Who actually likes Mondays? Certainly not Garfield or Bob Geldof of course – they’re always banging on about hating/not liking Mondays. I’d take a guess that, like the ginger cat and the grubby-looking man, most normal people would probably cite Monday as their least favourite day of the week – I certainly used to dread Mondays, many, many times times over. Back in our ‘old life’ we’d try and make our Sundays as special as possible just to give us something happy to think about during the Monday-Saturday slog but on Sunday nights I would cry because I just couldn’t face the week ahead. This was not how we wanted our lives to be, hence the move to Scotland.
So, as well as changing pretty much everything else about our lives, I have recently decided to change the whole hating Mondays narrative. I am so incredibly fortunate to be in a situation where, to a wide degree, I can choose my working hours, therefore I have decided to try and have a little adventure every Monday afternoon – after all the essential jobs are done, of course. I am also very lucky that I can justify all my rambling adventures as ‘exploring work’, or at least that’s what I tell myself! I do need to become familiar with everything around me in order to be able to assist guests and recommend walks, but do I enjoy it all a bit too much for it to be classed as work?
I definitely consider today’s adventure to be work, of sorts, because I think I mapped out a new 10 mile circular walk that isn’t in any books. I wasn’t entirely sure whether it would all pan out okay, but I’m happy to say that it did. And, with the weather conditions pretty much perfect, it turned out to be one of my favourite walks so far. I had two goals; firstly, to ascend Corsencon Hill as I have wanted to do that for ages, and also to check out the farm ruin of Lethans which I had seen (and kind of fallen in love with) on Google Earth. And luckily for the ruined-building-geek that I am, there turned out to two more decaying farms along the way.
I set off just before 11 am and walked up the A76 towards New Cumnock. This first 20 minutes was the least pleasant (and least safe) part of the trek but I wanted to limit walking through fields as much as I could because of lambing season. It was a relief to finally turn off the road, away from the thundering lorries and head up the track towards Glen Hall Farm.
In the shadow of Corsencon lay the first sad but beautiful ruin of the walk, Hillhead Farm. The empty windows framed beautiful views of Kirkland Hill and not for the first time of the walk I imagined what a ruin might have looked like back in its prime. I think that is one of the things I love about ruins like this one – you know that these places were once filled with life and character and stories. Joy and sorrow, love and anger and everything in between. But now the building, like its old inhabitants, is dead. It is a decaying shell which will fall, piece by piece in every rough storm we have. Sad, but inevitable. As I wandered through the roofless rooms I revived it, in my mind at least, planning out which room the kids could have and how we would decorate the living room. The dream of bringing something like this back to life would be almost too much to bear.
In the 10 minutes I spent exploring Hillhead, the sky suddenly turned a threatening shade of grey so I knew I couldn’t linger. I powered across the fields towards Corsencon, the snow beneath my feet becoming deeper with every step. It was 12.15 when I reached the foot of the hill and stopped for a coffee from my trusty flask and admired the already stunning views.
As I approached the false summit, crossing over the border from Dumfries & Galloway and into East Ayrshire, there were points where the ground dipped down and the snow became deeper still, so much so that it was pretty hard to keep going. At one point I thought I’d try crawling to see if that was any easier. It wasn’t. But by 12.40 I reached the trig point and felt pretty darn pleased with myself. I don’t think I can really quite describe how happy I felt to be up there, especially when the grey clouds dispersed and I could see the incredible views all around me. Corsencon is only 475m high, but I felt like I was on top of the world and I really didn’t want to go back down. Not for the first time in just the last week I felt incredibly lucky to be where I was at that moment.
But by 1.30 pm I had descended and I was down on the other side of the hill, tucking into an embarrassingly terrible ‘lunch’ of bread and butter, followed by a dessert of marshmallows (in my very weak defense I was in a hurry to get out the house and there wasn’t a lot in the cupboards). Thankfully this low point in my life was quickly erased ten minutes later when I continued down the forestry track and came to my second unexpected farm ruin. My OS map tells me this is, or was, Craigshiels Farm.
As far as I am aware, all these farms were bought by forestry companies when the forests were first planted in the 1970s, and then evidently the buildings were left to rot as the trees around them grew. Again I felt a little sense of melancholy as I picked my way over the fallen beams and went from each of the crumbling rooms and wondered what life was like here when it was a home.
Fifteen minutes along the track I was treated to the third of the farm ruins, Lethans – the only one I had actually been expecting to find on this walk. Out of all three ruins, this was the one I could most easily picture as being a home, both back in the day and in the present. Needs a bit of work, but I see something magnificent.
Here I left the track and headed up through the forest behind Lethans Farm. By 2.40 pm I was out of the trees and on the ridge looking down over Kirkland, and beyond that Kirkconnel and Kelloholm and then Sanquhar. Having spent the last few weeks exploring these hills I knew exactly where I was and within minutes I could see the speck of St. Conal’s Cross, contrasted on the snowy hillside. Home wasn’t far away and the adventure was nearly over.
This walk is yet another example in a growing list of adventures which lie all around Rigg House, proving, among other things, that you don’t even need a car to be able to enjoy this area – it is possible to visit the Upper Nithsdale area by train and easily fill a week’s worth of exciting adventures on foot. Today’s mission was especially good because of the beautiful weather and the surprises along the way. But what other mysteries lie hidden in these hills? Why not come and find out? Book your stay at Rigg House B&B today and bring your OS map to life!