Mullwarchar Hill Walk

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Where: Mullwarchar Range or Dungeon Range from Loch Doon, Ayrshire
When: July 21st 2012
Who: I Parker
Why: Toughest looking hills in southern Scotland
Weather: Partial Cloud
Height: 2,270 ft
Distance: About 12 miles, 10 hours

Loch Doon is situated about 3 miles east of the town of Dalmellington, 18 miles east of Ayr. The car park, as seen below, is just over 1 mile east of Dalmellington next to the road signed A713 to Castle Douglas & Dumfries. From here, it is about two miles to Loch Doon Dam, about seven miles to Loch Doon Castle on the far southwest side of the loch.

Loch Doon is fast becoming a tourist hotspot with the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory due to open in October 2012, a new Cafe by the dam that is open 7 days a week, Castle Cafe that is open on holidays and weekends, new Touring Caravan Park under construction, and free camper van and camping spots that are patrolled by a Ranger.

The area has a popular riverside walk and four hill ranges with hills from 1,500 ft to 2,766 ft. Five hills are above 2,500 feet, known as Corbetts.

This page gives information on the rocky Mullwarchar Range, or sometimes referred to as the Dungeon Range, directly south of Loch Doon. This range runs from the south side of Loch Doon to the east side of Loch Trool. To hike the whole range, you need to get dropped off at the south side of Loch Doon and get picked up at the Bruce's Stone car park at Loch Trool. Loch Doon Map .

Wide Image of the Ranges

Loch Doon Entrance Car Park image

About two miles from the car park you reach Loch Doon Dam. The Dam was built in 1935 for generating hydro-electricity. This is the largest inland loch in Southern Scotland, about 7 miles long. There is a Cafe at the Dam that is open most days.

Loch Doon Dam image

Close to the south side of Loch Doon you will pass Loch Doon Castle..

Loch Doon Castle image

Below is a view looking back at the car park at the south side of Loch Doon from the road round to the hills. This is a poular camping spot so one of the car parks may be full, but there is another car park 50 yards up the road next to the Forest Drive road round to Loch Riecawr, Tunskeen Bothy, Merrick Range and the Stinchar Bridge.

Loch Doon south side car park image

The map below shows the route from the car park at the south side of Loch Doon to the Mullwarchar Range. There is a new forest road that leads off south of the main forest road just past the old Cottage. This road leads round to Cragmawhannal Hill where they have just cleared an area of forest.

The Mullwarchar Range is in the middle of two higher ranges, the Corserine range to the east, and the Merrick range to the west.

From the car park at the south of Loch Doon, it is about a two mile walk/cycle round to the first hill named Craigmawhannal.

Large Wide Image of the Three Ranges.

Larger Map

Mullwarchar Hill Map image

The view below shows the new forest road leading to the bottom of the 1,171 ft Craigmawhannal, a small hill you have to cross to get to the Mullwarchar Range, as seen in the distance.

Forest Road to the Mullwarchar Range image

The top of Craigmawhannal gives the first clear view of the Mullwarchar Range. Although the highest hill on this range is Mullwarchar at only 2,270 ft, there are a number of high cliffs all along the east side that make this one of the most dangerous ranges in southern Scotland. The granite cliffs of up to about 1,000 ft along the east sides of these hills, have attracted rock climbers for many years.

It is best to hike this range in good visibility as not only do you want to avoid the cliffs, picking your way over these hills is a good challenge trying to avoid descending into deep gullies, and looking for ways around areas that can only be crossed with a bit of rock climbing. There are places along this range, in good visibility, where you begin to think there may be no way to hike across, but there is always a way.

Crossing the flat top of Cragmawhannal looks wet, but is actually not bad walking following quad bike tracks. You can also follow a track arond this hill.

Craigmawhannal Summit looking at the Mullwarchar Range image

Between here and the trees is a quad bike track that runs across to Hoodans Hill on the Mullwarchar Range. Best try and avoid the small amount of cleared woodland on this south side by hiking to the left in this image to the quad track. The quad track across between these hills is a bit soggy in places, but nothing too bad.

Craigmawhannal Hill southwest side image

The 1,863 ft Hoodens Hill is a good testing hike up with a couple of really steep sections, mind the cliffs on the left side here.

This is one of the best hills in southern Scotland, as the route up is narrow with views down the cliffs, giving a good sense of height. The top of Hoodens is fairly level, almost all rock, and about 1 mile long, great for hiking across with real good views all around.

Hoodens Hill north side image

After crossing the long Hoodens Hill with three cairns, you get a good view of the highest hill on this range, the 2,270 ft Mullwarchar. This is the most testing part of this route with a fair hike down then up to the Mulwarchar summit. Saw a few deer and goats on this side of Mullwarchar. You can hike across most of this range on the granite, although that fairly heats up the feet, so I tended to get back on the grass now and again

Mullwarchar Hill from Hoodans Hill image

The top of Mullwarchar, as seen below, shows the 2,001 ft Dungeon Hill to the left, 1,592 ft Craignairy Hill right of that, and the 2,116 ft Craignaw behind them.

In the Col between Dungeon Hill and Craignairy Hill, is a Cairn where an aircraft crashed on the 18th October 1963. There is a lot of wreckage by the cairn. More Information.

Mullwarchar view to Dungeon Hill image

The view below is from Craignairy south towards the 2,116 ft Craignaw Hill, second last high hill on this range. The path across is down to the left here. If you go straight across, as I did, there is a small amount of rock climbing to get down.

The last couple of hundred feet up Craignaw is really steep. There are three steep routes up, I took the one on the left as it looked slightly easier than the other two. On Craignaw below the summit, you will find the Devil's Bowling Green, a large flat granite area with boulders all over that are used as granite bowls by some hikers. Think one of the steep routes up is named the Devil's Bowling Alley.

You can go round to the right and up, a lot safer.

Craignaw Hill from Craignary Hill image

Below is a view from Craignaw looking south to the 1,742 ft Craiglee. On the south side of Craiglee is the Southern Upland Way trail, and forest road that leads west to Loch Trool. There is a track down off the southwest side of Craglee to a gate onto the forest road. From the gate, it is about 2 miles west to Bruce's Stone car park at Loch Trool. From here, that would be the fast way down if there was someone to pick you up. The only thing was, my car was at Loch Doon, so it was a long hike back.

Was starting to think it would have been better to hike out to Craigmawhannal, Hoodens and Mullwarchar from Loch Doon one day, and from Loch Trool to Craiglee, Craignaw and Dungeon another day.

Craignaw Hill south side image

The view below is from Craignaw summit looking back north to Dungeon Hill, Mullwarchar and Loch Doon in the distance. There is a Memorial Plaque on a rock on Craignaw to pilots of an F-111 that crashed there on the 19th December 1979.

Crainaw Summit image

The view below is on the road back after descending the steep part of Craignaw and looking north over to Dungeon Hill. Those east side cliffs have a drop of over 1,000 ft. You tend to see a lot of people visiting Dungeon Hill summit and it looks a scary place to be from here. The mountain in the distance to the east is Corserine.

Dungeon Hill and Mullwarchar are close to the Merrick and Buchan ranges, so many people hiking them make their way over to these hills. Dungeon Hill Rock Climbing Page

Dungeon Hill from Cragnaw image

The view below is from Dungeon Hill summit looking north to Mullwarchar. It feels safer up here than it looks from the southeast as it is a large lump of granite with plenty of room between the cairn and the cliffs. I would not recommend being up here in poor visibility though.

Dungeon Hill summit view to Mullwarchar image

The view below is from Mullwarchar looking north to Hoodens Hill and Loch Doon.

Mullwarchar Hill view north to Loch Doon image

The view below is on the road back from Craigmawhannal Hill looking north to the new forest road that leads to Loch Doon.

Craigmawhannal Hill view to Loch Doon image

This was a long and testing hike taking about 10 hours over arguably the most interesting and testing hills in southern Scotland.

You can descend the east side between Craignaw and Dungeon, or between Dungeon and Mullwarchar and go back up the valley. I have hiked down the valley to get pics of the cliffs and the two small lochs at the foot of Dungeon Hill. It takes about 2 hourse to hike up the valley between Hoodens and Dungeon. There are quad tracks and animal tracks to follow. A lot easier than going back over all the hills, as long as there has not been a lot of rain, as the valley route may get fairly wet.

Large View up the Valley

Large view across Dry Loch to Dungeon Hill

Getting dropped off at the south side of Loch Doon, hiking down the whole Mullwarchar range, and getting picked up at the Bruce's Stone car park at Loch Trool, would probably take between 8 and 11 hours.

Large Map of the whole range

South Dungeon Range from Loch Trool Page