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If you are a 'Munro bagger' then this is definitely not the area for you. However if you are content to be in the company of Donalds and Corbetts, and walk all day without meeting another soul, and perhaps get a view of the shimmering Solway thrown in for good measure, this is the place for both you and your walking boots.
From the Carsphairn and Galloway Hills in the west through to the Lowthers and Moffat Hills in the east the area is indeed a rare find for the walker who seeks solitude in wild and beautiful surroundings. One word of advice here; better sharpen up on your navigation before coming - well worn paths are scarce. The market towns of Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas or
bustling Moffat with its stone ram in the High Street and spas close by, all have excellent hotels and B.and B.s and make ideal bases for a few days or a week's walking in the neighbouring hills.
Gently undulating forest walks, threading out through some of the largest forests in Britain, invariably lie close into the hills. Take a day off from your week's hill walking and walk through the forests of Galloway or round the waters of the Black Esk over in Eskdale. My favourite is the Forest Enterprise walk through Craigieburn Woods high above Moffat Water valley.
For the keen hill walker the rough heather clad hills of Galloway, the rounded tops of the Lowthers, or the high ridges of the Moffat Hills offer a serious challenge. There are seven Corbetts (over 2,500 feet in height) to climb, and you can take but a short step from White Coomb in the Moffat Hills over into neighbouring Tweedsmuir to pick up another two. Add to that thirty~seven Donalds and that's more than enough to make any hill walker wish to return for more.
The very sound of their names makes one want to set foot on them. In Galloway one suspects a definite Gaelic influence, with" names like Kirriereoch, Merrick, Shalloch on Minnoch and Lamachan. Then there's Curliewee and Corserine, sitting in a glorious wilderness of moorland and lochan, just waiting for you.
Leave Scotland's highest village, Wanlockhead in the Lowthers, and climb up onto the snowy summit of Lowther Hill on a clear winter's day and the view can be breathtaking. To the west, Arran's hills appear to float on the waters of the Firth of Clyde, while to the south beyond the Solway the Lakeland peaks glisten white. Face north, and on a really clear day, one can make out Ben Vorlich.
I think it's the high ridges, so much a feature Moffatdale, that make its hills so exciting to climb. A day can be spent in glorious isolation going from one top to another. Climb up the high path leading up to Loch Skene, and you have found the key to a day's wonderful hill stravaiging
If your interests go beyond walking, the region's hills offer much of interest to botanist, bird watcher and historian alike. Many rare alpine plants can be found and the hills today are the haunt of both red and roe deer, wild goat, golden eagle, buzzard and peregrine. In the past they've been crossed by reivers, Covenanters, soldiers and even smugglers.
One thing is certain .... you'll be back.

JIM MANSON. 7..9..00