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December Criffel Climb from Dumfries

December Criffel Climb from Dumfries

Postby iangpark » Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:06 pm

Route description: Criffel circular, from New Abbey

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Criffel

Date walked: 19/12/2015

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 569m

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I began my walk starting at Dumfries, following bridleway down the west side of the Nith and then onto the A710 along the roadside verge. (Would obviously not recommend this - it was very tough going). Through Islesteps and climbed and descended down into New Abbey.
Just after leaving for supplies, I followed the right hand side of A710 and up an inconspicuous, curved farm road and came onto a splendid path with reasonable views of Criffel and side of Loch Kindar. I climbed the fence and continued through the field up past an abandoned barn, turning left at the top of the path, once again over a fence. Continued through the Forestry Commission site, following for appox. 1km and going right at a fork in the path. Eventually, I joined the Ardwall path and lulled myself steeply up, following the Craigrockall Burn. At the point of clearance from the trees, the path disintegrates into very boggy (up to 3/4 of a foot deep) and mossy, heathery terrain, with an unclear route. In typical Scottish fashion, I was advised to go back down by attempters as cloud cover was strong (never before climbed in cloud cover), going solo and had at least another hours climbing still to go.
Nevertheless, I continued up, following the boggy partial stream as incline steeply rises to around 60 degrees in some places. Traversal around large rocks was necessary and I found myself using my hands often. Cloud cover was impeding my view (around 20ft visibility) but I began to feel strong winds as I approached the summit and as incline drops. Arrived at Douglas' Cairn but did not visit trig. point as winds were extremely strong. Only stuck around at the summit for 1 or 2 minutes.
I descended, unthinkingly, far too easterly and lost my path, wading through Earn's Crag. Fortunately spotted a curve in forestry path and dangerously made my way back onto it. (I'd advise all to keep north when descending). Followed path straight until back at barn and continued into New Abbey as before, reaching there by late twilight. Arduous, never-ending, pitch-black, roadside walk back into Dumfries. More mentally-straining than physically, but an enjoyable walk with the occasional Solway Coast view when climbing beside the Craigrockall Burn. A trek best left for the somewhat adept walker and a sunny day.

EDIT (Nearly 2 years later): I should add, as I didn't when writing this report, that the weather was unbelievably mild - only at around about the 500m mark did I need to add an extra two layers. I was wearing a t-shirt at 500m on the 19th of December 2015 (and I'm somebody that gets cold very easily!)
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Joined: Dec 29, 2015

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