Culter Fell from Tinto

Culter Fell and Gathersnow Hill

Hillwalking route on the hills south of Biggar surrounding Coulter Reservoir

The rolling Culter Hills lie in the Southern Uplands, just south of Biggar. The highest peaks are Culter Fell and Gathersnow Hill - vast heather and grass covered lumps. Navigation is fairly easy following well-maintained fences.

Route outline


Culter Fell, 

Gathersnow Hill

Ascent 960m (3140ft)
Distance 19km (12m)
Time 6:30hr
Start/finish Culter Allers Farm
Grid Ref : NT031312
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

Starting from Culter Allers Farm in the heart of the hills south of Broughton, a steep continuous climb leads up Culter Fell and onto vast and wide heather clad crests. Terrain to Gatherrsnow Hill is delightful underfoot, following for the main part, lines of well maintained fence.

Recent wind-turbine construction has added new tracks which make for easy navigation, but alas spoil what was previously a fairly remote area.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Coulter

By Culter Allers Farm, view up Culter Fell

By Culter Allers Farm, view up Culter Fell

A few miles south of Biggar, as the A702 travels towards Abington and the M74, lies the small village of Coulter. By a sharp turn in the road is a junction with a sign to Birthwood and Culter Kirk. Take the road heading south from this junction and follow it past a school as it then narrows and travels for 3km to its end by Culter Allers Farm.

There is limited roadside parking for a few cars by a large wheelie-bin. I've also seen vehicles parked slightly up the road by the entrance to Birthwood Farm. The continuation of the road up towards Cowgill Reservoir used to be public, but there is now a gate across this with a sign stating 'Private, no unauthorised access'.

2. Culter Fell

Looking back to Tinto from a grouse-butt on Fell Shinn

Looking back to Tinto from a grouse-butt on Fell Shinn

Leaving the lay-by and bins behind, take the private road heading off left, marked by by a sign to 'Coulter Reservoir'. The road comes to a junction with the entrance to Birthwood Farm, again keep left. Over a cattle-grid, the road passes some woodland, sheep pens and crosses a burn .

Immediately after crossing the burn, take a rough track on the left heading uphill and around a patch of dense forestry. At the top of the forestry, the track splits - take the right fork and follow a grassy track zig-zagging uphill. The track becomes a path as it heads in a more direct line uphill.

The path passes a few grouse butts as it is followed over through heather climbing up Fell Shin. A cairn is met, beyond which the path makes its way up a more gentle and grass covered gradient, to Culter Fell's summit .

Shin Fell's cairn and view up Culter Fell

Shin Fell's cairn and view up Culter Fell

On Culter Fell's summit, a trig point sits aside a fence-line. There are fine views to be had from the top, particularly across the Clyde Valley over to Tinto and towards the Pentlands.

Shin Fell's cairn and view up Culter Fell

Shin Fell's cairn and view up Culter Fell

3. Gathersnow Hill and Hillshaw Head

Gathersnow Hill from Culter Fell

Gathersnow Hill from Culter Fell

From Culter Fell's summit, trace the fence-line southwards. Terrain can be soggy in bits, but generally easy going underfoot and very runnable with a faint path to follow. The slight rise of Moss Law is crossed after which the path veers away from the fence as it progresses down to Holm Nick .

Upon reaching Holm Nick, the path meets with a track travelling up from Coulter Reservoir. Following the track as it climbs gently uphill, the fence-line is once again met on the grass-covered lump of Glenwhappen Rig. Turning right (west), with wind-turbines in view ahead, the path and fence reach Gathersnow Hill's flat summit .

Continue on a faint trod as it follows the fence-line westwards down to a small heather-clad gap, from where the fence gradually turns southwards. The fence-line meets with another coming up from Fingland Moss, which is crossed, and from where a hike of 300m on delightful grass attains the summit of Hillshaw Head .

Hillshaw Head from Gathersnow

Hillshaw Head from Gathersnow

Once a remote summit in a group of peaceful hills, Hillshaw Head is now surrounded on most sides by the vast Clyde Wind Farm due to our need for green energy. Try and ignore these turbines by looking north or eastwards and there are some lovely views to be had.

Hillshaw Head from Gathersnow

Hillshaw Head from Gathersnow

4. Hudderstone and return to Coulter

Dod Hill above Fingland Moss

Dod Hill above Fingland Moss

From Hillshaw Head's summit, retrace your steps back to the junction of fence-lines and follow the posts heading north-west to Fingland Moss. After descending around 50m of height, the rough road for the wind-farm is reached .

On the road turn right (northwards) and follow it as it crosses a cattle-grid and gently undulates over the landscapes towards Dod Hill. On the way the road passes below a few of the massive wind-turbines and reaches a junction with a sign pointing left to 'Exit'.

At the junction, turn right and continue for a further 500m or so to end of the road below wind turbine 212, just under the summit of Dod Hill. Leave the road and strike up over mossy ground to then follow a fence-line and faint ATV tracks up to the top of Dod Hill .

Beyond Dod Hill, a wide and quite damp plateau is crossed, followed by a gentle rise leading to a junction in the fence-line. Cross the fence, then aiming northwards and keeping the fence-line on your right, reach the flat top of Hudderstone , with an old metal fork sticking in the grass.

Continue keeping the fence-line on your right, leave Hudderstone behind and follow a trod north-west and downhill. The trod becomes more of a path then meets with a track that travels up from Cowgill Reservoir by a locked gate .

Summit of Hudderstone

Summit of Hudderstone

Over the gate, follow the track over Cowgill Rig. One last slight rise reaches the edge of a patch of forestry, thereafter a jog leads down to the road , 1km south-west of route start.

Summit of Hudderstone

Summit of Hudderstone

5. Approach from the east and Chapelgill Hill Race

In Glen Holm, Holms Waterhead below Gathersnow Hill

In Glen Holm, Holms Waterhead below Gathersnow Hill

Around 6km east of Biggar is the small village of Broughton and to the south of this Glen Holm approaches the Culter Hills from the east. The road ends by Glenkirk below Chapelgill Hill.

There are several possible routes up to Culter Fell, with the eastern shoulders of Chapelgill Hill, Congrie Hill and Leishfoot Hill all making for fine approaches or descents.

Taking place in early March, the Chapelgill Hill Race is a short blast up to the summit and back from Glenkirk. There's no restriction on route, though most runners seem to prefer to head west from the startfor a short distance before turning directly uphill to meet a fence-line to follow to the top.

Runners descending the Chapelgill Hill Race

Runners descending the Chapelgill Hill Race

GPX file of the race route is available (see below) and more details of Chapelgill Hill Race are available on the Scottish Hill Runners website

Runners descending the Chapelgill Hill Race

Runners descending the Chapelgill Hill Race

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