Saturday 3 May 2014

An Easter Backpack in the Galloway Hills: Day 1 - The Dungeon Hills

Friday 18th April 2014

A sunny afternoon start to an excellent backpack in SW Scotland 

Distance: 11km; Ascent: 770m; Warm & sunny; Solo

I had been planning on going backpacking over the Easter weekend for some time now, but had delayed making any specific plans due to the risk of late lying snow in some of the mountainous areas. Therefore when the weather forecast looked very promising in the week before Easter I set about coming up with a hilly backpack for the weekend.

I decided to return to an area that I hadn't walked in for some time: the Galloway Hills in the Southern Uplands. I'd only previously been there for a weekend back in 2005 during which we walked in the Awful Hand range of hills and on Cairnsmore of Fleet, so I was well overdue a return visit. In fact the Southern Uplands as a whole are an area I've walked very little in, pretty much limited to a backpack from Moffat to Pebbles in 2008 and a wander up Tinto last May.

Bruce's Stone, Glen Trool
Bruce's Stone, Glen Trool
Therefore after the long drive from home north, and then west, I set off walking from the road head in Glen Trool at around 3pm this afternoon. I had a brief look at the Bruce's Stone, before picking up a footpath ascending towards the upper part of the Gairland Burn.

Start of the path up to Loch Valley
Loch Trool
Some of the many flowers on the way up to Loch Valley
It was quite warm this afternoon and I was very glad to be wearing shorts whilst lugging my heavy pack up the hill! Soon I reached flatter ground with excellent views across Loch Valley to the Rig of the Jarkness. Around here I met the only other walkers I'd see for the afternoon since leaving the forest road.

The Gairland Burn
Loch Valley
Loch Valley and the Rig of the Jarkness
I continued for a few hundred metres towards Loch Neldricken before heading east to ascend over rough ground towards Snibe Hill. As I ascended the ground became rockier, with plenty of granite boulders littering the hillside.

The Merrick across Loch Neldricken
A Perched Boulder on the west ridge of the Snibe Hill
The views were excellent as I continued to ascend, now often over the bare granite slabs.  At around quarter to six I reached the summit of Craignaw (Graham, Donald), where I stopped for a while to admire the stunning views :-)

One of the many granite slabs on Craignaw
The summit rocks of Craignaw
On the summit of Craignaw
It was a steep, awkward and rocky descent northwards from the summit to reach the Devil's Bowling Green.  From here I continued northwards along the ridge to reach the cairn at the bealach below Craignairny. My original plan had been to ascend this small hill, but due to my somewhat later than planned start this afternoon, I instead opted to skirt it to the SE before heading up to the summit of Dungeon Hill (Donald, HuMP, Graham Top).

The Devil's Bowling Green on the NNW ridge of Craignaw
Looking N from the Devil's Bowling Green
On the summit of Dungeon Hill
Near the summit I stopped a couple of goats, who soon ran away when they spotted me! By now it was quite late and I didn't think I'd make my planned campsite beyond Mullwharchar by sunset. Therefore I instead chose to camp by the lovely sandy beaches of Loch Enoch. I pitched on the least lumpy bit of ground I could find and soon had a dinner of pasta, peppers and chorizo whilst watching the last light of the day fade beyond Merrick to the west.

Camp by Loch Enoch at Dusk


  1. :-)
    Looks like a splendid start to your walk and a nice place to stop too.

    1. Thanks Alan :-) It was a lovely camp spot, although it was a little lumpy!