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Catching Winter's Tail on White Coomb

Catching Winter's Tail on White Coomb


Postby roscoT » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:02 pm

Route description: White Coomb by the Grey Mare's Tail

Corbetts included on this walk: White Coomb

Donalds included on this walk: Lochcraig Head , White Coomb

Date walked: 28/02/2016

Time taken: 3.75 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 850m

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Still not quite having the confidence, never mind all the right equipment, to tackle a day of Winter walking in dodgy weather, it seemed I had been perennially disappointed with weekend forecasts so far this year. Having only managed Dumyat and the Cobbler (that day itself a winter skills course) so far, a cracking day on Saturday on Ben Cleuch gave me the buzz again, and I was up early on my way to the borders early next day. It's not often you get two sunny calm days of a weekend in a typical Scottish February, right?

Last year I had been to the Grey Mare's Tail on my way home from a day on Hart Fell, and had resolved to one day return and do the White Coomb circuit above Loch Skeen. Got the car park at 9.15, and was delighted to see no other cars, left about 20 past - cold at first, but warmer in the sunlight. A very well-maintained path leads up steeply alongside the Tail Burn and, higher up, the majestic Grey Mare's Tail. Surely, from every angle, one of the most stunning sights in this part of the world.

Imagestart by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageGrey Mare's Tail by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010899 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Past the falls, the surprisingly white White Coomb came into view, and the path continued into the vast bowl which the day's walk encompassed. A gentle saunter over undulating ground for a kilometre or 2 ended at the serene banks of a semi-frozen Loch Skeen. Time for a break here to breathe it all in, already the best Sunday of my 2016 so far :D

ImageFirst sight of White Coomb by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010904 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010908 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010909 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Back the way about 100 feet or so to turn off the path, feint at first, and reach the fence which is followed all the way up Lochcraig Head, down Talla Nick and round to White Coomb. Rougher ground here, which I can imagine is a nighmare of a bog in Summer (luckily frozen on this day) to reach the bottom of the day's biggest effort - the steep climb up the east flank of Lochcraig Head. Views opening up, sun still shining and not a cloud in the sky, so took my fleece off in anticipation.

Imagefence by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLoch Skeen, Mid Craig and White Coomb by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010917 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Height is gained quickly. I had a assumed when I reached the ridge and the snowline the climb would ease, but not so - only half way there! With some relief I reached the plateau and, a little further on, the summit cairn of Lochcraig Head, the day's first Donald. Great views down over the loch, hard to believe I was down there less than an hour before.

ImageP1010918 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagelooking southeast by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010921 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageselfie by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLochcraig Head summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010929 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Had some food and a good long drink before setting off westwards over icy ground, descending to Talla Nick. Then: a steep, but thankfully short ascent to Firthybrig Head, my breath and the crunch of hard snow under my boots the only discernible sound. The same fence is followed as before, and could imagine this would be a godsend for navigation in difficult conditions.

ImageMid Craig by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBack to Loch Skeen by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

A left is taken here, still following the fence, over the long, straight and practically flat walk to Firthhope Rig. In the distance, I thought a saw a figure (a mirage?) moving away from me - eventually we caught up on the summit of White Coomb. Behind, views to Broad Law (with it's obvious transmission station on top) and, on the right, the vast lump of Hart Fell and the more graceful Under Saddle Yoke (never understood its name, given it's higher than Saddle Yoke itself?!).

ImageSnow Formation by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageto Firthhope Rig by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLochcraig Head by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBroad Law zoomed by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagehart fell, saddle yoke and under by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

From here, again turning left, it is a short 10 minute walk with a small ascent to White Coomb itself, detouring right from the fence slightly to reach the summit cairn - the highest point in the Borders. Caught up with my aforementioned peer - an Englishman having his lunch. Joined him and we chatted about our day, and, looking around, how truly lucky we were :wink:

Imageto the summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSummit, looking south by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010954 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Time to here from setting off was around 3 hours. After the previous day's toils, the legs were wondering what had hit them, so after a 10 minute stop I said my goodbyes and headed downhill: gentle and bumpy at first, then about a third of the way down a really steep section which, given the ice, required a good bit of care to prevent a sore arse or worse :lol:

Imagedescent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLoch Skeen and Lochcraig Head on descent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagesteep section by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1010965 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Eventually, the Tail Burn is reached above the falls. I had not really factored the crossing into the equation, and it proved difficult to do this without getting an unwanted cold bath. After much walking up and down, I found a 'safe' (in no way safe) place to cross, and with a couple of leaps I was gladly on dry ground again. From here, the original path from the beginning is joined again. By now, it was mobbed - lots of couples, families and people with dogs lining the route back down to the car: all happy, smiling and enjoying what is a rare bird - a glorious Scottish Winter's day.

ImageP1010966 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageburn crossing by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imageback to moffatdale by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Imagetail burn valley by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
User avatar
roscoT
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 242
Munros:136   Corbetts:26
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:5   Islands:15
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: Catching Winter's Tail on White Coomb

Postby teaandpies » Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:03 pm

I like the look of this walk. I've never given much thought of traveling south of Glasgow I must confess :crazy:
teaandpies
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 929
Munros:94   Corbetts:16
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:6
Joined: Mar 19, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: Catching Winter's Tail on White Coomb

Postby roscoT » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:29 pm

teaandpies wrote:I like the look of this walk. I've never given much thought of traveling south of Glasgow I must confess :crazy:


Well worth the effort, Teaandpies! Actually not as far as you think either - only an hour and a half's drive as it's motorway 95% of the way! A good option for Winter scaredy-cats like you and I :lol:
User avatar
roscoT
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 242
Munros:136   Corbetts:26
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:5   Islands:15
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: Catching Winter's Tail on White Coomb

Postby teaandpies » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:23 pm

roscoT wrote:
teaandpies wrote:I like the look of this walk. I've never given much thought of traveling south of Glasgow I must confess :crazy:


Well worth the effort, Teaandpies! Actually not as far as you think either - only an hour and a half's drive as it's motorway 95% of the way! A good option for Winter scaredy-cats like you and I :lol:


I'll have to remember to give them some thought when looking at hills in the 'local area' :lol:

I'm a little bit chicken :oops:
teaandpies
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 929
Munros:94   Corbetts:16
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:6
Joined: Mar 19, 2014
Location: Glasgow

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