Rainy Night in Moffat
by weaselmaster » Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:52 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Broad Law, Hart Fell, White Coomb
Donalds included on this walk: Broad Law, Hart Fell, White Coomb
Date walked: 21/12/2013
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 31.7 km
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I prefer the description of "intrepid" to "insane", but driving down the M74 on Friday tea-time in pouring rain, with surface water warnings it could be forgiven for applying the latter term to our plans to go camping. Matters worsened as we turned off the motorway into Moffat and drove the 10 miles to the Grey Mare's Tail car park where we'd opted to pitch for the night. Sheets of water fell from the sky, obscuring the lakes that engulfed the road. Oh man!
Yet another weekend of high winds and miserable weather had put paid Sick Kid's hopes to get 200 Munros in the bag before the end of the year. Scrutiny of the map and forecasts suggested that the Southern Uplands would be about the only possible place to go walking over the weekend, so I'd drawn up a plan to hit Hart Fell and White Coomb on Saturday - the shortest day of the year - and head up to Broad Law on the Sunday. There didn't seem to be a plethora of camp-spots that we could use from near the car, so I opted for the visitor's car park at the Mare's Tail. This at least provided a flat surface, but forays to inspect plots of grass nearby were foiled by darkness, the ongoing onslaught of water from the sky and a rather soggy ground So we ended up trying to pitch on the shale of the parking site itself. This proved to be a problem as the pegs kept re-emerging from the sodden ground and needed held in place with large stones - not the best preparation for a night with winds forecast to be in excess of 50mph at ground level
As it happened the winds were less than predicted and the night passed without incident as the rain fell solidly all night long. Hmm - tent could do with a re-proofing thought I, waking up to find it less than dry inside. Bundling it all up in the car, we drove along to Blackshope for the start of the walk.
P1050505 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050506 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Past some miserable, wet cows and up the steep, steep grassy hillside of Hang Gill. Further up we encountered an electric fence that needed a nimble vault over. The clag's down, it is boggy underfoot and the rain is still coming down. But hey - the winds aren't as strong as advertised.
Yep - it's one of those days...
P1050507 by 23weasels, on Flickr
It's easy going after that, following fenceposts and landrover tracks up to the top of Hart Fell. Thereafter we head round by Hartfell Rig, occasionally catching glimpses of the hills around as the cloud momentarily clears.
P1050508 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050511 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050512 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050513 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050514 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Rotten Bottom is aptly named as it's basically swamp and peat hags, which are up to mid-calf in gloop in places. By this time I'm past caring - just glad I put my sealskinz socks on Drier ground as we head up Firthhope Rig and head across to White Coomb itself. Clag's back down so the views are absent.
P1050517 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Then it's follow our steps back along to Rotten Bottom - although we keep to the south side of the wall which is drier than following the fenceposts, if a little longer. Up to Priest Crags than to Saddle Yoke. Sick Kid's in a bit of bother by this time - knees and hips aching and she's not very happy. This gets worse when she spies Saddle Yoke ahead in the mist "we don't have to go up that do we?" I keep my mouth shut as it is that or stay on the hillside
P1050520 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050521 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Actually I enjoy this part - it's a nice wee ridge between the two tops. I had worried that the wind might find us a bit exposed here, but it's not bad at all. Then just a gentle head down the shoulder to Peat Hill and over some scree to join the track back to Blackhope and the car. We've timed it perfectly, getting back to the car at 4pm just as the last of the light is fading - no need for headtorches this week!
We're soaked through, cold, miserable. I briefly consider heading into Moffat for a pint and a log fire, or maybe something hot to eat. But that wouldn't be the full weasel weekend experience. So it's back along to the Mare's Tail car park, pitching a wet tent in the rain and some noodles. Yay!
This time we choose to pitch the tent just over the car-park wall beside the river, which is foamy and white in the gloom. The distant roar of the Mare's Tail waterfall gives some background music while we worm our way into sleeping bags in wet clothes in an attempt to warm up. This takes some time
Eventually I emerge to make the noodles, the steam from the jetboil adding to the cloud of moisture in the tent. Oh it's going to be a great night. About 7pm I look out to find that everything's gone white outside - there's a good 2 inches of snow appeared from nowhere and covered everything, including the tent. I feel alarmed - how are we going to get away from here if the snow keeps on, we haven't much food, no spade...although I know the snow's wet and unlikely to lie long as it isn't that cold outside. It does make me reflect what it would be like in a more remote location to be caught out with an unplanned snowfall that did cut you off - maybe I need to consider what I keep in the car for emergencies in future. The rain/snow continues intermittently through the night, but by morning there's no trace of the snow other than a wee pile alongside the tent and the tops of the nearby hills having got a covering. At least it's more or less dry.
P1050523 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Up towards Grey Mare's Tail
P1050524 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Packing up takes longer than I'd hoped as everything is cold and wet, but we're finally underway to Broad Law. This means driving back through Moffat and along the A701 for about 15 miles until cutting off at Tweedsmuir and following the road alongside the Talla reservoir and along towards the Megget Stone. There's a steep twist in the road after the end of the reservoir which I wouldn't like to attempt in icy conditions, but the advantage it, it's all metres of ascent done for us - this is important today as SK's really struggling and had to gulp painkillers befopre even starting out. We park, as suggested in a layby around a km from this imposing standing stone - which reaches all of 0.84m high Not been able to find any specific history about it other than it was possibly a meeting place or boundary stone.
P1050525 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050543 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Garelet Hill to the west
P1050527 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Today's walk is basically a skoosh - less than 10km of gentle gradient with minimal ups and downs between start and finish. Firstly head up alongside the wonderfully named "Murk Gutter" stream, over some boggy ground to Cairn Law, then Porridge Cairn before - all of a sudden - you reach Broad Law. Easy peasy. Today there's snow almost from the start of the walk, with a few places that it has drifted quite deeply. Windchill is significant today and the windspeed increases as we gain altitude - the wind blowing across our path, freezing eyes and lips. Get to the cairn and see the navigation device ahead of us - strange hill ornamentation. It proves mighty useful as a windbreak for us to grab a bite of lunch. Some good views from up here - Arthur's Seat over to the north east,
Looking west on the way up
P1050529 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050530 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050533 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050534 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Nearing the top
P1050535 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Cairn and ornament
P1050536 by 23weasels, on Flickr
View to west
P1050539 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1050540 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Back along the same path and we have reached the car in less than an hour from the summit. Have managed to avoid the rain and are mostly dry today! Back up the road in time for a pre-Xmas visit to Tiso's for a new pair of boots - my Salewas have reached the end of the road after 6 months of heavy use.
View along the Talla reservoir
P1050545 by 23weasels, on Flickr
by PeteR » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:01 pm
by weaselmaster » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:13 pm
by Tinto63 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:45 pm
by rockhopper » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:55 am
weaselmaster wrote: I prefer the description of "intrepid" to "insane"....
weaselmaster wrote: We're soaked through, cold, miserable....
weaselmaster wrote: this is important today as SK's really struggling and had to gulp painkillers before even starting out....
Originally I thought it was just WM on his own but I've finally come to the conclusion that you're both completely off your rockers and utterly obsessed. With a weather forecast like that, the phrase once quoted of an English soldier comes to mind...."You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din !". At least it improved on the Sunday for you......probably better than doing last minute Christmas shopping Happy Christmas ! - cheers
by robertphillips » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:25 pm
by ceaser » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:46 pm
by gammy leg walker » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:37 pm
On the other hand we who spent all weekend on the couch are not worthy
by goth_angel » Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:49 pm
(a) gone to the pub instead
(b) if not, taken the option of a pint in Moffat and finding a B&B somewhere for a dry night!
You got some nice pictures on the 2nd day.
by Benjaminnevis » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:45 pm
by jonny616 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:27 pm
by Collaciotach » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:46 pm
Prefer watching Armageddon of the West from me window these days
Well done in getting out and no a bad second day
by Strider2 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:31 pm