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Moffat, Auldton Fell, Swatte Fell, Blue Cairn, Dumfries and Galloway.
[ 14.5 km] Tue 14 Aug 2012

NT 0918 0718
After a pleasant drive north I reached Moffat then followed Well Road to the north of the town. At the end of the road is a small car park near to the site of Moffat Well. I’d planned to visit the well but not till after my walk. A very tidy house and garden was across from the car park. I set off north along the track to the less tidy house of Blaebeck then through a gate to continue along the track above Birnock Water. The track is a forestry access road and I could see extensive pine plantations ahead. I noticed a vehicle bridge across the river so followed a track down to use it.

Bridge over Birnock Water

A faint track headed up the north side of Merecluch Hill following Mere Cluch. As I got higher there was no obvious route to follow. Approaching Auldton Fell the going wasn’t too bad but that soon changed as I descended towards Roundstonefoot Plantation. Dense pine forest was to my right and the gloomy sight of cloud everywhere else. My objective of Swatte Fell was hidden in cloud. The ground was very difficult to negotiate as it was deep heather and very rough. At the north end of the plantation the intermittent rain became constant. I followed a fence line up the hillside to where the gradient eased and I managed a brief view down into the deep Birnock Cloves.

Gloomy mountains ahead

Across Nether Coomb Craig I reached the steep drop off into Black Hope valley. I managed a brief view down into the void just as the heavier rain started and I was enveloped in thick cloud meaning I had no views of anything. I headed off across rough and featureless ground towards Swatte Fell summit but wasn’t able to judge where the summit was. I came to the fence that I knew descended to Nuberry Moss so began to follow it down. I was surprised that there was no evidence of a path as I would have thought this would be a good way up to the hilltop from Moffat.

Black Hope valley

The lack of a path was made much worse by the very rough, wet and boggy ground. The map shows a cairn on the area called Blue Cairn but I couldn’t see anything in the cloud and rain. I thought the ground couldn’t any harder to cross but it did. At Greygill Head I started a direct descent to the south and was so glad to reach firmer ground and eventually get below the cloud. I reached the track I’d used earlier and followed it back to the car. It was certainly a dismal walk across difficult ground. Even in good weather I would not recommend it. To try and salvage something from the day I went though a couple of pedestrian gates by the car park and down to Moffat Well.


All that remains of the well area is a small stone building with a dark pool of sulpherous smelling water inside. An information board adjacent has the following information:
During 1633 Rachel Whyteford discovered a sulpherous mineral well about a mile and a quarter from the town of Moffat up Binock Water. The water was meant to help cure most illnesses
In 1758 Dr Hunter, a physician in Moffat, began to improve access to the well. A small stone house was erected over the well.
In the 19th century the popularity of the wells started to decline. By the 1950s th old long room was demolished and all that remains today is the stone hut above the well. It was repaired in 1987.

Moffat Well today

Moffat Well in better times