Walking in Moffat

Walk this way…

Walking in Moffat, Scotland’s first Walkers are Welcome town, and its surrounds, can be as challenging or as relaxed as you like. Whether you want an all-day hike or just a gentle amble, make Moffat your base for a memorable holiday. Look out for the many way-marked routes around town. Walking in Moffat means: clean air, crowd-free spaces and vistas at every turn. Which will entice you back again and again. One recent visitor called it: ‘A hill walker’s dream.’ These are just a few of our favourite walks…

The magical walk

Join the Merlin trail and discover the real story behind the legendary wizard. Merlin was one of the last great druids who lived right here in southern Scotland during the Dark Ages. Now a major new trail uncovering the true story of Merlin and his ties to the South of Scotland has been revealed. Take a walk up Hart Fell and get close to his cave where he took shelter for over a decade. The full route was developed by the Arthur Trail Association with more than 30 sites across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, East Lothian and the Central Belt. But what’s fact and what’s fiction? Find out about this little-known period in history at the Moffat Museum. Or visit Merlin Trail to learn about each location.

The woodland wander

Gallow Hill (pictured) was once a commercial plantation and is now being replanted as a recreational broadleaf woodland with native species such as rowan, oak, holly, juniper and much more. It’s now owned by the Moffat community for future generations to enjoy. Catch it at the start of its new life. Better still: get involved in its volunteer days or sponsor a square of land. Tree-mendous fun. Moffat Community Woodlands

The mega march

It’s rugged, it’s steep, it’s 212 miles long… can you take on the Southern Upland Way?  Britain’s first official coast-to-coast, long-distance footpath is largely undiscovered by many walkers. But ‘the Way’ has something for everyone. Hardy types love the challenge of the hill walking while the shorter stretches appeal to those who want to take it one step at a time. Pick it up in nearby Beattock. The Southern Upland Way

The challenging circuit

The Annandale Way is 55 miles long and Moffat is its most northerly point. There’s plenty to stop and stare at en route. Navigate steep climbs and rough ground as you follow the River Annan and discover delights such as a Roman watch tower and a classic U-shaped glaciated valley. Some say it’s a life-changing experience. You decide. The Annandale Way

The dramatic trek

The Grey Mare’s Tail, a 60m waterfall and the fifth highest in the UK, is named after the horse in Robert Burns’ poem Tam O’Shanter. This breathtaking nature reserve and hanging valley is home to stoats, goats and peregrine falcons. Follow the falls all the way to the top on the well-defined path and you’ll discover Loch Skeen. A pleasing place to pause before your descent. For the brave, there’s ice climbing to be had in winter when temperatures drop so low the water freezes. National Trust for Scotland

The hike with history

The impressive landmark that is the Devil’s Beef Tub is a 500ft deep hollow and its name refers to the practice of hiding cattle stolen during cross-border raids. Novelist Walter Scott wrote: ‘It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.’ But don’t let that put you off! You’d miss out on its spectacular views.

The high climb

Golf Course Hill is a short but fairly steep walk – you’ll need to put in some legwork. And your reward? The 180-degree panaromic vista of Moffat nestling in the hills of Upper Annandale and the Devil’s Beef Tub. Worth every step. Plus you can practise your golf on an impressive 18-hole moorland course at The Moffat Golf Club.

The gentle jaunt

Walking in Moffat doesn’t have to be arduous. Pick up the waterside walk following the River Annan which rises in the Devil’s Beef Tub and flows towards the Solway Firth. Each season is a feast for the senses. Seek out the snowdrops, daffodils and primroses in springtime. Take in the delicious, subtle aroma of wild garlic when it’s in season and relax in the shade of the many trees on hot summer days. In autumn, nature shows off its glorious colours with aplomb. And this walk is on the flat so no huffing and puffing is required.

Useful contacts

For more on walking in Moffat, go to Visit Moffat or call in to the Tourist Information Centre on the high street.

See how a former quarry has been transformed into the Moffat Community Nature Reserve.

Discover more on woodland culture with The Borders Forest Trust.

Visit Scotland and Visit South West Scotland: a must for your Scottish holiday.

Your reading companions

Slow Britain Guide to Dumfries and Galloway by Donald Greig and Darren Flint (Bradt Guides)

The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs by Tristan Gooley (Hodder & Stoughton)

Where to stay

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PHOTOGRAPH: courtesy of Moffat Community Woodlands