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Culter Club (and the Five Donalds)

Culter Club (and the Five Donalds)


Postby Craiging619 » Sun May 22, 2022 1:09 pm

Route description: Culter Fell circular, near Biggar

Grahams included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Chapelgill Hill, Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Hudderstone

Date walked: 04/05/2022

Time taken: 7.75 hours

Distance: 25.75 km

Ascent: 1073m

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So far in 2022 I had gone two walks, and both had similar themes. The Daer Reservoir climb was six Donalds and was a great day, but featured a horrible long traipse over peat bogs at the end. The Moorfoots climb was three Donalds and was helped by a wind farm road halfway round. This time, I decided to combine the dynamics of both those walks at Culter Fell: a big old round of five Donalds, going clockwise and using a wind farm road at the Southern end. Also with the weather forecast (and the price of petrol at the moment), I didn't fancy going any further... :crazy:

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Ok, a bit ominous. But we'll work with it.

I parked up at Culter Allers Farm just after 10am, but waited a few minutes for a downpour to pass. Eventually at 10:15, I was off and running (walking).

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The normal route up Culter Fell goes straight up that ridge, but if you want to include the extra Donald of Chapelgill Hill, you should turn left and head up the side of the forest on a track (it actually starts a few metres past this bucket).

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Height was gained quite quickly (the lay-bys at the start are nearly 250m as well).

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The path climbs over Juniper Knowes towards Tippet Knowe. The cloud was starting to close in already...thankfully it wouldn't be around all day.

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I think I'd only found one walk report for the five Donalds, and they had gone round in an unreal time (something like five hours?) I would be chuffed with eight hours, but today there was no rush. The forecast said things would improve during the day, so I just had to get my head down in the morning and plough through these peat bogs in front of Chapelgill Hill. Twice, because you need to retrace your steps before Culter Fell. :?

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Ah, these. I hopped over the fence and gradually headed left to cut out some time, which was probably a mistake as this looked rougher than the fence line...

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Things improved heading up onto the ridge, and a faint path followed the fences round towards the first summit.

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1hr 30mins (and a red face) later, I was at the top of Chapelgill Hill. Given the distance from Culter Allers Farm (and the peat), I would take that.

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There weren't many photos for the next stretch, because, well, look at it.

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I ended up heading a little too far left at a couple of points and cut back to the right (basically the fences should just be followed from Chapelgill Hill to Culter Fell). I was trying to cut out the bog at Glenharvie Moss again, but probably overcomplicated it. Two humans appeared out of the mist, descending Culter Fell by the normal route, but they were too far away to say hello to.

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After 2hrs 30mins, I reached the trig at Culter Fell. There's probably a cracking view from here, as I'm pretty sure I can see this hill from my bedroom window. Just not right now... :o

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Oh, rain too.

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The route was still obvious, following fences and faint paths down towards Moss Law. One or two boards appeared to help in case of a bog-fest.

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Oh, a view! Haven't seen one of them in about two hours.

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I wasn't sure if if was just because of the drop in altitude at Moss Law and Holm Nick, but the cloud seemed to be lifting a bit towards Gathersnow Hill.

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Finally, the clouds properly started to clear away. A faint view opened up towards Stuc a'Chroin and Ben Vorlich.

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Bit random.

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There's a great track from Holm Nick that zig-zags up the hill to Gathersnow Hill. Officially it gives up after a while but there's a grassy track that follows on from it.

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Suddenly looking braw! 8)

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Finally reached Gathersnow Hill about 3hrs 50mins after leaving. Conditions were rapidly improving now, and all the worst terrain was behind me. Probably a good idea for me to do this round clockwise then.

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Ben Ledi?

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The last low cloud was lifting, so I could finally see the route I had just walked (Culter Fell on left, Chapelgill Hill on right).

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Hillshaw Head was reached after 4hrs 30mins. From here the Clyde Wind Farm roads would speed things up too.

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From checking the Hill Bagging website, it seemed that there were three Donald Tops in this hill range, that also doubled up as "New Donalds". I don't have any time for the New Donald thing (it sounds daft to me, telling folk who've compleated the Donalds that they've actually got another 1/4 to climb), but I don't mind climbing an extra Donald Top if it's close enough. I had skipped the first two today, but Coomb Dod looked inviting with the wind farm road, and it was brightening up now.

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The final "climb" to Coomb Dod.

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Also it's got a trig point, so it's definitely a real hill to me. :wink:

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The views were good from here, with a million reservoirs dotted around the place.

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Queensberry, Criffel and England (faintly) to the South.

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Four vans overtook me on the road from Coomb Dod towards Hudderstone, so I saw four more vans than hillwalkers. :lol:

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Meikle Bin was now standing out, in front of Glasgow (or somewhere in Lanarkshire?)

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The largest cairn in the universe, on Tinto Hill.

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Oi! Geeza lift!

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Not sure which one this was. Ben Chonzie?

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Wow! Suddenly I picked out the last Munros I've been up, the An Stuc group to the right of Lawers, umpteen miles away.

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Ben Ghlas and Ben Lawers.

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"Do not drive off this road into the sea (even though there is no sea here)."

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Ah, the bouncers.

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Finally! After following the wind farm road to the end it was just a short climb to the summit of Hudderstone, marked by a...rake?!

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About 6hrs 10mins since leaving, but there was rain and peat hags and everything.

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This was a much more pleasant end than the Daer walk. No 4.5km assault course of peat bogs, just a gentle path down to the track.

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The track (which almost looks like a Roman Road here) headed straight over Cowgill Rig then down towards the road.

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The last 1.5km or so was a road walk past massive flocks of sheep (many of them on the road). Some of the parents looked a bit protective because it's lambing season, so in way this was actually the nerviest part of the day. :o They were fine though.

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Cheers mate, I was parched. Oh right, it's hand alcohol...

I arrived back at the car 7hrs 45mins after leaving. It was a really enjoyable walk, although I can see why WalkHighlands doesn't include Chapelgill Hill in the round (it's a big old detour and had the worst ground of the whole day). From only being at 14 Donalds at the start of 2022, I've now doubled that in the course of three walks. They're great fun, and it's good to get the numbers up, but I just need to get back up North soon for the main event(s)... 8)
User avatar
Craiging619
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 183
Munros:57   Corbetts:31
Grahams:34   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:21   
Islands:21
Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Location: Glasgow
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