Grey Mare's Tail January 2011

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Rarely do I travel south of Glasgow to hill walk but a few months ago I had the opportunity to take a day trip on the bus organised to walk the Grey Mare’s Tail near Moffat  in Dumfries and Galloway. The trip was put on by the Bearsden and Milngavie Ramblers and is a very relaxing way to hillwalk as there is no driving involved. The Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve is owned by the National Trust in Scotland so is well sign posted and the paths are well maintained. The Grey Mare’sTail is just to the north east of Moffat on the road to Selkirk.

The Grey Mare’s Tail is actually a waterfall plunging 222 feet into a gorge and is the fifth highest cascade in Britain. It is easily reached from the car park on a good path. The name is thought to be descriptive but I think it is rather subjective. From the viewpoint there are steps on the steep path to Loch Skeen. We followed this path looking down into the gorge but branched off before the Loch as we were heading for the White Coomb which at 821 metres is the highest hill in Dumfriesshire. We followed a fence line to the top of White Coomb where there were panoramic views from the rounded summit.

After taking in the views, we headed across the ridge to Lochcraig Head as this was to be a circular walk. I enjoy a walk along a ridge as it gives good views from a height but is relatively flat walking and more of a ramble. The footpath was good and we reached Lochcraig Head in time for our lunch break. Although this is softer country than the Highlands there are impressive cliffs below White Coomb and Lochcraig Head. We left Lochcraig Head and followed the path to Loch Skeen with a route around the Loch. Cloudberry plants were spotted similar to the ones we had seen at Corrour and Ben Alder earlier in the year. I was surprised to see them so far south.

Loch Skeen has clear and unpolluted water and the Vendace fish was recently introduced as part of a species recovery programme. At the loch side, our tea break was cut short by an invasion of midges. I donned the midge net but it is impossible to eat with the net on so we decided to keep walking.  We looked across the burn to the steep sides of Upper Tarnberry and spotted some feral goats. The day is always better when we see some wild life. We rejoined the path on leaving the loch and ambled back above the Grey Mare’s Tail to the car park.

The day was rounded off by having a traditional High Tea with fish and chips at the Annan Water Hotel in Moffat before boarding the bus back to Glasgow. Well done to the B&M committee for organising the day out and the leaders Helen and Moira for managing the walk so well.

Coming attractions; Hadrians Wall

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Thanks to National Trust for Scotland for photos