Cairnsmore of Dee

Dam at Clatteringshaws Loch

This is one of the three “Cairnsmores” and the last one that Jazz and I had to do. It is the least interesting of the three but makes up for this by having two names: the OS map also calls it Black Craig of Dee. It is easily reached from the visitor centre at Clatteringshaws and gives some great views over the surrounding area.

Summit of Cairnsmore of Dee with Cairnsmore of Carsphairn in the distance

We parked at the visitor centre (definitely worth a visit, especially the coffee shop) and then crossed the road to take a track through the forest to Benniguinea.  Skirt around to the north-east for an easier descent then squint your eyes to find a rough “path” leading up onto Cairnsmore.  Don’t worry if you don’t find it because it soon gives up and you are left with a trudge over rough ground to the summit. It’s not a big climb but the top is interesting.  There are lots of nice flat rock slabs that have scrapes where the last glacier in these parts left its mark.  There’s also a couple of wee lochans that were simply irresistible for Jazz.

Ice scrapes on Cairnsmore of Dee with Clatteringshaws Loch beyond

Jazz at the summit (and it has a trig point!)

Jazz having a swim at the top

Emperor Moth emerging

The view to the north-west over Clatteringshaws Loch was lovely with the Glentrool hills and the Rhinns of Kells laid out. The Loch itself was artificially low as work was being done on the pipes leaving the dam. We had lunch at the summit while a shower passed through (Jazz was already soaked after her celebratory dip in one of the lochans at the top). The descent involved a clamber over rough ground then along a felled forest edge to reach a track that headed for Laggan o’ Dee. This was pretty awful right up to the point we found an emerging Emperor Moth (see right). This is one very impressive insect. I knelt down to watch it emerge, dry out, stretch its wings, and then regret waking up in a wet Scottish Spring.

Once on the forest track the walking became very easy. The track joins the Raiders’ Road forest drive. I’ve seen main roads in worse condition: hugely recommended, but remember it’s a toll road – support the Forestry Commission! The track follows the Black Water of Dee and was a birdwatching dream. The early migrants were starting to appear and this valley had them: a Cuckoo was calling while a Tree Pipit did its display song-flight from a tree. That was very cool but was trumped when a flock of Crossbills flew into the same tree – and it wasn’t even a conifer! The conifers themselves were alive with Goldcrests, Coal Tits and Siskins. I stayed as long as Jazz’s patience held: approximately 6.3 milliseconds.

Do It Again: