Helen Rose Diary
The Lowther Hills, also sometimes known as the Lowthers, are an extensive area of hill country in the Southern Uplands. They form a roughly lozenge shape on the map with the acute angles being to north and south. It has the river valleys along its boundaries with Clydesdale to the north east and Nithsdale to the south west which carry the two largest arterial routes northwards into the west side of the Central Belt of Scotland. A string of small towns and villages have long since developed along these routes such as Leadhills and Wanlockhead. Most of the Lowther Hills lie in Dumfries and Galloway.
The area has a history of lead mining and the villages still have the rows of miners’ cottages. The museum in Wanlockhead has a real 18th century lead mine set deep in the hillside where visitors can experience the thrill of going underground. Make your way along village paths to the miners’ cottages and see how the miners really lived in the different periods of 1750, 1850 & 1910 before exploring the second oldest subscription library in Europe, which has gained recognition status as being a collection of National Significance. You can also go gold panning! www.leadminingmuseum.co.uk
Bobby led the walk for the Glasgow Ramblers www.glasgowramblers.org.uk in lovely sunny, dry and warm weather with excellent visibility much to his surprise. We drove down to Wanlockhead which is Scotland’s highest village at nearly 500 metres above sea level. Following the Southern Upland Way in part we climbed onto East Mount Lowther at 631 metres. Using the indicator on the trig point we could see clearly the Lake District peaks including Skiddaw and Scafell Pike, the island of Arran and many of the southern Munros including Ben Lomond, Ben More and Stob Binnein. We could also see over to Northern Ireland. There was a good track and we looked over to the ‘Golf Ball’ on the next hill for radar etc. The weather was unexpected and we spent time just taking in the views.
After lunch with a view we then climbed Lowther Hill which is topped off by a large dome used by aircraft radar. It resembles a very large golf ball with some mini golf balls adjacent. We passed close to the ski centre with only one ski tow. Lowther Hills is a small, family-friendly ski centre nested between Scotland's two highest villages, Wanlockhead and Leadhills, which boast Scotland's oldest Curling and Skiing heritage. It's the only ski centre in the south of Scotland and the nearest to the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dumfries, all just one hour's drive to the slopes. Today there was no snow on the slopes although there were tiny patches on the hillside. It is only operational on around 20 days per season. From the summit we looked over to Ireland although unsure whether it was the Antrim Coast or the Mountains of Mourne that we could see. Amazing to see the three countries of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. Wales was just a bit too far away to see!
After a gentle stroll along a tarmac road we reached our third peak of the day, Green Lowther with an assortment of masts at the summit. Cyclists were slowly climbing up the hill which looked a lot harder than walking. An easy downhill stretch on rough ground to the reservoir then onto hill tracks and finally we followed an old railway track back into Wanlockhead.
No visit to Wanlockhead is complete without visiting the local pub, the Wanlockhead Inn, the highest pub in Scotland, for a well-earned refreshment before returning home. A great day out in fabulous weather and with interesting history. I must go back when the Museum is open at Wanlockhead as we were out of season.
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