The Striding Arches – a guide for visiting these sculptures in 2023

Striding Arches

'The Striding Arches' was an artist-led project which aimed to celebrate a little known area of Dumfries & Galloway in south-west Scotland. Led by Andy Goldsworthy, these red sandstone arches ‘stride’ around the natural amphitheatre that is Cairnhead, located deep in the Southern Uplands. We wanted to publish a guide for anyone planning to visit the arches in 2023, let's get into it:

Where are the Striding Arches?

All 4 of the Striding Arches are located around the head of the Dalwhat Valley near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire. This is just off the Southern Upland Way - we have a guide about that route if you'd like to learn more. The arches are located almost exactly 1 mile from each other as the crow flies.

What are the Striding Arches made from?

Each arch stands just under four metres high, with a span of about seven metres, and consists of 31 blocks of hand-dressed Dumfriesshire red sandstone weighing approximately 27 tons.

Why were the Striding Arches placed in this area?

Goldsworthy wanted to have the arches in this area to highlight the beauty of the area, but also the placement of the arches was very deliberate. He wanted it to be that no matter which arch you find yourself at, you should always be able to see 2 others.

Here is where you'll find each arch:

The Byre

As you can see from the image, the Byre arch is a bit different from the other arches as it's attached to a building, and some people don't consider it to be part of the Striding Arches. But we still find it impressive and well worth a visit. This arch is located right in the middle of the 3 other arches, between Lagdubh Burn and Conrick Burn. It's just off Conrick Hill and is right in the middle of the Cairnhead area.


Colt Hill

This arch is to the North West of Blackcraig Hill, to the East of Black Hill and the West of Lamgarroch.



This arch is the furthest to the West, located between the Ramscleuch Burn and the Black Burn, just to the North West of Little Dibbin Hill.

Bail Hill

This arch is the furthest to the South, located just to the East of the quarry and to the North of Dalwhat Hill.

Anything else to mention?

When you reach the arches, please don't attempt to climb on them - they're built of sturdy materials, but climbing them could cause damage, and that would be a real shame.

Hopefully, we've inspired you to visit the Striding Arches. If you'd like to visit other impressive sculptures in Scotland, read our guide about the Kelpies.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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