7 Donalds from Daer Reservoir
by gmr82 » Thu May 02, 2013 7:31 pm
Grahams included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Queensberry
Donalds included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Comb Law, Earncraig Hill, Gana Hill, Queensberry, Scaw'd Law, Wedder Law
Date walked: 28/04/2013
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 29.2 km
Ascent: 1260m7 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).
So a couple of months ago I started to research my route for these southern Lowthers. I had seen meangarry's report and he had managed 6 Donalds during a linear walk so had resigned myself to splitting the group into two trips for a circular. For whatever reason I went back a couple of weeks later just to see how far a circular would be for all 7 and was surprised to see it would come in just shy of 30km. A tough walk but doable. Of course 30km in Donald-land could feel a whole lot more dependent on terrain / bog but a glance over at Scottish Hills confirmed it was more than possible.
During all this time I had planned to get half way on the Donalds before the weather would improve for Munros ( and this would be my 'half way' walk) but as I became closer I figured it would be foolish not to pass the round 50, so I've now settle on another hill in particular for the 50th! So last Saturday was set for my longest walk yet - I wasn't even particularly looking forward to doing this walk, the forecast was for occasional showers with 50mph gusts, and I knew the range wouldn't blow me away with the views it had to offer but sometimes its just about ticking those hills off!
I pulled up before Kirkhope Cleuch at NS967073 where there is parking for 2/3 cars but I get the impression you wouldn't ever struggle to get parked! Set off at 8.30am and into the field following an atv track alongside the dyke. I spotted 3 roe deer sprint away into the forest of Hitteril Hill. Numerous lambs in the field too, so kept my distance. Meadow pipits and Wheatear too.
Then I just followed the dyke to the top of Donald 1 - Comb Law. Unmarked as far I could tell, did the usual Donald-no-cairn walk around but found nothing obvious. At this point I was walking in 20 metre vis but I just kept to the dyke/fence so no navigation problems. Underfoot up to now was ok, but from the 586 spot height to the col of Ballancleuch it was pretty awful, with some sections only cross-able with the fence.
Too lazy too remove the zoom lens so lacks a little perspective, but an idea of some of the bog crossings
Did someone know I was on my Donalds halfway walk? Any ideas what's going on here?
Up to the Graham/Donald of Ballancleuch Law and the mist started to give little flashes of the walk ahead. Lots of mountain hare around but none close enough for a photo.
Ballancleuch Law summit
Over to the double summit of Scaw'd Law and Donald no3 again following an ATV track. Then as soon as a gate appeared I head south to join up with the track marked on my 1:25K. It was great to be on a nice track and gave the boots a break from the squelching.
Track descending Scaw'd, you can see it continue up Wedder.
Shooting Hut - good spot for lunch but its in a pretty poor state, the back has given in! At the col between Scaw'd & Wedder.
Took the track over to Donald no4 - Wedder Law to another unmarked summit. Back to following the fence line again and began my descent to the col of Gana Hill. An ATV track was sticking near to it too, but around the 551 spot height it seems to disappear and again all your are left with really bad hags and bog. Much switching of sides ensued and a couple of uneasy crossings. The fence here is in a very poor condition, no tension in the wire and you could quite easily push over the fence posts so they were no support for crossing the bog, however I did navigate it in the end and I was glad to be across it. Around this point I did spot a faint ATV track around 100 yards west of my position and possibly 3 grouse butts aswell so that may well be something to explore as an alternative.
Descending off Wedder Law, looking over to Gana Hill. Note the numerous faint tracks to the left and up the hillside, might also be worth exploring as another alternative
I was now aiming for the cairn at NS951009 but was getting thrown off by what looked like (from 50 yards away) a dyke. Checking my map there was no sign of anything joining the fence from a SW direction, not at this point anyway and dyke's don't just spring up nowadays! I took 3 different attempts at a bearing as I was becoming convinced I was not where I actually was. But my route matched perfectly, I mean I could see Wedder Law and I followed the fenceline. So I carried on to discover this was no dyke but a bulldozed track - not marked on the OS map - and was lined with the large rocks it had displaced! Oh well at least I knew where I was. This track was now going parallel with the fence to Gana Hill's summit. I remember seeing a photo of this summit and knowing there was a good sized cairn. I was just hoping they hadn't just bulldozed right through it - thankfully it was there and Donald no5 bagged. The only downside was I could see the descent of Lamb Hill and it was full of hags.
Gana Hill summit, looking back to Daer Reservoir
From Gana, Earncraig on the left, Queensberry the right
First good view of Earncraig Hill, looked a much steeper ascent than the rest and had some character. I had to do a little peat hag / bog hopping but it also had a few bits of nice grassy areas aswell ( I think for the first time in the day) before I began the climb. However before this a 10 minute break for lunch out of the ever increasing cold wind.
Descended off Earncraig Hill, where I found a murder weapon from a report of a year ago. If you're reading this, meangarry, is that your best attempt at hiding it ?
Started the long pull for the final Donald of the day. No real sign of any track for now but its actually a fairly dry walk for the first time. Once at Penbreck you have a good view of the ascent. Peat hags cling to the fence line but you can just skirt to the right of this following an ATV track which then gives way to a sheep track en route to the summit.
To the right of these hags, no sign of the atv track in the photo but just keep right and you'll easily find it. Easy enough terrain without it anyway
Again a surprisingly dry & rocky pull to the top of Donald no7. Though I was really blasted by the westerly wind which I'm sure was staying constant at 40+mph now. Queensberry was so windy I couldn't even stand on the uneven rocks and take a photo from the cairn, so here is my best attempt
Went back to Capel Yetts/Berry Rig and joined the fence line heading to Lamb Hill, bopping over a few hags. At this point I thought I was home and (un)dry - descend Lamb Hill then the 5km flat walk back on track. Then I remembered what I had spotted from Gana Hill, the hags, I was tired by this point and really could've done without them! To be fair though I've never come across such nice hags, luxury hags I'll call them. The ground was dry in amongst pretty much every single one, not from frost but just light undergrowth. The odd wet section of course and not to say it still wasn't tiring doing multiple metre ascents/descents for a km. Next problem was crossing Daer Water at the ruins of Daerhead. Short version - couldn't find any dry crossing and with already soaking boots from 24km of mostly squelch I just thought 'f*** it I'm just walking right through' To be fair It was probably just above ankle height but I didn't feel any extra water come on board (maybe because the boots were already full up). I think its quite unlikely you could ever get through this walk with dry feet so crossing Daer Water is really nothing to concern yourself with! All that was left was the 5km journey back. My legs actually felt quite good on the walk back, nothing like what I had imagined earlier in the day, though mentally I was a little worn out.
My previous longest time out on the hills had been 6.5 hours & 26km. Today it was 8 hours & 29km, of wet feet, much uneven terrain, sporadic views and fairly uninspiring landscapes. But at the same time I was able to pick a route to get all of the Donalds done in one go, so rewarding nonetheless and I'm happy I got through the challenge.
by Tinto63 » Thu May 02, 2013 11:09 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Fri May 03, 2013 12:17 pm
by gmr82 » Mon May 06, 2013 10:03 am
RTC wrote:Quite a walk! Could you not have fitted in Hod's Hill as well? The photos of the bogs make me shudder.
If I included Hod's Hill RTC, I think I would have been announcing my retirement from the hills! Yep the bog crossing in the photo was the longest fence assisted yet. Though I preferred it to the the col of Gana Hill, I was a little unsure of the underfoot conditions there and knew the fence would have been no help
Tinto63 wrote:Agree with RTC, that's a heck of a walk, especially including Queensberry from Daer, bet you didn't see many other walkers!
Other walkers? What are they Tinto !? The closest I had to a conversation was a little lamb that starting following me, so made a swift exit before the parents went AWOL
Johnny Corbett wrote:Another good one gmr, been reading my mind again? I almost did this round on the Saturday but headed for Corserine instead. Been eyeing it up with the exception of Comb Law, already done that. Wasn't sure if adding on Queensberry would make it too long a day, but you've proved it's doable. A few weeks ago that ground would have been rock hard, hopefully it drys up by the time i do them. Cheers
Thanks JC, it can't be long until we bump into each other- often seem to be in the same rough area! The Queensberry detour isn't bad, good dry ground (for the only time!), as mentioned the Lamb Hill descent after is a little soul destroying, though purely due to it being the tail end of long walk
by meangarry » Tue May 14, 2013 3:50 pm
gmr82 wrote:Descended off Earncraig Hill, where I found a murder weapon from a report of a year ago. If you're reading this, meangarry, is that your best attempt at hiding it ?
Don't tell the police eh, or I'll get you too!!!
You've made a fair dent in the Donalds! I'll be sure to read through your reports. It's a slow day at work you see.
by gmr82 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:16 pm
meangarry wrote:You've made a fair dent in the Donalds! I'll be sure to read through your reports. It's a slow day at work you see.
Thanks meangarry, yep you can't beat what I class as bonus WH time at work Was quite keen to pass the 50 mark on the Donalds but now that I'm a walk away I've strangely become less motivated, think its probably just the prospect of heading north more than anything. Though I've always got Loch Skene and White Coomb at the back of my mind for when Moffat way has a cracking forecast (weirdly though this isn't what I plan to walk for my 50th)!
by wjshaw2 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:58 pm