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Sweet Afton, Hard Graftin'

Sweet Afton, Hard Graftin'

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:42 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Blackcraig Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Blackcraig Hill, Blacklorg Hill

Date walked: 06/03/2016

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 700m

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Mothers' Day. The question was whether to go and spend the day with my mum, or go and get some hills first. I'd told her on the phone that the time of my arrival would be weather dependant - and with a cracking forecast it was a foregone conclusion that hills somewhere were to be visited first. I scanned the options for something not too far away and not too long in the round - a couple of Donalds south of New Cumnock came to mind - this would also allow me to tag on Meikledod Hill which had been left out of the round we did of the Alhang hills due to an exhausted Sick Kid.

afton_3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I set off at 7.30 and beheld another beautiful morning - wall to wall sunshine although it was still in minus temperatures. Down the M77 and south to Mauchline then New Cumnock and onto the wee road that runs down Glen Afton. The route I'd chosen was a circuit so it mattered little where I parked as I'd either have a longer road walk at the start or the end - I chose the short starting walk. I parked on soem waste ground past Craigdarroch Farm and set off up to the farm then across the river on a bridge. The route took me through some fields marked "Adopted and dedicated trees" which was a bit of a faff. I saw a newish track over to the right, but kept on the left hand side of the river for a bit on rather sinky grasses before turning up the hill to my left. This was hard going - the terrain was soft underfoot with moss and tussocks of grass. These had frozen lightly, meaning that when you took a step you held for a moment then sank 6 inches into the vegetation. Higher up the same results occurred from the thin crust over the snow. The effort coupled with brilliant sunshine had me sweating and stripping down to my shirt before long. Where there was opportunity to stand on rocks the going was so much easier - steep yes, but easier.

Craigbraneoch Hill
ImageP1120206 by Al, on Flickr

Along to the farm
ImageP1120207 by Al, on Flickr

View along the Craig Burn
ImageP1120209 by Al, on Flickr

Steep going in the frozen grass
ImageP1120210 by Al, on Flickr

After much effort I got to the final section of the hill and could see the trig point overlooking the flat basin of East Ayrshire. I reflected that my snowshoes - sitting in the car - would have been a good help in these conditions, but I would not have thought them to be necessary at all from my look up at the hill from the car park. I hoped the walk over to Blacklorg Hill would be a bit easier going. Unfortunately it was the same step, sink right the way to the top. I passed some pretty ice patterns in the mesh fence on the way down, and got a good view over to Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and the wind turbines on Alhang.

The summit hoves into view
ImageP1120213 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120214 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120216 by Al, on Flickr

The way to Blacklorg
ImageP1120217 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120218 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120219 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120220 by Al, on Flickr

View back to Blackcraig
ImageP1120221 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Blacklorg
ImageP1120223 by Al, on Flickr

I continued along the fence line after summiting Blacklorg and headed down about 100m to a flatter boggier plateau. I could see the unassuming top of Meikledod Hill off to my left - I kept to the fenceline and soon reached the unmarked summit. Being 11.30 I decided that was near enough lunchtime and sat with my back to a fence post while I ate. I'd brought a different thermos flask today, so enjoyed hot coffee :lol: I followed my steps back to the base of Blacklorg, which made the going a little easier then decided to contour round the base of the hill rather than re-ascend 80 odd metres - this worked well enough although still rough and tussocky underfoot. I made for a flattish area - a cleavage if you like - between Cannock and Craigbraneoch Hills which brought me in sight of the Afton Reservoir. Eventually I picked up a footpath that crossed the lower slopes of Craigbraneoch Rig down to the dam, where I was able to join the track north past the Filter Station and back to my car. Good time made in the circumstances and a fine, fine day weatherwise - got through to my mum's before 3pm.

Down to Meikledod
ImageP1120224 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Meikledod
ImageP1120225 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120226 by Al, on Flickr

Down through these two hills
ImageP1120229 by Al, on Flickr

Afton Reservoir
ImageP1120231 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120234 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120236 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120238 by Al, on Flickr

Last view of Blackcraig Hill
ImageP1120239 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120240 by Al, on Flickr
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Re: Sweet Afton, Hard Graftin'

Postby prog99 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:46 pm

Donald obsession finally clashes with blue skies!
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Re: Sweet Afton, Hard Graftin'

Postby Dave Hewitt » Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:10 am

Blackcraig Hill is notable in being where Percy Donald himself finished his round, on 28 May 1933.
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Re: Sweet Afton, Hard Graftin'

Postby Scotjamie » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:51 pm

A nice report and enjoyable read, Al - making this a tempting round (when the ground is colder and harder!)
I trust Sick Kid getting jealous in Ardgour
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