Corserine Walk

AS Walking

Where: Corserine Range, from Loch Doon, Ayrshire
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 only

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 hiking.

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

Wide Image of the four Ranges

Loch Doon entrance image

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.

Loch Doon Dam image

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 toilets here.

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 loch.

Roundhouse Cafe Loch Doon image

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 Dungeon ranges.

The forest drive up to the right leads about 3 miles to Loch Riecawr with parking for the 2,520 ft Shalloch-on-Minnoch..

Carlins Cairn Car Park image

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 range.

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 sections.

Larger Map

Corserine Map from Loch Doon image

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 roads.

Forest road to Carlin's Cairn image

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 needed.

Carlins Cairn Forest Break image

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

Forest Break leading to Goats Craig image

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 quary.

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.

Large Image

Goats Craig hillside image

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 side.

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.

Large Image.

Goats Craig view south to Carlin's Cairn image

The view below shows the two cairns on Carlin's Cairn.

Carlin's Cairn cairns image

Below is the larger cairn on Carlin's Cairn. There are great views all around from here of a number of interesting hills and lochs.

Large Image .

Calin's Cairn main cairn image

The view below is from Carlin's Cairn east to the village of Carsphairn and the 2,615ft Cairnsmore of Casphairn behind the village.

Carlin's Cairn view to Casphairn image

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.

Carlin's Cairn view to The Merrick image

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 poor.

Calin's Cairn view south to Corserine image

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

Conserine view west to The Merrick image

The view below is from Trig Point on Corserine looking north to Carlin's Cairn.

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Corserine trig point view to Carllin's Cairn image

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 forest breaks.

Large Image .

Carlin's Cairn image

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.

Goat Craigs looking to Meaul image

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 Hill.

Meaul Hill image

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 Portmark.

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.

Bow Hill image

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 hill.

I decided not to bother as it would be a long way back from there to the way down.

Coran of Portmark image

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.

Route down between Bow and Meaul image

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 Knockower.

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 Millyea.

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 west. Route Map.

Corserine Loup from Forest Lodge

Corserine Tourist Trail from Forest Lodge

Rhinns of Kells north hills from the Old Lead Mines