Craigdarroch Hill & Dalwhat Glen

This walk is again one of our shorter rambles from Moniaive village. Starting at the cross we head up North Street and go round the course to Broomfield where there is a track after a gate that leads out into open farmland. This walk can also be started via Ayr Street and the James Renwick Memorial but that route involves much tricky dyke hopping by through-bands (special dyke climbing stones). Deviating around the small fields is difficult as there are no useful gates to the north of the monument. Take great care if using this second approach so not to damage the walls and any sown crops.

Vistas of the village and Glencairn open out as we climb out onto the open hillsides. Bardennoch Hill and the Tynron Hills fill the view to the west from here. South and west the vista shows the ridges and braes above Craigdarroch and onwards to the braes around the Loch Urr hills. Eastwards, past the near views of Moniaive village Kirkland, Glencairn, Maxwelton Braes and the Keir hills draw the eye onwards down the glen.

The views continue to expand as the way climbs over Sclenders and Dungalston Hill where we keep to the edge of the forestry plantations. On my last trip up here I saw a striking big fox with a white-tipped brush. These predators might be unwelcome visitors on sheep farms but they are still a fine sight for the rambler to witness now and again. Shooting and trapping seems to make little difference to their numbers and constant persecution over many years just seems to have kept these wily beasts to manageable numbers.

At 325 Metres (1066 Feet) Craigdarroch (Craig of the oakwoods) Hill is the high point of this wee wander. I certainly don’t recommend heading down directly north from here through the Craig Wood. The going is steep, slippery, boggy and fraught with several obstacles like barbed wire and fallen trees. It is far better to follow on through the firebreaks into the woodlands to the northwest. From there a more suitable route can be picked to gain the tarred road just a short distance below Marwhirn.

The road walk back down Dalwhat Glen has some very pleasant views but keep your ears pricked for vehicles on this lane that is quite narrow in places and has lots of hidden bends. Caitloch House is passed on the way back to Moniaive. This is quite an historic building and back in olden times there was a considerable hamlet around here.

This route is on OS Landranger maps No: 77 & 78. Distance: 5.5 miles. Ascent 820 feet.

Dave McFadzean