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Chasing The Weather at Grey Mare's Tail

Chasing The Weather at Grey Mare's Tail

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:08 pm

Route description: White Coomb by the Grey Mare's Tail

Corbetts included on this walk: White Coomb

Donalds included on this walk: Lochcraig Head , White Coomb

Date walked: 29/07/2016

Time taken: 3.8 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 790m

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The night before I checked MWIS and my chances of cloud free tops seemed fairly low in the west and north but heading south looked good and this route had been on my mind for a year since my last trip south so it was an easy decision and an early alarm call was set to try and get me through Edinburgh before the morning rush hour.

I was parked up in an empty car park at the Grey Mare's tail before 7.30am with the sun out and quite warm, it looked as though my decision to head down this way would be correct.

Car Park

Starting on the west side of the Tail Burn it's a short walk to cross the bridge and start walking up the path which skirts the eroded section of hill.

First view of the outline of the track on the hill

The falls come in to view

Looking down the glen

It's a really well constructed path up the east side of the burn presumably to reduce the erosion and it helps me gain height fairly easily. The path is initially steep but it doesn't take long for the gradient to ease.



From a distance I could see what I thought was a sheared sheep lying next to the path but it turned out to be a goat who didn't seem interested in moving till I was very close to him.

Soaking up the sun's rays


I'm not sure how long the walk up the side of the falls took, it may have been about 25 minutes then suddenly the views opened up and I could see my route clearly.

White Coomb to the left

The good path continues as far as Loch Skeen, my intention was to do the Donald Lochcraig Head first, I knew I had to cross the Tail Burn coming off White Coomb so was keeping a close eye on the burn to see if there was an easy crossing point. The day before there had been heavy rain so the burn was higher than normal, the stepping stones seemed wet but maybe there would be some dry rocks to use in a few hours. Half way up White Coomb I could see quite a few wild goats and they all seemed to be lying down in the heather.

Loch Skeen with Lochcraig Head beyond


As much as I enjoyed this walk, the next bit was a challenge. The path leads you easily to the loch then it kicks you out and leaves you on your own to find a route through a very juicy mile or so to the start of the climb up Lochcraig Head.

Initially I stuck close to the loch side but at times it felt like it was as wet as the loch itself. A lot of time was spent on the top of tussocks trying to plot a route through the next few yards. Eventually I reached a point where a fence came in to view 100 yards to my right and I decided to leave the loch behind and head straight over to it. I assumed that it would link up with the wall I was aiming for and maybe it would give me a drier route. I have no idea whether or not this was a good decision but it certainly was a meandering and wet walk to reach the wall and the higher ground.

The Wetlands

The Wetlands 2

Walking the length of Loch Skeen took quite a long time but with the low lying wet ground behind me it was now time to follow the wall up the steep grassy slopes of Lochcraig Head. Initially steep, the gradient eases when the wall changes direction and heads slightly left up to the top. That's most of the climbing done for the day and the route ahead is obvious.

Grassy slopes of Lochcraig Head

Down to Loch Skeen

Lochcraig Head Cairn

I dropped down off Lochcraig Head and on turning round, was surprised to see that I had lost a lot more height than I thought I had.

Looking over to White Coomb

Down to Loch Skeen

Back to Lochcraig Head

The low point between Lochcraig Head and Firthybrig Head is a bit damp but nothing compared to earlier and it is quickly past. The climb up Firthybrig Head is on an easy gradient and from here to the final climb up White Coomb it's a fairly featureless walk across the grassy tops still following the fence.

Most of the height has already been gained and White Coomb doesn't take any real effort to summit.

White Coomb top ahead

The cairn on White Coomb had been pre-booked by a large number of wasps so I left them to it and had a short break a few yards away.


Leaving the cairn behind I continued to follow the wall down the hill, I took a wander over towards Loch Skeen to see what the walk over would be like but from a distance it looked similar to the wet ground on the far side of the loch. I was having a look as I knew from the walk in that there was an easy crossing where the Tail Burn flowed out and I was prepared to lengthen the walk for an easier crossing.

I headed back to the wall and continued on down the hill till it reached the Tail Burn just up from the start of the falls.

Loch Skeen

Looking down the line of the wall

Arriving at the Tail Burn I walked upstream for about 100 yards looking for dry rocks to cross on but there were none to be had so the trouser legs were rolled up and I just walked straight through - the water only came up to just short of my knees and was actually quite nice, it would have been good to take the boots off and get the feet in but I had another hill to head for.

Back on the good main path it was an easy descent back down past the falls to the car park.

Looking back to White Coomb and the crossing of the Tail Burn

Down to the car park

This was a really enjoyable walk. A bit of hard work to get from the start of Loch Skeen to the wall that heads up Lochcraig Head but the effort is worthwhile for what follows.

Now on to Broad Law.
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Re: Chasing The Weather at Grey Mare's Tail

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:05 pm

An interesting report, Gordie. It shows there are some nice views on the hills in that part of the Southern Uplands. I've been thinking my next trip to Scotland may involve a stay in Moffat, and climbing the three Corbetts in the area including this one. Cheers.
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Re: Chasing The Weather at Grey Mare's Tail

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:06 pm

Hi Simon - If you do head for Moffat, the Hart Fell Horseshoe is a great walk as well (albeit it's a steep old start).
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