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The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw


Postby DonnyW » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:14 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Craignaw

Donalds included on this walk: Craignaw

Date walked: 07/03/2010

Time taken: 7 hours

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I don’t know about you guys , but Im fed up with the snow for this year. Winter seems to have gone on for even and my old bones feel frozen to the marrow. Its almost mid March and I want spring put a spring back in my step. I almost felt it had arrived two weeks ago when I visited the Merrick and passed the lochs in the bog lands of Galloway. So a quick phone call to my old mom who is even older than me and I had a room booked at her house in south Ayrshire.

I awoke at 6am to the dawn chorus. Yup..the birds of the south know spring is here. I breakfasted and was back at Bruce’s Stone in Glen Trool for 8am. I was travelling light as I knew before me was a very strenuous 10 mile hike across some tough, pathless wilderness. I travel alone and I know if I get into difficulty no one will hear me scream in the barren land. The only equipment I had in my rucksack was a heavy DSLR camera, a Cag-in-a-Bag in case of rain, a spare pair of socks, one litre of water and a corn beef roll. Oh..and a compass and an A4 printed map of the area.

I was going to do another classic Galloway Hill walk. It’s a high level traverse of the Rig of Loch Enoch and the Dungeon hills taking in Buchan Hill 1617ft, Craignairny, 1952ft, Dungeon Hill 2001ft and finally Craignaw at 2116ft which is the highest point of my chosen route. Altogether the route has approx 3000ft of assent because of all the ups and downs involved.

I recommend the route is only considered in good visibility as the Dungeon hills are very craggy in nature and the route meanders through terraces of cliffs that make route finding almost impossible in the mist

This is a photo showing the best part of the route as seen from the descent from Buchan hill.

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It was a truly magnificent day, and I really felt spring had sprung. I saw a feral goat with a new born kid, frogs were spawning everywhere. I even saw a fish break surface on Loch Valley, I guess it was after some of the small flies that were hatching. Looks like the cold didn’t get the midges after all.

Here is the map of the route, and I will illustrate my walk with photos and a narrative soon. Therefore come back for another look if you are interested in the Gallow hills at their best.



craignaw.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby mountain coward » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:32 pm

Great walking territory! I'd have had to include Rig of Jarkness just for the name :D

I too am pretty sick of the snow and freezing cold really - have been for a few weeks - perhaps it's an age thing... I've never felt so cold in my house as I have this year - don't seem to be able to get it warm at all! I usually cope outdoors though as I get very hot when I exercise - even gentle exercise...
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby DonnyW » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:08 pm

Hi MC, I was originally going to include the descent of Snibe Hill, cross the bog lands at Loch Narroch and return by the Rigg of Jarkness, but unfortunately I ran out of fuel. I would have needed to carry another corned beef roll to include that lot in my journey. However Im certain a younger person than I could easily eat the extra miles to include the Rig.


My walk started at Bruce’s stone and the plan was to head straight for the summit of the Buchan Hill via its steep front called the Black Gairy. I noticed a large ladder type style on the high deer fence as I walked down the track towards the bridge over the Buchan burn and wondered why it was there ? It looked in direct line with the summit so I clambered across and followed a very indistinct path. It brought be into the deep gorge of the Buchan burn just above a huge waterfall.

I looked for the way across but could only see one way. It involved a death defying leap across four feet of dark swirling water before it tumbled into the waterfall. The jump was onto a large round rock much higher than the rock I was jumping from. I hesitated a while and thought of the long walk round to the Buchan bridge. Taking a deep breath I louped the leap and grabbled the top of the high round rock with my hands. My feet found no grip on the slippery surface and went under the water. I cursed but managed to get onto the top of the rock by using my arms in a “press up” type motion, not easy with a rucksack falling over my head. If you decide to do this walk, I don’t recommend my route, take the sensible way and cross by the bridge further down hill.

A photo of the waterfall with the death defying leap above it. I noticed a withered bunch of flowers tied to a tree where I took this photo, and wondered if someone else had not been as lucky as me :(

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The climb up the Buchan hill is steep and not recommended in poor visibility. Although its safe there are a lot of craggy outcrops to work around in a zig zag fashion. Here you can see one of the outcrops and a great view of Loch Trool below.

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Once above the Black Gairy, the hill flattens before the summit. It was here that I saw my first feral goats. They are native of the Galloway hills and you can usually smell them long before you see them. Further in the distance I hear a new born kid calling its mother but as I don’t have a telephoto lens, there is no picture of it.

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It’s a bit like the short sharp shock punishment treatment for criminal offenders in the 90’s but before you realise it, you are beside the cairn at the top of Buchan hill. The views over loch Trool then over towards Ireland make it all worth while.

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From the summit, it’s a gentle descent onto the Rig of Loch Enoch and the walking is easy. In fact there are traces of a path along the broad ridge. This view from the ridge is looking across The Cauldron towards Benyellery on the left, connected to the Merrick on the right, by the Neive of the Spit ridge. I did that walk two weeks ago.

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This is the view looking east towards Craiglee and its access ridge the Rig of Jarkness. I hope to do a walk report on it soon. It makes a lovely ridge walk and descent then return by rounding Loch Dee.

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This photo shows the tops where Im walking too, covered in cloud clag. That is Craignaw with its top just peeking through, and I wasn’t looking forward to doing this round if the mist stayed on the ridges. I was pretty certain it would lift by the time I got there .

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Everywhere you look in this area, there are huge boulders balanced on the ground. They are not man made monuments but natural made monuments to the glacier that made them. The huge glacier scooped and carved the landscape, carrying huge boulders in its icy mass. When the glacier finally melted, everything was stranded where it stopped.

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The hills are solid granite with a very sparse covering of vegetation on top. Its very wet in the hills because the rainwater cant seep into the ground, instead it lies in puddles on the rock until it evaporates. This photo shows a typical puddle, beyond it is the crags of Craig Neldricken.

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Only the strong survive in this type of terrain. This clump of heather survives the sodden ground which could rot its roots by growing on top of a rock

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Because this walk is so long.. I have split it into two parts. Look back shortly and I hope to have the rest posted then.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby mountain coward » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:17 pm

We have a large area of erratics like your perched rock near us (under Norber near Ingleborough). I think Loch Enoch is one of the prettiest lochs in Scotland - I have my favourite photo of it in my post... Not sure when I'll be back walking in the Galloway hills unfortunately - just too busy in the Highlands at the moment. Probably when I've finished the Munros (or at least the mainland ones - not sure I'll ever get the Skye ones done). Some lovely pics there - I love those wild goats - they're like the ones around the slate quarries of Llanberis.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby DonnyW » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:13 pm

There are a lot of good walks on Skye MC and some of the Munro’s are easy peasy. I think the traverse of Sgurr nan Gillean is far harder now than when I did it ? I read that part of the west ridge collapsed a few years back and you now have to climb down a chimney ? In my days, you just had to drop onto a small block about a foot square. I am six foot so at full stretch it was only about a two foot drop. Miss the block though and you missed the rest of your days. I guess I hit it ok :-D

Back to the Galloway hills. At this point I was a bit rude and ignored my old friend the Grey Man of the Merrick. He was only about 500 yards away but I had a long way to go so sneaked passed without him noticing. You start the traverse towards Craignaw by going around Loch Arron but taking care not to loose any height.

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I was traversing below the crags of Craig Neldricken then took a bee line for the summit when the crags eased. This photo is looking south over loch Neldricken and the murder hole towards the snow covered hills of Mulldonach and Curlywee


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Looking east from this point you can see the crag cliffs of Craig Neldricken and the Wolf Sloch towards the Nick of the Dungeon. It’s the bealach between Dungeon Hill and Craignaw. Beyond are the snow covered hills of the Rhins of Kells

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The summit cairn of Craig Neldricken.. ok its not much..but neither is the hill. The crag cliffs of the Wolf Slock are seen and the route traverses along the top of them towards the Nick of the Dungeon

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Looking west you get a great view of the range of hills known as the “Awful Hand” Its five hills joined by a broad ridge and from the air they look like a hand. From this view you see the knuckles. From left to right they are the Merrick, Kirriereoch, Tarfessock and Shalloch on Minnoch. Benyellary is the thumb of the Awful Hand

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This is a panorama of three photographs joined together and it give a great view of the Awful hand, Loch Enoch, and Mullwharcher the hill on the right

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It will be tomorrow before I can finish this walk report as I have other things to attend and its taken longer than I though.. just like the real walk. I hope you have enjoyed it so far. Thanks for looking.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby Paul Webster » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:24 pm

Some great pics Donny. I'm the same as you - glad to see the snow is melting down that way.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby kevsbald » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:25 pm

Excellent as always. I had never seen a mountain goat until today on Hart Fell - are they particular to Lowland hills?
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby mountain coward » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:44 am

There's mountain goats in a lot of places - I would have thought Stob Gabhar must have at least some (from the name) - Seana Braigh has some on the Fannaich side... Of course, there's millions of them in Wales, especially in the Rhinog...

Some more lovely pics there - thanks for telling us why it's called 'The Range of the Awful Hand' - a superb name - I just never knew why before. Nor did I realise I'd done quite a lot of it!
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:16 am

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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby DonnyW » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:02 pm

Hi again guys, my apologies for being late in posting the last part of the walk, but real life demands got in my way.

Regarding the feral goats..Im not sure how far noth they go but I have seen them quite often around the road end at Shiel Bridge when I drive to Skye. Ben Venue in the Trossachs also has a few roaming its hillside. Not sure how dangerous they become with human interference, but any I have seen are very shy and wont let you too near before they move off.

On with the walk.

After traversing the cliffs of the Wolf Sloch, I went to the summit of Craignairny which is just a craggy lump. The crag cliffs are only around 30-50ft high but because they are in terraces and plentiful, they can be a serious hazard in dense mist. I then descended to the Nick of the Dungeon which joins Craignairny to Craignaw.

This is a photo of the cairn shows on the OS map at the Nick of the Dungeon. The snow covered hill is the Merrick and to the right hand side you can see some of the terraces of crag cliffs on Craignairny which lead to its summit

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If I was going to summit Dungeon hill, I would turn north east at this point but I could sense a change in the weather coming and didn’t want caught in the mist in this area. Instead I started the climb to the top of Craignaw. It was a little like wandering through a maze trying to find the best route to the top through the crags.

This photo is taken on the north west ridge of Craignaw looking back at the Dungeon Hill on the left and the Rhins of Kells straight across the Silver Flowe valley.

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The ridge flattens after a while and is boiler plates of bare granite. The glacier deposited all these rocks on the surface when it melted. They were not put there by humans. Its nicknamed the Deil’s bowling green. You get a good view of the Dungeon hill from here

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This is the view south from the Deil’s bowling green and the route to the summit of Craignaw. I went up the snow gully. The snow was fine without crampons and I could kick into it. If it had been solid.. I would have found a rock route to the top.

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Phew..after three posts ..around twenty photos and a lot of meandering words.. I have finally reached the summit of Craignaw. Was it worth it ? You can decide :-D

Its not much of a summit cairn but there are the remains of a crashed F11 aircraft and a memorial plate to the two pilots who died, near it.

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This huge rock is called the Deil’s loaf … I wonder why ?

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After that it’s a lovely walk downhill to Loch Neldricken and then Loch Valley. I covered that part of the route in my other walk report on the Merrick so I wont go into it again. However this is a photo of the horrible Gairland burn section. Its very boggy and hard going. You have to watch every step as there are hidden potholes under the grass. However it is worth the effort for the rest of the walk :-D

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I arrived back at the car after seven hours of delightful walking in the wilderness. I never saw a single person the whole way. Driving home I stopped to take this photo. My senses in the weather changing proved correct. There is a storm brewing in the Galloway Cauldron again. I got the best of the day

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Thanks again to everyone for your interest in this report. I can thoroughly recommend a walk in the Galloway hills. Take care wherever you decide to wander :D
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby agentmancuso » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:39 pm

Great route, I took exactly the same path about 18 months ago. I remember feeling completely knackered coming down the rough slopes from Snibe Hill to the loch.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby mountain coward » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:13 pm

LeithySuburbs wrote:They're not that friendly :wink: http://deadlinescotland.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/14091-2732/


The goats in the article don't look like wild goats to me... plus they're not dangerous at all! To give an example, there's a goat in the field next to me and, because I feed her sometimes, if I go in the field and don't feed her, she butts me continuously until I leave the field. However, despite the constant butting, she doesn't harm me in the slightest (unless she gets in front of me and I fall over her!) and she can soon be stopped by getting hold of her by the horn and keeping hold of her until she stops struggling and calms down. She is the stroppiest goat I've ever met but isn't a danger so I don't see how anyone would be in any danger from a better tempered goat (and they couldn't be worse tempered!). The local kids (not goat kids) go in the field regularly and plague her, which is possibly why she's so bad tempered in reality, but none of them have suffered any harm...
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby LeithySuburbs » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:37 am

Hi DonnyW

This is probably really simple but I can't be bothered looking it up... how do you get that nice "frame" around your pictures?
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby Caberfeidh » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:03 pm

I didn't see that first time around - excellent report and great photies. They really capture the wide open spaces and stark post-glacial terrain of Galloway. I grew up near there, and spent a lot of time tramping the hills and glens, and fishing the lochs and lanes (in Galloway a water course linking two lochs is called a lane). There is very good brown trout fishing in many of those lochs and lanes, despite a load of hype/tripe in the 1980s claiming they were all killed off by acid rain.
Re wild goats - Robert Bruce made a royal order when he became king, protecting wild goats around Loch Lomond, as he had been hiding in a cave when being hunted by English troops; a flock of wild goats had come and sheltered at the mouth of the cave. A group of English troops arrived and The Bruce heard them discussing searching the cave.One of them reasoned that if there was anyone in the cave, the goats would not have stayed there, so they didn't bother to search, and he survived.
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Re: The Cauldron, The Wolf Slock, The Dungeon and Craignaw

Postby skp74 » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:31 pm

Great pictures ! Being a Gallovidian it's great to see people enjoying our backyard. The Deil's Bowling Green and Deil's Loaf name's come from an old legend, a good explanation can be found in a book called 'Galloway' by Allan Wright and Tony Bonning: 'Legend has it that the cause of these boulders was a great dispute between the great god Pan and his Satanic Majesty, the Devil. Each with their armies fought a merciless battle across the Gallovidian ranges. After three days and nights only Pan and the Devil were left alive. Aching with hunger and only one loaf between them, (now petrified on top of Craignaw), they agreed to a competition of bowls on the flat surface of Wee Craignaw. the result was unsatisfactory and the battle resumed using boulders torn from the mountainsides until the landscape was littered. Deciding it was better to fight another day Pan retreated and the devil was left to consume the loaf. Having only cut one slice, Satan was instantly struck dead by a bolt of lightening cast by Pan's father, Jupiter. And so ended the Battle of the Boulders.
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