Cairnsmore of Carsphairn Hike
Where: Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, Dumfries
& Galloway on the Ayrshire border
When: October 8th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: Good weather so a day out
Distance: About 4 - 6 miles, 4 - 6 hours
The car parking for this hike is next to a
cottage about 23 miles southeast of Ayr next
to the A713, about half of a mile northwest
The 2,614 ft Cairnsmore of Carsphairn has
a tourist trail most of the way to the top.
There are other hills that can be hiked along
with this one, although there are no tourist
trails over them.
This photo tour covers hiking up the
tourist trail, up the northwest ridge of
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. This tour then
heads east to the 2,329 ft Beninner, then
back to Cairnsmore of Carsphairn to go down
the southwest ridge over Black Shoulder,
Dunool, Willieanna, and Craig of
It was to be sunny most of the day, so
when waiting on the sun to work its way up
and round to the south, I decided to pop into
Carsphairn to get a photo of the Carsphairn
Heritage Centre, as seen below. The village
has a popular cafe. The pub seems closed just
now but is expected to re-open soon.
Road Map .
click on Map . Large Hill Route Map
The image below is of the place to park
next to the A713 road, just half of a mile
northwest of Crasphairn, by the bridge over
the Water of Deugh. There is a cottage here
and a hill road leading up to Cairnsmore of
Carsphairn. There is room for a few cars
parked close to the fence.
There is also a car park across the road
where the farmer stores large hay bales. The
parking here can be popular at times with
hikers, fishermen, and people exploring the
legendary cave, old bridge, and The Green
Well of Scotland, a place in the river with
stories of giants and treasure?
With this car parking being next to the
main road, it makes this the best
hill/mountain in southwest Scotland to get to
for snow hiking.
The map below shows the tourist trail to
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. It also shows the
other trails to other hills. Blue dots are
the tourist trail, green and yellow - fairly
good trails, green and brown - rough trails,
and green and red - steep routes.
The image below is from the road heading
up into the hills. The tourist trail follows
this road right up onto the northwest ridge
of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn as is shown by
the white lines in the image below.
There are a number of hikers gates to go
through and a hikers bridge to cross.
The view below is of the second barn on
the tourist trail. There is a fence behind
the barn that leads off to the right here up
onto Craig of Knockgray hill. That is the
tougher route up the southwest ridge, as can
be seen on the right side of the image below.
That trail follows the stone dyke all the way
from Knockgray summit to Cairnsmore of
Carsphairn. The route up to Knockgray from
here is through the deep stuff following
faint tracks. This photo tour will show that
route back down to here.
In winter, this barn may be surrounded by
cows and sheep that are lambing. You can
follow a trail round by the riverside to
avoid the animals, then pick up the trail
again beyond the barn.
The view below is the end of the track to
the northwest ridge of Cairnsmore of
Carsphairn. It is a fairly good trail from
here, just a few soggy patches in the low
part down there.
The tourist trail follows this dyke down
to a burn, turns right and goes alongside the
burn for a couple of hundred yards, then
follows the other stone dyke up.
The image below shows the trail as it
crosses the hiking bridge down in the dip.
This is a soggy section of a few hundred
yards so waterproof boots are needed most of
The image below shows the final part of
the hike to the summit of Cairnsmore of
Carsphairn. There is a rocky section close to
the top that you have to pick your way
The image below is from close to the top
looking back down at the trail up. You can
just see the road winding its way round
Dunool hill, then over to the stone dyke that
leads to here.
The hills in the distance are the
Corserine Range, and behind them, the Merrick
Range. There are five hills on those ranges
over 2,500 ft. Corserine, Carlin's Cairn, The
Merrick, Kirriereoch, and Shalloch on
Minnoch. Along with this hill, these are the
only six hills in southwest scotland over
2,500 ft. The only other hills over 2,500 ft
in southern Scotland are in the area just
east of Moffat.
The image below shows the cairn and trig
point on Cairnsmore of Carsphairn when close
to the top of the tourist trail. The trig
point has a dyke all around it. It took me
just under 2 hours to get to here taking my
time, so the tourist trail up and down will
probably average about three and a half
The image below is looking north towards
the Windy Standard Wind Farm. There are a
number of hills over there above 2,000 ft.
Those are normally hiked from the car park at
Afton Reservoir Dam by New Cumnock.
The image below is from the cairn on the
west side of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn looking
west to Loch Doon and the Isle of Ailsa
Down to the right here is a route over to
the Windy Standard hills. That route looks
ok, but there may be a rough part down at the
The image below is from the east side of
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn looking towards the
2,329 ft Beninner.
There are cliffs here on northeast side of
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and on the north and
east side of Beninner to look out for if
visibility is poor.
The image below shows the route across to
Beninner. You have to go over the fence on
the right here twice via Stiles as the fence
is an Electric Fence. The route is fairly
straight forward, just remember to lift your
leg high enough when going over the
There seems to be a trail down to the left
in the dip that leads across to the Windy
The image below shows the second stile at
the start of the hike up Beninner. Mind the
Electric Fence here.
The image below is from the cairn on
Beninner looking back west to Cairnsmore of
Carsphairn. This view shows the 400 ft cliffs
on the northeast side of Cairnsmore of
The image below is looking down from the
northeast side of Beninner. There are about
600 ft drops like this along this side so be
careful if visibility is poor. There is also
a steep rout up just to the right of
The image below was taken from the same
spot as the image above. This image shows the
2,132 ft Moorbrock on the Windy Standard
Range. You either have to go down the steep
route to get over there, or go down the
southwest ridge then back round to
The image below is heading back to
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. The route down the
southwest side of Beninner looked a bit
rough, and I liked the look of the southwest
ridge of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.
The image below is from the cairn on the
southwest ridge of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn,
looking at that way down over Black
The view below is from Black Shoulder
looking west to the 1,774 ft Dunool. The
stone dyke runs right over the top of the
three hills down here. There is a trail that
follows the dyke.
The image below is of the cairn on Dunool
looking southwest, the way down. This little
hill has steep sides, as you see from the
tourist trail as it passes its west side.
The tourist trail back is down to the
right in this image. It is a steep way down
The view below is from Dunool looking
southwest to the 1,410 ft Willieanna. This is
a fairly steep descent. There is a fence at
the low point that runs right in the image
below, across to the tourist trail, handy if
you do not fancy the hike over these two
The view below is from Willieanna west to
the 1,256 ft Craig of Knockgray. There is a
fence in the low part here that runs right in
this image to the tourist trail, if you do
not fancy hiking over Knockgray.
The low part here is the roughest section
with deep stuff all around. You have to
follow animal tracks through it. Probably
best to follow the stone dyke. I drifted to
the right towards a gate and found myself in
three feet deep stuff. Was not too bad
though, as there were many animal tracks,
just very slow looking out for hidden burns,
could hear them, but could not see them.
There is a burn just before the side of
Knockgray that has to be crossed by stepping
stones. I have found hiking poles make
crossing stepping stone a lot safer.
The stone dyke here runs straight up the
steepest park of Knockgray, an amazing sight,
pity the sun is not hitting that side as it
has to be seen to be believed. The Great Wall
The image below is from Craig of Knockgray
looking back to the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn
southwest ridge route. If you are going up
this route, mind the cliffs here if
visibility is poor. Just goes to show, even
the little hills can be dangerous. As the sun
was not on the steep dyke route. I worked my
way round to the west and up that side to
here. There were a few beef cattle with calfs
on this hill, so had to keep well away from
them. Cows with calfs can be dangerous.
The image below is from the cairn on Craig
of Knockgray looking south to Kendoon
The view below is from the west side of
Knockgray looking down on Carsphairn village.
The fence leading to the right here leads to
the barn on the tourist trail.
The view below is from the trail following
the fence across to the barn on the tourist
trail. This is thick stuff with animal tracks
and old quad bike tracks to follow.
You can see the main road from here with
the cottage and car next to the road. You may
find it easier to head straight for the
cottage from here, as it is shorter with only
a short soggy patch to get through next to
the cottage, where the car is parked.
I really enjoyed the hike up the tourist
trail. There are good hiking gates to get
through, and a new bridge over the burn.
There was a soggy section a few hundred yards
either side of the bridge, but nothing too
bad. The trial could be doing with some
signs, but the road runs right up onto the
side of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, so there is
not much chance of getting lost.
The route across to Beninner and back was
easy going, just the electric fence had to be
The route down the southwest ridge was
steeper in places, and more eventful than the
tourist trail. The crossing over to
Knockgray, and down to the tourist trail from
there was rough going, but if I had missed
that hill out, I would not have seen the
Great Wall of Casphairn, and get the great
pic from Knockgray up to Cairnsmore of
The easiest route back down, as I found on
a winter hike, is down over Black Shoulder,
across to Dunool, then from Dunool cairn,
head down the steep west side of Dunool to
the road back to the cottage.
Large Map of the
Ranges in this Area.