Craignelder Hill

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The 1,975 ft Craignelder is situated in a remote area in the Galloway Forest Park, next to the A712 road that runs between the towns of New Galloway and Newton Stewart, southwest Scotland, in the county of Dumfries & Galloway, about 40 miles southeast of Ayr. This road is known as The Queen's Way.

The Queen's Way has a number of interesting attractions such as: Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre with a Bruce's Stone marking a battle site, large dam, forest road with the otter pools, deer park, goat park, platform out over a glen, many biking trails, and many walking and hiking routes.

The image below is of Murray's Monument situated about 5 miles west of the Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre on the A712 Queen's Way road. One of the car parks for the monument, and the hike to Craignelder, is just to the right in this image.

Murray’s Monument was erected in 1835 in memory of Alexander Murray, a local shepherd boy who later became Professor of Oriental Languages at Edinburgh University. The monument is situated on a 597 ft hill, a steeper hike than it looks. More Information.

For this hike, you can park here at the monument east side car park by the waterfalls, hike over the monument hill, and down to a smaller car park on the west side of the monument.

Google Road Map Directions .

Murrays Monument image

The image below is from Murray's Monument looking south to Craignelder hill. You can see the forest road leading round to the hill. I took this image a few weeks earlier in November 2012, when there was no snow on the top of Craignelder. The rest of the images were taken in December 2012.

You can follow a trail from just below the monument, round and down the west side into the forest. That trail then leads down to a smaller car park, by the forest road over to Craignelder.

Murrays Monumet view to Craignelder hill image

The image below is from the smaller car park on the west side of Murray's Monument. The forest road to Craignelder is just across the road from here, to the left. I parked in this car park as I had visited the monument a few weeks earlier. When I saw the rocky Craignelder from the monument, I had to return for the hike to the top.

West side car park image

The image below is of the forest road leading round to Craignelder. It is a short walk of about half of a mile from the car park.

Forest road to Craignelder image

The wide image below shows the route onto Craignelder's northwest ridge. The first 100 yards is cleared woodland, so is rough going passing a few large boulders. Once over the stone dyke, the lower part of the hill was deep heather and ferns, so I tried going straight up the cliffs via a narrow gully. At almost the top, I hit a granite rock face. The only way from there was along a 20 ft long ledge, that was about three feet wide. It looked like the other side of the ledge had a route to the top.

The ledge sloped down and away from the rock face, and had a good inch of ice on it. The wider ledge about 30 feet below, was littered with boulders. The slippery granite meant it was back down the narrow gully, then round and up the northwest ridge, the way I had originally planned anyway.

Craignelder hill route up image

The image below is after hiking round and looking up the northwest ridge. I looked for other ways up on the road round as the cliffs were getting lower, but ended up going right along close to the bottom, as there was no clear route up without hitting more un-passable cliffs.

This showed the cliffs here had to be avoided on the road back down. Even though it looked like it would be clear all day, I took a compass reading, and paid attention to the rout back down. I should have laid a marker where I began hiking up, so I would have known when it was safe to start hiking back round to the road on the way back down.

Craignelder northwest ridge bottom image

The image below is from the first cairn on the northwest ridge, close to the cliffs. Most of the way up to this cairn was tough going, with no trails of any kind most of the way. It was a matter of trying to follow the rocky ridges up. Off the rocks was deep heather and tussocks.

Craignelder first cairn image

The image below is from the first cairn to the highest cliffs on the west side of Craignelder.

Large Image.

Craignelder west side cliffs image

The image below of the route up past the cliffs to the summit.

Craignelder summit image

The image below is of a large rock and second cairn close to the summit, a good marker for the way back down. There were faint trails from the first cairn to the top, making the hiking a lot easier than below the first cairn.

Craignelder second cairn image

The image below is of a third cairn, close to the top of Craignelder. There are two tops here, the first is Craignelder, and the second, according to the OS Map, is Millfore. Both tops are about the same height.

There is another Millfore at 2,152 ft, just north of Murray's Monument. That Millfore can be hiked from the same car park, by going north past the Black Loch.

Craignelder third cairn image

The image below is approaching the main cairn on the summit, that is on the east side, the one named Millfore by the OS Map. .

Craignelder Summit cairn image

The image below is from the summit cairn looking northeast to the Rhinns of Kells range, with the first hill being the 2,457 ft Meikle Millyea, and behind that, the 2,671 ft Corserine. Top left in this image is the other Millfore across the valley, and the 2,766 ft Merrick can be seen behind that.

Craignelder summit cairn image

The image below is from another cairn, about 100 yards north of the main cairn. This cairn gives great views to Murray's Monument, and the rocky Craigdews Goat Park next to the monument.

The mountains above the monument are from high left, Larg, Lamachan, Curleywee and Millfore. Behind Millfore is the Merrick. Just right of the Merrick is Mullwarchar, with Dungeon and Craignaw just in front of that.

Large Image.

Craignelder view north image

The image below is is from the south side of Craignelder, looking south to the Cairnsmore of Fleet range. This seems to be a popular route by getting dropped off at Murray's Monument, hiking over Craignelder here, over the hills seen below, then down off Cairnsmore of Fleet to the hiking car park at Cairnsmore House by Palnure, 4 miles south of Newton Stewart on the A75.

That is 2,332 ft Cairnsmore of Fleet right, the 2,007 ft Meikle Mulltaggart on the route over, and the 2,155 ft Knee of Cairnsmore in the distance. These are the last of the 2,000 ft plus hills in the south of the Galloway region. There are about 30 hills between 2,000 ft and 2,766 ft in this area between Loch Doon and Palnure, over a 26 mile area, all well worth hiking. I watch the local weather forcast, and the Internet Satellight as some days the north hills can be sunny, and the south cloudy, or the other way about. Some days I have headed for the north hills and seen better weather south from the road in the car, so headed for the south. The weather has a lot to do with what order I hike the hills.

Craignelder view to Cairnsmore of Fleet image

As I was parked at Murray's Monument, it was back down the same route as I hiked up, as seen below. The many cairns are good to follow back down.

Craignelder route back down image

The image below is heading down to the first cairn. There are cliffs all the way down the west side here, so you have to be careful. If it clouds over, you can head down the right side of the ridge through the heather, a lot safer route, although through some deep heather.

Heading down the northwest ridge image

The image below is from the first cairn looking west out over the Irish Sea. You get great views from this cairn all around.

Craignelder view west image

The image below is heading down the northwest ridge. You can see the two car parks at the monument, and the forest road leading back to the west side car park.

All down the left here is cliffs. You have to head for the trees down to the right, then when below the cliffs, head round to the left along below the cliffs. If you turn left too early, you will get stuck on top of cliffs.

I tried to follow the dyke down the side of the woodland and round to the road. That area is cleared woodland with rotten stumps and branches sticking out of deep tussocks. I had to head back and round to the road the way I went up. Two wrong routes in the one day.

Graignelder way down image

The Map below shows the attractions along the A712 that is also known as The Queens Way. The map also shows the hiking routes onto the hills. Green and brown dots are rough sections, green and yellow fairly good trails. The photo tour above followed the west side trail. The east route up from the deer range car park is a fair bit longer.

Google Road Map . Change Newton Stewart to your town or postcode to get driving directions.

Large Click on Hiking Map of this Area . Cairnsmore of Fleet Photo Tour .

Clatteringshaws Map image

The hike up Craignelder was tough going up to the first cairn, through a lot of ferns on the lower part, and deep heather higher up. From the first cairn, up past the cliffs, was better going with interesting views. The route from the south side, over to Cairnsmore of Fleet, looked very interesting, probably my next hike from Cairnsmore house. Will cross over the whole range one day when I can be dropped off and picked up, or with someone with another car.

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