Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Biggar Ramblers at Striding Arches.
The striding arches at Cairnhead, Moniaive are a group of 4 sandstone arches, each 7 metres wide.  They were constructed by artist and sculptor Andy Goldsworthy with one in the valley built into an old byre and the other three on the surrounding hilltops.  It was an objective of Brian Henry to lead Biggar Ramblers on a circuit of all 4 arches and 3 years of planning came to fruition on 16th June.  Five walkers set off from an isolated location in the valley and walked 1½ miles to the Byre Arch.  Seeing the arch which has one base inside the Byre and the other base outside led the group to wonder how it was built.  After a coffee stop at the Byre the group continued along the valley turning up beside a burn and then through firebreaks to come out onto Little Dibbin Hill.  A fox was seen quickly departing the open ground for the safety of the forest.  Continuing upwards to ascend Benbrack the next arch was reached during heavy rain.  The route then continued on the Southern Upland Way for nearly 2 miles and continued to the ascent of Colt Hill and the third arch.  After Colt Hill a decision had to be made depending on the extent of fallen trees that has blocked this route during the planning stages.  The way was still definitely blocked and the group detoured back into the forest and the road rejoining the hills after adding ¾ mile onto the day.  It was then just over a mile to the 4th and final arch on Bail Hill.  It was from this point that it is possible to see all 4 arches albeit the arch at the Byre is actually on the opposite side of the building.  Descent from the arch was through a firebreak in the forest and the descent was 900 feet from the arch to the valley floor.  When the group came to the end of the firebreak and with 200 feet still to go the car could be seen but it was surrounded by  herd of cows!