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A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail

A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail


Postby Sabbathstevie » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:08 pm

Route description: Grey Mare's Tail and Loch Skeen

Date walked: 23/02/2013

Time taken: 2 hours

Distance: 4.5 km

Ascent: 278m

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A walk of this length probably isn’t worth a full trip report, but I’ve nonetheless decided to break my winter deadlock by sharing a few words and pics. :)

Sunday saw me emerging from winter hibernation and feeling the need to stretch my legs a few times before the snow retreats from the mountains and lets me get back in about them! My last decent walk up a frosty big Bookil back in November seemed like a lifetime away and I was keen to break in my shiny new Brasher Hillmasters (a substantial upgrade over my previous cheapo footwear) in advance of any serious spring wanderings. :D

With Becca agreeing to be my partner in crime for the day, we ruled out anything too strenuous. I’d liked the look of the Grey Mare’s Tail back in Easter when driving past en route to the Hart Fell horseshoe – a quick check of the weather forecast confirmed that it would be a good shout for a relaxed wander and loch Skeen might just provide the perfect picnic spot. After a pleasant drive South through the Lothians and the Borders, we arrived at the busy car park around midday.

The excellent path climbs steeply at first before levelling out as you gain height. The waterfall itself was stunning – a white torrent cutting through the steep ravine in the hillside, made all the more spectacular by a thick crusting of ice which bordered the waters passage. The views looking backwards were also impressive, with the steep flanks of Mid Rig and the curiously named Andrewhinney Hill rising high above the road at the foot of the glen.

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Ascent Views


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The Grey Mare's Tail


Once the plateau is reached, we took an opportunity to leave the path and carefully descend to part of the waterfall itself for a closer look at the impressive gallery of icicles which protruded from the rocks above it. Having satisfied my need to childishly brandish an icicle as some sort of sword, we made our way back to the path which now traversed the plateau moorland, with White Coomb rising strikingly in the distance and only partly living up to its name.

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Atop the Falls


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Maggie


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White Coomb


After what was a longer journey than it appeared on the maps, we arrived at a perfectly still and partly frozen loch Skeen, guarded on all sides by the craggy heads of the surrounding hills. We found a quiet and captivating spot by the frozen water’s edge where we stopped for a picnic, enjoying the silence and stillness of this most tranquil place – made all the more by the few flakes of snow which drifted lazily around us, glinting in the sunlight which occasionally pierced through the high cloud. Despite the packed car park, it felt like we had the frozen loch to ourselves for age, though I could see a team of walkers atop the ridge of White Coomb in the distance.

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Mid Craig above Loch Skeen


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Semi Frozen Loch Skeen


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Lochcraig Head


Our silence was broken by a little drama - a large family had emerged to the lochside in the distance, screaming at their dog which had bounded onto the frozen loch. As the ice inevitably gave way beneath the dogs legs and it tried desperately to haul itself from the freezing waters, so an older man in the group jumped in up to his knees to retrieve, falling on his hands himself in the process. :shock: Though we were too far away to hear what was said in the group, I couldn’t quite understand why, with the man now presumably soaked through and freezing cold (he didn’t appear to be clad in outdoor gear) the family didn’t insist on a swift return to the car, but instead seemed to carry on with their walk! :o Thankfully for us, Maggie didn’t fancy doing a Torville and Dean herself and seemed quite content to stay on land!

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Moody White Coomb


Having thoroughly enjoyed our day despite the drama, we simply reversed our route back down to the car. The sun finally broke through for good as we descended, casting a moody glow across White Coomb, which I’d have been sorely tempted to climb had I been in different company! Instead, we made a relaxed and drama-free journey back down the excellent path, again savouring the views of the now sunlit glen. Once again I’m left impressed with what these southerly hills have to offer, but now having reopened my account I’m left looking forward to a glorious (hopefully) spring and the chance to get back out in Munro country! :D

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Descent Views
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Sabbathstevie
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Re: A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail

Postby AlisonFox66 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:25 pm

I was nearby on Saturday on the Hart Fell to Under Saddle Yoke Horseshoe

Never known such superb conditions in the Borders

We( My brother and I ) just strolled along the top of the frozen snow - there was none of the usual bog trotting

However your report has answered my question about how well frozen the loch was ........I will respect Maggie's judgement on this

How was the path? was it icy? I didn't fancy it myself , hence the choice we made
AlisonFox66
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Re: A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail

Postby Sabbathstevie » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:42 pm

AlisonFox66 wrote:How was the path? was it icy? I didn't fancy it myself , hence the choice we made


It wasn't icy in the slightest really, except one or two sections which could be avoided by using the grass either side. Hart Fell Horeshoe would have been good - I made a point of driving down and having a wee look at it afterwards since the Blackhope glen was completely clagged out when I'd done it!
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Sabbathstevie
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Re: A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail

Postby gmr82 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:34 pm

Hi sabbathstevie, I'm sure this would have been a good leg stretcher - were you not tempted to head up Lochcraig Head? Stunning views of the loch from there. Though I also did this walk with my 'gal' and she thought we were just going to the loch and no more. When I pointed to Lochcraig Head.......well I won't repeat the language :evil: :evil: , though I did persuade her in the end, though lets just say there wasn't much conversation :lol: .

You should think about heading out to do some Donalds/Subs, before - as you mentioned - the snow retreats. Lots of great walks only an hour or so drive from Edinburgh to get you in shape for more Munros
gmr82
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Re: A Winter Wander by the Grey Mare's Tail

Postby hills » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:54 pm

Lovely, Loch Skene is a special place indeed. That drama with the dog might not have turned out ok... :o
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hills
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