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Reporters | 14th September 2021

A challenging day’s walk

Langholm’s Stuart Tedham takes us on a walk where the grey mare waves her tail


On a beautiful sunny morning, avid rambler, Stuart Tedham left Langholm eager for a challenging day’s walk in the Moffat Hills.

I first headed north to the foot of the impressive ‘Grey Mare’s Tail’, a 60-metre-high waterfall that towers above the valley below.

The initial path up the side of the waterfall is a very steep and narrow path that leads right pass the very top of the falls and onwards along the stream towards the hidden but very picturesque Loch Skeen, the highest loch in the southern uplands.

It was from here on the marshy banks of Loch Skeen that I commenced the ‘White Coomb’ walk, an engaging hill walk high above Loch Skeen, that the Daily Telegraph in 2009 included amongst Britain’s finest half day walks. This path from Loch Skeen towards ‘Lochcriag Head’ was terribly wet and it can be quite difficult to transverse the bogs. I was quite lucky that the recent dry weather had helped, though I can imagine during the winter or a very wet season, this path can be near impossible to cross. Eventually though I reached the bottom of ‘Lochcraig Head’ and I followed the path – the entire White Coomb walk follows stonedyke walls, making it easier not to stray off the path – up the very steep hill.

‘Lochcraig Head’ is a heavy going climb, but eases towards the top of the hill. There is a medium sized cairn near the summit that provides a spectacular view upon both Loch Skeen and ‘Grey’s Mare Tail’ beyond. It’s a nice spot to have small rest after that arduous climb from the bogs below.

I then followed the path down from the top of ‘Lochcraig Head’ onto the marshy ‘Talla Nick’ before climbing back up the side of ‘Firthybrig Head’. The path from here over the moors continues over a long ridge towards ‘White Coomb’, a ‘Crobett’ and the highest of the Moffat Hills at 820 metres.

There is a much easier gradient in the path towards the final climb of ‘White Coomb’ and again the views from the top were pretty impressive in all directions.

The final descent down from the top of ‘White Coomb’ can be very difficult in places – particularly at the ‘Rough Craig’s’ which is a steep descent down a staircase fashioned from local stone. The final section reconnects with the original path just above the Grey Mare’s tail, though to get there, you will have to cross the stream by standing over various stones to get across.

This walk in all took me seven hours to complete and was both engaging and rewarding experience throughout.

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