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A REAL sting in the tail

A REAL sting in the tail

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:48 am

Fionas 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: 1690m

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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 8)
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 :clap: :clap:
I invited Karen to see if she wanted a nice easy day out without the long drive up north :lol: 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 :lol:
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 :lol: 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 :lol:
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? :wink:
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).

Image Good track to start off

Image A bit further along

Image End of the track

Image Looking back

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 :lol:

Image Nice traverse and it does look quite steep

Image Anyone fancy crossing this?

Image The drop down to the burn

Image Looking across towards Craigmichen Scar

Image Karen romping uphill

Image Looking back from higher up

Image 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.

Image Looking across to the impressive Hart Fell

Image 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 :lol: We had a bit of chat before Al was keen to get a wiggle on as it wasn't exactly warm :lol:
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.

Image Bodebecks Law summit cairn

Image Summit shot


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 8)

Image Looking back to Bodebecks Law

Image The way ahead (down)

Image Been there a while?

Image 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.

Image The track at the bottom takes you past a quarry

Image Spelling test - failed

Image Good bridge


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 :lol:

Image Looking back on the climb of Ettrick Pen

Image 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 :lol:

Image 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 :lol:

Image 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 :roll:

Image Wind Fell

Image 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 :o

Image Craigmichen Scar

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 :lol:

Image Loch Fell trig in the distance

Image 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 8)

Image First glimpse of the top of the zig-zags


Image Zoomed and you get some idea of the gradient ahead


Image 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 :lol:
Reaching the foot of the descent was a relief and yet again we crossed the Southern Upland Way 8)


Image 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 :lol:

Image Water feature

Image Looking across to our descent

Image Again from slightly higher

Image Nearly at the summit

Image Looking back

The summit of Croft Head was nothing spectacular, unless you like fences :roll:

Image 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 :lol:

Image The way down

Image Looking back

Image 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 :clap:
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 8)
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 :lol: :lol:
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Fife Flyer
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Re: A REAL sting in the tail

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:31 am

Well what can I say , that looked like a very worthwhile day Martin, will keep this report up my sleeve for when I do these. Great photos by the way, must make an effort to go Southfor once.
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Re: A REAL sting in the tail

Postby kmai1961 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:49 pm

Given those stats, I'd say the pizza I scoffed that night was well earned! Longer than, and more ascent than a couple of the "epics" I've done (to date): the Grey Corries, eastern Fannichs, etc.

It was a cracking walk. Good report, Martin, and fab photos as well, as usual. Thanks! :clap:
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Re: A REAL sting in the tail

Postby PeteR » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:49 pm

Ah, the old green caravan :lol:

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.
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Re: A REAL sting in the tail

Postby rockhopper » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:40 pm

Nice day for it - would agree with you about Croft Head - Loch Fell being steep going either way. Quite a few options down here - I see your route also brought in the ND Smidhope Hill. Did you stop off in Over Phawhope bothy - has a couple of armchairs to give you a break - cheers :)
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Re: A REAL sting in the tail

Postby laconic surf » Fri Mar 25, 2016 6:27 pm

I loved doing this round, looks like you had similar weather to when I did it 4 years ago or so. Loch Fell is often missed off on the routes even though you pass right by it. A lovely yomp :thumbup:
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