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Good Samaritans from Dollar Law

Good Samaritans from Dollar Law

Postby nxmjm » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:09 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Broad Law

Donalds included on this walk: Broad Law, Cramalt Craig, Dollar Law, Talla Cleuch Head

Date walked: 26/08/2012

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 21.7 km

Ascent: 929m

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13.5 miles ascent 929m 5h 42min (add 2.3 miles and 160m if you don’t get a lift)

Talla Cleuch Head-Broad Law-Cramalt Craig-Dollar Law
Includes the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th highest hills in the southern uplands.

This walk starts near the Megget Stone. I managed to park 100m to the Megget side of the stone, with the car reversed up a slight incline, the effects of which were to impact on me several hours later. I began by looking across to Nickies Knowe, which Conor and I had climbed a couple of weeks earlier. The hill has a group of mini-drumlins (presumably there is a correct name for these protuberances) at its base. We had made our way across these so wonder we found it tiring.

My photo of the Megget Stone that day was taken into the sun, so I got a better picture today, then set off up to Fans Law guided by the fence. Unfortunately this section, despite being steep, was still boggy. Not I-wish-I-had-yetis boggy, but the more cunning stealth bogginess, with hidden pools beneath dry-ground grass.

The Megget Stone

The climb to Fans Law lent itself to a number of stops to take in the gradually improving views, especially since I could look across to the route we had walked a couple of weeks earlier (and catch my breath). I was definitely surprised by how steep our descent from Garelet Hill had been.

The plan was to follow the fence up to the Shepherd’s Cairn then across to Talla Cleuch Head, but the gods of hillwalking had marked me out to be tested. This walk didn’t fit on one OS map. Most is on on 336 but the first 1.5 miles is on 330. I had practiced ninja origami on 336 and put it in the map holder for easy access and stuck 330 in the rucksack because I’m a conscientious walker. All I had to remember was to follow the fence to the junction with the fence from Talla Cleuch Head then follow that.

There is a dog-leg in the fence a little way before the fence junction. That I had failed to remember. As I approached the left hand bend of the dog leg, the aerial atop Broad Law came into view and captured my attention. There was a very faint trail continuing up the hill towards the aerial, clearly cutting across a a dog-leg in the fence so I continued along it. Unbeknown to me the fence to Talla Cleuch Head was attached to the dog-leg and hidden behind a slight rise.

As I walked on, blissfully ignorant of my mistake, I eventually climbed high enough to see the fence again. I could see it climbing up ahead but with no sign of a fence joining it. Then the penny dropped. I got 330 out and realised my mistake. Luckily I had only overshot by 200m. I regained the fence around where the 717m spot height is on the OS map.

Looking from Cairn Hill along Gameshope glen

I decided to cut across a wee bit rather than follow the fence back down, and the terrain was alright for descent but would have been a bind to climb. I got back to the Talla Cleuch Head fence at a bend near a small rocky knoll on Codleteth Hill, then followed it across the boggy col to Talla Cleuch Head. Once on TCH there were great views of the the Talla hills and Culter hills. It’s a shame that there is such a deep valley between TCH and Broad Law because the only way back was the way I had come. I decided to follow the fence this time all the way back to Shepherd’s cairn and once there could see St Mary’s Loch and the Eildon Hills. Looking from the same place, along the line of Gameshope Glen I could see a dual peak which I though was Saddle Yoke. For some reason I was impressed that the twin peaks of both the Eildons and Saddle Yoke were visible. Later, once I had engaged my brain and looked at the map (from rucksack), I realised that the twin peaks were Whitehope Knowe and Heights, being as they were on the opposite side of Hart Fell to the Saddle peaks.

Col from TCH to Cairn Law

From the Shepherd’s Cairn, it is a relatively easy mile and a half up to Broad Law’s summit. I had not intended having much of a break on Broad Law, but did stop to get a photo of myself with the air traffic control bandstand in the background.

Have you ever noticed that trig pillars have a hole in the middle? I presume I must have seen these holes before but, to tell you the truth, I don’t think I had stored that information in my long-term memory. I now know because I somehow managed to drop my camera’s mini-tripod into the hole. These holes are just too small to admit a hand and just too deep to allow a tripod to be easily reached.

Broad Law summit, with hungry trig pillar

After several unsuccessful attempts including efforts to lasso it with the string from my compass or grasp it with two sticks, I was able to retrieve it. This involved deforming my hand by painfully flexing the coronal plane of my metacarpophalangeal joints to increase the distance of insertion and manipulating the tripod legs between my fingers, now rendered inflexible but with finger nails and slightly sticky finger pulps, assisted with a small stick. Hundreds of thousands of years evolving larger brains have not been in vain. And having petite hands helped. Well it was five minutes rest for my legs.

The col between Broad Law and Cramalt Craig has a descent steep enough to make me consider breaking into a run, though obviously I dismissed the idea. Sadly the enjoyment was spoiled by bogginess. Most of this section was squelchy but some areas were very wet. Near the col’s lowest point is a watercourse, bog rather than burn, but presumably a very young Polmood Burn. This was too wet to walk across and too wide to jump, so I walked upstream and it grew narrower. The gods of hillwalking smiled down in anticipation.

I leapt across but the far side was deep sphagnum moss masquerading as a bank. My boot sank deeply into its sodden embrace converting linear to angular momentum and dumping me flat on face. I can laugh about it now, but the incident itself took place in a laugh free zone.

Cramalt Craig, Culter Fell in the background

By the time I had reached the summit of Cramalt Craig the wind had blown my trousers dry so I let it have a go at my socks as well while I had lunch. Perhaps I should have explained to the walkers who arrived a few minutes later, and sat in the lee of the summit cairn, that I was sat on the windward side on purpose. One chap did make a bit of a show of dropping a piece of grass to gauge the wind before choosing where to sit. I presume he was trying to teach me some common-sense.

From Cramalt Craig the route ahead is visible all the way to Dollar Law. This is an easy enough walk across short grass, albeit somewhat squelchy in places. There is in fact an obvious track heading from Cramalt Craig that looks to have had substantial vehicles on it. This eventually turns off to the right whereas my route followed the fence over Dun Law and Fifescar Knowe to Dollar Law. The ridge and Dollar Law itself have great views of the adjacent hills.

Dollar Law, Broad Law with an aerial in the distance

There were two walkers having a break on Dollar Law and I wished them well as I left, which as things turned out may have been a pleasantry well spent.

There were two ways back, either retracing my route, but without Talla Cleuch Head, or heading down to Cramalt and along the road to the Megget stone. Pre-walk measurement had suggested the latter was an extra half mile with about the same ascent, but without the boggy cols. I chose to head down to Cramalt.

I walked down by the fence to the col below Fifescar Knowe, then followed the Thief’s Road. This is quite a wide track and must once have seen regular use, but is now reverting to nature. It has become overgrown and impassable in places with deep puddles. I didn’t intend taking this track over Notman Hill but would cut down to the track by Cramalt Crook when the Thief’s Road crossed the fence.

At the fence was a gate; not in the sense that it could possibly have been opened without an axe, but that it would have been manufactured as a gate. Climbing the gate was out of the question since I would have needed wellingtons to approach it, so I climbed the fence instead.

Cramalt Glen

In planning this walk I had imagined I would stand at this point and would need to decide which path to take. I should take the right hand fork, the one heading south. Unfortunately there was no fork, only one path. The dotted line on the OS map was merely a virtual path but I wasn’t put off and set off south across the rough ground but soon spotted a major track that looked to be coming down from between Dun Law and Fifescar Knowe. The track up from Cramalt has clearly been extended and it is easy enough to distinguish the newer track which is a slightly different colour. I hope this isn’t a prelude to building on these hills.

The soundtrack of this path is the sound of the Cramalt burn growing gradually louder as the burn grows in size. The colours are the purple and green of the heather and grass contrasted at times with the bright red of solitary rowan trees. The upper sections of the path are quite steep for a road and the stone covered surface gave my ankles a good workout. The hills to my right were those whose summits I had walked across just a few hours earlier.

Wolf Cleuch

One particularly pretty area is at a sheepfold where waterfalls of Wolf Cleuch burn join Cramalt burn. The sheepfold nestles amid tall grass, a single tree overlooks the burn, the hillside’s many shades of green are mixed with patches of purple heather, and there is the sound of the waterfall.

Half a mile later I was at Cramalt looking over the still waters of Megget Reservoir. The sun had now come out and I was warming up, so it was time to disrobe to the tee-shirt layer. I emptied my spare water bottle to save myself carrying the extra kilogram since I knew I had only 3.5 miles along the road (but uphill) back to the car. I hoped there would be something to make these last few miles more than just trudging along a road. The views across the reservoir were pleasant but once I had identified the various hills I soon grew bored. I had hoped there might be some birds to see (likely I thought) and I had carted binoculars around all day, but I saw none while walking by the reservoir. The one thing I could have hoped for, but did not even consider, came upon me without warning and was all the more pleasurable for that.


Having walked about a mile and half from Cramalt, a car drew alongside me, and I recognised the couple from the summit of Dollar Law. They were kind enough to offer me a lift and I accepted with a sigh of relief.

Back at my car I sat on the edge of the boot to take off my boots. There is a shelf in the boot and this was sticking in my back so I folded it away. But when leaning back I had not fully considered that the car was facing downhill and without the shelf to stop me I rolled back into the boot.

This was an enjoyable walk but with hindsight would be better as a linear walk with two cars, and perhaps Greenside Law could have been included as well.

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Re: Good Samaritans from Dollar Law

Postby quagga64 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:06 pm

Fantastic report my friend. The bit about your endeavours to retrieve your camera tripod from the greedy trig pillar had my son and I in stitches, also the part where you hop over the burn, foot sinks into the spagnum moss and you end up face first on the deck. I think most of us have had (and will no doubt continue to have) many similar misshaps during our hillwalking jaunts, and strangely comforting to know its not just us nature plays these cruel little pranks on. :)
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