Cairnsmore of Carsphairn Hike

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn wide image
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Where: Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, Dumfries & Galloway on the Ayrshire border
When: October 8th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: Good weather so a day out
Weather: Sunny
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 of Carsphairn.

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 Knockgray.

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 . Hill Walking click on Map . Large Hill Route Map . Carsphairn Website .

Carsphairn Heritage Centre image

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.

Green Well of Scotland parking image

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.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn map image

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.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn road image

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.

Cairnsmore trail barn image

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.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn northwest ridge image

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 year.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn hiking bridge image

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 through.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn top section image

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.

Large Image .

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn view west to Corserine image

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 hours.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn summit image

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.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn cairn image

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 Craig.

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 lowest point.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn west side cairn image

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.

Beninner from Cairnsmore of Carsphairn image

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 stiles.

There seems to be a trail down to the left in the dip that leads across to the Windy Standard Range.

Beninner west side image

The image below shows the second stile at the start of the hike up Beninner. Mind the Electric Fence here.

Beninner electric fence image

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 Carsphairn.

Large Image .

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn from Beninner image

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 here.

Beninner cliffs image

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 Moorbrock.

Moorbrock from Beninner image

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.

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn steep northeast side image

The image below is from the cairn on the southwest ridge of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, looking at that way down over Black Shoulder..

Cairnsmore of Carsphairn southwest route down image

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.

Dunool from Black Shoulder image

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 and fast.

Dunool Hill Cairn image

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 smaller hills.

Willieanna from Dunool image

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 of Carsphairn.

Craig of Knockgray cliffs image

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.

Large Image .

Craig of Knockgray view to Cairnsmore of Carsphairn image

The image below is from the cairn on Craig of Knockgray looking south to Kendoon Loch.

Craig of Knockgray cairn view south image

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.

Carsphairn from Craig of Knockgray image

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.

Craig of Knockgray west side rough trail image

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 crossed carefully.

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 Carsphairn.

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.

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