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A Biggar Donald Round

A Biggar Donald Round


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:52 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Chapelgill Hill, Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Hudderstone

Date walked: 05/03/2016

Time taken: 6.75 hours

Distance: 29.3 km

Ascent: 1436m

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On my own today - Allison and Craig away for a week's holiday in Ardgour with proper mountains. So I had a think about what would be the most efficient use of time - I'd looked at a nice circuit around the Culter Fell hills that came in just shy of 30km - a bit outwith the range of the Sick Kid at the moment anyway. So that would net me 5 Donalds. Or 8 New Donalds. Or 8 Simms - however you wished to count them it would be a good day out :lol:

Left at 7 and had a hassle free drive down the M74 despite some sections of roadworks - the forecast overnight snow didn't appear to have materialised. i did not want to be tramping through deep soft snow for 30km, of that I was sure. Turned off at Abingdon then up the A702 to Coulter, where I turned right and followed a narrower road to Culterallers Farm - the road splits and there's a parking space or two by the verge. It had clouded over somewhat and snow looked like it was on the way. I had decided to do the circuit clockwise - this proved very sensible.


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



Start
ImageP1120159 by Al, on Flickr

I took the left hand fork in the road that heads due south and trotted along past inquisitive sheep and onto a rough track that leads up Fell Shin, past some stone grouse butts. Before I got to 500m the path was picked out in snow, and a little icy - I hoped this meant frozen bogs on the wetter parts of the route (unfortunately not). It's a steady pull of just under 500m onto the summit of Culter Fell. By this time the wind is quite strong, blowing snow into my face and I'm a little chilly. The sky is dark to the NE, where the wind is coming from and it looks like being snowy for at least an hour or more. Over to my left I can make out the beacon of Tinto Hill through the snowflakes. Cardon Hill and its buddy Chapelgill Hill appear quite distant - plus I have to climb back up to Culter Fell on my return.

Up Fell Shin
ImageP1120160 by Al, on Flickr

Culter Fell ahead
ImageP1120162 by Al, on Flickr

Summit CF
ImageP1120164 by Al, on Flickr

No very warm up here
ImageP1120165 by Al, on Flickr

Tinto amidst the snow
ImageP1120167 by Al, on Flickr

The route ahead to Cardon & Chapelgill
ImageP1120168 by Al, on Flickr

I set off north down the fence line to King Bank Head, losing about 150m in the process. The lower sections of Glenharvie Moss are boggy, but the pools are avoidable. Terrain is heathery tussocks with a rudimentary path - maybe animal. Once I start ascending again up to Birnies Bowrock I pick up and ATV track which leads to Cardon Hill. Good views northwest to Tinto. Touching the cairn I turn around and follow my tracks for a bit then head directly for the summit of Chapelgill Hill - the fenceline drops away 20 or 30 metres, so I didn't follow that. A pile of stones marks the top - to the south I can see wind turbines. I don't mind them as much in this landscape for some reason. I follow a trail and end up back at the fenceline heading to King Bank Head, then back up to Culter Fell. It's just gone 11am - 2.5 hours walking and I've done almost 11km - reasonable progress. I stop for a bag of crisps and look at the map. The section I'm concerned about is that which leads from Hillshaw Head to Hudderstone - looks like it might be trackless heathery bog and take a while.


Looking back at Culter Fell from Birnies Bowrock
ImageP1120169 by Al, on Flickr

Cardon Hill
ImageP1120170 by Al, on Flickr

Cardon Summit to Tinto
ImageP1120171 by Al, on Flickr

The route to Chapelgill
ImageP1120172 by Al, on Flickr

Chapelgill Summit
ImageP1120174 by Al, on Flickr

Pressing on, I descend south from Culter Fell over the insignificant summit of Moss Law - boggy with green pools of moss, funnily enough - then head down to Holm Nick. To my left is the asymetrical shaped Coulter Reservoir. Again following the fence line to the SE I climb another 150m across to the top of Coomb Hill, back down over Glenwhappen Rig where a pair of Raven croak their greetings and onto Gathersnow Hill, which - to be honest, hasn't gathered much more snow than its neighbours. The wind is bitter, and although it's about 12.30 I press on to the SW to find a more sheltered spot for lunch.

Looking South from Culter Fell
ImageP1120175 by Al, on Flickr

Culter Reservoir
ImageP1120176 by Al, on Flickr

Gathersnow from Moss Law
ImageP1120178 by Al, on Flickr

Coomb Hill
ImageP1120180 by Al, on Flickr

Culter Fell from Coomb Hill
ImageP1120182 by Al, on Flickr

Tinto, Culter Fell from Gathersnow
ImageP1120184 by Al, on Flickr

The route south over Hillshaw Head and Coomb Dod from Gathersnow
ImageP1120185 by Al, on Flickr

I'm hungry as I locate a wee dip along the route and pull out my sandwiches. Over to my right I can see a motorway-sized construction road has been built that looks as if it will take me from Coomb Dod to Hudderstone - that will make progress a lot easier than rough heather. My pleasure is cut short when I find my coffee is at best lukewarm. A hot cup of coffee and a wee bar of chocolate is always one of the anchoring moments I look forward to when I'm out, and this was not part of the script. I've no idea what has gone wrong with the thermos, or whether I filled it with an incompletely boiled kettle. Lacking the warmth of coffee inside, I kept my belay jacket on, but had to stop after another 10 minutes and put on my "serious" gloves - it was absolutely Baltic.

The route to Hillshaw Head is fairly low-energy expending. From the top I was rewarded with views to the Fruid Reservoir. Looking back over my route, Culter Fell looks an impressive hill with its white top just glimmering in the sunshine. I continue on to the top of Coomb Dod. There's a dark coloured trig point which looks as if trilobites have been nibbling away at it. I retrace my steps for a bit then cut left onto the road. It is muddy and ugly but it sure helps propel me forward. A workman in a van pulls up and cheerfully asks me to take care as there's a couple of machines working up ahead. I press on along this unexpectedly good surface, not minding at all that it undulates a bit. Near where the machines were working (putting down cables) I took a right fork in the road that led me almost to the top of Dod Hill, where the construction work currently peters out. From here it was only a hop skip and jump to the final objective of the day, Hudderstone Hill. The summit was marked by two tiny flags, removed from the construction site.

Hillshaw, looking to Fruid Reservoir
ImageP1120186 by Al, on Flickr

Coomb Dod with the new road
ImageP1120187 by Al, on Flickr

Trig, Coomb Dod
ImageP1120188 by Al, on Flickr

Not pretty
ImageP1120191 by Al, on Flickr

Huge storage vaults for the souls of animals disturbed during the construction process
ImageP1120192 by Al, on Flickr

It's going my way :D
ImageP1120193 by Al, on Flickr

Camps reservoir
ImageP1120195 by Al, on Flickr

Near the top of Dod Hill
ImageP1120196 by Al, on Flickr

Hudderstone
ImageP1120197 by Al, on Flickr

Tiny summit flags and Tinto in the distance
ImageP1120198 by Al, on Flickr

From here it's a gentle return to the starting point - initially NW along a faint trail then onto a proper track down Cowgill Rig. There are footprints in the snow of several folk who have come up this way although I've seen no-one except the van driver all day. In places the track is waterlogged, needing a step round the rushes, but it is an easy romp back to the tarred road from Cowgill and thence just over a km back to the car. A pleasant afternoon now, past grazing sheep and small flocks of starlings and crows milling in the air over the fields. It's not yet 3.30 which means home by 5pm.

Descent from Hudderstone
ImageP1120200 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120201 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120202 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120204 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby rockhopper » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:42 pm

Big route for winter, WM :thumbup: Interesting - also have this in the plans but probably not a winter one for me :roll: just a bit too much methinks. I see you also added in the 3 NDs (I just have them as possibles). Looks as though the weather was a bit mixed but good all in all - cheers :)
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby weaselmaster » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:52 pm

rockhopper wrote:Big route for winter, WM :thumbup: Interesting - also have this in the plans but probably not a winter one for me :roll: just a bit too much methinks. I see you also added in the 3 NDs (I just have them as possibles). Looks as though the weather was a bit mixed but good all in all - cheers :)


It was pretty easy going to be honest - the first section from Culter Fell to the two northern outliers is probably the most tiring bit. Easier than I thought it would be - you'll romp it RH :D
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:38 am

You should call yourself Donaldmaster for the time being :wink:

Interesting country down that way :)
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:29 pm

Nice one Al, had a look to see how your route differed from mine last year - as I suspected you were a tad more adventurous :clap: :lol:
As I stated in my WR that was one of the hardest days I have had, purely because of the snow and the depth of it :lol:
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby Tinto63 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:03 pm

Another big round, WM, and a great moving average. I took a wander to the top of Hudderstone a few weeks ago just to see how far SSE had progressed with the road but couldn't see a thing in thick clag.

SSE have approval to erect 54 new turbines as an extension to the Clyde Wind Farm of which about half will be in a ring from Backwater Rig, onto Coomb Dod, Hillshaw Head and Dod Hill. While the road will make getting between Hudderstone and Hillshaw Head a lot easier, it will destroy the peace and solitude of these hills, and the challenge of crossing the 4km of wet and uninviting peatlands between Hudderstone and Hillshaw Head.
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby StevieW » Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:37 pm

Funnily enough, i was just logging on to write up pretty much the self same walk Weaselmaster!

I started early on Sunday, up Fell Shin to Culter Fell, across to Chapelgill Hill, then back and over towards Gathersnow before heading towards Hudderstone then down to the reservoir again.

When i first started reading your report, i was wondering whether it was your footsteps i was following, if it wasn't then someone must have started even earlier than i did!

Sunday was a great day for a walk, sunshine all the way for me luckily.

The only slightly sour point was when i joined the new road you talked about for the wind farms.

I have to admit, i'm not really that bothered by the wind turbines, but the wee man who approached me left me with a slightly sinister feeling.

He drove up, and without a hello or anything asked slightly suspiciously "are you just out for a walk...?"

In my mind i felt like replying "no, i'm actually up here for a spot of handgliding", but as the years pass i guess i find myself more capable of a bit of restraint.

Maybe i just picked the guy up wrong, as he did then go on to warn me about some machines operating up ahead, but as i walked away i was left imagining just how sad it would be if slowly our ability to roam these hills freely is being eroded by the ever encroaching influence of modern business and technology....

However, despite that rather strange incident, as someone who primarily walks in the southern uplands, i reckon Culter Fell is one of the most enojyable walks, with views of the other walks i do regularly i.e. Broad Law, Lowthers & Tinto.

Anyway, a very enjoyable write up Weaselmaster, and thank very much for saving me the trouble of having to write a full one myself!
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Re: A Biggar Donald Round

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:46 pm

StevieW wrote:Funnily enough, i was just logging on to write up pretty much the self same walk Weaselmaster!

I started early on Sunday, up Fell Shin to Culter Fell, across to Chapelgill Hill, then back and over towards Gathersnow before heading towards Hudderstone then down to the reservoir again.

When i first started reading your report, i was wondering whether it was your footsteps i was following, if it wasn't then someone must have started even earlier than i did!

Sunday was a great day for a walk, sunshine all the way for me luckily.

The only slightly sour point was when i joined the new road you talked about for the wind farms.

I have to admit, i'm not really that bothered by the wind turbines, but the wee man who approached me left me with a slightly sinister feeling.

He drove up, and without a hello or anything asked slightly suspiciously "are you just out for a walk...?"

In my mind i felt like replying "no, i'm actually up here for a spot of handgliding", but as the years pass i guess i find myself more capable of a bit of restraint.

Maybe i just picked the guy up wrong, as he did then go on to warn me about some machines operating up ahead, but as i walked away i was left imagining just how sad it would be if slowly our ability to roam these hills freely is being eroded by the ever encroaching influence of modern business and technology....

However, despite that rather strange incident, as someone who primarily walks in the southern uplands, i reckon Culter Fell is one of the most enojyable walks, with views of the other walks i do regularly i.e. Broad Law, Lowthers & Tinto.

Anyway, a very enjoyable write up Weaselmaster, and thank very much for saving me the trouble of having to write a full one myself!


I suspect it might well have been my footprints :D
You got a belter of a day for it on Sunday - what fabulous weather.

I share your sentiments about the open spaces being curtailed and confined...
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