This year's objective was to tick off the remaining mainland Marilyns south of the Highland Boundary Fault. With five of eight done by March, covid-19 threw a four month delay into the schedule and it was the end of August before I was down to the final summit. I was keen to take advantage of even a semi-reasonable forecast before another lockdown arrived. It arrived and I set off for Colt Hill to the north-west of Moniaive. A couple of hours later I drove through Moniave, turned right at the Stiriding Arches road sign onto North Road and promptly hit the worst pothole of the day as I did so! The following five miles from there is single track all the way with only a few marked passing places, but many field gates and driveways et cetera providing other passing opportunities, though the frequency of both diminished to near zero over the last couple of miles. Fortunately I met absolutely nothing coming towards me. The road quality also deteriorated markedly after passing Benbuie. The tarmac ended there and a stony well-potholed track slowed progress until I reached a closed gate at Blairoch.I had read that it was now padlocked and so it proved. There was a 'no parking' sign there, so I turned and parked at the start of a forest track 180m back down the road. Once I'd reassembled my bike I cycled off along the track and one kilometre later reached the junction leading to the Cairnhead Striding Arch where others, including Fife Flyer, had parked before the gate had acquired its padlock. I met two walkers who'd just visited the arch there, and after a quick chat I cycled on past a couple of information boards with built-in bench seating. After another kilometre the track joined what must be the main forestry road. It started to ascend more rapidly and I was soon pushing my bike through the forest and up into the clouds. As it crested the ridge I left my wheels at the 510m col and walked 650m east following a well-travelled path beside the fence to find the Colt Hill Striding Arch and trig point appearing out of the mist. I visited both and also the summit said to be about 20m ENE of the trig point and 30cm higher at NX 69878 99010. That whole area is quite flat so no one point is obviously the highest. In fact the highest point there is now the top of the arch, but I wasn't tempted to climb it! Some of the stones appeared to have slipped slightly so they don't form a smooth curve. It would be interesting to find an earlier photograph to see if they have moved. Perhaps a return visit in a few years to see if they've moved any more. By now I'd realised that any hopes for a sunny day had evaporated, or rather had washed away, as a chill wind and a slight shower encouraged me to leave my lunch in my rucksack and return to my bike for a rapid descent. I passed another pair of walkers as I sped down to visit the Cairnhead Striding Arch. What had taken almost an hour to ascend took about 20 minutes to descend braking all the way. Named on one map as The Byre the arch has been constructed through an opening in its gable end. I'd have gone inside but the door was locked. The nearby cottage has been left to crumble.Back at my car I found it had been joined by another, and as I removed my boots a delivery van headed to and then returned from Blairoch. As I drove back I saw some information boards beside a small patch of woodland. I stopped to read them and decided that it was a possible start point for those wanting to visit all four arches. There was a map showing the locations of all four, but don'r rely on that alone for planning a route. There are now more forest roads to offer alternatives. On the way to Moniaive I was relieved to meet only one car when I was almost there, and a quick 20m reverse solved that.
And I did later find a 2009 photograph of the Colt Hill Arch on-line and it looked then the same as it does now .
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