Wauk Hill (Maxwelton Braes and the Keir Hills)

300 years ago, the Jacobite swordsman, William Douglas of Fingland wrote that,”Maxwelton Braes are bonnie.” This nevertheless is just as true today and this route begins on Maxwelton’s still bonnie braes. This moderate hill walk starts from the A702 road on the Moniaive side of the Clone brae. There are several parking spaces on this section of road but the one at grid reference 823 905 is probably the most spacious and convenient.

A climb in a northeasterly direction, by the edge of two small rectangular woodlands, leads over a style onto the shoulder of Maxwelton Hill. Kirkland, Upper Glencairn, Tynron and Shinnel dominate the foreground view as you climb. The Lowthers, Carsphairn and Galloway hills are in the far distance.

A steady climb to the east brings the walker to the summit of Wauk Hill. This is the highest of the Keir Hills and the panoramic views over Mid-Nithsdale are extensive. Moniaive, Keir, Penpont, Thornhill and Closeburn are incorporated in the wide vistas from this 357-metre top. The Nith valley and Lowther Hills dominate to the east. To the south, Criffel and the hills of Lakeland are prominent. This is a grand wee hill with a good all round view.

From Wauk Hill, a 1 kilometre stroll to the southeast leads to a historic gathering place. The view to the south is dominated by the nearby Mull and its large television mast but here a Covenanters’ preaching stone reminds the rambler of more ancient times of holy persecution. It was here that secret services, known as conventicles, were held during this era of religious intolerance.

Return along the same route to keep the expansive views and away from boggier ground. The Ordnance Survey map for this walk is Landranger 78, Nithsdale and Annandale. There are approximately 4 miles of walking and 1,000 feet of ascent on this route.

Dave McFadzean