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.
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.
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.
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