Dalwhat Glen and The Striding Arches

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No doubt this is a laudable enough project, which however seems (at April 2009) to be some way short of fruition. One of its stated aims is to 'actively encourage walkers down from the Southern Upland Way into Cairnhead Glen and on to Moniaive'. (This is a distance of over nine miles!) I was frankly somewhat disappointed, having been enthused by the Striding Arches website into promoting a walk in this area, to find that there is no dedicated route laid out for walkers and that access to the hills above Cairnhead Glen, with the prospect of visiting one or more of world-famous 'environmental artist' Andy Goldsworthy's 'Arches', means an initial trudge up a long and mundane Forestry Commission timber extraction road. The Byre when we visited was an empty former cowshed with the Byre Arch, installed in 2005, emanating from one end.

I suspect that there is a friendlier, circular route waiting to be discovered, whereby all three arches may be visited, but at present this would involve a steep and strenuous trek of some ten miles, partly through forestry. My companion and I decided that we would confine ourselves to visiting just one of the three arches on this occasion. Once the lengthy trudge is done, the views over the Rhins of Kells are rewarding and the lovely open hillsides are a welcome contrast to the coniferous belt traversed to reach them. To get to Cairnhead, a drive of seven miles up the picturesque valley of the Dalwhat Water must first be undertaken.

I trust that something more walker-friendly will eventually be forthcoming, enticing visitors to this remote and beautiful area and providing a more satisfying circular route to replace this one, which in the meantime I offer with reservations.

Information for Dog Owners: this is sheep country, so dogs ought be be kept on a leash.

Scotland - South Scotland - Dumfries and Galloway - Countryside


Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Moor, Mountains, Waterfall, Wildlife