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50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:45 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen

Donalds included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Bell Craig, Bodesbeck Law, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen, Herman Law, Loch Fell, Talla Cleuch Head, Whitehope Heights, Wind Fell

Date walked: 20/03/2016

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 52.7 km

Ascent: 3272m

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A good weather forecast meant some fun in Donald Land - after the dereliction of the schedule last weekend doing Grahams in Ardgour it was back to the southlands for some rounded hills. I'd taken a half day in the expectation of brilliant sunshine, and was more than a little miffed to find the sky overcast as we left Greenock. Allison was in considerable pain and discomfort and it didn't look too hopeful for her getting out much. I'd intended a quickie on Friday afternoon - the stand-alone Whitehope Heights, with a bigger day doing the Ettrick Pen circuit on Saturday, then a linear walk along the Bodesbeck Law 4 on Sunday, which I thought she might manage. We were heartened to see the sun pop through the clouds as we headed down the M74, aiming to pitch the tent at Moffat Campsite then head out to Whitehope. The site was bustling with spring caravanners - disappointment awaited as I was told - snootily - that the grass area wasn't open til the end of next month, so I couldn't camp. Nothing about this on their website - open all year is all that it says.

This annoyed me, as I had hoped to pitch somewhere that had facilities nearby for Allison if she wasn't walking - the centre of Moffat would have been fine. With no very clear idea where to go instead, I drove off to get the hill in - parked at a large layby with a tourist board and set off - Allison left behind to have a wee wander on her own. The route takes you along the norhten side of the Devil's Beef Tub, starting at almost 400m elevation. It's a pleasant walk, following the fence line, with one or two undulations. Fortunately the recent sunny weather has tamed the bogs along this route. Up ahead Hart Fell had its head in the clouds, but it was a fine sunny day, teeshirt weather. I made good time along to the somewhat boggy top of Whitehope Heights, crossed the large stile to the cairn and enjoyed the view before following my trail back to the car, some of it at a jog - well the downhill sections anyway.

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

Start of the walk
ImageDSC00169 by Al, on Flickr

Beef Tub
ImageDSC00171 by Al, on Flickr

Over to Great Hill
ImageDSC00172 by Al, on Flickr

Whitehope Heights
ImageDSC00173 by Al, on Flickr

Summit, looking to Hart Fell
ImageDSC00176 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00177 by Al, on Flickr

View back along the ascent route
ImageDSC00178 by Al, on Flickr

Wintercleuch Windfarm
ImageDSC00179 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00180 by Al, on Flickr

We drove the few miles back to Moffat and contemplated our options. I wondered about wild camping somewhere along the Moffat Water and we stopped in the town to mull it over. Google provided an alternative - Moffat Manor Holiday Park in Beattock...a phone call confirmed they would take tents and we were off to Beattock. Not quite possessing the same facilities as Moffat for a wander about but it beats the side of the road. We received a friendly welcome, charged a modest £24 for 2 nights and set up tent. One disadvantage of this site was that the inhabitants seem to like making an undue amount of noise - much of it directed at their unruly small dogs (mostly Jack Russells).

ImageDSC00181 by Al, on Flickr

Saturday arrived - again it was overcast rather than the glorious sunshine I'd been expecting. I drove off up to Capplegill where I'd decided to start the walk from - I couldn't see the point of driving all the way round to Ettrick and then on the smaller road to Potburn. I remembered setting off from here when we climber Hart Fell and White Coomb a couple of winters ago - parking beside Blackhope Cottage and having a hex put on me by the irate inhabitants that resulted in me losing 2 cameras and crashing my car in the next month and was only lifted with supplication and a £25 garden centre voucher :evil: So I didn't park there - I asked the farmer at Capplegill who said I could park on the grass by his barn (although it would have been fine to park at the side of the wee road that goes down to Bodesbeck Farm as it turned out). Into my gear and off.

The route took me past the radio masts by Bodesbeck Farm and up a track by the Bodesbeck Burn (does "beck" not mean the same as "burn"?) . I left the track near the top and headed steeply up Fauldside Hill - from this point on the walk is a pleasant wander over grass/short heather following fences or sometimes walls. I passed White Shank then Smidhope and cold see 2 figures approaching - turned out to be Martin B and Karen. They'd started from the fishery at Selcoth and were going round the opposite direction from me - we would meet again near Ettrick Pen. I continued up to the summit of Capel Fell, which marked my 50th Graham - woohoo :roll:

Track up from Capplegill
ImageP1120314 by Al, on Flickr

Hart Fell/Saddle Yoke
ImageP1120313 by Al, on Flickr

Along to Capel Fell
ImageP1120319 by Al, on Flickr

50th Graham
ImageP1120321 by Al, on Flickr

Descent from capel Fell to SUW
ImageP1120322 by Al, on Flickr

I now got a bit confused about where I was going - I could probably have made this section a bit shorter by re-routing, but I stuck to the SE fence line until I met the Southern Upland Way then followed this SW along a narrow gully. I could see the steep nose of Croft Head ahead of me and walked towards this on a rocky, eroded path. Crossing a dinky wooden bridge of the sort that always harbours trolls beneath, Croft head was now directly in front of me - I could see a path zigzagging up. It did look steep however. I got to the base, where there's a large sheepfold, then set off up the beast. Reaching the top I stopped for an early lunch and contemplated the equally steep-if-not-steeper ascent to West Knowe. A pair of raven flew overhead chuntering away - when I looked up I saw they were mobbing a golden eagle which continued to soar and spiral upwards after the coal black ravens had flown off. A nice wee extra.

ImageP1120323 by Al, on Flickr

Along to Croft Head
ImageP1120325 by Al, on Flickr

Billy Goats Gruff Bridge
ImageP1120326 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120327 by Al, on Flickr

Croft Head
ImageP1120329 by Al, on Flickr

Capel Fell - its rough side
ImageP1120330 by Al, on Flickr

Croft Head summit
ImageP1120333 by Al, on Flickr

Steep ascent up the treeline awaits
ImageP1120335 by Al, on Flickr

I humphed down the steep heather on the side of Croft Head, aiming for the corner of the fence line. Then it was a lung-bustin' upwards travail which was at least relatively brief. Gaining flatter ground I headed between West Knowe and Loch Fell, pausing at the trig point to survey the route ahead. A gentle descent led to Wind Fell, then in the far distance the final hill - Ettrick Pen. Nearing the final stretch I met Martin and Karen descending - they'd done Bodesbeck too, which got me thinking - but more of that later. I continued up to the large cairn, enjoying fab views in beautiful sunshine now.

Looking back on Croft Head from West Knowe
ImageP1120336 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Fell Trig
ImageP1120339 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Ettrick Pen
ImageP1120340 by Al, on Flickr

Ettrick Pen from Hopeton Craig
ImageP1120343 by Al, on Flickr

Summit EP
ImageP1120344 by Al, on Flickr

From here it was a descent of some 300m off to the west of Ettrick Pen and down to the roads by Over Phawhope. Lots of new roads being built here - forestry presumably. I crossed the river and walked along to Potburn where renovation work was bring done to the cottage there. I turned to the left just before the cottage and headed upwards again to join the track I'd come in on. I started to think that if I did Bodesbeck today - for an extra 150m ascent - I could considerably foreshorten tomorrow's walk. Why not :wink: Reaching the boundary wall I set off over wet grass for the next summit. Sheep trotted out of the way as I got to the top and once again enjoyed panoramic views. I nipped down the west side of the hill and picked up my ascent track, getting back to the car after six and a half hours. I returned to the campsite, showered and enjoyed a tasty plate of noodles and veg, supplemented with Tofurkey Polish style vegan garlic sausage - yum :D

Descent into the trees
ImageP1120347 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120348 by Al, on Flickr

Bodesbeck Law
ImageP1120350 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120351 by Al, on Flickr

View across to Ettrick Pen
ImageP1120353 by Al, on Flickr

Summit to Saddle Yoke
ImageP1120354 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120357 by Al, on Flickr

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

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Allison was still in a lot of pain and wasn't doing any hills today either. Pleased with my decision to do Bodesbeck yesterday that meant I could do a shorter circuit today, I drove to the Grey Mare's Tail car park and set out, leaving Allison to enjoy her book :( I decided to head towards Herman Law, taking the road initially then switching to a grassy track that ran roughly parallel to the road but up the hillside. I thought I'd just head up diagonally, minimising exertion - that is until I came to a cleuch - Raking Gill - which was too steep sided to be traversed easily. I had to follow the fence line steeply upwards towards the bealach between Mid Rig and Trowgrain Middle, before resuming my diagonal line to the summit of Herman Law. Over to my left the splendid circuit of Saddle Yoke stood out. I got to the unmarked summit then turned around and enjoyed a marvellous grassy perambulation over the next set of tops - Trowgrain Middle, Mid Rig, the Graham of Andrewhinney and then down to Bell Craig and finally to the second Mid Rig (this one a New Donald). I paused for a quick lunch and considered my descent options. It looked too craggy to descend directly from Mid Rig, so I reversed my steps over Bell Craig and set off down Mirk Side towards the road. Steep, would have been awkward in wet grass, but manageable today. Cross the river and back to the car park which is now jammed full of walkers going up the Grey Mare's Tail.

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

Grey Mare's Car Park
ImageP1120360 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120361 by Al, on Flickr

Raking Gill
ImageP1120362 by Al, on Flickr

Herman Law
ImageP1120365 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120366 by Al, on Flickr

Trowgrain to Mid Rig
ImageP1120369 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120370 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120373 by Al, on Flickr

Andrewhinney Summit
ImageP1120374 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Skene from AW summit
ImageP1120375 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120376 by Al, on Flickr

Mid Rig from Bell Craig
ImageP1120380 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to the valley
ImageP1120385 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120388 by Al, on Flickr

It's only about 1pm and a fine day still. I decide to sneak another singleton in - Talla Cleuch Head is not far away and I know it is less than 5km with a tiny amount of ascent thanks to starting from the Meggat Stone at 400m. It's a pleasant drive up along St Mary's Loch then the windy single track road to Meggat Reservoir. There's a bikers' meet on at the Glen Cafe and lots of them on the road. I park up at the cattle grid and wonder if Allison might try this one - but no, and sensibly so. I nip up the well trodden path that leads to Broad Law, turn off along a deer fence and follow this to the (unmarked) summit. Then back along the same way, trying the north side of the deer fence to see if it's less boggy (it wasn't) and back to the car in exactly one hour.

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

Up Fans Law
ImageP1120389 by Al, on Flickr

View back along the Meggat Water
ImageP1120390 by Al, on Flickr

Talla Cleuch Head
ImageP1120391 by Al, on Flickr

Talla Linnfoots
ImageP1120393 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120394 by Al, on Flickr

Talla Reservoir
ImageP1120395 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Mathieside cairn
ImageP1120396 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120398 by Al, on Flickr

So 11 Donalds done, reducing my remaining number to 19 - my hope had been to complete them by Easter - although that won't happen now, it might not be too long thereafter. Some brilliant weather this weekend - makes a big difference to the day out.
Posts: 2463
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Re: 50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:04 pm

Fantastic stuff Al :clap: :clap: You really are a man on a mission :lol:
Not only do you gallop round the hills, as soon as you get home you must get your WR posted ASAP:lol: I'm only about half way through mine :(

I have to say that round of Donalds was a cracking walk and one of the many memorable days in the Borders 8)
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Re: 50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

Postby Graeme D » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:10 pm

Enjoyed reading that. Top class serial bagging! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: 50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:13 am

Graeme D wrote:Enjoyed reading that. Top class serial bagging! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Sorry for nicking your title, but couldn't resist :lol:
Posts: 2463
Munros:277   Corbetts:220
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Sub 2000:395   Hewitts:33
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Location: Greenock

Re: 50 Shades of Graham, 70 Shades of Donald

Postby rockhopper » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:04 am

turned out somewhat nicer last weekend than forecast - another productive one for you though I see you decided against breaking with your tradition to get the bike out :wink: - interesting solution for the Croft Head to Herman Law group to avoid the A708 cycle - cheers :)
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