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Up to the southern lands

Up to the southern lands


Postby simon-b » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:04 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Broad Law, Hart Fell, White Coomb

Grahams included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Broad Law, Cramalt Craig, Culter Fell, Dollar Law, Gathersnow Hill, Hart Fell, Hillshaw Head, Hudderstone, Lochcraig Head , Swatte Fell, Under Saddle Yoke, White Coomb

Date walked: 26/08/2016

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Can you predict the British weather? A decent bet says it will rain during a bank holiday. So as the last Monday in August is a bank holiday in England but not in Scotland, it seemed a good idea to leave Yorkshire behind and head for Moffat that weekend. Right on cue, the Southern Uplands got perhaps the best weather in Britain during my three night stay.


Friday 26/8/2016: White Coomb

Track_2016-08-26 143718.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Distance: 12.1 km
Ascent: 765 m
Time: 4.3 h


I drove up from Wakefield on Friday morning, having arranged to meet Karen at the Grey Mare's Tail car park. For her it was a drive down to the Lowlands from near Glasgow. We headed up the path on a glorious day, past the impressive waterfall.

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Grey Mare's Tail

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Moffat Dale in retrospect


We arrived at Loch Skeen...

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Karen by Loch Skeen


...before moving on the climb Lochcraig Head, which was lined up to be my first Donald. We arrived on the plateau at the top of the hill, on ground that seemed to be as high as anywhere nearby, before sitting by a cairn that overlooked Loch Craig.

IMG_2677.JPG
Loch Skeen from Lochcraig Head


(On checking the GPS track later, it turned out we'd missed the highest point, about 100 metres NW. But I've still ticked it as a Donald bagged to be fair to Karen - better to say we both climbed it than say neither of us did!)

Next we moved on to Firthybrig Head and then round to White Coomb. The Solway Firth was visible to the south. Lakeland could be just made out below the clouds, and further east the Cheviots were visible. This was the first time I'd seen England from a Corbett.

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On White Coomb looking south


We made the descent back via Grey Mare's Tail, and Karen and I wished each other goodbye. She drove off home, while I headed for Moffat, my B and B, and then the Star Hotel for a food and beer.


Saturday 27/8/2016: Broad Law

Track_2016-08-27 160237.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Distance: 21.8 km
Ascent: 944 m
Time: 5.9 h


For the second morning in succession I drove along Moffat Dale, this time all the way to St. Mary's Loch before turning off to Megget Reservoir. I parked near the west end of the reservoir and began walking along the minor road...

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Meggethead

...
then turned off uphill by the Megget Stone. Again, it was a fine, sunny day. After Climbing over Cairn Law, it was a pretty gentle ascent onto the highest hill this side of the A74(M).

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Ascending Broad Law, looking towards Tinto and Culter Fell


On top of Broad Law I met a group of walkers who'd been sitting by the beacon. We had a chat before they headed off downhill, These were the only people I met on the hills all day. Again, The Cheviot could be seen. After a short stop, I moved on to Cramalt Craig. Although these hills are rounded and grassy and the ridges broad, the weather afforded beautiful views all around.

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Queesnsberry range from Cramalt Craig


So then it was time to go for Dollar Law.

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Heading towards Dollar Law from Cramalt Craig

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Looking north from Dollar Law


While heading south on the way down from Dollar Law, an impressive looking peak came into view on the distant horizon, beyond the Ettrick Hills. Skiddaw does look good from this angle, but too distant to get a decent photo.

In time I was back down by Megget Reservoir.

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Megget Reservoir


The drive back was made via Talla Reservoir, a very scenic route, before reaching the main road to Moffat at Tweedsmuir.

That night I went to the Annandale Arms Hotel. Sunday's forecast was the least promising of the four days I'd planned to walk. In the pub there was some decent live music, and I got chatting to people. So a few more pints went down than I would usually have on a hillwalking trip!


Sunday 28/8/2016: Culter Fell and Gathersnow Hill

Track_2016-08-28 165324.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 982 m
Time: 5.9 h


I'd been thinking of a lower level walk from Moffat without the need to drive on Sunday, given the forecast. But the forecast improved a little on the day, and I didn't have a bad hangover. However, I was a little tired after the previous night's fun, and got up later than normal. After breakfast things were thought over, and I decided to head for the hills again. So I drove up the A74(M) and turned off for Coulter.

It was a grey morning with hills in cloud as I parked near Culter Allers Farm. As Fell Shin was ascended, drizzle started and I was soon in the clag. A tramp over featureless, often marshy ground eventually led to the top of Culter Fell, where there was not a lot to see. But this tunrd out to be the only summit of the whole trip without a view. Making my way towards Gathersnow Hill, the mist began to clear.

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Ascending Gathersnow Hill, looking into the Holms Water glen

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Looking back at Culter Fell on the way up Gathersnow Hill


I reached the day's second Graham with the hills free of cloud. Then it was on towards Hillshaw Head.

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Tinto and Culter Reservoir from between Gathersnow Hill and Hillshaw Head

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Fruid Reservoir from Hillshaw Head


Getting from Hillshaw Head to Hudderstone involved a section walking along a track made for the construction of a wind farm. This may have made progress easy, but a bog trot through scenery that hasn't been so devastated might have been preferable. On reaching Hudderstone, I was back among pleasant views again, and the final descent was lovely.

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Descending from Hudderstone via Cowgill Rig


Back down the motorway to Moffat, and I spent my final evening at the Balmoral Hotel. The pubs in that town do seem to be thriving.


Monday 29/8/2016: Hart Fell

Track_2016-08-29 150326.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Distance: 15.1 km
Ascent: 1035 m
Time: 5.4 h


My last day had great weather again, ideal for a circuit including an impressive Corbett. From the parking spot at Blackshope, the first uphill section was along a ridge above a ravine, with some fairly thick bracken to plough through. I've known it thicker and taller this year though, and by now it was starting to die down. Superb views opened up as I emerged above Black Craig.

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Under Saddle Yoke and Saddle Yoke from above Black Craig


High quality scenery into and across Black Hope continued as I move around above Nether Coomb Craig. I had a wander west from the main track to try and find the summit of Swatte Fell, a very flat-topped hill. Then I came back east to find a path skirting around the top of Upper Coomb Craig, giving an airy situation with dramatic views downwards. Soon I was walking above Falcon Craig.

IMG_2869.JPG
Looking back along Black Hope from near Falcon Craig


Next came the final ascent above Hartfell Craig and onto Hart Fell. After a short stop, I was moving over Hartfell Rig. To the north, just left of Culter Fell, the Loch Earn Munros (Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich) were just visible.

IMG_2889.JPG
Fruid Reservoir from near Hartfell Rigg


I made my way above Whirly Gill around to the NW slopes of Under Saddle Yoke. It was nice to encounter a herd of mountain goats here.

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Hart Fell seen in retrospect while ascending Under Saddle Yoke


Under Saddle Yoke's summit was reached...

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Saddle Yoke from Under Saddle Yoke


...and the fairly airy little crossing to Saddle Yoke made. The great weather continued, and views became very clear, with the Cheviots easily seen. The final descent to Blackshope down the southern ridge was very pleasant, and a nice way to finish my first adventures in the Southern Uplands.

This really is a beautiful part of Scotland, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first hillwalking trip here. The rolling hills of the Borders are up there with the very best of British mountain country!
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simon-b
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby Borderhugh » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:39 am

Fab stuff Simon. Looks like you have contracted corbettitus. That walk up around Loch Skene is one of the very best in the Borders. You should give the Ettrick Horseshoe a whirl when you are up next.
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby kmai1961 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:08 pm

oh, maaaaan....we missed the top?? DAMMIT. I blame that rogue cairn built so conveniently in the sunshine perched above Loch Skeen. Ach, well, if you're countin' it, I'm countin' it. We'll just have to resign ourselves to a future of being on the run from the Donald police. :lol:

(Geez, Simon, there's no harm done in keeping schtum about things like that. :lol: :wink: )
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby basscadet » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:20 pm

Och divnie worry, happens to the best of us - I missed it too :lol:

Bloomin GPS giving the game away.. :? :lol:
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby simon-b » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:04 pm

Borderhugh wrote:Fab stuff Simon. Looks like you have contracted corbettitus. That walk up around Loch Skene is one of the very best in the Borders. You should give the Ettrick Horseshoe a whirl when you are up next.

Cheers Hugh. Loch Skene is beautiful. Obviously neither Karen nor I have contracted donalditis yet, otherwise we would have checked our GPS where we were, rather than waiting until I uploaded the track :oops:

The Ettrick hills do look good. Then of course there's Merrick and neighbours to look forward to...

kmai1961 wrote:Geez, Simon, there's no harm done in keeping schtum about things like that. :lol: :wink:

The forum would be far less fun if none of us admitted going wrong now and again! Anyway, it was nice to sit at that cairn and enjoy the view. We could have been in clag accurately checking our position and getting it right, but things were pleasant just how they were :) Thanks again for the company Karen, it was a lovely day.

basscadet wrote:Och divnie worry, happens to the best of us - I missed it too :lol:

No great disaster BC - If Karen, you or I ever get serious about Donald bagging, we'd have to come back for Erie Hill, Garelet Dod and Molls Cleuch Dod anyway, and it would be probably just as easy to revisit Lochcraig Head as to bypass it (although we've all found out bypassing it is quite easy too :lol: )
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby PeteR » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:26 pm

A nice selection of hills Simon. Not wishing to be smug though.........but I visited the summit :D :lol:

I quite like the Donalds myself. They add to the great variety of hills that Scotland has to offer.
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby rockhopper » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:18 am

Good trip Simon and a great start to the donalds - they also make for good days in winter :thumbup:

simon-b wrote:...before moving on the climb Lochcraig Head, which was lined up to be my first Donald. We arrived on the plateau at the top of the hill, on ground that seemed to be as high as anywhere nearby, before sitting by a cairn that overlooked Loch Craig.
(On checking the GPS track later, it turned out we'd missed the highest point, about 100 metres NW. But I've still ticked it as a Donald bagged to be fair to Karen - better to say we both climbed it than say neither of us did!)

:think: tut tut - oh, I think you'll need to go back, start from sea level and walk all the way to the top :wink: :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby Gordie12 » Thu Sep 01, 2016 5:40 pm

You got your money's worth out of this trip Simon.

Is it still a bit on the damp side by Loch Skeen??

Your route for Broad Law was a lot more interesting than my fairly drab up and down from the Megget Stone.
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby simon-b » Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:26 pm

PeteR wrote:A nice selection of hills Simon. Not wishing to be smug though.........but I visited the summit :D :lol:

I quite like the Donalds myself. They add to the great variety of hills that Scotland has to offer.

Thanks Pete. My main aim had been to climb some Corbetts and maybe a Graham or two in a new area for me. Using the WH routes introduced a few more hills along the way.

Cheers rockhopper...
rockhopper wrote::think: tut tut - oh, I think you'll need to go back, start from sea level and walk all the way to the top :wink: :wink:

...reascending from a col 30 metres below the summit should suffice. That would make it a Donald Tump.

Thank you Gordie...
Gordie12 wrote:Is it still a bit on the damp side by Loch Skeen??

...it was still pretty squelchy around there. I did enjoy the Broad Law walk, which has only recently become the 'regular' WH route for that hill.
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby dav2930 » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:42 pm

Glad to see you haven't hung up your boots after your compleation! :lol:

Those Moffat hills have a great deal to offer I think. I love the endless miles of grassy tramping up there and they certainly make a quiet alternative to the Lakes! The hills south-east of the Moffat Water (Capel Fell etc.) are well worth a visit too.

Excellent report and pics as usual Simon :clap:
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby simon-b » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:09 pm

dav2930 wrote:Glad to see you haven't hung up your boots after your compleation! :lol:

Those Moffat hills have a great deal to offer I think. I love the endless miles of grassy tramping up there and they certainly make a quiet alternative to the Lakes! The hills south-east of the Moffat Water (Capel Fell etc.) are well worth a visit too.

Cheers dav. I haven't hung up the boots but they'll need repairing or replacing soon. I was in Lakeland today and could see the Moffat Corbetts from Caudale Moor, so it was good to look back at them. It is nice up there.

RTC wrote:... the top is a lot further away from the cairn above Loch Skeen than 100 metres. I reckon its more like 500 metres but that's just a guess

You may be right, RTC. About 100 metres was an estimate based on how near the GPS track appears to be to the summit on the map.
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby Blokewithastroke » Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:29 am

Hmmph! You lucky man! We deviated from our usual way from the bonny banks of the River Tyne to near Kilmarnock (to visit my brother-in-law and his family) to go for a short walk at Grey Mare's Tail on the Friday that you were there. The weather was fine as we journeyed through the Borders. However, by the time we arrived at the parking place for Grey Mare's Tail it was lashing it down with rain! I am afraid that we decided to carry on our journey rather than stepping out into the wet. Ah well... may be next time?! :roll:
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Re: Up to the southern lands

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:33 pm

Glad you had such great weather for the weekend, really helps when getting to know a new area.
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