Striding Arches

You should have with you the Explorer map OS 328 (2.5 inch to the mile). Cairnhead is 11 km / 7 miles from Moniaive.

The nearest hill-top Striding Arch from here is on Colt Hill. At 9 km or nearly 6 miles in total, this is a strenuous walk requiring waterproof footwear. Follow the forest road 4 km / 2.5 miles up the glen and near the top, turn right off the track at the finger post. Continue for 0.5 km / 0.3 mile along the edge of the forestry to the arch on top of Colt Hill. To return, retrace your steps.

A 14 km / 9 mile walk will take you to the Striding Arch on Benbrack (hill-walking boots recommended). Follow the forest road up the glen for 4 km / 2.5 miles and, near the top, at the finger post, turn left off the track. Continue for about 200 metres along the edge of the plantation, then turn left along the Southern Upland Way for approximately 3 km / 2 miles to the arch on top of Benbrack Hill. To return, retrace your steps.

At present there are no defined forest roads or paths leading to the Striding Arch on Bail Hill, so you need to be prepared to find your own way, with the help of map and compass.

Should you wish to follow in the steps of Andy Goldsworthy – from one hill-top arch to the next around the perimeter of the glen – you should be prepared for rugged conditions and a challenging hike of roughly 16 km / 10 miles over hilly terrain, again armed with a map and compass: the route will be created gradually by those who walk it.

Click here to find out about the inaugural fell run.

Exploring Cairnhead

Visiting the arches on the hill tops can be challenging, and you will need to be prepared for some fairly demanding walking, sometimes across open moorland. Cairnhead is a working forest landscape, and as the programme of harvesting proceeds, new forest tracks will be constructed, eventually forming a comprehensive network of straight forward routes up on to the hills and the arches. Meanwhile, you are free to explore anywhere within the forests owned by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Click here for interactive map of UK, Dumfries and Galloway and Cairnhead

Click here for Google map location at Cairnhead

Click here to find the instructions for the Alec Finlay letterbox walk.

Travelling to Cairnhead

By car: Click on google link to access your direct route.

By Bus: The nearest stop is at Moniaive. Visit the following links to access timetables and routes: (t: 08705 808 080),, (t: 08705 505 050).

By Rail: The nearest stop is Kirkconnel. Visit the following links to access timetables and routes: (t: 08457 550 033), (t: 08457 225 225), (t: 08457 222 333), (t: 08457 48 49 50)

By Sea: The nearest ports are Stranraer (from Belfast) and Cairnryan (from Larne).
Visit the following links to access timetables and routes: (t: 08705 707 070), (t: 08702 424 777).

By Air: The nearest airports are Prestwick (Ayr), Glasgow and Edinburgh. Flights to these Airports are operated by British Airways, British European, Aer Lingus, British Midland, EasyJet, Ryanair, Scot Airways and Go!

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