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Hart Fell, White CoombRotten Bottom - legs well stretched

Hart Fell, White CoombRotten Bottom - legs well stretched

Postby old danensian » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:02 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Hart Fell, White Coomb

Donalds included on this walk: Hart Fell, White Coomb

Date walked: 26/06/2013

Time taken: 6.3 hours

Distance: 22.5 km

Ascent: 1279m

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The dry, soft and springy turf stretches ahead. The sun’s out, a breeze keeps the heat at bay, and there’s hours of daylight to enjoy.

I know, it sounds like a dream. Is this the second or third of our one-day-summers this year?

The knowledge that a front was going to bring rain overnight inevitably added an extra piquancy to the prospect for the day. So, of course, the schools must be breaking up tomorrow as well: better get out before all those kids and teachers are let loose on the hills.

Looking for something closer to home, I headed south. I fancied joining up Hart Fell and White Coomb in what I hoped would be reminiscent of the type of day experienced in the Lakes: a lengthy stretch over one undulation after another with nothing too taxing once the initial height had been gained.

This proved to be fellwalking like it should be.

The steep stuff definitely came early. It was in your face within a couple of hundred metres of passing through the gate between Capplegill and Blackshope in Moffat Dale. At another gate just below Hang Gill the bracken-covered slope simply reared up, and up. There was a vague track for a while, but when it turned sharply to contour off to the right, and showed no signs of heading back upwards, there seemed little point in avoiding the effort required. It was one of those times that called for just going straight up.

In time a cairn appeared, offering the excuse for a breather and a photo, after which the angle relented a tad, and then just continued up some more.

Looking down Moffat Dale from above Hang Gill

Less than an hour later I was rewarded by the type of view that spurs you on. Reaching the edge, near the top of Black Craig, the valley of Black Hope plunged away below, while the gently rolling undulations round to Hart Fell stretched away, just waiting to be walked. Saddle Yoke reared up on the far side of the valley: a horseshoe that would have to wait for another day.

Hartfell Rig and the head of Black Hope from above Black Craig

Nether Coomb Craig and round to Hart Fell - these hills are made for walking

Hart Fell

After passing over Nether Coomb Craig, the remains of a wall added a little more character to the fell than the wire and post fence, and was followed round to Falcon Crag. Never can a more sorry handful of stones, on a flat expanse of grass, have borne such an incongruous title.

Falcon Craig - honest!

What was impressive however, was the curious glances cast my way by the small herd of goats lazily munching their way along the path. I’m sure I last saw them wandering along the road at Shiel Bridge a couple of weeks ago.

"And who do you think you're staring at?" Saddle Yoke actually

Hass o’ the Red Roads drops sharply after Falcon Crag before Hart Fell itself, but the rise on the other side was negotiated far more quickly than I expected. In fact, it took longer to cover the next few hundred metres that disappeared into the distance to where the summit cairn and shelter lurked.

The final stretch to Hart Fell above Hass o' the Red Roads - just when you think you're there

Turbines sprouted in the distance to the south west, and to the south, emerging from the haze, the Lakeland fells could just be made out beyond the Solway Firth.

But a whole load of walking lay between here and White Coomb off to the north east.

Looking over to White Coomb from Hart Fell

Between Hartfell Rig and Firthhope Rig, I was sure the evils of Rotten Bottom must lurk. Stirk Craig, Games Castle, Rotten Bottom and Raven Crag leap out from the map like names in a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Would Rotten Bottom be the lowest of the low? From above, the dark patches dotted across the landscape in front of Games Castle hinted at a Borders equivalent of the infamous Baskerville Moor.

Rotten Bottom - between Stirk Craig and Firthhope Rig

As it was, it turned out to be far drier than I expected. OK, there was a short stretch where waders would have been a better option, but with a bit of back-tracking and zig-zag-peat-hag leaping it was easily avoided. Another short, sharp rise, and on reaching Firthhope Rig, the dip and rise across to White Coomb opened up.

White Coomb from Firthhope Rig

Again, soft, springy turf made for a pleasurable wander to the cairn. There followed that inevitable query on a broad, flat grassy top: is this the top or is that it over there? There and back and three or four hundred metres later: two metres lower and they’re both bagged now anyway.

Lochcraig Head from White Coomb

It was then time for the last swoop and sweep round to Lochcraig Head. I’d shunned the prospect of a direct descent down Rough Craigs for the chance of a view down Loch Skeen, and was not disappointed. Hidden until passing over Firthybrig Head, it was tucked under the cliffs that envelope its head: another revelation like the others lying hidden, cut below the level of high ground.

Loch Skeen - a first glimpse from below Firthybrig Head

White Coomb from Lochcraig Head

Another dilapidated wall guided the descent to the loch and a final foray into what might prove to be far boggier ground in wetter times - like last summer. The path might have followed a consistent line but I didn’t manage to find it until I stumbled across it being used by the first sign of crowds I’d seen all day. Clearly, the waterfalls and the loch were a greater attraction than the tops.

This way down - towards Loch Skeen and the occasional boggy patch and sometimes a bit of path

By now I could see the car park below, cars and motorbikes popping in and out: park, walk to the information board, walk back to the car, drive off – done it. Oh well, it makes for a quieter hill.

I hope my bike's still there - next to the signs for security camera surveillance and FarmWatch - makes you feel reassured

After a final downhill swoop, this time on my bike back to the car, I could reflect on a fine day out. Yes, they were like the Lakes with their broad grassy tops and crags just below the skyline hiding perfectly scooped out valleys. As far as height goes, Hart Fell and White Coomb would hold their own alongside the bigger Lakeland tops and command a level of attention far greater than they do nestled in the Southern Uplands. Maybe this is what the Lakes would have been like without Wainwright and Julia Bradbury.

A Magnum in Moffat on the way back to the M74, and I was still home in time to enjoy a drink out in the garden as the sun set.
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old danensian
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Re: Hart Fell, White CoombRotten Bottom - legs well stretche

Postby rockhopper » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:46 pm

cracking day for it, od - bet the magnum tasted good ! haven't been to the southern Scottish hills yet but your WR and a few others have been giving food for thought - cheers :)
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Re: Hart Fell, White CoombRotten Bottom - legs well stretche

Postby gmr82 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:07 pm

Nice report, still to do the Hartfell Horseshoe but its a lovely little walking area going over to Lochcraig Head. Dry, soft and spring as you mentioned - unlike a lot of the surrounding hills :lol:
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