This walk starts from the picturesque wee village of Durisdeer. This is about a half hour’s drive from Moniaive but the surroundings and backdrop of the rolling hills make the extra effort of the drive there most worthwhile. Park your vehicle in the square at the side of the old churchyard and church. This is the hamlet and surrounding countryside where location work was shot for a well-known feature film, the 1970s Robert Powell version of The 39 Steps.
From the square walk back down the Thornhill road for 100 yards and turn left just before the new churchyard. There is a rough roadway here that leads into the heart of the Lowther hills. Follow this track past a ruinous dwelling and descend to near where the Glenimp and Glenaggart burns meet. There are few navigational problems as the route follows a track for the whole distance.
Fording the Glengapp Burn, which can give some difficulty in high water, leads to the steepest part of the walk. The track climbs steadily through an ever-narrowing gap. Eventually a second ruinous house is reached and the bothy at Kettleton Byre. In 1984, this unlocked hillwalkers’ shelter was renovated by a group of Mountain Bothies Association activists. It gives good dry shelter and has a small stove. It’s the ideal place for lunch in inclement weather conditions.
Reverse the route and follow the track, with wide views up the Nith valley, back to scenic Durisdeer. From olden times this township is the setting for the tragic border ballad, Jock o’Braidislee. No trip to Durisdeer would be complete without a visit to Durisdeer church and the famous Queensberry Marbles.
The old churchyard is the resting place of several prominent Covenanters and they are remembered on a memorial stone. The Queensberry family sometimes supported the crown in their persecution of the Covenanters. Their crypt, to the rear of the church, is topped with an elegant display of white carved marble. This is open to the public, and well worth a look.
Relevant map OS Landranger no. 78. Distance: 3.25 miles. Ascent: 650 feet.