Where: Corserine Range, from Loch Doon,
When: July 11th 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: Good weather so a day out
Weather: Sunny spells
Distance: About 10 miles, 7 hours Carlin's
Cairn, Corserine and Meikle Craigtarson
Loch Doon is situated about 3 miles east
of the town of Dalmellington, 18 miles east
of Ayr. The car park, as seen below, is just
over 1 mile east of Dalmellington next to the
road signed A713 to Castle Douglas &
Dumfries. From here, it is about two miles to
Loch Doon Dam, about seven miles to Loch Doon
Castle on the far southwest side of the loch.
This is a popular walk, cycle or drive on a
narrow hill road.
There are four hill ranges at the south
side of the loch that allow some interesting
The range on the east side is known as the
Rhinns of Kells, containing from the north,
the 1,732 ft Black Craig, 2,043ft Coran of
Portmark, 2,011ft Bow, 2,162ft Gairnsgarroch,
2,280ft Meaul, 2,648ft Carlin's Cairn,
2,671ft Corserine, 2,034ft Meikle
Craigtarson, 2,349ft Millfire, 2,421ft
Milldown, and 2,457ft Meikle Millyea.
Loch Doon Map
. Hill Walking
click on Map . Wide Image of the four
About two miles from the car park you
reach Loch Doon Dam. The dam was built in
1935 for generating hydro-electricity. This
is the largest inland loch in Southern
Scotland, about 7 miles long. The car park
for the hill walking is at the south side of
the loch. Carlin's Cairn is the hill furthest
away in the centre of the image below,
Corserine is behind it.
The Roundhouse Cafe is situated close to
Loch Doon Dam. The cafe is open 7 days a
week, most of the year. The popular Ness Glen
riverside walk trail starts here. There are
An Osprey feeding platform is situated
across the loch from the cafe for a pair of
Osprey that have been frequenting Loch Doon,
it is hoped they will breed here soon. You
can hire a large scope at the cafe to view
the birds or the mountains across the
Below is a view of the hiking car parks at
the south side of Loch Doon. The road leading
off to the left is to the Rhinns of Kells and
The forest drive up to the right leads
about 3 miles to Loch Riecawr with parking
for the 2,520 ft Shalloch-on-Minnoch..
The map below shows the routes from the
car park at the south side of Loch Doon. It
is a two mile walk/cycle out to the quary
where you can choose three routes onto the
The forest break onto the south side of
Meaul, following the stone dyke, is now the
shortest route onto these hills. The forest
break leads right to a stone dyke that runs
up onto the south side of Meaul.
The forest break up to Goat Craigs is the
longest and roughest. Before the new roads,
it was the only way up.
The forest break onto Bow is ok, but can
be a bit soggy in wet weather. That break is
flanked by mature woodland that is easy to
walk through next to the break.
You have to come back down one of these
routes to find the road back to Loch Doon. If
you descend further south than the burn at
Goat Craigs, there are no roads back to Loch
Doon from there, only thick woodland and
extremely boggy forest breaks.
The Map below also shows the routes up
from the east from the Old Lead Mines and
from Forest Lodge. The green and yellow dots
show the good trails, blue - tourist trail,
brown - rough trails, and red - steep
The image below shows the forest road
running round towards the Rhinns of Kells
Range with Carlin's Cairn the highest hill to
be seen from here. This is the main road
through here but take note of a couple of new
roads that lead off this road so as not to
follow the wrong road back. These roads have
no sign posts so it may be a good idea to
print the map above that shows the new
The image below is from the road that runs
up behind the Quary, looking up the forest
break that leads to the stone dyke. You can
just see the stone dyke in this image leading
right up onto the south side of Meaul. This
view also shows the steep route up the west
side of Meaul, about 100 yards left of the
dyke, the grassy part between the rocks.
This short forest break has quad tracks
that are easy to follow, but are a bit soggy
in places so waterproof boots and gaiters are
The image below is from the forest break
that follows the stone dyke. The path up
through the woodland beside the dyke is a bit
rough in places, but not too bad. Should get
better the more it is used.
If you are heading to Carlin's Cairn
first, you can start drifting to the right as
you go up, a lot easier route than going
straight up. If you want dramatic views of
Loch Doon from the steep west side of Meaul,
go up to the left here. The steep west side
of Meaul means you will have to dig the toes
into the hillside at the steepest parts, it
is that steep.
Large image from
the steep west side of Meaul
The view below is looking down from the
steep west side of Meaul at the way up. It is
a good forest road that runs up behind the
Note, all the forest breaks are soggy in
places and a bit rough, so be prepared for
some fairly tough hiking. They started
clearing trees in this area in 2013, so the
views could change a lot soon.
Quad tracks go up this forest break and
follow the dyke for about 200 yards, then cut
off to the right. Where the quad tracks turn
off is a rough patch about 50 yards, then it
is fairly good going the rest of the way next
to the dyke.
The view below is from between Meaul and
Carlin's Cairn looking south to the 2,648ft
Carlin's Cairn with two cairns on top. This
is the best route to hike up Carlin's Cairn,
as the views are more impressive from this
I took about 1 hour to walk out to the
forest break, about 30 minutes to walk up the
forest break and beside the stone dyke. It
takes about 1 hour to hike to the top of the
range between Meaul and Carlin's Cairn, a bit
longer if you go up the steepest part of the
west side of Meaul. The first 30 minutes
hiking up next to the dyke is steep and tough
going, then it levels out a bit. Once on the
top, all the hills are connected by a good
path, that makes for fairly easy hiking
between all the hills on the range.
The view below shows the two cairns on
Below is the larger cairn on Carlin's
Cairn. There are great views all around from
here of a number of interesting hills and
The view below is from Carlin's Cairn east
to the village of Carsphairn and the 2,615ft
Cairnsmore of Casphairn behind the
The view below is west towards the 2,270ft
Mullwarchar with the 2,766ft Merrick behind
that and the 2,579ft Kirriereouch to the
right of The Merrick.
The view below is from Carlin's Cairn
looking south to the 2,671ft Corserine,
highest hill on this range with a horse shoe
shape. There is about a 300 feet dip between
these hills so a bit of tough hiking is
required for the crossing. The east side of
these two hills/mountains have some steep
drops to watch out for if visibility is
Below is a view from Corserine west to The
Merrick. The 2,034ft Meikle Craigtarson is in
the dip on the west side of Corserine.
Meikle Craigtarson is a bit more
rugged than Corserine and gives great views
over the Mulwarchar range cliffs.
South of Corserine are the 2,349ft
Millfire, 2,421ft Milldown, and 2,457ft
Meikle Millyea. Those hills are a good trek
out and back, so are best hiked from the
hiking car park at the Forest Lodge on the
east side. Map.
Large Image .
Large Image south
to Millfire .
The view below is from Trig Point on
Corserine looking north to Carlin's
The view below is heading back over
Carlin's Cairn to the north hills and way
back down to the forest road.
Do not go down the west side of Corserine
to the roads down there as those roads do not
run back to Loch Doon. Google Maps show a
road running all the way through the forest
to Loch Doon but there is no such road, only
2 miles of thick forest and extremely boggy
The view below is from the north side of
Carlin's Cairn looking north to the 2,280ft
Meaul, 2,011ft Bow, 2,043ft Coran of Portmark
and Loch Doon.
If you are heading back down, just past
three pools, start to drift over to the left
and follow the stone dyke back down the
southwest side of Meaul.
If you decide to do all the north side of
the range, the hike to the top of the 2,280
ft Meaul is fairly easy going.
The image below is from trig point on
Meaul looking north to the 2,011 ft Bow. The
images from here were from another hike later
in the year.
East of Meaul is the 2,162 ft
Cairnsgarroch which is connected, probably
take about and hour and a half to go out
there and back.
Large image east to Cairnsgarroch
The route across from Meaul to the 2,011
ft Bow is fairly easy going, just a wet patch
about 50 yards long on the north side of
Meaul to pick your way through. It is about a
400ft dip down to the lower north side of
Meaul and about 150ft hike up to the top of
Bow. Bow has three cairns on the top.
The image below is from the north cairn on
Bow, looking north to the 2,043ft Coran of
If you are only hiking to Bow and Coran of
Portmark, there is a good forest break from
the forest road up behind the quary that
leads to the low point between Meaul and Bow,
probably the fastest way onto this range.
The route across to Coran of Portmark is
fairly easy going following the path.
The view below is from the north cairn on
Coran of Portmark looking north to the
1,732ft Black Craig and Loch Doon. There is a
fair dip between Coran of Portmark and Black
Craig, should you want to visit that
I decided not to bother as it would be a
long way back from there to the way down.
The view below is from between Meaul and
Bow looking at a forest break leading to the
new road at the small quarry. This is a good
way down from here with the quarry road being
the best in the forest. The road winds its
way round to the left, as seen below, then
back round to the car park at the south side
of Loch Doon.
The forest breaks can be a bit wet in
places, I find it easier walking through the
narrow path next to the forest break. This is
probably the fastest way up onto this range,
especially if you bike round the road. It is
only about 500ft from exiting the forest
break to the lowest point between Meaul and
Bow, quite a steep 500ft.
This is an interesting range with Carlin's
Cairn being the most interesting, and highest
looking hill from the west. Corserine is more
interesting from its southeast ridge when
hiked from Forest Lodge.
I hiked the whole range in four days, the
first in July from Loch Doon to Carlin's
Cairn, Corserine and Meikle Craigtarson, in
September from Loch Doon to Meaul, Bow and
Coran of Portmark, in September from Forest
Lodge to Corserine, Millfire, Milldown, and
Meikle Millyea, and in October from the Old
Lead Mines to Cairnsgarroch, Meaul, Bow,
Coran of Portmark, Black Craig and
The whole range down the middle has been
hiked in one day, although those who did
stated it was a tough day. This normally
consists of being dropped off at Drumjohn, or
close to the Old Lead Mines just north of
Casphairn for a quick way onto Black Craig or
Coran of Portmark, and being picked up at the
Forest Lodge car park after descending Meikle
The route straight down the middle is
about 14 miles and all the hiking upwards, up
onto the first hill, and up between the
hills, adds up to about 3,800ft.
Gairnsgarroch and Meikle Craigtarson add to
this if they are hiked, but they are normally
missed due to them being off to the east and
Map . Corserine Loup from
Forest Lodge . Corserine Tourist Trail from Forest
Rhinns of Kells north
hills from the Old Lead Mines .