Is there a summit somewhere in the world that you have reached more than once? Is there a cairn somewhere high up, that you have gotten used to seeing? That you could happily climb to another dozen times and not get bored of it? There is for me and it is called Corserine, a Corbett in the Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries & Galloway.
Looking Up Towards Corserine From Loch Harrow (Corserine is behind this peak – North Gairy Top)
I think I’ve climbed this mountain 4 times in my life and I suspect that number will reach double figures at some point. It is absolutely one of my favourite walks in Scotland and you should definitely make time to do it.
Alright, I will stop stalling at this point. I can hear your questions. “How long is the route?”, “Where is it?”, “The Rhinns of what?”.
Rest assured I am going to answer all of those questions. But first…
1) That Name
Is this the prettiest named mountain in Scotland? It’s definitely a contender in my opinion! Corserine is such a pretty name for a hill. Now, according to Munro Magic it means ‘Cross Ridge’ but I always think it sounds like something a Celtic Goddess would be called!
2) The Rhinns of Kells
The Rhinns of Kells is a ridge, running approximately 17km in a relatively northerly direction. This beautiful ridge has a variety of peaks, the largest of which is Corserine. The ridge offers stunning views in all directions including views east to Cairnsmore of Carsphairn (a very close Corbett), north towards Ayrshire and west to the Range of the Awful Hand and Merrick, the highest point in the south of Scotland. Corserine is in a beautiful location and the Rhinns of Kells is a ridge that offers wonderful walking opportunities and stunning views.
3) Route Information
You can bag Corserine simply going up and back down it but you would be cheating yourself out of a wonderful walk. The best way to bag this peak is to complete the circular walk that takes you through beautiful forestry, up along the ridge and back down into the forest. The circular route is just over 10 miles long and THIS route on WalkHighlands is the one I would recommend with one caveat: I much prefer to do this route in a clockwise direction: it saves the summit until last and gives you a wonderful ridge walk towards Corserine. (Doing it anti-clockwise means you are on the summit a bit too quickly for my liking).
4) The Forest Estate
One thing I must mention about this walk is the absolutely wonderful ‘Forest Estate’ in which it sits. Sitting off the A713, between Carsphairn & St John’s Town of Dalry (Here), the area is owned by the Fred Olsen group, who use the Estate for hydroelectric power & forestry. The result of this is a forest that is beautifully quiet, wonderfully signposted and pleasantly accommodating. Not only is there a large FREE car park, with picnic benches and a notice board, but the Estate is criss-crossed with roads (all with Norwegien names!) that are signposted, making it very easy to navigate through.
The Car Park Over the Humpback Bridge
A Typical Sign
I can’t stress this enough, it is a wonderfully presented & welcoming Estate. It is so well sign-posted, so well kept and so easy to visit that I can’t help but feel other similar locations could learn a lot from this place. On my 4 visits I haven’t seen any trucks on the forest roads, they have always been deserted and this tranquillity seems to have created a wonderful feeling in the Estate. It feels remote and there is an abundance of wildlife. Glorious red stags, red squirrels and grouse are abundant in the area. Also, there is a smattering of well-kept tracks for walking scattered around this route.
The great Rhinns of Kells ridge, however, rises proudly above the treeline and offers an excellent rugged hillwalk. The high point is Corserine, a Corbett and an extensive viewpoint over much of Galloway. – WalkHighlands
I am going to share a report of my most recent ascent of Corserine, on a particularly warm day. As always, my faithful companion Messi was along for the walk and the area is very dog friendly: there is no livestock, multiple burns, streams and lochans for some fresh water and a complete lack of vehicles throughout the Estate.
Very Appreciated on a Warm Day
Heading off from the car park (and if following my advice to do the circuit clock-wise) you will be strolling through pinewoods on wide forestry tracks. The woodland is wonderfully silent, with the faint sound of running water coming from a small stream that runs through the trees. Keep your eyes peeled for red deer and red squirrels! I also love keeping an eye out for pretty flowers on my walks and Corserine has them in abundance.
The track will gradually gain altitude and when it does don’t forget to look backwards: the views are sweeping and you haven’t even started climbing the Corbett yet.
Eventually you will reach a small-ish path that departs from the main track out onto open moorland. Follow it and get your first proper look at the glorious ridge-walk you are about to enjoy!
I Wasn’t Kidding
Now, personally, I find the ascent here the hardest part of the day (I am aware that this may crush you or motivate you!) as it is pretty steep to get up onto the ridge but once you reach the top (marked with a cute little lochan), the rest of the ascent is quite gentle. Your effort though will be immediately rewarded: views over to Glen Trool, with the gorgeous Loch Trool stretched before you.
And of course, you will get a look at a certain peak called Merrick while you are at it (the largest mountain in the south of Scotland).
Me Totally Not Posing For Pictures In An Attempt To Avoid The Ascent
A Necessary Post-Ascent Soaking (I did not join him)
The Views to Loch Trool Appear
Looking Along the Ridge: Nowhere Near As Steep As It Looks
Once you are up on the main ridge the walk is really quite easy and straight-forward. You will walk alongside a stone dyke (which will lead you straight to the summit of Corserine), with tremendous views in all directions. To your right you will see Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and directly below you are the lochs Dungeon, Harrow & Minnoch. To your right is Merrick and the Range of the Awful Hand, including another smattering of beautiful lochs.
Sometimes I Think He Enjoys The Views As Much As I Do
Looking to Corserine
The Views Are Stunning
On the Summit! (Messi Also Clearly More Interested in Something Else)
A Beautiful Smattering of Flowers on the Summit
Looking Back Along the Ridge
The Return & The Highlander
The return route will see you drop off the ridge and re-enter the woodland. Once on the forest track you will be treated to an easy walk back to the car-park, passing by Loch Harrow and a lovely house in an amazing spot in the estate.
You will also find The Highlander just before you reach the car park. You should absolutely stop and have a read of the incredible story behind this figurehead and its’ role in the Second World War.
An Amazing Tale
Between the spectacular scenery, the wonderful Forest Estate and the bonus of the Highlander (seriously, how many mountains have you climbed that have something like that?) you absolutely should climb Corserine. It makes for a fantastic day out. I love this circuit walk, I love the length (10 miles is just right) and I love the feeling of remoteness.