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I Fought The Law (and The Law Won)

I Fought The Law (and The Law Won)

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jan 14, 2024 8:33 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Green Lowther, Queensberry

Donalds included on this walk: Dun Law, Earncraig Hill, East Mount Lowther, Gana Hill, Green Lowther, Lousie Wood Law, Lowther Hill, Queensberry, Wedder Law

Date walked: 14/01/2024

Distance: 57 km

Ascent: 2633m

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Another weekend, another question of where to go. As we've been in Border Country recently, it seemed reasonable to continue our Donalding. Didn't get away til Friday morning as Mrs Weasel was celebrating her birthday on Thursday, so somewhere close at hand was called for. The Elvanfoot Hills met that criterion nicely, and I reckoned we could head over to Queensberry and surrounding hills after that.

elvan5.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

A nice, smooth drive down the M74, no grinding/grating noises from my car this week, thankfully, after the wheel bearings were playing up on our way home last Sunday. Parked up at the big lay-by near the start of the route from Overfingland, a couple of cars there before us. Day-packs for this one, enjoying the lighter way of walking for a change. Up the road for a wee bit, then turn onto the way marked route for the SUW which conveniently heads up over the Donald Top of Cold Moss. And the moss was surely cold today - clouds/freezing fog down, bogs frozen underfoot, always a silver lining, eh? More downs in between the hills on the way up to Lowther Hill than I remembered, slippy frozen grass. As we crossed the summit of Cold Moss we could see the radar station on Lowther Hill sitting free of mist - fogbows and Brocken Spectres aplenty.

ImageBFF308A6-1CF5-4F9E-AC7A-2716D8D693B7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2EFA7E75-3A66-4B31-B793-CC195543059C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageA2F9EF41-3640-4400-BE50-FD9DAF67B1CD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image6DC7CE35-9F95-4F09-8440-2FA72F0D45E8_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image691363B3-7DA2-4F11-8CAA-3C0B0E77973E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We came out into full sunshine as we reached the top of Lowther Hill and chose to sit there having lunch rather than drop back into the icy clouds on our way over to East Mt Lowther. Couple of other folk, spectres in the mist. We could see no sign of East Mt Lowther, which is almost 100m lower than Lowther Hill; we walked on icy road for. bit, then track, pleased when we reached the trig column. Retraced our steps, met a couple of lassies on their way to the summit. Back to the radar stationed along the road towards Green Lowther, where we met thekirkie pirate from Hill-Bagging: we stood and chatted hill things for a while - he was off to do Faugh, a Donald Dewey, we were continuing along the line of Donalds.

ImageC679D533-B616-4BFD-95B9-33DB632DAD22_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image536B5F69-208A-40B4-8DDF-3A2E971CEC20_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageA39FE102-B6C4-4BB9-8B40-6B67C8630685_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image08C6C761-8FC0-42E7-8282-BF25FCB629F9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The freezing fog didn't lift again - we did have the benefit of fence lines to follow for the most part, and the ground underfoot was generally quite short grass. The descent from White Law to Louise Woods Law was particularly treacherous, followed by a long ascent to the final trig column. From here it was tussocky ground - I couldn't remember whether I'd found a path previously or not. My plan had been to head off Great Hill and pass round Doddin then following the Peden Burn back to the road, but I re-routed to take account of Allison's tussock difficulties and brought us off the eastern shoulder of Great Hill, aiming for the Glenochar Bastle, from whence there was track back to the road - albeit with a longer road walk thereafter.

Green Lowther
Image032852D1-95DC-4C79-BC39-D18C6D15068D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Louise Wood Law
Image73ECB732-5E08-4E23-B2EE-FD5E6CBC503E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5331461D-1AAE-4877-B755-3990021D1560_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image0B2E8199-AD35-4653-9F12-3A6E96C40332_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

What's a bastle, you may ask? A misprint for Castle? No - a fortified farmhouse from the time of the Border Reivers, with very thick walls and small windows, a stable downstairs with a ladder that could be retracted leading to the family quarters upstairs. There wasn't much left of it, apart form the thick downstairs walls, much having been turned into walls of a different kind I guess. There were also some Bronze Age farmhouse ruins and some information plaques which were rendered almost illegible by weathering.

We continued on to the road, with no idea where we would camp for the night. It was pretty dark by the time we got to the road and we had about 5k to walk to get back to the car. I thought we might strike lucky if we looked for a spot on the other side of the road, along the SUW, and indeed there were plenty of good spots there if you don't mind molehills. Indeed the moles of Galloway seem a particularly active breed of critter - seen lots of their workings in recent weeks. We picked up the overnight stuff from the car and pitched under starlight. We were far enough from the road for traffic noise/headlights to be attenuated and both had quite a good sleep.

QueensB.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Saturday morning - we were up with the lark that's slept in a bit, and headed off for Mitchellslacks about 9.15. On previous occasions I've done Queensberry as part of a big circuit from Daer Reservoir, but I wanted to try a different approach and therefore took the WH route and amended it to include the other hills we wanted. Windy little roads to get there and when we arrived at the farm we found the two parking spaces mentioned in the WH route were already taken. However there are options along the road a bit. I decided we'd take the overnight kit today - although the route wasn't much longer than yesterday's, we'd started later and A was feeling a bit done in, plus the amount of light left to us would mean a hefty wander in the dark at the end of the day. But we do move faster with lighter kit - always a conundrum.

Mitchellslacks farm
ImageD1436750-4380-4B52-B060-5A1371CCA9B2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Passed through the farm where there was a cacophony of frenzied barking from multiple collies in a shed. Continued along farm track along the side of The Law, which I did, briefly, think of going up. I was looking at the map and pointed out Burleywhag, which Allison informed me was a bothy. I'd not heard of it - and we could have done the route in the opposite direction and ended up in the bothy if I had known - I'm really sketchy about bothies in the southern parts. We could see five figures coming towards us in the distance, who looked like they'd been in the bothy overnight.

Image82CB936A-EBB1-495F-A784-A8F7C1667BFA_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We headed up towards Queensberry a bit earlier than the WH route suggests, finding an ATV track to follow for a while. Wee Queensberry, over to our right, looked a pointy and interesting fellow. We paused by some boulders just shy of the summit to eat our lunch out of the chill wind, then walked up to the huge cairn that celebrates the summit of this hill. From here it's a descent along fence line over Penbreck, then down and up to Earncraig Hill. Time was marching on and I wanted to check out options for a pitch spot for the night. I reckoned we'd get Glenleith Fell done and noted a possible spot by the Glenleith Burn, out of the freezing wind. We walked over Gana Hill and Wedder Law, using new Gross Butt track to climb the latter. By the time we were descending off Wedder Law it was well after 4, the sun had dropped behind a bank of clouds and darkness would be with us soon. I decided we'd scout around at teh top of Smurn Gutter for a spot - there was running water too, which we needed. Found something adequate and got pitched in the last of the daylight.

To Queensberry
Image009E8048-5DAB-4429-821D-184CB2FE652A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Solway Firth
Image409AA3E4-B120-4BB8-9C60-8E3C3CD36F23_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Queensberry cairn
Image797279FD-A38C-4712-9486-1F1CA607F8FC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Our way ahead
ImageE87B04E7-FF79-4CA6-B9FA-C52A3347693F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image8485EA3B-3A26-4CB4-8EE2-E22B5E4E1ED1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Looking back on Queensberry
ImageB29946B6-4880-4964-B2AA-AD0AF03695FC_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Distant Lowther Hills
Image63324163-A485-4D3E-89DC-F8CB817C1B9F_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image5718B051-A944-4C72-9CE8-C5FFD0D61580_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

A cold night, unexpected light snow showers came on around 5am and pattered on the tent fabric. I knew we had about 10k to do to get back to the car - we were planning on heading up the one remaining DT in the area, Rodger Law, so I wanted to be back at the car by late morning. Hence an earlier than usual start at around 8am. We brushed the snow off the tent, stamped our feet trying to warm up, then headed along the track, stopping to summit Glenleith Fell on the way down. The spot at the bottom of Glenleith Burn was so-so, not brilliant, but there were excellent spots once you got past The Dod, which would have been a bit far to have gone last night anyway. We inadvertently disturbed a roosting barn owl, which circled off to nearby hillside watching us. As we passed its roost it began to circle back, on the other side of the glen. A gang of ravens briefly harassed it before it swept back to its roost. Several fordings of teh Garroch Water required before the end of the track is reached, then a few km along the nicely resurfaced road to the car. Just after 11...it will take us around 45 mins to get to the Daer Reservoir, that should be fine. Narrow roads with few passing places, then along the A702 back past where we'd parked yesterday and turn down the road for Daer. Roads a bit snowy/icy. We parked up in a big lay-by just before the bridge at Kirkhope Cleuch and had our lunch in the car.

Image44A10D25-A772-406C-BD74-66C3E9582B2C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageF6DEF9C3-10D7-4168-B83F-F9E3CB66DB95_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Hills looking like clootie dumplings with a scattering of icing sugar
Image1B80A3AB-3B84-4535-9B61-DF15672F9B53_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Rodger.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I didn't blog the last time we'd been up these hills, in June 2020 - just on the cusp of Covid restrictions being fully relaxed. Time before that I'd noted that "Allison wasn't interested in doing New Donalds or Donald Tops, so we don't have the faff of Rodger Law to fit in" Well, what do you know :lol: Anyway, we had just this one summit to do today. We could go up the somewhat less steep way up Watchman's Brae from the cottage, or drive along the road a bit and go more steeply up Catlaw Dod. We decided on the former and began on an ATV track that goes from the cottage to the sheepfolds. Then we lost it and had a wander on thankfully fairly benign tussocks to the top of Watchman's Brae before picking it up again and continuing in easier style to the summit. Views of Friday and Saturday's hills from here. Back down the ATV track, a couple of hours all in. And a quick return to the M74 and home.

Image7ECC7939-C5C4-4379-BB0B-900157A65163_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageDB35C355-2C4F-4C9B-AEF6-4E23476FE77A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2150E53C-E079-4C62-9812-A8442C097175_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Rodger Law
ImageDFF3A878-595F-432A-9B6A-33BCA5FA3354_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

No reports for the next fortnight as music-related activities are taking over. After that - maybe more Donalds :roll:
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Re: I Fought The Law (and The Law Won)

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jan 16, 2024 9:41 pm

Thanks for the reminder - you've got me thinking again about going south for the shorter winter days especially when they involve less distance in the car - just need to get my thinking cap back on :roll:
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