01/01/2013 16:36:00

Words by bena

Ski Touring in Galloway

Approaching the summit of Carlin's Cairn
Good ski touring conditions in the Galloway Hills are a rare but not unknown occurrence, as these photos show. Those who live locally, or have local contacts to advise on conditions, and who are prepared to take a day or two off work at the at the drop of a hat will be amply rewarded - though they may have to wait a year or two for it all to come together!
Photo: The Rhinns of Kells from the starting point at Brockloch Cottage. The header photo at the top of the page shows John and Linda Biggar approaching the summit of Carlin's Cairn.

One of the best tours in the Galloway Hills is the traverse of the ridge of the RHINNS OF KELLS.


Photo left: Skinning in via forest fire-breaks.

 

Photo below: Crossing Knockower. Corran of Portmark is in the distance on the right.

 

This requires two cars, one of which is left at a forest car park at Burnhead Bridge (553 863).

The second car is driven to the starting point at Brockloch Cottage (538 959) where it can be left in a lay-by.

From here, skin to Lamloch Farm or Woodhead Farm, and thence via forest tracks and firebreaks over the flank of Knockower to the gain the ridge at the summit of the Corran of Portmark (623m, 509 937).

 

The ridge is then followed southwards over the summits of Meaul (695m), Carlin's Cairn (807m), Corserine ((814m) and Meikle Millyea (746m, 518 829), where a north-easterly course is taken over Meikle Lump to gain a forest track and thence back to the first vehicle.

The route is about 11km in total and in good conditions takes about 8 hours for a reasonably fit and experienced party.

 


Linda and John Biggar on Carlin's Cairn.

Photo right: Skinning up to Corserine after fantastic run down from Carlin's Cairn.
 


Photo left:
Approaching the final summit of Meikle Millyea on the Rhins of Kells traverse.

 

And below: Starting the final run down at the end of the day.

 

 

 

There are many other potentially good ski-tours in Galloway given sufficient snow cover.

CAIRNSMORE OF CARSPHAIRN (797m, 595 980) is an easily accessible and fairly popular outing.

Further west, the Dungeon Range might prove too rocky, but MERRICK (843m, 427 855) can be good under snow, especially if gained via the northward ridge of the AWFUL HAND.Further south, the MINNIGAFF HILLS offer many possibilities, and CAIRNSMORE OF FLEET (711m, 502 671) via the pony-track from Cairnsmore House would seem to be an obvious target.

 

John Biggar skiing down into the Howe of the Cauldron from the summit of the Merrick.


Several of the above routes were mentioned in Malcolm Slessor's book Ski Mountaineering in Scotland (West Col 1970). These include the traverse of Cairnsmore of Carphairn, and an ascent of Corserine with the possibility of continuing the traverse northwards.
     

Approaching Corran of Portmark (out of view on right) at the start of the Rhins of Kells traverse.
The hils are from left to right,
Meikle Millyea, Corserine, Carlin's Cairn, and Meaul.
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