Four of the Top 500 Summits lie in the Galloway Hills.
Kirriereoch Hill is very close to qualifying for the Top 500 but fails the 500 foot drop test by a couple of feet. In the same area there are seven Grahams, mountains between 2,000ft and 2,500ft.
The Galloway Hills are underrated, rolling mountains with fine ridges plunging down to lakes and woodland. The views stretch across the Solway Firth to the Lake District, the Isle of Man and the Mourne Mountains on a clear day.. The area is rich in history particularly around Wigtown, the national book town for Scotland. It is not difficult to reach the Galloway Hills, a drive of just over one hour from the England/Scotland border at Gretna Green takes you to their heart at New Galloway.
The weather forecast was cold with snow and some sunshine, good weather for making a start on the Grahams in the area. So I took the opportunity to climb Cairnsmore of Fleet and Millfore, very different mountains in character.
Cairnsmore of Fleet stands isolated just to the south of the main Galloway Hills. A superb track, signposted, leads to the summit from the car park at Cairnsmore Farm. There were clear views over the Isle of Man to the south. Millfore gave a different challenge with a pathless ascent from the east in thick snow but I was rewarded with a superb view of The Merrick from the summit.
Galloway is an area with great mountains and gives a good walking alternative to the Lake District.
Newton Stewart is a good base for these mountains although I have an affection for Portpatrick on the coast.
The Merrick and Shalloch on Milloch
These two summits tend to be climbed together, lying as they do on a long grassy ridge 3 and 1/2 miles apart.
They can be ascended from a minor road to the west which allows for a pleasant circular route. Alternatively the Merrick is often climbed from Glen Trool to the south but to complete both mountains makes for a long day with a return the same route as outbound.
A fine hill best climbed from the east. A minor forestry road 2 miles north of St John’s in Dalry leads west to parking at the road’s end.
From there pick your way through the forest to the open fellside. The return can be varied by taking to the northern flanks of Corserine on the climb and returning on the southern arm.
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn
Best climbed on a track 1 mile north of the hamlet of Carsphairn, which lies to the east of the mountain of the name on the A713.
The return should be varied by adding the nearby hill of Benniner which lies to the south east.