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Trying Time at Carsphairn

Trying Time at Carsphairn


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:02 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Windy Standard

Donalds included on this walk: Alhang, Moorbrock Hill, Windy Standard

Date walked: 10/01/2016

Time taken: 11.25 hours

Distance: 33 km

Ascent: 1410m

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It was back to the Galloway hills this weekend. I'd planned two fairly lengthy circuits - one taking in 6 summits round Windy Standard, the next 5 round Coran of Portmark. Ambitious in the prevailing conditions forecast for the weekend...snow and rain. Those plans were dealt another blow when Allison came round with her stuff on Thursday night and was clearly in much pain with a sprained back. Oh dear :wink:

We got away from work just after 3 in Friday and I had hopes to be pitched at the tiny farm campsite at Hawkrigg before the light entirely disappeared - situated 4 miles past Carsphairn this would be perfectly suited for the weekend plans. I was mildly alarmed to see a number of cars with several inches of snow on them coming up from the south. By the time we reached Saltcoats, the main road had been closed due to snow and we began a tiresome diversion through Saltcoats itself, crawling at a snail's pace or just sitting at lights. It didn't improve much all the way to Ayr - in fact it took 3 hours to reach Dalmellington - a mere 60 miles from where we set off. And there was hardly any snow on the road, certainly nothing my 4x4 with winter tyres would shrug at :( . As a result it was after 6.30 when we finally reached Hawkrigg. The farmer, a cheery bloke from the Black Country, said he'd not put us in the camping field as we'd need gills, but instead we could camp on a bit of lawn near the house. We were happy to get the tent up, on top of a couple inches of snow, and set about making some dinner. A fairly peaceful night followed, no more snow fell.

ImageP1110838 by Al, on Flickr

We chatted to the farmer for a bit before leaving in the morning then set off for Craigengillan, on the Water of Ken for our first walk. My original plan had been to take in Beninner then do a circuit of Moorbrock, Windy Standard, Alhang and Alwhat. I'd rethought this as there would be a lot of re-ascent and a river crossing to do Beninner, so decided to exclude this and add on Meikledodd and Blacklorg. Much depended on how deep the snow was up top. We parked by Old Craigengillan Cottage - which seemed empty - maybe a holiday let. Not very welcoming for parking around this neck of the woods, but I reckoned I wouldn't be too obtrusive alongside the cottage wall. I hummed and hawed about whether to take snow shoes or not - in the end deciding not to encumber ourselves. We set off up the track past a few houses - easy going with just a dusting of snow. Across a ruined bridge then joining up with the estate road to Moorbrock House, which seemed deserted as we passed by. It looked like the clag was down to about 350m - we'd not be seeing much today. We took a forest track to the left which wasn't shown on the map - this took us past a couple of watchtowers before ending unhelpfully in the middle of the wood. The close-planted conifers offered no way through, but we regained the intended track by means of a handy firebreak. Although the snow was now a few inches deep it was still easy making headway with the firm track under the snow to give traction. We turned off to the right after roundin Green Hill and pressed on a rougher track, harder going. We reached the motley collection of rocks that marked the summit of Moorbrock at around 11.45 and continued over Keogh Rigg (a Donald Top) where we stopped for a bite to eat before pressing on through the clag towards Windy Standard. This involved passing the Deil's Putting Stone and the Bitch Hole, both of which, fortunately were obscured by the mist :lol: As we neared Windy Standard there was the eerie sound of the turbines without being able to see the machines. Eventually they did emerge faintly from the clag. We picked our way around them and made for the trig point.

ImageP1110839 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110840 by Al, on Flickr

Moorbrock estate
ImageP1110841 by Al, on Flickr

Into the clag
ImageP1110842 by Al, on Flickr

Sinister sentry post
ImageP1110843 by Al, on Flickr

Moorbrock summit
ImageP1110845 by Al, on Flickr

Keogh Rig
ImageP1110846 by Al, on Flickr

The plan now was to go over Alhang and Alwhat, cutting the route short by descending off Ewe Hill - Allison was starting to struggle and it would add on several km of plodding though wet snow to add the other two hills. We dropped out of the clag as we went down from Windy Standard to see a fenceline dropping down towards Alhang and then rising straight back up into the clag. The terrain was wet and tussocky and I don't think snowshoes would have been much of an assist on this. Allisonwas becoming more laboured by the minute and i| started to have some concerns about whether we'd get off the hills by nightfall - I wasn't troubled about walking the 6km along the road in the dark, but I didn't want to still be on the hillside. Another tiny carin marked the top of Alhang and we pressed on the short distance to Alwhat. No cairn at all, just a confluence of fence lines at the summit. With some relief we set off downhill, hoping that this would allow Allison a chance to recover her energies. At the 505m point we were faced with a re-ascent - either we could go across Mid Rig or continue down Ewe Hill as intended - either way we had another 80m to go back up. This was not greeted with much enthusiasm by my partner :lol: I thought she must have keeled over in the snow as it took so long for her to catch me up on Ewe Hill - I could see her hipflex muscle was also playing up with walking through the snow. She looked done in. I was now genuinely concerned for her, and about getting off the hill in the remaining light. I transferred most of the items in her rucksack to mine and insisted she eat a chocolate/marzipan bar. She hates marzipan and replied that it was disgusting, but it did provide her with enough energy to get going again. We were soon up to the small cairn and could start off downhill, past the sparse forestry plantation by Quarrel End and down a very slippy hillside (wet grass with wet snow on top of it in the fading light - not good if you are trying to avoid slipping and further twisting your back). We got to the road at the bottom - from here on it was straightforward - Allison's marzipan-energy allowed her to make a good pace back along the road and we were back at the car in another hour's walking - the second half of that in headtorch light.

Approaching Windy Standard
ImageP1110847 by Al, on Flickr

Ghost turbine
ImageP1110848 by Al, on Flickr

Summit- Windy Standard
ImageP1110849 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110850 by Al, on Flickr

Descent/ascent to Alhang
ImageP1110851 by Al, on Flickr

Alhang
ImageP1110852 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Alwhat
ImageP1110853 by Al, on Flickr

Descent towards the road
ImageP1110854 by Al, on Flickr

A welcome sight
ImageP1110855 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110856 by Al, on Flickr


moorbrock4.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I had been a bit worried that the snow, which we'd encountered on the hills, would have lain at road level, making the journey home uncomfortable, but there was a slight thaw on and the road was snow free. Back at the tent I whipped up a mean chili which was gratefully received. Then the rain started. It rained all night, sometimes pouring, sometimes just drizzling, but always raining. Morning came. Rain continued. I knew that my plans for today were likely to be out the window - no way was Allison going to be able to manage another 20plus km walk - and if the rain was falling as snow higher up it would make any hills unlikely. There was no way I was leaving the warm dry sleeping bag to try and dissemble the tent in that kind of weather, so we waited to see if it would go off, which it eventually did around 10.45. Packing the very wet tent away, squelching on the waterlogged grass as we got the various bits and bobs back in the car I thought we might try Coran of Portmark, without the other hills (Bow, Meaul, Carlin's Cairn, Cairnsgarroch) I had originally intended. We drove up to the parking area at Bridge-end and, with some dismay, saw that the surrounding hills were very white indeed. Ach well, we can go and do a spot of reconaissance if nothing else.

Gearing up we set off across the main road and along the farm road to Holm of Daltallochan. The surrounding landscape was waterlogged - a group of 5 swans were sailing on a large puddle in one field. The rivers were swollen and rapid - good job we were not trying to cross any of them today. Up past the farm at Garryhorn and along the track towards the leadmines - apparently there used to be 50 dwellings around here, a school and a kirk. Only a few now, mostly ruins. The track was very wet, numerous rivulets and streams coursing beneath our feet. We continued up the track which was increasingly submerged beneath a white blanket. This was taking quite a while. Ahead of us, Coran looked white and aloof, I started to doubt that we'd make it much further. In any case there was little point in just doing Coran of Portmark if we didn't do Bow as well - achieving these two hills would allow a shorter circuit over Carlin's Cairn, Meaul and Cairnsgarroch from the Forrest Bridge side. We got up to the 481m point and paused for lunch. The snow was now getting up to knee-high and it looked like being significantly deeper higher up. Although we did set off again up the hill - only 150m more to ascend - I thought that it would be mental to try and achieve this under the various impediments facing us today and turned around, much to Allison's relief - she was game for continuing, to give her credit, but it would have been at great cost. Instead we retraced our steps and set off home in the light - horrible driving conditions as we passed Ayr, up the M77 - heavy rain and very dark skies.

So less achieved this weekend than I'd hoped, looks like we might be revisiting Hawkrigg in the near future to settle the scores :D

Lane of Carsphairn
ImageP1110858 by Al, on Flickr

Road up through Holm of Daltallochan
ImageP1110860 by Al, on Flickr

White of Coran of Portmark in the distance
ImageP1110861 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110862 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110863 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110865 by Al, on Flickr

Leadmines
ImageP1110866 by Al, on Flickr

A summit too far :wink:
ImageP1110869 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1110870 by Al, on Flickr

It's wet down here
ImageP1110873 by Al, on Flickr


coran.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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weaselmaster
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby PeteR » Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:53 pm

I'd planned a late afternoon/early evening trot up Moorbrock on Saturday Al. On the B road before the turning down the minor single track you took I had to ford a minor bit of flooding, where a rear tyre picked up a jaggy stone, which was well lodged. Could hear air escaping, so realising I was in the middle of nowhere had to turn round and limp back to the main road before my tyre gave up (they don't give you spares these days). Luckily I made it before the inevitable occurred. Then the hour or so wait for the RAC to get me home. No walk, subsequently 80 quid lighter on account of a new tyre and somewhat peeved I have to say. Still, gave me something to do today.......

Glad you got these hills done though, even though I sounded tough with Allison's back. A good effort certainly.

I did your intended second round last year in wet n misty weather. Certainly gave that deserted mining settlement an edgy feel when I passed it. Also had to ford that river at the creepy farm house on the return in failing light. Up to my knees it was.........and very cold.

It's a great area though Galloway and should certainly not be underestimated just because it's in the Lowlands, that's for sure.
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:22 am

PeteR wrote:I'd planned a late afternoon/early evening trot up Moorbrock on Saturday Al. On the B road before the turning down the minor single track you took I had to ford a minor bit of flooding, where a rear tyre picked up a jaggy stone, which was well lodged. Could hear air escaping, so realising I was in the middle of nowhere had to turn round and limp back to the main road before my tyre gave up (they don't give you spares these days). Luckily I made it before the inevitable occurred. Then the hour or so wait for the RAC to get me home. No walk, subsequently 80 quid lighter on account of a new tyre and somewhat peeved I have to say. Still, gave me something to do today.......

Glad you got these hills done though, even though I sounded tough with Allison's back. A good effort certainly.

I did your intended second round last year in wet n misty weather. Certainly gave that deserted mining settlement an edgy feel when I passed it. Also had to ford that river at the creepy farm house on the return in failing light. Up to my knees it was.........and very cold.

It's a great area though Galloway and should certainly not be underestimated just because it's in the Lowlands, that's for sure.


That's a bummer, Pete. I made a point of getting a spare for the Yeti, even though it reduces the boot space not inconsiderably. Would be far from good to have a flat in the midst of nowhere, especially with no phone reception.

I was well aware of the fording the river aspect of the circuit - another reason why it was never really on today, even if Allison had been fit.

I like Galloway a lot, have spent a bit of time down this way and like the rugged nature of the place.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:14 am

Good effort.

I think most of us would consider that you achieved rather a lot, considering the conditions, yet you clearly wished you could have done more. Respect.
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby goth_angel » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:34 pm

Respect going out in those conditions but do you never think of having a weekend off?! :lol:

I hope Allison's back is ok. I have back issues due to an old injury and although it doesn't stop me doing anything it does slow me up from time to time.
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:52 am

goth_angel wrote:Respect going out in those conditions but do you never think of having a weekend off?! :lol:
.


A weekend off? What would I do?? Housework and gardening??? No thanks :lol:
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Re: Trying Time at Carsphairn

Postby mgmt! » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:05 pm

weaselmaster wrote:
goth_angel wrote:Respect going out in those conditions but do you never think of having a weekend off?! :lol:
.


A weekend off? What would I do?? Housework and gardening??? No thanks :lol:



Maybe if you made a list of the housework and gardening ???? red balloon to do , blue when done :lol: :lol: :lol:

seriously , great effort always good to get out whatever the conditions. i had a great weekend climbing in the cairngorms, no summits but lots of fun
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