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A REAL sting in the tail
by Fife Flyer » Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:48 am
Grahams included on this walk: Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen
Donalds included on this walk: Bodesbeck Law, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen, Loch Fell, Wind Fell
Date walked: 19/03/2016
Time taken: 7.8 hours
Distance: 24.5 km
Ascent: 1690m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I decided during the week that I was heading out, it was just a matter of where. I decided to make the most of the lack of rush traffic round Edinburgh and head south into the Borders again
After 5 Donald's on Wednesday I opted to tackle 6 this time in the Ettrick Hills, so after a bit of research I downloaded RTMcB's GPX route onto my phone - thanks for that
I invited Karen to see if she wanted a nice easy day out without the long drive up north She accepted the invite and we arranged to meet at the Fish Farm with a planned 9am start.
As usual we were both early and were on our way, there was a chill in the air and no wind, had the makings of a cracker
We set off along the track and came to a sign saying public footpath, our plan had been to do the route anti-clockwise, however the sign was a "red herring" well for us anyway We therefore turned left as the sign indicated, after a bit of going uphill we checked our position - OOPs, we were on track but going in the opposite direction
Rather than descend and stick to our original plan, we thought we would be different and do the route clockwise, not sure if anyone has done it that way?
We followed the track on the north side of the burn until it kind of disappeared, we could see what looked like some sort of path in the distance so we carried on traversing along the side of 'Broken Back' (love some of these names).
Good track to start off
A bit further along
End of the track
After struggling a wee bit we then reached an area that looked like there had been some sort of land slip, it consisted of loose stones and the thought of crossing it was not even considered, especially with quite a drop down to the Selcoth Burn. This meant turning left and heading steeply uphill, when I say steep I mean steep, having said that the conditions underfoot were very good. As we neared the summit of Broken Back the gradient eased quite a bit and we knew we weren't very far from the summit of our first Donald of the day Capel Fell. It had been a nice challenging start to the day
Nice traverse and it does look quite steep
Anyone fancy crossing this?
The drop down to the burn
Looking across towards Craigmichen Scar
Karen romping uphill
Looking back from higher up
Not far from Capel Fell summit
After taking in the views from the summit of Capel Fell we set off towards our next target Bodebecks Law, we knew it would be quite a trek as it is located on it's own.
Looking across to the impressive Hart Fell
Looking across to Bodebecks Law
As we were chatting one topic of conversation was "would we meet anyone else today", no sooner had we mentioned it and who should pop up on the other side of the wall - yes you guessed it Al (weaselmaster). He had obviously been romping across the terrain as he only had a t shirt on We had a bit of chat before Al was keen to get a wiggle on as it wasn't exactly warm
After stopping for a bite to eat on the ascent we continued on our way and soon reached the summit of Bodebecks Law, which because of it's isolated position offers great views.
Bodebecks Law summit cairn
From the summit we had a decision to make, we could see our next target Ettrick Pen along way in the distance, should we take a slightly more direct route down the shoulder heading south east or retrace our steps and pick up the track which could be seen in the distance. As we couldn't see what the terrain was like at the end of the should and the OS maps are out of date, as quite a few of the trees are no longer in situ, we retraced our steps downhill
Looking back to Bodebecks Law
The way ahead (down)
Been there a while?
The way ahead, Ettrick Pen is the lump in the distance
The route we were following took us through a firebreak in the forest, descending naturally. We then picked up a good track/road which then met up with the Southern Upland Way. We had now dropped down 300m and we knew we had to regain that height pretty soon We crossed over Ettrick Water on a nice substantial bridge, followed the track uphill and then sadly had to leave the track and head towards the summit of Ettrick Pen.
The track at the bottom takes you past a quarry
Spelling test - failed
The initial going was quite tough on longish tufty grass, then we picked up a faint path heading uphill and progress was so much easier
Looking back on the climb of Ettrick Pen
Faint path heading up
The summit of Ettrick Pen was a welcome sight, after a few more photo's it was time to move on. We could see our next few summits and as usual they looked quite a long way off
Ettrick Pen cairn
As we were motoring along downhill I happened to mention to Karen, I wonder if we will meet Al again and guess what, who should appear over the next hump, yep it was our intrepid adventurer. Al did warn us roughly about what lay ahead for us, am sure he mentioned a 100m steep descent/ascent little did we know it would be so dramatic
More going down then up
There is a fairly obvious path to follow, what puzzled us were the random cairns on either side of the path
Peat hags, don't we just love them
Wind Fell was soon reached and definitely not worth hanging around to admire, unless you are a fan of peat hags, we aren't so off we go again. There were a few 'undulations' before we reached the next summit of Loch Fell and the only trig on any of the 6 summits
Shortly after we left the summit I realised I hadn't taken any photo's, so I had to make do with a shot from distance as I wasn't returning
Loch Fell trig in the distance
On we march
After a short time we suddenly saw what lay ahead and it looked absolutely amazing, certainly not what we expected or anywhere near as dramatic
First glimpse of the top of the zig-zags
Zoomed and you get some idea of the gradient ahead
Karen taking care
As we descended down the steep grassy slope we discussed the fact that descending would be far, far easier than ascending. Luckily the grass was dry, had it been damp, frosted or snow covered it would have been interesting
Reaching the foot of the descent was a relief and yet again we crossed the Southern Upland Way
Southern Upland Way heading uphill
Next just the small matter of the ascent up the zig-zags, we knew that once we reached the top of the zig-zags that would be the last of the going up
Looking across to our descent
Again from slightly higher
Nearly at the summit
The summit of Croft Head was nothing spectacular, unless you like fences
Croft Head summit
At long last the descent back down to the cars, it has to be one of the gentlest descents, having said that there is no flat ground until you are almost back at the car park
The way down
Nearly back to civilisation
The cars were certainly a welcome sight, it had certainly been a long tough day but it will go down as one of the better days in the hills. The decent weather certainly makes a huge difference, wall to wall sunshine and hardly a breath of wind make for ideal walking conditions, especially in March.
Huge thanks to Karen for her company
Next on the menu is probably another couple of Donald outings to keep my fitness level up before getting back amongst the Munro's in less than 3 weeks
Having plotted our route fairly accurately, we must have kept up a good head of steam as Naismith's time is 7hrs 43mins and of course he never stops for lunch or takes any photo's
by The Rodmiester » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:31 am
by kmai1961 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:49 pm
It was a cracking walk. Good report, Martin, and fab photos as well, as usual. Thanks!
by PeteR » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:49 pm
This circuit does look a tough one, so well done on your efforts. I did you first and sixth in an unintended route in winter conditions last year. Did Bodesbeck along with Herman Law, which was quite enjoyable little circuit. Ettrick and pals do look a way off don't they, but I'll need to return this year as they look pretty grand too.
by rockhopper » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:40 pm
by laconic surf » Fri Mar 25, 2016 6:27 pm