Monday, 13 June 2022

 The recent hill walk of Biggar Ramblers was to visit all 4 Striding Arches at Cairnhead near Moniaive.  The Striding Arches, built by outdoor artist Andy Goldsworthy, each consist of 31 red sandstone blocks weighing 27 tons, standing at 4 meters high and spanning across seven meters.  They represent Scots emigrating to other parts of the world over the last 200 years.


The walk started in the middle of Dalwhat Glen and after a mile the Byre Arch was reached.  This is the only arch accessible by vehicle.  After a look around the Byre, noting the inscriptions and display about Cairnhead the group headed off to the forest track to ascend Benbrack and the 2nd arch.  However this was not to be as Storm Arwen had decimated part of the forest and the route to Benbrack was blocked by fallen trees.  The alternative was to return to the main vehicle track and ascend through the forest and reach the planned route.  A visit to the Benbrack Arch was sacrificed.


Once on the route again the next arch was at the top of Colt Hill.  From here the views were primarily north towards the hills of East Ayrshire.  Turning south the group set off for the final arch but again the route was blocked by fallen trees and a detour had to be made into the forest and use the main track.  From here there was a steady ascent back onto Green Hill to re-join the route to the 4th and final arch on Bail Hill.  This is the only viewpoint where the location of all arches can be seen.


From Bail Hill, there was only ½ mile to reach the start but it was a straight descent of 900 feet through a very boggy forest firebreak which had numerous frogs scampering for cover as the group descended.  The walk was just under 10 miles but 1 mile of this was to backtrack after meeting the Storm Arwen damage.