Slipping and sliding by The Grey Mare's Tail
by laconic surf » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:53 pm
Route description: Grey Mare's Tail and Loch Skeen
Corbetts included on this walk: White Coomb
Donalds included on this walk: Lochcraig Head , Molls Cleuch Dod, White Coomb
Date walked: 21/04/2012
Time taken: 4.5 hours
Distance: 14 km5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
It was with a wee bit of intrepidation I set out on the drive down towards Moffat to the Grey Mare's Tail. I have been so lucky this year with the weather on my walks but this time the MWIS was forcasting persistant downpours with the possibility of thunder and lightning. Rough with the smooth, I braced myself for the likelihood of getting wet.
I decided to do the WH circuit in reverse for a couple of reasons. The corbett of White Coomb was to be the main objective for the day, I figured if I did this first and the weather got really bad and I had to make a hasty retreat I would have at least done this and could return to bag the Donalds another day. The other reason to reverse the route was to able to take advantage of some fun scrambling on the ascent of White Coomb which would be otherwise missed.
After arriving at the car park I started the steep climb up to the waterfall. There were a few tourists around already and a couple of them looked in physical trouble, caught out by the gradient.
Stopped briefly to watch the beautiful waterfall before heading up into the valley. Climbing White Coomb first meant fording the fast flowing burn. There may have been easier crossings further up but I wanted to cross as soon as possible and pick up the faint ascent path. I was walking on the soft wet grass beside the burn looking for a good spot to cross, when suddenly my feet went from under me. I had hit a really slippery patch and landed on my side. I hadn't even got near a hill yet but I was covered in brown bog! Nothing for it but a quick rinse in the burn, checked nobody had seen my comedy fall, composed myself and was off heading for White Coomb
The walk from the burn to the bottom of the corbett was wet in places but pretty straightforward. I now picked out a nice scramble line up rough crags when a glance to my right saw a downpour moving in fast along Loch Skeen. Rain jacket and hat on I picked my way up through the rocks on a fun wee scramble. Half way up the rain lashed me but luck was still on my side as it moved along the valley and behind my back and not over the hill, I just caught the edge of it and was able to continue the scramble before arriving close to the path to the summit. Simple wee climb up to the moated cairn, which given the recent weather was surprisingly dry.
From here it was a case of following the fence round towards to the north side of the Loch and towards the donald of Lochcraig Head. As an addition to the WH route you can add in the donald of Molls Cleuch Dod, which is reached by heading north at the Y junction of walls just before Lochcraig Head. This affords some nice views and is around a 30 minute detour from the circuit.
Next it was on to the final Donald of the day Lochcraig Head sitting overlooking Loch Skeen. A steep climb up is worth the views at the top, simply stunning. Here I had lunch and had the day finished here it would have probably been my best day on the hills this year.
After finishing my lunch I got up, turned round and saw a huge black cloud staring me in the face and then it dropped its water like a bucket over my head
I grabbed my things and began to descend. Unfortunately, the descent was really steep and really wet. 5 times I slid derriere first, including a spectacular 360 degree spin, followed by a 180 and a head first slide to the bottom. I expected to get up and see some judges holding scorecards of 9.8 and a 9.6 for technical prowess
Picked myself up and headed into the bog alongside the Loch, with the downpour in full flow. The bog in places was so bad I had to pole vault over by planting my walking poles in the bog whilst running and swinging off them to safety (this was less effective, straight 5's on the scorecards ).
The sky was now black and I remembered the MWIS lightning warning and felt very exposed walking through the valley, by the Loch, the tallest thing around . Then a huge barrel roll of thunder boomed across the sky and I was off - inventing a new sport of peat bog running
However, it passed quickly and I soon picked up the path by the burn leading back to the start. It was nice to see the waterfall again and even nicer to see the car.
Another great, eventful day on the hills.
I'll sign off with Walter Scott's wee note to the Grey Mare's Tail
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the giant's grave,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the path of Moffatdale.
by meangarry » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:03 pm
by laconic surf » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:17 pm
meangarry wrote: I'd have been s#itting myself in thunder!
I certainly did Thanks for the heads up on the scrambling - really enjoyed that bit!
Likely to be my last "southern" walk for a while as I'll be up north most Saturdays getting stuck into the munros. Pm me if you fancy tagging along on any of em.
by meangarry » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:27 pm
by webby2166 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:37 pm
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by Paul_Antonia » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:13 am
The thunder would have had me running like a sprinter, I don't like storms at the best of times but hate to be up in the hills when one is coming. I more or less dragged the family off a hill in Yorkshire a few years ago with a thunder storm chasing up behind us. They were excited but I was just bloody terrified all the way down.
by rdtoward21 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:42 pm