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Striding Arches

Striding Arches

Postby Ezzywuke » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:23 pm

Route description: Striding Arches, near Moniaive

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Colt Hill

Date walked: 30/06/2012

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 15 km

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Striding Arches
This is a circular walk encompassing all four of Andrew Goldsworthy’s Striding Arches more information on this can be found at http://www.stridingarches.com.

striding arches map.jpg

After following the narrow single track road from Moniaive towards Cairnhead for about 7 miles park in the wide open space near the river just before Benbuie. If you run out of tarmac you have gone too far. You need to walk back down the road towards Moniaive for about 450m to the point where it curves up away from the nearest point to the river. The firebreak to Bail Hill is not easily seen from a car on the road and is easily missed. By studying the map you will see it is near the point where the river is closest to the road. The track starts at the point where the road bends back to the right. If you look up the hillside you should just be able to see the post of a style sticking up as a point to aim for.

View from the road looking up the path to the post.

Alternative view from the road clearly showing the firebreak. Note the old sheep fold in the fore ground.
There is in fact a firebreak through the forest with a sharp steep climb, and 30 to 45 minutes should see you reach your first arch on Bail Hill (517m).

The Striding Walker Bail Hill
Possibly stop for a coffee and admire the view, hopefully it will be a clear day and you can look across at the other two hilltop arches on Colt Hill and Ben Brack and wonder if you have bitten off more than you can chew. It will probably take at an hour and 45 minutes (if not longer depending on ability and stops) to the next arch.

The Route to Colt Hill
From Bail Hill follow the wall to Green Hill (540m). I do not recommend that you try and cut the corner off, the ground is rough and boggy. From Green Hill you will see a wall running down in the direction of Colt Hill. From walking this route several times I find it is mostly best to keep to the right of the wall to Transparra (528m) and then down to the gate. Again keep to the right as the ground is firmer though it may be boggy in parts, particularly on a wet day.

Unfortunately you have to lose a little height before climbing back up to Mullwanney (535m). There is then steep descent before climbing back up to the left of Black Craig Hill (555m). When I first did this there was a dark firebreak through the forest. It was very boggy under foot and a couple of fallen trees made things difficult. The last time I was there the trees to the right had just been felled. We had to pick our way through the many stumps, branches and fallen trees, and it was still very boggy. Once you get by this keep to the right of the wall/fence and follow it round to your second arch at Colt Hill.

Approaching Colt Hill

From Colt Hill keep to the right of the fence and follow it down to the forest road, it will take about an hour and a half approximately to reach Ben Brack (581m). Lo and behold we actually have a signpost! The forest road does provide and escape route back to Cairnhead, but unless the weather is really bad you won’t want to do that … follow the signs and carry on to complete the course.
After the initial climb you join the Southern Upland Way which has the advantage of way markers and will take you over undulating but somewhat boggy ground to Ben Brack and the third arch. You can look back with some satisfaction at the other two arches in the far distance.
Finding the way down from Ben Brack to Cairnhead and the fourth arch at the Byre has posed me some problems, there are a number of alternatives. I have seen a route (as publicised in some magazines) which suggests a diagonal descent down off the far end of Ben Brack, and all I can say is that if this route ever existed it is now so overgrown, slippery and full of fallen trees that I would not want to lead a party down it. I did lead one walk down by continuing past the arch in a South, south easterly direction following the fence. Keep to the right at the far end and you will find a firebreak leading to Dibbin Crag and taking you down to Dibbin Lane. Do not let the name fool you. Dibbin “Lane” is a complete bog, over shadowed by trees and flooded by water draining off the hill, it is no fun at all.
My recommended route is a firebreak which is just north, and roughly parallel to the Ramscleuch Burn. I found this by using Google Earth. Stand with your back to the flat curve of the arch, roughly facing north (back the way you have just come), then walk forward and down hill to the corner of the fence/trees.

Ben Brack with Colt Hill in the Distance
From the corner continue to walk north for about 80-100m. You might find a piece of string on the fence marking the spot. Unfortunately you need to cross the fence, but there is no barbed wire, perhaps friendly forestry folk might provide a style. You will find a nice green swath of grass running reasonably gently down. When you get to where a burn cuts deeply across your path drop down to the right through the trees where it is easier to cross. Make your way back up to the path. Note at this point a narrow firebreak joins the main route from the right. Whilst it is possible to follow the main route, the narrow route is much shorter. You will have to dodge around fallen trees in a couple of places (remember this may change over time), but as along as you keep returning to the path this will take you down to the forest road.

The Byre
Turn left at the road and from here it is an easy walk down and over the bridge to Cairnhead. Here you can admire the last arch coming out of the Byre and then follow the track back to the start.

Even in the Rain You Can Have Fun
Last edited by Ezzywuke on Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 1
Munros:35   Corbetts:14
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Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Jun 8, 2011

Re: Striding Arches

Postby hills » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:08 pm

Nice circular walk this, thanks for that. Been up Colt Hill, so I know its braw country.... :D
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Location: Stirling

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