Lowther Hills cover

Walking the Lowther Hills

and also the Carsphairn Hills, the hills of the Solway Coast, Tinto and Cauldcleuch Head

by Ronald Turnbull

Cicerone Press 1999 Paperback, 7.95

Cover: Toll Cottage Cleuch, by R Turnbull

Page size: 175x115mm

176 pages + 8 pages colour illustration

black & white illustrations, sketch maps

ISBN 0 9515996-8-2

The Lowther Hills offer high rounded ridges: windswept, sheep nibbled and solitary. However the tops are only part of the story. Careful exploration discovers the small hidden valleys, the "cleuchs" and "linns" that give this range its particular character. Here you may meet a wild goat, or find yourself in volved with a small waterfall and a couple of feet of rockclimb ing.
Along the Solway Coast are granite hills, with all the ruggedness of the Cairngorms but hardly any of the height. Rocky-topped Criffel, Screel and Cairnsmore of Fleet contrast nicely with the steep-sided grassy hills inland, and with the gorse and beaches of the Solway Coast.
These 50 walks cover all the hills west of the M74 except the Merrick and Rhinns of Kells. In case of bad weather, there are also a few woodland and coastal walks.
The guidebook is easy to follow, instructions easy to read and the sketch maps are clear... For those who are not into the grandeur of the Scottish Highlands and disdain Munro bagging, this part of Scotland could be the solution.
Bernie Pearson, in Strider

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Drumlanrig Castle


  • Walking conditions
  • Maps
  • Access
  • How to Use this Guide
  • Geology
  • The Covenanters
section 3: NITHSDALE
section 5: SOLWAY COAST
section 6: CAIRNSMORE of FLEET
End Matter

  • Longer outings
  • Other sports
  • Transport, accommodation, information

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Williams Pinnacle


Drive off the top end of the M6 on your way to the Highlands and you pass a place called Beattock Summit. On either hand lie some rather flat, rather low hills. Green forest embellishes their lower slopes, yellow grass their gentle summits.
       This is a trick, perpetrated in the interest of road safety. You already terrified your passengers driving up the Lune Valley while looking over your shoulder at the Howgills. They're only just recovering, and it wouldn't do to terrify them again just 50 miles up the road. So the interesting hills are carefully concealed behind yellow grass and gentle slopes.
       So take the next pass west, the A702 through Dalveen, and see something rather reminiscent of those Howgills. Steep grass rises on either side, neatly cut by stream cleuchs. Here and there a rock peeps through the velvety green covering: these hills have bones to them. Forgotten drove roads slant up the valley side. West again is the Mennock Pass, where you see the same thing done in heather mixture.
area So while these hills offer grassy ridgewalking, they also offer a little bit more in the exploration of the stream hollows, the holes in the hill where the wild goats hang out and where you may find yourself involved with a small waterfall and a couple of feet of rock-climbing. I like to combine these two sorts of ground into a day or half-day's walking.
       Along the Galloway coast are hills of a different sort: smaller, but fiercer. These granite lumps look across the Solway to the Lake District, and have a touch of Lakeland wildness themselves, with boulders everywhere, little bits of black bog and heather. They culminate in Cairnsmore of Fleet: a high-altitude, high rainfall small wilderness of international importance. Its peat bog, granite slab and black heather combine to make one of Bri tain's top small mountains.
       The Galloway Highlands are not part of the territory of this guide. The Merrick and Rhinns of Kells are covered in the compa nion volume "Walking the Galloway Hills" by Paddy Dillon. Hills to the east of the M74 (soon to be M6) motorway are in Alan Hall's two books "Walks in the Lammermuir Hills" and "the Border Country". All three of these books are published by Cicerone Press. However, two fine two-thousanders managed to slip through the net, and so Tinto Hill in Lanarkshire and Cauldcleuch Head in Roxburghshire are scooped into this, the best of the rest of the Southern Uplands.
       This is a book of hills not mountains: but hills with rather more to them than grass, sheep and solitude. I hope you will enjoy, as I have done, getting into the hidden stream valleys, discovering the odd small crag, and wandering in mist, rain or cool sunlight over these wide and empty lands.

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