are exceptionally wide-ranging: if you're lucky enough to get clear air on the day of your climb - as we were - you may be able to spot the Isle of Arran, the West Highlands and even the Paps of Jura: the latter just a shade under 100 miles away. Our circuit adds in East Mount Lowther at the start; 100 metres lower than the other two hills, it's mercifully free of development and boasts superb views towards Criffel and the English Lake District. To round off a varied circuit, descend northwest from Green Lowther to reach a lonely reservoir, with tracks leading back to Wanlockhead from here.

[Looking down the Enterkin Burn from the col below East Mount Lowther]

📌 Walk: Shafts & balls of Lowther Hill ★★★
Start / finish at car park by the Museum of Lead Mining, Wanlockhead village centre, G.R.: NS 873129 ///leaky.annual.dirt

▶ 12 km / 7 mi | ▲ 550 m | ⌚ Half a day | Tough
Features: Museum of Lead Mining ★★★★; △ East Mount Lowther (631 m, Donald); △ Lowther Hill (725 m, Donald); △ Green Lowther (732 m, Graham / Donald); Wanlockhead
Terrain: Route up until Green Lowther is all on tracks, paths and private hill road (variety of surfaces). Intermittent path for descent (may be difficult to locate in poor weather), becoming a slightly wet track. Good tracks beyond reservoir. Keep to the paths - the lower slopes are pockmarked with old mineshafts.

Route & map

Car park & Museum of Lead Mining - follow Southern Upland Way until path junction just after Little Arthur Grain - col between East Mount Lowther & Lowther Hill - East Mount Lowther - return to col - Lowther Hill via Lowther Hills Ski Club pistes - Green Trough - Green Lowther - Glen Franka Rig - Shortcleuch Water reservoir outflow - Wanlockhead - start

Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track
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On our visit

Wildlife: Bird over prey over Wanlockhead, sheep and lambs. Midges at the summit of Green Lowther.
Weather: Sunny intervals with early summit fog soon clearing. Temperature in low teens, light winds.

Chronological photo guide

[Leaving Wanlockhead village]

[Green Lowther from the initial ascent]

[Looking down Mossy Burn]

[Lowther Hill (left) & East Mount Lowther (far right)]

[Enterkin Pass]

[Looking down the Enterkin Burn from the col below East Mount Lowther]

[View south from East Mount Lowther]

[Ascent to Lowther Hill]

[East Mount Lowther from Lowther Hill]

[Radar road]

[Radar Road]

[Pistes belonging to Lowther Hills Ski Club]

[Lowther Hill]

[Road towards Green Trough]

[Road to Green Lowther]

[Looking northwest from Green Lowther]

[Hill traffic]

[Green Lowther summit]

[The descent from Green Lowther is mostly on a faint path]

[Shortcleuch Water reservoir]

[Reservoir outflow]

[Shortcleuch Water reservoir, Green Lowther (left) & Lowther Hill (right) beyond]

[Shortcleuch Water reservoir & the descent from Green Lowther]

[Back on tarmac for the return to Wanlockhead]


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