Cleish Hills (west)

Exploration of the summits at the western end of the Cleish Hills. Due to the rather wet nature of the ground in this area, route options are somewhat limited. The following route uses the driest routes between the hills.

Distance: 7.5 km / 4.5 miles

Ascent: 230 m / 750 feet

Terrain: rough (mostly) pathless moorland, very wet in places (good footwear essential and gaiters recommended)

Facilities: parking for about three cars at Outh Bridge NT 064 945 (opposite Knockhill Race Circuit) on the A823.

Other walks in the area:

Head through the two gates onto grassy hillside and follow sheep tracks north west, roughly parallel to the road. When you start to approach the back of a house, leave the path and head in a roughly northwards direction directly up Outh Hill. Apart from a sheep feeder there is nothing to mark the actual summit.

The hard work starts now and from here onwards the ground can be very wet in places. Long grass in the drier bits doesn’t help either.

The easiest route across to Scaur Hill and Wether Hill starts at grid ref NT 057 955. To reach this point it is best to keep going northwards keeping to the higher ground before turning left to reach the forest edge. It is necessary to climb a double fence arrangement to enter the forest. The first fence is a wall topped with a fence which may be a bit awkward but the second fence is low and is easily stepped over.

Enter the forest via the firebreak and turn north west into a narrow fire break. Do not be tempted into following the wider firebreak north as it is hard going and leads to wet ground! The narrow firebreak provides an easy route through the forest emerging at a stand of decidious trees.

From here, bear right and cross the fence in front of you. The barb wire has been removed at one point although this is also the wettest ground, so it may be easier to climb it elsewhere. Once on the other side follow muddy animal tracks around the west side of Scaur Hill until the gorse bushes on your right abate. Climb the steep grassy south western flank of the hill to reach the summit with excellent views over the surrounding area.

Descend back to the wee coll and then keep right descending south of some small cliffs to reach a lochan and track. Reaching the track without getting wet feet may be tricky! Turn left and climb the locked gate back into the forest.

The next 850m is easy walking along the forest track. Keep right when you reach a junction (otherwise you will end up back at the road) and climb another locked gate. There are well preserved remains of limekilns at this point. Kepp on the track and soon after passing a patch of decidious trees there is a firebreak on your right alongside a fence (grid reference NT 045 955).

Go up this firebreak which soon turns into a reasonable trodden path. When the fence turns to the right, go left into the trees to reach the open hillside and a short walk over long grass, to the summit of Wether Hill.

The descent can be varied by following the forest edge eastish to reach an obvious fence. At this point a path (of sorts) follows the fence into the trees downhill. The path soon turns right when it meets a fence and quickly rejoins the outward route back to the track.

Return to the gate at Scaur Hill (in Autumn 2019 there was a notice on the gate about a bull in the field although the inhabitants seemed to sheep and girl cows). Either climb the gate and follow animal tracks around the west side of Scaur Hill back to where you crossed the barb wire fence or, if you don’t mind swamp, nettles and sitka spruce, keep the fence to your left and follow it back to your ealier crossing point.

From here it is probably best to return to the decidious trees and your outward route through the firebreak back to the open hillside.

Once at the edge of the forest you need to climb the double fence again to access the grassy hillside. You can now either retrace your outward route over Outh Hill or simply follow animal tracks (muddy in places) around its western flank and keep parallel to the road to return to Outh Bridge.

cleish west route map
Cleish West route map

View / download this route from Ordnance Survey

View / download this route from Viewranger

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