Southern Upland Way 26 Main Street , St Johns Town of Dalry , Castle Douglas , Scotland, DG7 3UW, United Kingdom
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9. Wanlockhead to Beattock & Moffat

Nearest Town: Moffat

Start: Wanlockhead

Finish: Beattock & Moffat

•Distance: 22.5 miles
•Approx. Time: 9hours
Difficulty: Strenuous/images/gradientstrenuous
9. Wanlockhead to Beattock & Moffat
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Route Description

This section passes over the Lowthers – the highest hills on the Southern Upland Way.

From Overfingland to Daer, the route tracks through a mixture of plantation and moorland before entering the firebreaks and rides of the Upper Annandale Plantations. After the Reservoir, the walk drops down to the floodplain of Annan Water, ending at Dumcrieff, just south of Moffat.

Please note: This day can be reduced to 17.5 miles by extending the previous day by 5 miles by using Vehicle Support .


Detailed Description

Wanlockhead Museum to Over Fingland (approx. 6 miles)

At the Museum (NS 873129) take the steps beside the Museum entrance up onto the street by the old library, then follow the waymarked path to cross the B 797 (NS 876129). Pass up the right hand side of the cemetery and across the trackbed of the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Light Railway, passing the derelict Larkhill House centre and proceeding uphill along the side of Stake Hill. A few hundred yards after crossing Mossy Burn, the path joins the trackway leading up to Lowther Hill summit. At Throw Rig, it briefly leaves the trackway to head straight up towards the radomes of the Civil Aviation Authority radar station. The path several times crosses the winding trackway, eventually heading to the right of the station compound and heading downhill to the lesser summit of Cold Moss before descending Comb Head. From there, it crosses the area and ascends Laght Hill towards a wall crossing the summit, before descending to Overfingland Farm on the A 702.

Lowther Hill: Besides its excellent views, this hill has another importance. The radar station identified the time and location of the destruction of the Pan Am Boeing 747 'Maid of the Seas' aircraft, just before the impact of wreckage during the Lockerbie Air Disaster in 1988.

Over Fingland to Daer Reservoir (approx. 3.5 miles)

Turn left on the A702 at Overfingland and follow the road for about a mile before turning right and crossing the low ground to the footbridge at Benuff Burn. Once across, turn left (north) between the Burn and the plantation until a turn right (east) into a forest road. Follow the forest road to a junction, turning right (south) and follow the track round to the left until the second Y-junction, then take the right fork before continuing round to the left, skirting the lower slopes of Coom Rig and Yearn Craig. The Way leaves the woods at a stile then follows the flank of the plantation eastwards across open moorland and a footbridge over Rae Cleuch, before crossing a wall. At that point, it continues for half a mile along a track on the northern side of plantations the track entering Watermeetings Forest and carrying straight on to a junction with a minor road. The walker then descends the minor road to a junction near the plaque commemorating the opening of the reservoir.

Daer Reservoir to Beattock & Moffat (approx. 10.5 miles [Beattock] - 12 miles [Moffat]):

Starting at the plaque, take the track towards the dam, turning left at the wall and following it round up towards the wall junction near the top of the dam. Follow the wall left (east) up Sweetshaw Brae and around for about two miles to the summit, from which there is a good view towards the Solway Firth and the Cumbrian Fells. The descent from the summit passes south by east over Hod Hill before passing to the left (north side) of the plantations to Beld Knowe and round to enter the woods by a forest track in a firebreak. The firebreak runs for about four miles through the woods, an easy route that passes the Brattleburn Bothy, and Rivox Farm, from both of which there are minor roads leading down to Middlegill Farm near the M74. The firebreak declines to a woodland ride, from which a path heads to the right and south to a dogleg before going south to a minor road at Easter Earshaig.

Turning left (east) onto the minor road, follow it downhill for two miles to the bridge over the Glasgow-Carlisle railway line, then left for a hundred yards to a point just short of the Old Brig Inn and Telford Restaurant, a relic of mail-coach days.

The Moffat Alternative (approx. 3 miles):

Holmshaw, through Moffat to Dumcrieff Bridge:
Please note: Recognition under discussion.
N.B: This Alternative is not yet signposted; so follow the map indications carefully. For your assistance, these are eight-figure instead of six-figure grid references.
From the junction (NT 040042) on the forest track, turn left and follow the track east around the edge of the Holmshaw lands to the Y-junction (NT 04150410) taking the left turn and carrying straight on until the track joins a slightly wider forest road. Keeping to the left, follow the track to the left (north) of the earthworks of an ancient motte-and-bailey castle (NT 05050400) and past an earlier earthwork as the track (now a metalled drive) curves round past Rosetta Lodge (NT 05650465), before taking a right turn along the drive towards Lawesknowe Farm (NT 06100390). Before Lawesknowe, follow the drive through the gate and down onto the minor road leading down past a zigzag through trees towards the M74. Auchen Castle Hotel is about 400 yards up a drive from the bottom of the zigzag. Continue down the slope towards the M74, taking the pedestrian underpass (NT 06750440) under the M74 to the Coats Hill footpath. Continue up and over Coats Hill beside the Golf Course, following the path down to the stile near the bottom of Chapel Lane (NT 08200440). At the bottom of Chapel Lane turn left along the A701 main road and walk the 500 yards into Moffat High Street (Town Square) (NT 085053).

The town centre has a wide range of shops, pubs, inns and restaurants. An excellent re-supply base and rest point, Moffat is at the heart of Southern Scotland and caters to walkers. When leaving Moffat High Street, take the Holm Street / Holm Road exit from beside the old graveyard, following it for about 700 yards to the Old Carlisle Road (NT 092050). Take the Old Carlisle Road south, keeping to the right at the Y-junction (NT 094040) half a mile south, passing over the Dumcrieff Bridge (NT 100033) to rejoin the Southern Upland Way.

Beattock to Dumcrieff by Barnhill:
At the Old Brig Inn (NT 077029) cross the road and take the path down beside the Moffat-Dumfries road to the bridge carrying the minor road across the M74 and follow the minor road across the Barnhills bridge to the T-junction. Cross the road and take the path over Newmills ridge to the minor road, turning left to follow it to Dumcrieff Bridge.