Southern Upland Way 26 Main Street , St Johns Town of Dalry , Castle Douglas , Scotland, DG7 3UW, United Kingdom
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10. Beattock & Moffat to St Mary's Loch

Nearest Town: Beattock

Start: Beattock & Moffat

Finish: St Mary's Loch

•Distance: 19.8 miles
•Approx. Time: 8hours
Refreshments: The Glen Cafe
10. Beattock & Moffat to St Mary's Loch
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Route Description

The walk from Dumcrieff Bridge to St. Mary's Loch is an interesting mixture of lowland woodland, plantation and moorland, dropping into a river valley.

At St Mary's Loch, you’ll find a statue of poet James Hogg (1770 – 1835) standing above the Inn – the place where the Southern Upland Way was inaugurated in 1984.


Detailed Description

Dumcrieff Bridge to Over Phawhope Bothy:

A turn left across Dumcrieff Bridge is followed by a turn left to a road beside Dumcrieff House grounds. The Way enters the narrow wood of pine, beech and birch, before crossing a stile to follow the riverbank opposite Dumcrieff House. Keep along the bank, crossing the minor road, as far as the line of conifers and the remains of Cornal Tower (NT 108044) before turning right (southeast) along the conifers and up a hill. The walker rounds a sharp turn before turning left (east) along a forest track (NT), but thereafter keeps to the left along the track for about a mile, until the Cornal Burn Bridge is crossed, after which the walker turns right along another forest track. Just beyond the notice for Hope (Craigbeck Hope cottage) the Way trends round a corner to a junction where six tracks cross. Keep straight across the junction, and left at the following Y-junction, crossing a major woodland ride shortly thereafter. The Way keeps to a forest road and crosses Birch Sike burn before heading round the base of Birch Hill to a ford through the Wamphray Water burn. Follow the Way left (north) on the right bank of the Water, up to the stile crossing a wire fence.

N.B: The Way may cross the Water by stepping-stones in some parts, so take care here and slightly further up, where tongues of scree appear.

From the stile, the Way follows the side of the woods for a while before reaching a sheepfold near Craigmichen Scar, a narrow gorge with a waterfall. The Way bypasses these by going to the right up an adjacent hill on a narrow path, before emerging onto a more level stretch of moorland.

The stream is crossed by a footbridge near Park's Well before the Way reaches a stile at Ettrick Head (NT 172065), the watershed and the boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and Borders Regions.

The Way heads across the moorland to a stile, entering the plantations along Ettrick Water, soon turning right onto a forest road, the walker keeping to the right on this forest road for the last mile down to Over Phawhope and the Bothy. This is a useful reference-point, but the next roadhead is across a footbridge and round to the right half a mile at Potburn Farm.

Over Phawhope to St. Mary's Loch (Tibbie Shiels Inn):
Leaving Potburn Farm, continue down the road for about five miles beside Ettrick Water, which grows in this distance from a narrow burn to an upland river. The walker will pass seven farms, at the last - Scabcleuch - the Way at last leaving the road left (north) up the Scabcleuch Burn gulley, to the left of the burn. There is a fairly steep climb through fields and over two stiles until the Way enters a plateau (Scabcleuch Moss) crossing a side-stream and the Burn by a couple of fords. The path shows as a slightly raised track, stony in parts, with drainage ditches either side. After crossing a stile, the Way goes along the flank of Penistone Knowe and Pikestone Rig, before dividing at about NT 243186. The left fork of the path descends to the left of Peat Hill to Riskinhope Farm and the A708. The right fork is the Way, heading along the ridge and down to the right, to the ruins of Riskinhope Hope farm and its sheepfolds, before turning left (north) along a track to cross a stream and head right (east) around Earl's Hill, crossing through a neck of plantation and Moory Sike burn before turning left (north) onto a forest and moorland track. This winds its way round and down hill past Crosscleuch Farm and the pleasant prospect of Tibbie Shiels Inn, at the foot of the Loch of the Lowes and the head of St. Mary's Loch.

Tibbie Shiels Inn: 'Tibbie Shiels' was the maiden name of Mrs. Elizabeth Richardson, who became tenant of the St. Mary's Cottage, becoming known for her excellence as an alehouse keeper. Robert Chambers ('Picture of Scotland') is said to have given her an excellent review for his time, so visitors came. Amongst them were James Hogg, John Grieve, Professor Wilson, Aytoun and Sir Walter Scott. Tibbie Shiels died in 1878, so outliving the poet. It is said that she thought Hogg a good man, despite the 'gey foolishness' he wrote.

James Hogg's Monument: The 'Ettrick Shepherd' (1770-1835) was in his time as famous a poet as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. His most famous work is probably 'The Brownie of Bodebeck Fell', but 'Kilmeny' and 'DonaldM'Donald' are also well known. James Hogg's Monument stands almost opposite St. Mary's Cottage. It was dedicated on June 28th 1860, having been made by a Mr. Andrew Currie, FSA. Sadly, for many it may be their only awareness of the poet.