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Corserine? Course I Will!

Corserine? Course I Will!


Postby Craiging619 » Sat Sep 23, 2023 12:46 pm

Route description: Corserine and the Rhinns of Kells, Forrest Lodge

Corbetts included on this walk: Corserine

Donalds included on this walk: Carlin's Cairn, Corserine, Meikle Millyea, Milldown

Date walked: 09/07/2023

Time taken: 6.85 hours

Distance: 21.13 km

Ascent: 1135m

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Corserine plus 4 (21.13km 1135m 6hrs 52mins).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Previously on my #ThreeWeeksOfFreedom hillwalking odyssey, I had been through a rollercoaster of emotions in the Moorfoots on a rare Friday night climb https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=120615. It had a little bit of everything: sunshine, sunset, great tracks, horrible pathless ground, views over 130km and a screaming farmer who doesn't understand how laws work.

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Saturday was "Steak Day", although I'm not a big fan of steak (partly for planet reasons but mainly because it costs an arm and a leg). So I settled for the burger, as usual. Still quite expensive tbh. My friends said this was a delayed Christmas lunch, and that's a heck of a long delay.

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Every time I see a chandelier - any chandelier - I think of that bit in Only Fools And Horses: "Now brace yourself, Rodney..." :lol:

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Similar to last week when I went to the Mamores for the first time, I needed a bit of water before bedtime. But it was a slightly longer lie this morning, and I felt fine as I headed down to Prestwick. My Dad had finally been released from hospital after a month-and-a-half of misery following a vital operation. It was an incredible relief to see him at home again, like it used to be. I then picked up my uncle and headed down to the Forest Lodge car park.

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GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!! :clap:

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Not every hillwalk follows roads named after Swedish employees, but I like a walk with a difference.

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The road gently climbed at first, eventually revealing the first proper view of the Rhinns of Kells.

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I think this is where I had a wrong turn. The WalkHighlands route looks like it goes straight on, and there was a faint path between the trees and the river, but in retrospect it looks like we should have stayed on the track and headed right, over the bridge.

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Things still looked ok here, but I was looking for the bridge across the river, which......

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......isn't there. :shock:

We had a look a bit further up, but there didn't seem to be one. Neither of us wanted to go all the way back to the main bridge, so we attempted the crossing here. It was far from ideal: my uncle is still very fit (in fact he was ahead of me for most of the day) but it's still not ideal leading him across a stony river. He didn't want my walking sticks today, but I insisted he borrow them for this bit.

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Phew! Across the river, back on the path and out of the forest. The only way is up from here.

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The path fades a bit after leaving the forest, but it's still reasonably good.

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Just under 2hrs after leaving, we reached the massive cairn at Hennessy's Shelter. Carlin's Cairn appeared for the first time today - I was hoping to tag that on to a massive round today, but only if my uncle was feeling up to the task.

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Comically flat approach to the summit.

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2hrs 7mins from the car park to the summit. I'll take that!

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There are only four Corbetts in Galloway, but this one had eluded me for years, so it was a great feeling to finally climb the last of the four. Even though my uncle loves hillwalking, he had never climbed it either - most hills in the Southern Uplands aren't realistically reachable by bus so, despite living close to Galloway, he tended to go in the opposite direction and focus on Munros in his younger days.

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There was a brief shower as another walker passed (the only human we would see all day), but luckily it didn't come to much. My plan was to head for Carlin's Cairn, come straight back and then make a final call about whether to carry onto Meikle Millyea. My uncle was still feeling great, so onto Carlin's Cairn we go.

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A frog jumped across the path-

"OH! NO WAIT!!!"

It was too late to get my uncle's attention. His foot was already on the ground. I looked away as he lifted his boot up...

"Oh no! Poor wee thing... :( "

He was briefly a bit shaken by the whole thing. I reassured him that it was't his fault - we were staying on the path throughout, and the frog ( / toad?) jumped out so quickly that he couldn't have done anything differently. But still, it was a very unpleasant experience.

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The ridge between Corserine and Carlin's Cairn seems to be swimming in frogs, and they all kept jumping out into the path for some reason, like an accidental game of Chicken. :?

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Less than 25 minutes after leaving the summit of Corseine, we were on Carlin's Cairn. And I could already see why it's named after a cairn: the cairn is almost the size of the hill itself...

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Update: Cairn Big.

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This was the furthest North point of the day, so it gave some views towards the wonderful Loch Doon.

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Views were great towards Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. Time to get the proper camera out - can I find Ayr?

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Hmmmm. Well there's certainly a tower block there behind the wind farm. Presumably it's Ayr since I'm facing North, but I can't actually remember where the high rises are (despite growing up just along the road). Maybe Craigie?

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This must look like Ailsa Craig to a few walkers, but I think it's actually Knockdolian.

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The mighty Merrick, the highest Donald. This is a good angle to see just how high Loch Enoch is (practically 500m).

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Tarfessock, Shalloch on Minnoch and Caerloch Dhu. The two great ridges of Galloway are the Rhinns of Kells and Range of the Awful Hand, and it looks like Ye Proper Wilds in between the two.

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Right, time to head back to Corserine. I never like re-climbing hills, whether it's the same day or years later, but it's kind of unavoidable today. And it's only c.100m each way.

I felt something under my foot.

"AAAAAAHHH NO!!! :crazy: :crazy: :shock: "

I turned my head back. The frog was spinning through the air. What's going on? Is it already a cropper? Is it jumping away from me? Surely if it was already left this mortal coil, gravity wouldn't be sending it spinning up into mid-air? Why does this keep happening today?

Now it was my uncle's turn to provide counselling, reminding me that there was nothing we could have done. At least there was a chance of survival this time, but I didn't like the thought of going back to check. :?

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Oh my goodness another one!

This time I just managed to see it in time, and awkwardly changed my footing. But why do they keep hopping onto the path? This is like all those rabbits I saw running along the road in the Moorfoots on Friday night, but at least the rabbits (just) avoided impact.

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About 50-55mins after leaving, we were back on the summit of Corserine. That was all a bit traumatic tbh. But we both feel fine physicially (if not mentally), so we agreed to carry on. There aren't really any logical escape routes between Corseine and Meikle Millyea (the ground is *very* steep to the East), but the weather was holding up fine.

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The grand ridge sweeps round over Millfire (Donald Top) and Milldown (full Donald) to the final summit of Meikle Millyea, all overlooking the dramatically-named Loch Dungeon.

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At 2:40pm (excatly 4hrs in) we reached the top of Millfire. The summit isn't so obvious here (as with a few Donald Tops) but it looked like this small cairn here.

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Ok that's a better photo actually.

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Galloway is braw on a nice day. 8)

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Eventually a random wall appears, and the summit cairn of Milldown is just across this to the left.

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4hrs 25mins to here, but that's including the massive detour to Carlin's Cairn, so I was pretty chuffed with our pace. I hadn't really recovered from the surreal climb of Windlestraw Law and Whitehope Law from Friday night, so any pace felt like a decent pace today.

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Looking back to Millfire and Corserine.

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Approaching 1100m climbed today, but my uncle was still in the lead most of the way round. This is the last climb here (mercifully).

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We've reached the top of Meikle Millyea! Or have we......?

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According to WalkHighlands the absolute summit is actually 300m South-West of the trig point. Again I suggested to my uncle that I could just nip over there on my own, but he felt fine to carry on, and seven minutes later we were at the true summit cairn.

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5/5! 8)

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Back at the trig point, there was one more view along the Rhinns of Kells ridge. There are another four Donalds way past Carlin's Cairn at the other end, but my uncle mentioned the bus to Carsphairn and Green Well of Scotland, so maybe he'll end up climbing them solo.

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There was a decent path reading alongside another wall at the start of the descent. Two colleagues went on a site visit here years ago, and one of them still curses Meikle Millyea to this day. As I descended by the same route they took, I started to wonder if they were being a bit OTT. Sure, it's not exactly the Ben Lomond path, but it's ok if you've got any hillwalking experience.

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Eh oh. :shock:

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Right ok I see what they mean now.

Suddenly the path headed over the side of a steep (almost sheer) slope, and the path did that weird thing of disintegrating into a rocky (yet somehow still muddy) mess. It was basically a scramble for at least a couple of minutes, with two or three moves that might be tricky if taken lightly. I was glad I wasn't heading up / down here with a tripod like my colleagues were. :crazy:

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The descent got a bit gentler, but it was still a relief to finally hit the network of Swedish Employee Roads again.

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Civilisation! :)

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It's a long (long!) way back to Forest Lodge from here, but at least it was the optimal walking conditions - gently downhill on a great track / forest road in good weather. And unlike on Friday night, we weren't properly racing against the clock.

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Good old Malky leading the way.

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Not a bad forest tbf.

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Less than 7hrs after leaving, we were back at the car park. I was worried that my uncle might struggle with the pace, distance, climbing or terrain, but if anything he seemed to cope better than me.

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My Mum and Dad insisted on buying dinner when I got back to Prestwick. It was so great to share some of the pizza with Dad: only 10 days before I'd visited him again in hospital, and he didn't look too good after a second operation. But after a third operation (well, two-and-a-half) he dramatically improved and was discharged just days later. :clap: :clap: :clap:

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It was a great day, as it was only my second ever hillwalk with my uncle. Windy Standard last year was more like a practice run - the wind farm roads are so great that I knew he could cope with that, and then Alhang & Alwhat could be more of a test. Suddenly, after climbing no Donalds in the first half of the year, I had climbed nine (well, 7 + 2T) in a weekend. It would be the last hillwalk in my #ThreeWeeksOfFreedom, as it was soon time to head to Jakarta to be reunited with my wife and child.

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One last meal out on the Tuesday with a friend. Auctioneers is amazing: it's like Wetherspoons but not Wetherspoons. A wee gem that I keep forgetting about (maybe because it's hidden away behind George Square).

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The slow puncture that I got after Windlestraw Law on Friday night still needed dealing with, so I took it to JB Tyre Services in Stepps. Service was quick and punctual (pun intended), and only cost £12. Would thoroughly recommend.

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One last curry while I watch some Wimbledon. And I have a house to clean: urgently.

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Back at Edinburgh Airport, where where it all started 19 days ago. I wouldn't be going on any hillwalks for a while now, as we would all be in Jakarta for another three weeks before returning home. We would have a holiday in Bali, but hillwalking in Indonesia is tricky - everything seems to be an active volcano, and the organised guide trips all seem to leave at 2am for sunrise on the summit (maybe for temperature reasons too). What about our trip to Singapore? Nah that's a non-starter, Singapore doesn't have any hills.........

.........or does it? :wink:

To Be Continued

King of Singapore: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=120870
User avatar
Craiging619
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 314
Munros:73   Corbetts:36
Fionas:41   Donalds:44+16
Sub 2000:22   
Islands:21
Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Location: Glasgow
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