A book of walks in Kirkmahoe with information about our parish through the year and through time, illustrated with colour photographs and hand-drawn maps.
Looking across Kirkmahoe from Quarry Road ii
Important Information The country code Please enjoy Scotland’s outdoors responsibly: Take responsibility for your own actions Respect the interests of other people Care for the environment Know the code before you go https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot Maps Each walk has a simplified map attached. This area is covered by OS Explorer Map number 321. Clothing Although many of the walks are on tracks and roads we suggest you wear sturdy boots or shoes with good grip and ankle support along with thick socks. Underfoot conditions may vary depending on the weather, a solid path may become muddy and slippery in wet weather so be prepared. Weather conditions can change unexpectedly. Please make sure you have appropriate clothing, including a rain jacket. Children All the walks are suitable for families. Our local primary school uses some of them for nature rambles. Dogs Please keep dogs on leads especially where livestock are grazing. Please follow the stick and flick principle in the countryside (flick the faeces into the undergrowth off paths) and pick up after your dog in the villages. Please don’t bag it and leave the bag behind. Refreshments There are no shops or cafés in Kirkmahoe, so please bring your own supplies. The nearest shops are at Heathhall and Locharbriggs. Farm animals This area is a sheep and cattle farming area so please ensure you close all gates behind you. Beware of crossing fields where there are bulls or cows with calves. Shooting Please be aware that this area has some pheasant shooting estates. Look out for shooting parties on the higher ground. Public Transport The 236 Bus travels between Dumfries and Thornhill and stops in Kirkton, Duncow and Dalswinton. iii
Acknowledgements Discover Kirkmahoe would like to thank the following for their support in the production of the original four walk leaflets, and this book of walks in the parish of Kirkmahoe. • Kirkmahoe Community Council, Dalswinton Wind Farm, Paths For All, and Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company for their generous funding • Morag and John Williams for their help with the history of the parish • Richard and Barbara Mearns for their enchanting wildlife narrative • Mrs Maybeth Young of Glenbrae for her help with the history of housing in the parish • Jean Muir for her fascinating plantlife information • Jackie Bodle for identifying some of the Dalswinton walks • Robert Anderson, for many years our local postman, for his photos of the area • Solway Print for their professional support in the layout and publication of the original leaflets and this book • Ross Gemmell and the paths maintenance personnel of the Dumfries and Galloway Council Countryside Access Team • Solway Spirits for their help with fundraising • Peter and Sarah Landale, and Andrew and John Duncan for their support in upgrading paths, and the content of the original leaflets, and Helen Harkness of Netherhall Farm. • Andrew Nicholson Dumfries and Galloway Council archaeologist and Siobhan Ratchford of Dumfries museum for their local heritage information • Mark Pollitt for his local wildlife knowledge • Dumfries Tourist Information office, and other local groups who have helped with the distribution of our walking leaflets • The community of Kirkmahoe, and the many friends and neighbours who have supported our activities within the parish Discover Kirkmahoe would like to offer special thanks to Connie and Dobie Davidson. Between them they provided a rich gift of detailed knowledge of Kirkmahoe parish, its inhabitants, history, and walking routes, without which the leaflets and this book would be much poorer. iv
Introduction As you read and use this little book, we hope you will enjoy Discovering Kirkmahoe. Although only a few miles from the largest town in the region, Dumfries, we are a very rural community. Our area is fortunate to have beautiful scenery, a long and interesting history, an abundance of wildlife and very friendly people. This book contains four main walks, all achieveable within a couple of hours, and a variety of added routes, some of which can be used to extend or even join up the main walks. These walks will allow you to experience a number of different environments, from the villages of Kirkton and Dalswinton to the uplands to the north of the parish and the banks of the River Nith. In these pages, you will also find information about many aspects of our parish, all written by people who enjoy living here. For more information about Kirkmahoe, including links to bus timetables, please look at our website: http://www.kirkmahoe. com/ You will find links to the Access Code, Canmore maps and weather forecasting on our Walks page. We have a facebook page (Discover Kirkmahoe). If you want to share pictures of your walks with us, please put them on our page. You can find out about the wider area at https://www.visitscotland.com/
Dalswinton Loch vi
Walk to Carnsalloch or Kirkton from Dalscone Signigicant times in Kirkmahoe History
1 8 10
A nature ramble to the Nith
A short walk to Lanrick Hall
Map of Kirkmahoe Parish
To Riddingwood and Auchencairn
Wildlife through the seasons
Two walks into the Hills: Dalswinton Moor
Country walks around Duncow and Newlands Plantlife through the seasons
Walk from Duncow/Quarrelwood to Duncow Common
Routes with this symbol go through cattle rearing fields. The landowners ask that they are not walked between June and October. These are the four original Discover Kirkmahoe walks and the descriptions contain additional information about what you will see on your walk. vii
MEDIEVAL GOLD RING WITH AGATE GEMS Found at Wellington Crescent
ROMAN DOUBLE DISC BROOCH Found in a Roman rubbish tip outside the fort at Carzield
MEDIEVAL WOODEN CONTAINER Found near Kirkton Church
LATE BRONZE AGE SOCKETED AXE Found at Wellington Crescent, Kirkton. viii
Around Kirkton A gentle low-level walk to introduce the walker to the history and archaeology of Kirkton village and its surrounding area. Mainly quiet country tarmac roads, a short stretch on a C class road and an uneven grassy path across a field. Can be muddy after rain. Kissing gates provide access.
2.5 miles/4km Allow 1.5 hours
DG1 1ST Grid Ref NX975815
This walk starts in the centre of Kirkton. The layout of the village is that of a typical medieval village. The original cottages would all have been single storey and thatched. Many were altered and improved during the 19th century after the tax on Welsh slate was abolished. The use of slate which is lighter than thatch allowed an additional storey to be added. 1
From the centre of the village, walk for a few yards to the church which was built between 1822 and 1823 to replace a much older, simpler church dedicated to St Quintin. The church was designed by Walter Newall. While building work was being carried out, the buried body of a warrior with a spear was found but it disintegrated when exposed to the air. 2
Once in the churchyard, look for Mary Lindsay's grave with its very interesting inscription. This is located on the south side of the graveyard between the church and the village. 2
Leaving the Church, head back towards the Village Hall. On the opposite side of the road are Weighbridge Cottages. Outside them is the plate of the old weighbridge which dates to 1867. You can clearly see the wear caused by metal rimmed cartwheels. Turn left at the Weighbridge. On the small green, beside the bench, is the old water pump. At one time this was the only source of water in the village. One of the two storey houses
which overlooks this has a fire insurance badge on the wall above the door.
As you walk east along Barrasgate, you pass houses which were built by the County Council in the 1960s to replace older, traditional cottages. On your right, just before you reach the concrete bridge over the Barrasburn, was the site of Kirkton School. This was closed in the 1890s and the stone used to build the village hall. To your left was the site of the village smithy. Continue along the road which turns sharp left at Shawend and passes Crawfordhall. As it nears its end at a T- junction, the road is called 'The Nick'. It is in a deep cutting and this may be where the name comes from, though some think it is a reference to devilish activities in the area. 4
When you reach the junction with Quarry Road, stop and look over the road and to your right. This area was once a hive of activity. The old Ballochmyle Brick Works and Paterson's Quarry once employed many of the men in the parish.
Now, turn left along Quarry Road. After a few metres you will pass St Blane's Cemetery. This is named after the ancient St Blane's Chapel which was sited in what is now the quarry.
Take the next road to the left and walk west. Looking south, on a clear day, there are wonderful views to Criffel and the mountains of Cumbria. After a few minutes, you will pass the disused Free Church on your left. It replaced a Cameronian Chapel at Quarrelwood and was used as a church from 1845 until between the wars, when the Free Church once again united with the Parish Church. At the end of the road, turn right. This road can be quite busy, so be careful. In a few yards take the first turning on your left. Once you have passed the long white cottage, look to your right to see the War Memorial which commemorates those who fell in WWI.
(If you wish to climb to the memorial, there is a signposted path a few yards further up the main road.) As you cross the bridge ahead, look down to your right. Two burns join here, the Lightwater and The Lake. The old wall to the right beyond the bridge is not aligned with the modern bridge and probably leads to the site of an older crossing point. A late prehistoric settlement was in the field to your left.
The next road to your right is known locally as the Booglie L o a n i n g because it is reputed to be haunted. Stop opposite this road end and look towards Kirkton Village. The field in front of you was the site of a Roman fort. Here were also a medieval tower house and a small village settlement which were shown on early Ordnance Survey maps, but nothing visible remains. 7
At the next junction (which follows the Roman roads through the fort) turn left. On your right is the Old Manse which was finished in 1799. The field in front of the Manse was the site of the civilian settlement in Roman times. Carry on along this road for a few hundred yards. To your left across the fields is a good view of the church and village. Passing the first house on the left, cross the 19th century Wellington Bridge which was built by the local community as a memorial after the Battle of Waterloo.
You now have a choice of routes: Option 1: Shortly after the bridge, go through the gate on your left and follow the raised path which was once the bank of the millrace (and may be muddy) towards the village. Go through the gate at the end of the path into the playpark. This route continues over the page.
Option 2: Follow the road about a quarter of a mile to the junction with the main road where you turn left and continue into the village to finish the walk. 5
Walk up into the village keeping the two storey 'Cruden' houses, originally built for agricultural workers after the war, on your right. Ahead is the narrow and well used Qua footpath, which some think may be the last remnant of the medieval road into Kirkton from Dumfries. Travellers would have used it to cross the marshy ground shown on the first Ordnance Survey maps while on their way to the mill at Milnhead and to the track which followed the river northwards. A 16th century gold ring, set with a large stone, was found near here. The path leads up past the Village Hall, which was built in 1903, and back to the centre of the village. 6
Clonfeckle Tower 7
Walk to Carnsalloch or Kirkton from Dalscone A gentle low-level walk near the Nith to bring the walker into Kirkmahoe from the Dumfries area along Core Path 90. Mainly grassy paths across raised levees. Parts can be muddy after rain. Kissing gates provide access. One very short climb over levee if going to Kirkton, one small stile on Carnsalloch route. DG1 1SF Grid Ref NX983782
To Carnsalloch 2 miles / 3km To Kirkton 2.5 miles/4km Allow 1.5 - 2 hours
Leave Dalscone following the signed path, with Dalscone Fun Farm on your left. After about 200 metres at a gate, there is a signpost directing you to Core Path 90. The track bears to the right and goes along the top of the banking. Walk for about a mile, going through one gate, with lovely views of Kirkmahoe ahead and to the right. When you reach another gate, near Carnsalloch House, you have a choice of routes. (a) go straight ahead through this gate and after a hundred yards or so, climb over the stile and go through the next gate on your right into the Carnsalloch estate. The track skirts round the burnt out shell of the once grand Palladian mansion and joins with the main driveway which takes you to the main road, 8
passing the wonderful but ruinous stable block. (b) follow the fence downhill for a few yards and go through a gate into the field on your right. A few yards ahead, on your left is a bridge which crosses the burn. As soon as you have crossed the burn, go through the metal gate on your right and climb over the banking. Immediately turn right at the bottom. Walk beside the banking for about 350 yards until you reach a series of field gates. Turn right through the gates to walk beside the burn. Follow this path, for about half a mile until you reach the road. Turn right to cross the bridge, then immediately go through the field gate on your left and follow the path into Kirkton.
Significant times in Kirkmahoe History The Third Statistical Account for Dumfriesshire was written by the late Walter Duncan of Newlands, who described Kirkmahoe as being “shaped like an irregular pear or kite with the narrow end pointing south towards the town of Dumfries. It is seven and a half miles long and its greatest breadth is five and a half miles. From the fertile land lying along the left bank (looking south downriver) of the river Nith, known in former days as the corn kist or granary of Nith, the land rises in billowy undulations with a west and south-west exposure to lonely moors, which form the southern outliers of the Queensberry hills.” The CANMORE National Record of the Historic Environment has over 200 entries listed for the parish. There are many sites which show evidence of habitation up to 6000 years ago. During the Bronze Age, the weather was probably warmer The old pulpit in the Cameronian Chapel and the main centres of population at Quarrelwood would have been on the moorland which today is rather inhospitable. The large number of field-clearance cairns found on the moors is evidence that crops were once grown there. A small beaker-like vessel and many human bones were discovered in one of a number of cremation cemeteries on Whitestanes Moor during excavations in 1962. A number of standing stones have disappeared since Victorian times, and there were stone circles at Newlands, Burntscarth Green Farm and Foregirth Farm. Kirkmahoe has a number of Iron Age forts. The most impressive is Mullach which lies above Dalswinton. Others include Castlehill, near Duncow and The Belt, also near Dalswinton. It is likely that these were used mainly as gathering places and that the population lived on the lower lying ground most of the time. As the River Nith meandered southwards, it would have provided good fishing, and the rich alluvial soil would have been ideal for growing crops. At this time, the landscape would probably have been one of small islands in a wide, frequently-flooded valley. A dugout log-boat was found close to Kirkmahoe Church, near the burn known as ‘The Lake’. 10
There is much evidence of Roman activity in Kirkmahoe, as it lay on the junction of the north/south and east/west Roman roads in this part of south west Scotland. Numerous marching camps can be detected, in particular at Gallaberry and beside the Nith at Dalswinton. The two successive forts at Dalswinton predate the building of Hadrian’s Wall. The second fort was of a size to accommodate a large mobile force and it is speculated that this force was intended to prevent attacks on those building Hadrian’s Wall c.122 AD. Following the abandonment of Dalswinton fort, a smaller cavalry fort at Carzield which had two periods of occupation between 140 AD and around 200 AD was built. Two Roman Signal Stations have also been identified, one near Carnsalloch and the other at Butterhole Brae, Dalswinton.
ROMAN SEAL BOX Found at Carzield Roman Fort
ROMAN FIGURINE OF CUPID This bronze figurine was found in the remains of the armourer’s furnace at Carzield Fort. 11
Modern written history of Kirkmahoe begins when, on 10th February 1306 John Comyn, rode from his castle at Dalswinton and met Robert the Bruce at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. They were bitter rivals for the Scottish crown and although their swords had been left outside the church, a fight broke out in front of the high altar and John Comyn ended up dead. St Mungo was also known as St Kentigern. There was strong rivalry between the Celtic and Roman forms of Christianity. At the feudalisation of church and state under King David 1(1124-1153), Roman St Quentin replaced Celtic St Kentigern as patron of the one parish church in Kirkmahoe and the new parish church was put under the patronage of the barons of Dalswinton. During medieval times when Dalswinton Castle was abandoned it was replaced by a tower house on the low ground below the old castle. Tower houses were also built at Carzield and possibly Templand Hill/ Carnsalloch and Duncow which was probably the largest settlement in the parish at this time. Covenanters are known to have held conventicles in Kirkmahoe. The most important location for these was on Shaws Moor above Dalswinton. Braehead farm is known to have been used as a refuge for prominent covenanters hiding from pursuing Government Dragoons. The Agricultural Revolution took place between approximately 1760 and 1830. Patrick Miller, an Edinburgh banker, who bought Dalswinton estate in 1785, spear-headed improvements in Kirkmahoe. He demolished the remains of the old castle and built Dalswinton House on the site. Dalswinton Village was built to house estate workers, a number of whom had been displaced by the enclosing of land, although Miller was a benevolent laird. At this time, many of the farmhouses were rebuilt in local sandstone, and fields were divided by stone walls and hedges. Drainage and new crops were introduced and yields improved. The Lowland Clearances had a considerable effect on the population, sometimes more serious than the much-publicised Highland Clearances. Many families lost their toe-hold on the land as new estates were developed, causing them to emigrate, mainly to Canada and Australia. Miller had an obsession with naval architecture and his natural inventiveness led him into experimenting with the mechanical propulsion of vessels. His first efforts involved hand-cranked paddles. The next challenge was to develop a steamboat and to this end he collaborated with the mining engineer William Symington. On 14 October 1788 their pioneering 25-foot-long, double-hull steamboat (claimed to be Britain’s first) was successfully trialled on Dalswinton Loch. It reached a speed of five miles per hour. In the same period, the estate of Carnsalloch grew and the Palladian Mansion was built. A new church was established in Kirkton in 1823. Metalled roads replaced the tracks which largely still followed the lines of the old Roman roads as did the main road through the parish which became the coaching route from Dumfries to Glasgow. In the latter 19th century, private estates were established at Newlands and Duncow. 12
Patrick Miller’s Steamboat The Education Act of 1872 made attendance at school compulsory. Several existing religious and private schools in the parish closed. The stone from the private school in Kirkton was used to build Kirkton Village Hall and a new school was built in the village of Duncow. The school at Dalswinton operated until 1963. The most significant change in the parish since the turn of the end of World War II was the building of homes. In Kirkton at the south end it began with prefabricated houses in 1947, followed soon afterwards by two-storey, steel houses for agricultural workers. Further development took place in Barrasgate in 1964. All but one of the ‘prefabs’ were demolished in the 1980s and replaced by single storey and two storey housing in Kirkton Village. There were other pockets of development at Dalswinton in 1952 and in Auchencairn. Despite being so close to Dumfries, Kirkmahoe remains essentially a rural parish. The population is now only about half of what it was at its peak in the early 1800s. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the area there are numerous sources available: the three Statistical Accounts of Scotland for Dumfriesshire, CANMORE, and The Transactions of Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (DGNHAS) are all available to view and read online. You can also consult the reference section of the Ewart Library in Dumfries.
A nature ramble to the Nith A gentle low-level walk to introduce the walker to the flora and fauna found near the River Nith in Kirkmahoe. Option of a shorter walk is available. Mostly wide, rough, grass paths. Can be muddy after rain. Short stretches along the river are fairly narrow and sloping. Kissing and field gates provide access. There are two high steps on the route along the river. DG1 1ST Grid Ref NX975815
4.5 miles/7km Allow 2.5 hours
The Nith rises in Ayrshire and flows generally southwards through Nithsdale to the Solway Estuary. It is popular with fishermen who catch greyback salmon, grayling, sea and brown trout. The height and flow of the river varies greatly depending on time of year and weather. Adjacent land often floods. This walk follows the levees which were built in the 19th century to protect the fields. 14
Park in the centre of Kirkton Village and follow the path along the right hand side of the Village Hall. At the end of this, keeping the houses on your left, walk towards a gate behind the pumping station. Go through the gate and turn left, walking along the raised path and keeping the burn on your right. At the end of the track go through another gate and turn right. Walk over the bridge for a few yards and then go through the gate on the left. 15
Follow the burn downstream. The large oak and beech trees on the other side of the burn are a favourite haunt of Wood Pigeons and Nuthatches, and various tits may be seen foraging in the dense stand of Aspen by the burn. Scan the channel for Kingfishers, usually seen as a small blue flash heading away from you, and keep an eye out for Otters which you may be lucky enough to see, especially in the early morning or late evening. Pass through three more metal kissing gates keeping an eye on the fields to your right. Linnets feed here in the winter. Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings can be seen all year round, though what can be seen changes from season to season and year to year according to the crop rotation. Follow the path, keeping the burn on your left, until you come to a metal field gate with two kissing gates together.
Go through only the first gate and immediately turn right northwards along the bank. This takes you past several pools on your left where Grey Herons can often be seen hunting in the shallows, and one pool sometimes has a nesting pair of Mute Swans. These pools are remnants of an old course of the River. In spring the arable fields on the right hold some of the last remaining Lapwings to nest in the parish. In winter Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese from Iceland graze in the fields. At any time of year, Brown Hares may rise up before you and race through the fields on either side of the bank. Follow the bank northwards, through more kissing gates and two metal field gates across a path. When the bank gets close to the River Nith, you will see bank strengthening works carried out over fifty years ago. The wall is constructed of concrete bollards from the WWII Tinwald Downs Airfield. At this point, there are gates at either side of a farm track to the river. Go through the first and walk towards the river and perhaps have a rest sitting on the wall. If you look carefully, you can still see where Mr McPhail, a local farmer who constructed it, wrote his name and the date in the wet concrete. While you are here, scan the water and shingle in spring for Goosanders, Oystercatchers and Common Sandpipers. Walk back to the track and go through the next metal gate. Continue along the bank for several hundred metres crossing yet another path with two gates. Take care of the drop at the gates.
If you want to take the shorter green route, turn right at the waymarked path through a kissing gate to the right and follow waymarkers back to the road. To continue following the red route, walk straight ahead on the raised path, keeping a look out for deer which graze in the fields here. Eventually the track widens as you come to a mixed plantation of oaks, birches and conifers where Buzzards are often the most conspicuous birds. On fine days, this part of the walk can provide the best opportunity to see butterflies: Orange-tips in spring, Ringlets, Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks in the summer. Follow the bank, ignoring the farm track to the left until the track crosses another. Turn left here and walk a few metres to the river. Depending on the time of year, you may see salmon jumping. If the water level is low enough, there is a large shingle beach which provides a wealth of flat stones for skimming. Return to where the tracks cross and go straight ahead, along a
broad ride. Follow the track for a few hundred yards as it veers to the right until you come to another metal kissing gate. There are Cinnabar Moths and common spotted orchids in this area. In the summer, you may find wild raspberries to eat. 17
At the tarred road, carry straight on towards Kirkton. The hedges on this long straight stretch usually hold a few pairs of Yellowhammers in spring and you may see Tree Sparrows and House Sparrows at any time of year. When you get to the T junction after about half a mile, turn right. In Spring this is the place to find Nuthatches, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps, always easiest to see before the leaves are fully out. Follow the road as it turns left. At any time of year, it is worth stopping here and listening to the birdsong. Continue to walk towards Kirkton. Just after the stone bridge, go through the gate on your left to retrace your steps back to the village. 6
A short walk to Lanrick Hall A gentle walk along an old farm track to open moorland. A linear walk, mainly on farm track which can be uneven underfoot and muddy after rain.
Jun - Oct
1.75 miles return Allow 1 hour
DG1 1RE Grid Ref NX985849
It is possible to park near the start of the track, but there is also space for cars in the laybys between Riddingwood House and Netherhall. This is a short, fairly level, easy stroll, providing you have appropriate footwear. It can be very muddy at times! Lanrick Hall, commonly known in the 19th century as Lanarkhall, was a busy farm. The 1851 census shows nine people living there in three separate households. They included a cattle dealer, a shepherd and a farm labourer. Leaving f r o m the other side of the road from Netherhall Farm, follow the track north. The first hundred yards or so can be rather squelchy underfoot, especially following wet weather. After about 500 yards, you will see a line of trees heading away from the left (west) side of the track. This is Tomsland Cleuch, a steep valley on the Parkburn which flows south, becoming the Eastern boundary of the parish of Kirkmahoe. Continue to follow the track, taking in open views towards Gledenholm Moor and the 20
Forest of Ae, until you see the ruins of Lanrick Hall in front of you. Continue as the metalled track deteriorates. Go through the gate and you will find yourself approaching the house through the fields. To the right of the house is a clump of trees which appears to have been a garden at one time. Allow yourself time to look around and imagine this place as a working farm and enjoy your surroundings. In the Bronze Age, this area was well populated. There is evidence of earthwork banks and ditches and possible roundhouses. Enclosure banks to the east and south-east of Lanrick Hall are shown on old maps. As you return to the start along the same route, some beautiful views open up towards Dumfries. On a good day, you may get views right across the Solway to the Cumbrian mountains. The ancient hedges which line the track contain a variety of native plants.
MAP OF KIRKMAHOE PARISH
A walk from Kirkton to Riddingwood and Auchencairn A walk on quiet country roads north of Kirkton. There are no gates or stiles on this route. It is suitable for mobility scooters and cyclists. There are some gentle but sustained uphill and downhill gradients. DG1 1ST Grid Ref NX975815
Riddingwood Loop 5miles / 8 km Allow 2 hours Auchencairn Loop 6.5 miles / 10.5 km Allow 3 hours
It is possible to add the short walk to Lanrick Hall on page 20 to this route. This walk starts from the old pump in the centre of Kirkton village. With your back to the village hall, head off downhill on the road (Barrasgate) which leads to Locharbriggs. After about 500 yards the road turns sharply to the left at Shawend farm, and then winds uphill past Crawfordhall farmstead on the left hand side. As you go over the top of the hill known locally as “The Nick” take a left hand turn towards St Blanes cemetery. The view over to the right is towards Tinwald and Amisfield. At the fork in the road beyond the cemetery follow the road to the right. Follow this road for about a mile to the crossroads at Riddingwood House lodge. Looking behind, you will see Criffel off to the south, and the hills of Terregles to the south east. 24
You now have a choice of routes: Option 1 At the crossroads turn left, and head on about three quarters of a mile towards the old windmill stump. Turn sharp left at the windmill stump onto a narrower road and walk on past Broomdykes farm for another three quarters of a mile. At the junction turn right, rejoining the road just below Riddingwood, walking back to Kirkton village. Your route will lead you again past St Blanes cemetery, after which you should take a right hand turn over “The Nick” and down into the village. Option 2 - extended walk through Auchencairn At the crossroads at Riddingwood House lodge walk straight ahead, onto the road which would lead eventually to Ae Village. Passing Netherhall farm after about three quarters of a mile turn left up a short rise and travel on towards the small hamlet of Auchencairn. Follow the road on through Auchencairn, for about one and a quarter miles. This road turns to the left at the end of the village and takes you to the old windmill stump. Cross over and follow the narrower road past Broomdykes farm. At the next junction turn right and follow the road back to Kirkton village.
Wildlife through the Seasons While you are enjoying the countryside in Kirkmahoe, Look around you and listen carefully. There are interesting things to see and hear all year round.
March – May Watch for hares chasing and boxing in the fields. In damp fields, when pink ladies’ smock is in bloom, you can see orange-tip butterflies laying their eggs on the biggest flower heads. Why not keep track of your first dates for summer migrants? Chiffchaffs call their names from tree tops, from late March; listen for the sweet descants of willow warblers, and twittering of swallows, from the beginning of April. Where there are still wild tangles of vegetation, rough corners and thick hedges, enjoy the increasingly rare ‘little bit of bread and no chee-eeese’ song of yellowhammers. Orange-tip on bluebell
June-August On Dalswinton Loch, greylag and canada geese will have goslings. This is one of the best lochs in Dumfries & Galloway for moorhens, all year round. During July and August, recently fledged buzzards mew noisily overhead. Look out for red kites around Duncow and Newlands. When brambles begin to ripen, enjoy the melancholy song of male and female robins, which have been silent while moulting.
Greylag goose on her nest at Dalswinton Loch 27
September-November From mid-September, listen for skeins of pink-footed geese, migrating down the Nith Valley after breeding in Iceland. During October, flocks of thrushes pour in from Scandinavia. Look for these redwings and fieldfares raiding rowans and hawthorns for berries. Notice the heavy scent of ivy flowers, an important source of late nectar for moths and hoverflies, and for red admirals and small tortoiseshells as they get ready to hibernate. Jays are usually furtive, but in October they suddenly become conspicuous, flapping from wood to wood as they gather their winter supply of acorns. Red admirals on ivy
December-February From Christmas onwards, listen for the drumming of great spotted woodpeckers on dead branches. The sound carries a long way on calm days. On sunny days, skylarks will sing above rough pasture. Rooks are already building, carrying long twigs to their nests. Now is the time to see flocks of whooper swans (with yellow bills) mixed with resident mute swans in fields near the Nith. Rook in snow
What, Where, When, Who If you would like to send in sightings from your walks, please note what you saw, where you saw it, when you saw it and who saw it. Records can be submitted through the online recording form at https://swseic.org.uk/ and to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.kirkmahoe.com 29
Discover Dalswinton A gentle low-level walk to introduce the walker to Dalswinton Estate with views across the surrounding area and beyond to Cumbria. Option of a shorter walk is available. Mainly quiet country tarmac roads, short stretch on C class road and uneven hardcore through woods. There are two stretches of long slopes during the walk.
3.5 miles/5.7km Allow 2 hours
DG1 1TD Grid Ref NX950844
The Barony of Dalswinton has remained unaltered since medieval times, with a castle at Dalswinton since 1244. The Cumins of Badenoch, rivals of the Bruce family for the Scottish crown, held the estate in the 13th century. It was from Dalswinton that the Red Comyn travelled to his death in Greyfriars church in 1306 at the hands of Robert the Bruce. Cars can be parked in the wide road entrance on the right hand side of the road, between the Bridge at Boghead Cottages and the main gates to Dalswinton estate. The main route for this walk is shown in red, but optional routes are shown in a broken red line. You may find some surprise features on your walk. 30
KEY: Main Walk - Solid Red Optional Walks - Broken Red
Go between the handsome twin gatehouses on the left hand side of the road to enter the main driveway towards Dalswinton House. After a short distance you will see the last r u i n e d remains of the original Dalswinton House on your left. A circular stair turret and cellar are all that remain of the early 17th century house. It is worth a short detour to take a better look at the tower. 1
As you approach the gateposts to Dalswinton House turn right and follow the road, with the loch on your right, towards the stable block. Dalswinton House sits high on your left at this point, on the same site as the original 13th century castle of the Comyns. Patrick Miller, the wealthy Glasgow born merchant banker and friend of the poet Robert Burns purchased the estate in 1785, and cleared the site of the old castle to make way for his new mansion. If you wish, you can walk round the loch. In October 1788 the first steam powered paddleboat was launched on this loch, and Robert Burns is said to have been present on this memorable occasion. Patrick Miller was an inventor and promoter of steam navigation in the 18th Century, and a life size replica of the boat sits between the walled garden and the loch. In addition to steam navigation, he was a pioneer in new methods of farming, and introduced iron ploughs, threshing machines, turnips, and the use of bone manure. 2
Follow the road on past the stable block (Dalswinton Mains), and at the bottom of the hill turn right towards the white painted farmhouse of Bankfoot. Over to the left is a large red steel railway bridge that crosses the river Nith. At one time, the river Nith ran close by Bankfoot, and a pool near the old house of Dalswinton called Comyn’s pool belonged to the old watercourse. A large Roman fort was discovered in 1972, on the level floodplain of the Nith immediately after Bankfoot, and close to the site of the already known fort. 3
Follow the road on past Bankfoot and after a long straight stretch the road eventually leads uphill, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Keep left after Bankhead farm, and as the farm track turns right, look ahead over the fields.
This area was the site of two large Roman Cavalry forts, now only visible in aerial photographs as cropmarks. There are no surface indications of these sites, but finds from the excavations are on display in Dumfries Museum.
As you move towards the village the old school building is directly in front of you. Patrick Miller developed the village as part of Dalswinton estate after its acquisition in 1785. The village was originally intended to house 15 families, and the school, built at the same time, was supported financially by Patrick Miller. Although all the buildings are now residential, the village earlier also had a tailor, a village shop, and a smiddy. The old Dumfries and District Post Office Directory of 1911/12 is an interesting source of information about former Kirkmahoe residents. A variety of longer hill and moor walks lead up behind the school towards Mullach with its Iron Age fort, and Clonfeckle Tower. On a hillside near Mullach is an area still called the Hospital Wood, to which wounded covenanters were said to have been carried for safety and care. Nearby are large stones supposed to mark the graves of those who did not survive. 5
Turn right through the village, and at the end go through the gate on the right hand side to follow the footpath through the Church Wood. The footpath will lead you past the small red painted Barony church. This pretty little church was built in 1881, and was referred to as a chapel of ease, as it was not the official parish church. It is a good example of a prefabricated ecclesiastical building made from corrugated galvanized iron. These were often referred to as tin tabernacles. The church has an interior fully lined in pine, with some stained glass windows, and is still in use today. A short footpath leads to the church if you want to want to look more closely at this little building. 6
When you reach the buildings at Douganstyle the main walk leads you left and out across the road to head uphill past Maryfield House. As you can see on the map however, you have an option here to follow the footpath through the woods to the walled garden and loch. On the m a i n w a l k , follow t h e narrow road past Maryfield House until you reach Dalswinton Mill. The mill is now a dwelling house, but the water wheel has been re-established. 7
Immediately after the mill turn right, and then shortly after, take the right fork towards Braehead cottages. Criffel can be seen clearly from this stretch of road. Pass between the two cottages to head downhill, passing Braehead farmhouse on the way. John Paton, a 19th century missionary to the New Hebrides islands in the South Pacific was born and lived here for some years. He spent many years working among cannibal groups, and translating hymn books and the New Testament into native languages. He retired to Queensland Australia, where he died in 1907 at the age of 82 Shortly after Braehead farmhouse turn left across a cattle grid, and go through the gate to follow the road back down to the parking area. 8
The cairn on Mullach
The road to Bankfoot 36
Two Walks into the Hills Dalswinton Moors and Mullach
The Dalswinton Moors A walk on a very quiet country road and tracks from Dalswinton Village. A circular walk through Pennyland Moor and Shaws Moor, mostly on metalled surfaces. Some short stretches may be muddy. There is one very small shallow ford.
Jun - Oct
Distance 6.5 miles / 10.5km Allow 3.5 hours
DG2 0XU Grid Ref NX934854
Park in Dalswinton Village. At the north end of the village is a minor road heading uphill between the old school and the school house. Walk up that road until you reach a fork and take the metalled track to the right. Continue walking up the road as it becomes less steep and forks to the left. Continue along the track to a stream. Cross this into Wildcat Glen. At the end of the glen, the track turns right and crosses the stream. The track then forks again. Take the right, uphill fork. Do not go through any gates here. As you reach the the top of the track go through the gate straight ahead but first look back down the glen at the view towards Criffel. As you proceed you will see the Dalswinton windfarm ahead to your right. Before you reach the very top of the track look back once more towards Criffel. In the distance you may be able to see the Cumbrian mountains across the Solway Firth. The track drops down towards the outbuildings of Pennyland farm. The farmhouse no longer exists. Continue along the track. Either go through the farm yard gates or to the left of the barn to rejoin the track which can be seen rising up towards the wind farm. Continue to follow the track across the shallow ford. A wooden fingerpost points the way up the hill path to Shaws. The track, which may be quite muddy, goes a few yards through a pine wood to a gate at the far end. Once you go through the gate, the track bears round to the left up the side of the wood. You will arrive at a gate with another finger post, pointing back towards Pennyland. Straight ahead you can see a low hill with a 38
distinctive clump of trees on top. It is known as The Watchman. Continue to follow the track as it bears right downhill. As you drop down towards Shaw’s Farm you may again be able to see the Solway and Cumbria straight ahead. On your left in the distance is the flat top of Burnswark. The hill on your right here is Wardlaw. It was a frequent meeting place for Covenanters. Keep following the windfarm road generally downhill. In half a mile or so you will see Clonfeckle Tower in the field to your left. As you pass the flighting pond there is a gate into this field. If you take a short detour you can follow the clear track to visit the unusual circular tower which was erected in 1810. Continue down the road, going through the double gates and following the road as it bears right. A few yards further on, do not take the road straight ahead through the gate but keep right, soon passing a house on your right and then, a short distance further on as the road winds its way downhill, another on the left. The windfarm road will be on your left as you walk towards the T junction, where you ignore the track to the left and keep right towards Dalswinton Mill. Go left past Dalswinton Mill and follow the road down to the junction with the main road. Cross the road and immediately turn left into the cottages at Douganstyle. Just after you pass the cottages, turn right along the path through the trees. Make your way along this path, passing behind Dalswinton Church until you reach the south end of Dalswinton village. Dalswinton Church is a red painted ‘tin tabernacle’ bought from a catalogue. Many similar churches were shipped out as kits to new settlements in America during the nineteenth century. It is worth taking a detour to admire it. 39
Mullach – an Iron Age fort with spectacular views A walk on very quiet country roads and tracks from Dalswinton Village. Although this route is straightforward, it is uphill almost all the way there and downhill almost all the way back. There are four farm gates to go through. DG2 0XU Grid Ref NX934854
Jun - Oct
Distance 3.5 miles / 5.5km Allow 2 hours
Please be aware that some parts of this walk go through areas which are occasionally used for pheasant shoots between September and January.
Park in Dalswinton Village. At the north end of the village is a minor road heading uphill between the old school and the school house. Walk up that road until you reach a fork. Take the left (rougher) track and again walk uphill. In the field on your left as you come round the bend you will see three ancient alder trees. These are shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps. The rise to your right here on the other side of the track is an Iron Age promontary fort, known as ‘The Belt’. Continue along the track and you will soon come to a T junction at Hightownhead Farm. Turn right and follow the track for a few hundred yards until you get to a place where there are field gates opposite each other. Ignore these, and in a few paces, on your left hand side at a right hand bend in the track, there is a gate leading into a field. Go through this gate and continue walking uphill through two more gates which are directly ahead. Once you are through both of these, head diagonally left towards the end of the line of trees over the brow where you will find another gate. Once through this, turn right and head up to the summit where you will find a cairn and some evidence of ramparts which show this to have been a substantial and important site. Once you have explored this site and admired the stunning views, return by the same route. 40
Country walks around Duncow and Newlands Estate Two gentle low-level walks to introduce the walker to Newlands Estate and the village of Duncow with views across the surrounding area and beyond to Cumbria. The walks can be combined to make one longer walk. Be aware of farm vehicles on the track. Mainly quiet, country roads with a short stretch on a C class road. Although there are no steep inclines both walks involve long slopes (1.5 miles). Two benches have been provided on 3.4 miles/5.5km these walks to allow rest breaks.
Allow 2 hours
DG1 1TA Grid Ref NX965834
Park in the King George V playing field or near the school. Please keep dogs on leads at all times on this walk. Be aware that newly calved cows, and bulls can be unpredictable and dangerous; do not enter fields where livestock is present. Keep safe and do not climb on unstable, derelict buildings. 41
Green Walk (Newlands) From the parking place pass the school, and once over the bridge take the next road on the left signposted amongst other places for Newlands and Whitehall. On the left is a small copse of trees, the DK copse, planted by local children in Spring 2015. Head uphill following the Duncow burn to the ruins of the old water mill. See page 46 for further details about the mill, marked on the map as 5.
Continuing uphill past Sunnybrae, take the right fork along the public road. At Sunnybrae, to the side of the gable end of the building, you will see “Child of Day in the Womb of Night” by well-known artist Cyril Wilson. He and his wife, fellow artist Jane Fyfe, converted Sunnybrae into their gallery in 1962.
The next house on the left is Carrickrigg. Shortly after passing it, take the left fork. About 200 metres along this road, opposite Leap House is the site of the Glencarrick Distillery, a folly and a waterfall. The distillery was founded in 1831 but was only in production for a few years.
Follow the road round past Whitehall over Newlands Linn towards Newlands on the left. Bought in 1891 by Walter Duncan, a Glasgow tea merchant, extensions including the addition of a castellated lookout tower to the red sandstone baronial house were completed in 1911. During the Second World War, Newlands House was used as a hospital for Norwegian soldiers who were relocated to Dumfries during the occupation of Norway. Walk straight ahead, through the sandstone gateposts and follow the road round to the right. Continue along this winding road past Longbank. The steepest part of the road is known as Neckbreak. There is a tale of an estate worker who was killed in an accident involving a runaway carriage in this area and it may well be that this is how this area got its name.
On the right you will pass Quarrelwood House which was built around 1798 as a Cameronian manse, with an attached octagonal chapel. Subsequently the chapel fell into disrepair but in 1969 was rebuilt to form a private library for the house. Beside the ruined walls there was an ‘efficiently run’ hand laundry. Parcels of clothing arrived each week to be washed, ironed and parcelled up again to be returned to their owners within a few days. A Mrs Seaton who was employed at the laundry worked there for 33 years with only one half day absence from her work. Behind Quarrelwood is the site of another prehistoric fort. If you look across to the left you will see a large oak tree surrounded by a range of grassy knolls. This geological feature, known as terminal moraine, provided a safe area where Covenanters held their meetings. As you follow the road round you can get different views of this meeting place. Look out for the horse watering trough built into the wall. The rough field in front of Quarrelwood was a fairly large township with several cottages and about 70 inhabitants. This township predated Quarrelwood.
Continue on down the road to the T junction. In the field on your right there is a 1 metre high burial mound/cairn which would originally been up to 4m high but has been destroyed by Victorian treasure hunters. In the past an old road called the King’s Road ran from Quarrelwood to Dalswinton. Before you turn left at the T junction and walk along the main road to the school, look across the road. Recently excavated prehistoric barrows in this area contained burials from about 1,000 BCE. In the 19th century the first house on your left was the Free Church School. As you look along the main road you will see the primary school where the walk started.
Red Walk (Duncow) Take the road signposted for Amisfield 1 past the primary school which dates from 1878 and serves the whole parish. The houses on the left are all that remain of Duncow Village. The first house on the left was the village shop. Follow the road over a little bridge and carry straight on this rising, winding road with the Duncow Estate on your right. Further on you will see the ruin of a late 17th century windmill on your left. Until the beginning of the 20th century the now wooded triangle of land on the right is where cattle and sheep could be rested before being taken down the drove road to Amisfield station and then on to Lockerbie market. The windmill stump on the left is some 30ft high and is built of sandstone rubble. There are two doors, one of which has been blocked up. At the road junction, the field to your right is known as The Gallas Moor (the 1855 map shows it as Gallows Moor) and is thought to be the site of the gallows used for public hangings. Take the junction on the left and, if there are no animals in the field or silage crop being grown, go through the first gate on the left if you want to visit the windmill. The building was used in Victorian times for drying sheepskins. In this field and in the field to the right of the road are Neolithic standing stones which line up with the Cursus monument at Gallaberry. Many of these stones are used by farmers as rubbing stones for their cattle. Return to the road. In the field opposite is another standing stone. In the woods is the site of an old plantation called Perie’s Chest or Peerie’s Kist. This name denotes a fairy ring, and It is likely that stones here were part of an ancient stone circle 44
Continue along this road. As the 2 road starts to climb, on your left is the site of an Iron Age fort at Castlehill. If you go through a gate to the left just beyond the two houses you can take a short detour to the site by following the track along the burn and going through the gap in the wall ahead. The site of the fort is the hill on your left. From the earthworks can be seen the sites of the forts at High Townhead, Mullach and others which allowed communication between forts over a vast area from Cumbria to Lanarkshire and probably much further afield. Return to the road and continue up the hill. After about a kilometre, 3 at Knowefoot Place, take the left turn signposted “Footpath to North Riddingwood”. This path takes you towards Auchenrath farm buildings. Bear right here and continue along the path swinging to the left further up the hill to the ruins of North Riddingwood. This part of the walk provides the walker with amazing panoramic views of the Solway and Cumbria. As you walk you will see many rounalls – walled areas of trees which are used to shelter the cattle and sheep in winter. Many of these have been extended to provide larger woodlands. Turn left and head downhill past Carrickrigg. 4 At Sunnybrae, to the side of the gable end of the building, you will see “Child of Day in the Womb of Night” by well-known artist Cyril Wilson. He and his wife, fellow artist Jane Fyfe, converted Sunnybrae into their gallery in 1962.
Slightly further down the road on the 5 right are the ruins of Duncow Mill. See below for information about the mill and a guide to the buildings which are still on the site. Continue down the hill, turning right at the junction and walking over the bridge again and past the old Smiddy to where you began the walk. There was a cottage on the hill behind the Smiddy where it is believed James V spent the night but the stone erected to mark this event disappeared many years ago.
Duncow Mill Apart from grain milling, this was also the site of a cotton mill and blanket factory in the past and provides an interesting insight into the life of the villagers. There were five main mill buildings here in the past and the 1861 map also shows several other buildings. Follow the sign for Mill Cottage and stand on the bridge to get the best view of the ruin on the right at the end of the bridge which was the carding mill for the blanket factory and wool mill. Carding is the process of cleaning, separating and straightening out the wool fibres. It is the last stage in the process which prepares fleece for spinning. In the area you will see teasels growing. These were used to card the fibres until more advanced tools were developed. The ivy covered structure which looks like an enormous tree is actually the chimney. On the wall of the building you can also see the metal ring used to tether horses. Bear right between the gate posts past the mill buildings where you can see the wear marks of the mill wheel on the rear elevation of the building on the left. From here you can see some of the other mill buildings one of which contains the remains of the axle and wheel. Carry on past the building up the hill past the Christmas tree plantation to where the path bears round to the right. There is a small stone building here to the side of which are tanks which were the filtration system for the water supply for Duncow House. Retrace your steps and go up to the mill pond. This is a mainly man made structure built to hold the water used to run the millwheels via a ditch and mill race to the burn. Return to the path by the trees and turn right at the gateposts and head slightly uphill. On the lintel of the building on your right as you walk up the hill is the date 1797 although it is faint and may be covered by ivy. Rejoin the walk. 46
Plantlife through the seasons Spring(Mar/Apr/May) Primroses
We all look forward Daffodils at the war to the appearance memorial of snowdrops and daffodils in the spring. They have all been introduced for their showy flowers which are a great source of nectar to early foraging bees.
The first native flowers to appear in the woods and hedgerows are primroses, celandines and coltsfoot. Other more delicate flowers are stitchworts, violets and wild strawberry and if you look closely you may find the tiny moschatel, or town hall clock. Later on bigger plants take over - cow parsley, red campion and, in May, bluebells, foxgloves and hawthorn blossom. Hedgerow plants which are less usual in this area are greater celandine and white dead nettle. Wild garlic and red campion
Summer (June/Jul/Aug) White flowers like hogweed and meadowsweet give way to yellow and then purple as the summer progresses. Don’t dismiss dandelion like plants - look closely - hawksbit, catsear, goats beard etc are often very elegant. They bloom along with knapweed and thistles; and heathers should be blooming around the wind turbines in August. Along the flood banks and amongst the wet woodland the invasive and showy himalayan balsam has become a problem. There is a national programme of eradication as, although it is attractive to bees, it crowds out all other plants, reducing the diversity where it takes hold. Hawksbit
Autumn (Sept/Oct/Nov) The time of mellow fruitfulness when small trees and shrubs come into their own and late summer flowers are turning to seed. Depending on the summer we have had, elder and rowan are the first wild fruits, together with brambles. There are good patches of spiny blackthorn which produce sloes – an exceedingly sour fruit and if you are very lucky you might come across a wild crab apple. As the leaves turn and fall large areas of hawthorn take on a crimson hue if there is a good crop of haws and the beech woods shine in the sunlight. In the low sunlight the tree colours can be truly stunning. Autumn colour in Kirkmahoe
Winter (Dec/Jan/Feb) In winter the trees take on more prominence in the landscape. Before people began farming, about 5000 years ago, the land was covered by forest and, if farming ceased the trees would again take over. By the eighteenth century most of them had gone but enclosure led to hedgerows and woods being planted, so now we have a semi wooded landscape but there are very few trees older than 200 years. The oldest are probably yew trees at Dalswinton and near other old houses. Even in winter you can identify trees by their bark and buds, a plant guide is very helpful. Oak, ash and wych elm were the main trees in the wildwood, sycamore was probably introduced by the Romans; and beech in the 18th century. Elm is rare now but there are some growing along the roadside at Carzield. Evergreens such as holly and ivy become obvious and are very important food plants for insects and birds at this time. Alders in wetter places can be identified by their tiny cones.
The barks of some our common trees trees The barks of some ofofour common 50
Walk from Duncow/Quarrelwood to Duncow Common A linear walk into low hills with spectacular panoramic views of lower Nithsdale. Initially walking on level roads and tracks, then through grassy fields and along an agricultural track. Parts can be muddy after rain. Unlocked field gates provide access. Some moderate gradients. DG1 1TA Grid Ref NX 965833
Jun - Oct From Duncow to Longbank, Smithtown and Quarrelwood turn 0.5 miles / 0.8km From Longbank, Smithtown and Quarrelwood turn to destination 1.25 miles / 2km Total return walk 3.5 miles /5.6km Allow 1.5 – 2 hours
This walk is the last in our book and encourages you to be a little more adventurous. It requires a bit more effort than most of our other walks, but is very worthwhile as it presents some particularly attractive scenery and stunning views. There are several streams and springs across the route so some areas can be a little wet or muddy underfoot. Sensible waterproof footwear recommended. Because parking can be difficult near Quarrelwood, this walk starts from Duncow school, where you will be able to park either on the road beside the school playground, or in the park across from the school. There is an entrance to the park at the corner gates beside the main road. Head along the main road from the school for about 700 yards, and turn right into the road signposted for Longbank, Smithtown and Quarrelwood. As you approach Quarrelwood, at a right hand bend in the road, turn left into the track leading to Smithtown farm. Follow the farm track and turn right immediately before the farm gate. This short lane will lead you through another gate and into a field.
Start climbing diagonally across the field, towards the top of the hill, which is the site of an Iron Age hill fort, remembering to turn regularly to enjoy the panoramic view that will open up very quickly as you climb. You will be looking across the broad valley of the river Nith, taking in what is surely one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery in south west Scotland - from the imposing outline of Criffel in the southeast to the layers of distant hills in the southwest of Dumfriesshire. Carry on over the top of the hill and you will see a gate in the left hand wall of the field. Once through the gate follow the wall along the right hand side, and you will find another gate on that side. As you pass through the gate you will notice Newlands House sitting among the trees ahead of you. Travelling downhill, move diagonally left across the field to find a gate near the bottom of the left hand wall. Passing through that gate stay close to the wall on the right hand side as the ground can be wetter and muddier further from the wall and travel along to the next gate. Once through the gate, go straight ahead and turn left as you reach the top of a small ridge. Follow this ridge for a little distance and it will dip towards a gate in the wall beside the ruined building of Woodfoot. Follow the path as it winds uphill. This area can be wet underfoot, with spring water also trickling through farm tracks. It can be easier sometimes to avoid the rutted tracks and to find your own path uphill across dry bracken or less wet sections of the hillside. As you travel uphill, remember again to look behind, as the hills of the Lake District are clearly visible on the horizon, with Criffel also sharply outlined. You will shortly reach the wall beside Clonfeckle farm. In front of you is the expanse of Duncow Common, and standing dramatically against the sky is one of the highest hills of the parish, topped by a cluster of conifers and known as the Watchman. This walk ends here at Clonfeckle, where you turn for the downhill journey and a second chance to enjoy the scenery.
The Lake District from behind Quarrelwood 52