Let's get the good points out of the way first: there's a relatively good path that's easy to follow! And that's pretty much the only good point about today's walk.
I had been following both the MWIS and BBC weather forecasts for the last few days, and even though things weren't looking that great I decided to head out anyway. When I started walking again earlier in the year I made myself a promise that as long as it wasn't dangerous I'd head out whenever I could. Leaving Glasgow at 6:30am things looked good, a pleasant, clear morning, with only a hint of high cloud. As I went south on the M77 over Fenwick Moor the cloud began to gather and rain began to fall.
I parked the car in one of the large passing places on Afton Road (NS630083) and it was straight on with the full wet weather gear. Once suited up I head further along Afton Road before turning left onto the track towards Blackcraig Farm. At this stage dreich was the correct description, rain being blown on the wind, annoying but not that unpleasant. I followed the track as climbed around the farm and then round the trees and up onto the hillside. As I climbed the wind became stronger and the rain more unpleasant.
On reaching the excellently named Quintin Knowe I turned right and began following the path alongside the fence, marked on the 1:25km maps, up hill. By now the wind was driving the rain sideways into my face and I was wishing I had packed my ski goggles. As the path leveled out onto the summit the wind and rain seemed to increase in intensity, miserable would now be the most apt description. I didn't even stop at the summit trig point on Blackcraig Hill, just took a quick bearing from my GPS and plowed onwards towards Blacklorg Hill.
Dropping back down towards the bealach the conditions eased and I was afforded glimpses of Blacklorg Hill, Cannock Hill, and Craigbraneoch Hill through occasional gaps in the clouds. However as soon as I began climbing again I had the pleasure of the full force of the wind and rain directly into my face. This was tough going, verging on a slog. At the summit of Blacklorg Hill conditions were so bad I just stopped long enough to grab a ham and cheese roll from my rucksack to eat on the move and then I was off again. The combination of the wet, lack of shelter, and wind chill meant that I had to keep moving to stay warm.
I followed the path that runs alongside the fence from Blacklorg Hill to Cannock Hill. The good news was that the wind was now at my back so I was spared the rain blasting into my face. I made good time and had soon reached the summit and started descending on my way to Craigbraneoch Hill. As I dropped below the cloud I had a reasonable view over Afton Reservoir. Again, on reaching the summit of Craigbraneoch Hill I didn't hang around, I was pretty wet by this stage and just wanted to reach the warmth of the car and a change of clothes.
I picked my way carefully down through the crags and rocks towards the track (not shown on any map) that runs alongside Craig Burn. I then followed the track to Craigdarroch and then back along Afton Road to where I'd left the car.
Unfortunately I didn't take any photos, most of the time they woud just have been of the grey clouds, and I'm not sure my camera would have survived the rain! From the few glimpses of the scenery I did manage I think this would be an excellent walk in more benign conditions, especially if the cloud was above the summits.
I'm now off to see how everything is drying out...
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