The Enterkin Pass
By Brenda Warner
For several hundred years the Enterkin Pass in the Lowther Hills was the main highway between Dumfries and Glasgow, but was abandoned in 1765, because it was unsuitable for wheeled traffic.
Late in the afternoon we approached the community of Leadhills and turned into Station Road. Here the Hill Path Contour book advised to ask the way as the original Enterkin path was blocked by mining buildings. A lady obligingly appeared on the road and pointed out the way to us, warning that it was a narrow way. We followed her directions which took us accurately through the mining activities to a path that made its way round the hillside. It was good riding with only the occasional need to stop to negotiate a difficulty on the path.
On reaching a deep gully we retraced a few yards or so, and took another path, Jack remembered having done this the last time he had passed this way. After some more amusing riding we came unexpectedly upon a surfaced road leading steeply upwards to a wireless station perched atop of Lowther Hill. We went up the road until confronted by a notice which said in effect "No Further".
At this point we looked carefully to our right across the rough grass and found our green road swinging away along the hillside. We pushed along pausing now and again to admire the views across the green-clad range of hills, before plunging down into the deep V-shaped valley of the Enterkin.
The path went diagonally straight down one side of the V, to the Enterkin Burn 300 ft below, it was only bicycle width and was interrupted regularly by poles bearing an electric cable - we had to wriggle round these annoyances, but they could be a good guide in bad weather.
At the burnside the path became green, flat and rideable, crossing the burn a few times. After continuing for some distance down the valley the path finally crossed the burn to climb up onto a shelf which undulated gently, then dipped to cross the Valentine Burn.
At this point Jack and I decided to set up our tent. The ominous thunder clouds that had hung over Glen Valentine while we pitched our tent, cleared away to a serene sunset, then the stars appeared and we had a frost.
In the morning we were loath to leave our sleeping bags until the first shaft of sunlight reached our tent. While we ate breakfast it gradually got hotter until we were forced out into the open to seek relief in a breeze. By the time we had broken camp and got under way we were thoroughly overheated.
The hills in front of us were gradually opening up to give some grand views, our road wound over some low hills and then passed through a gate. On the other side Jack stopped to take some photos while I performed various acrobatics on the bike as foreground interest. We were in carefree mood as we sped downhill over a smoothish waterlogged surface, the sun shone on the round green hills of the cattle country all about us. But we were soon reminded that our journey was nearing its end as a barbed wire fence had been strung across the road to enclose some farmland. We cursed it roundly as we heaved the heavily laden bikes over. Hoping that it was the only obstruction that the farmer had made, we cycled down a long spur of land which dropped gently towards some cattle pens and another barrier.
This time it was made from the head and foot of an iron bedstead tied up with barbed wire. We took this lot apart and rearranged it to form a gate which could be opened easily. The final part of the road was similar to anything found in Surrey, a deep lane with a bank on both sides topped by beech trees, their branches meeting overhead. Needless to say, it was muddy too!
We were glad to emerge onto the metalled road, where we inspected the Scottish Rights of Way sign, and cycled on in the direction of Carron Bridge Station. The Enterkin can be crossed comfortably in 4.5 hours.
We used old OS 1" sheet 68 [ 1:50,000 sheet 78 - Ed ]