St John’s Town of Dalry
With the second highest summit on the route at Benbrack and the fantastic views as you pass Cloud Hill this section gives real upland hill walking.
The start of the section goes through farmland, getting higher and wilder as you pass around Ardoch Hill and start climbing Culmark Hill. When you get to manquhill you pass through forestry as you start the big climb of the day up to the summit of Benbrack. As you get to the very top the Striding Arch suddenly comes into view. Standing right on the highest point this four metre high stone arch is one of four built by artist Andy Goldsworthy in this area. From here you will be able to see two other arches on the summits of nearby hills.
After a short stretch walking across the open moorland admiring the views you drop back into foresty. This will take you down to the bothy at Polskeoch where you can stop for the night if you need to.
Leaving the bothy the route comes out of the woodland and into the Scaur Glen. First along a minor road and then a path up onto the moorland where you get stunning views across the valley to Glenwhargen Craig. Once you get to the top the panoramic views of the Nith Valley on the other side of the hill open up. You will be able to see all the way down to the end of the section in Sanquhar.
Sanquhar is a small town and has several shops for supplies, pubs and cafes. There are also the ruins of Sanquhar castle which are worth stopping to see.
How lovely, Nith, thy fruitful vales,
Where bounding hawthorns gaily bloom;
And sweetly spread thy sloping dales,
Where lambkins wanton through the broom.
|Start||St John’s Town of Dalry|
|OS Explorer Maps||320 – Castle Douglas, Loch Ken & New Galloway
328 – Sanquhar & New Cumnock
|Distance||42kms (26 miles).|
|Height Range||70-580 metres. Highest point 580m on Benbrack.|
|Total Ascent||About 1200 metres.|
|Information Shelter||By the bridge over the River Ken in Dalry, and at the Blackaddie Bridge in Sanquhar.|
|Supplies||There is a limited range of shops in Dalry with a better selection in Sanquhar.|
|Public Transport||Only available at the start and finish of this section. The Cumnock-Dumfries service on the A76 operates seven days a week, while the railway station at Sanquhar has a reasonable service to Glasgow and Carlisle.|
|Cycling||All of this section is suitable for mountain bikes. The climb up to the summit of Benbrack is extremely steep and could require pushing.|