The walk Lanarkshire’s finest
Location: The Lowther Hills, Lanarkshire Grade: Moderate hill walk
Distance: 8 miles/13km Time: 3-4 hours
I MUST admit I usually associate Lanarkshire more with industry than high rolling hills but it’s a fact that Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland. At 468 metres above sea level it’s only 264m to the summit of 732m Green Lowther – that’s less than 1,000 feet! That’s what tempted me.
With a few hours snatched from a long haul up the motorway I made the most of a wander over Green Lowther and its near neighbours East Mount Lowther and Lowther Hill, a fine little expedition at this time of the year with views which, in clear weather, extend from the Lakeland Fells to the Highlands. Or so I’m told.
On this wintry day the village had a typical Sunday afternoon feel to it, cold and empty, and from the road above the visitor centre I followed Southern Upland Way signposts out of the village for about 1.5km. Backpackers hiking the entire 200-mile plus length of the Southern Upland Way probably appreciate Wanlockhead more than I did, for the Lowthers mark the halfway point of their route – and the highest elevations. From here it’s all downhill to the North Sea.
I warmed up a bit as I climbed Stake Hill to where the path joins a wider track and then, shortly after, makes a very tight bend to the left. I left the Southern Upland Way here and followed the old right of way to the Enterkin Pass that runs between Wanlockhead and Durisdeer. Many have been the itinerants who have passed through this narrow slot in the hills – Covenanters, travelling priests, merchants and, it is said, the army of Charles Edward Stuart en route to its fateful appointment at Culloden in 1746.
At the head of the pass I left the comforts of the path, took to the heather and climbed to the summit of East Mount Lowther but my arrival coincided with a bank of mist so I saw very little.
I hoped for better things on Lowther Hill so I returned to the pass and climbed from there to pick up the track that runs to the summit of Lowther Hill itself.
This summit was once used as a burial ground for suicides, the belief being that such a sin barred these poor folk from the consecrated churchyard. The actual summit has a fence around it, protecting the radar mast, and the wind was howling through it like a demented banshee. It sounded as though a thousand suicides were howling in anguish in their eternal punishment.
On the other side of the fence a road runs over an intermediate rise to the summit of Green Lowther where, because of the increasing gales, I dropped quickly down the wide ridge to the mine workings just south of Leadhills, from where it was an easy wander along the B797
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