Hills: Cairnsmore of Fleet, Meikle Mulltaggart and Knee of Cairnsmore
Date: Thursday 27th September 2012
Company: Myself and John
Distance: 17.7km, Ascent: 990m
Time: 5Hrs

I set out this morning to ascend my final Fiona, and New Donalds, in the Dumfries and Galloway area. I parked in the Cairnsmore of Fleet parking area where there is room for several cars at the side of the road.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I was determined to walk at a slower pace today, as my feet were already aching from several consecutive days hillwalking.

From the car parking area, we made our way towards Cairnsmore walking alongside the Graddoch Burn. This is a nice burn that is unfortunately overgrown with rhododendron bushes.

Road towards Cairnsmore:

The footpath leading towards Cairnsmore of Fleet is well-signposted.

Hill footpath:

We passed through a wooded area with a wide variety of trees – hawthorn, holly, sycamore, beech and rowan to name a few.

Fungi on dead tree:

Beyond the Cairnsmore settlement, we reached a gate leading into a field with cattle and calves. We were not keen to pass within feet of the cattle and so took a small diversion through the neighbouring field such that a dry-stane dyke separated us from the cattle. At the top of the neighbouring field, we crossed into the field with cattle a good distance away from them. At the opposite end of the field we passed through another gate leading into the forest.

Cow and calf:

The walk up through the forest was pleasant. The trees on either side of the path have been pruned of all low branches. We stopped for a wee rest at the memorial seat.

Memorial seat:

As we gained height, we got increasingly good views back towards Newton Stewart and Cairn Pat, near Stranraer.

John ascending Cairnsmore of Fleet hill path:

Looking back towards Newton Stewart:

On exiting the forest, we crossed a fence via a stile and then followed the zig-zagging path towards the summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet.

Cairnsmore of Fleet:

River Cree and Wigtown Sands:

As we approached the summit, John spotted a number of birds in the distance. As we got closer, I guessed they were plover.

Golden Plover (females):

A short distance from the summit cairn, we stopped to read the Memorial to Airmen killed on Cairnsmore of Fleet. We wondered if our friend Heavy had placed the small cross there. Four aircraft have crashed into Cairnsmore of Fleet.

Memorial to airmen killed on Cairnsmore of Fleet:

We then climbed the summit cairn and visited the summit shelter and trig point.

Shelter and trig point from top of summit cairn:

Summit shelter:

View from trig point:

From Cairnsmore of Fleet, we made our way across to Meikle Mulltaggart. This involved a drop of circa 140m but a re-ascent of only 40m.

Heading from Cairnsmore of Fleet to Meikle Mulltaggart:

Meikle Mulltaggart:

On reaching the summit area, we had to search for the very small summit cairn, which is mostly overgrown with grass and moss.

Tiny summit cairn on Meikle Mulltaggart:

We then had to re-ascend Cairnsmore of Fleet in order to get to Knee of Cairnsmore.

Knee of Cairnsmore and Cairnsmore of Fleet from Meikle Mulltaggart:

Heading from Cairnsmore of Fleet to Knee of Cairnsmore:

The effort required to summit Knee of Cairnsmore was minimal. I was happy to have completed the Dumfries and Galloway New Donalds – definitely the ‘land of the tussock’!

Cairn at the summit of Knee of Cairnsmore:

From the summit of Knee of Cairnsmore, we descended SSW approximately 350m to reach the start of the farm track leading back to Cairnsmore. During the descent, we passed several groups of wild goats and also saw some deer.

Wild goat:

Red Deer:

Wild goats:

Looking back to Knee of Cairnsmore:

Descending from Knee of Cairnsmore:

I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the track leading back to Cairnsmore. The hill path leading up to Cairnsmore of Fleet is much nicer.

Looking back to Knee of Cairnsmore from farm track:

As we approached Cairnsmore, we again had to evade cattle by walking at the other side of a dry-stane dyke.

A few minutes after reaching the car, it started to rain. Good timing getting back dry .

Some of the hills in this area are tough. Roads are full of pot-holes, hill paths are often poor or non-existent, there is much wetness and there are tussocks, tussocks and more tussocks. Despite all this, I have enjoyed the past week spent in Dumfries and Galloway.

132km distance & 7280m ascent, in a week in D&G, was hard work.