Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Another 4 tough Donalds

Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby Fife Flyer » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:30 pm

Donalds included on this walk: Cape Law, Erie Hill , Garelet Dod, Molls Cleuch Dod

Date walked: 02/11/2016

Time taken: 5.25 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1260m

2 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).

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

After a fabulous weekend in London watching the American Football at Wembley, I felt the need to hit the hills again. The forecast was good so more Donalds were on the menu, so last night I went over the options. Dumfries and Galloway was an option but the 2 hour drive either way wasn't appealing so I decided to head down towards Moffat again as there are 4 red ballooons that could be done in a oner :lol:
I plotted the route and Naismith calculated it would take a shade under 6 hours. As things turned out the dogs got us up at 6am, so I decided to have breakfast and then head south. The good thing about leaving earlier than planned, meant I didn't get too caught up in the Edinburgh commuting traffic 8)
I arrived at the small parking area I had used previously for Broad Law and was on my way just after 8am, the modern technology in my car advised me the temperature outside was -1deg :roll:

Image Autumn at it's best, Talla Reservoir

Image Looking back towards the dam, would have taken more photo's but as you can see a car is approaching

Image Looking down along Talla Reservoir

Image Parking area, used same spot for Broad Law :lol:

My original plan was to do the route anti-clockwise but I changed my mind due to the underfoot conditions, I thought by following the track initially my feet would stay drier, plus it would give me a chance to get my legs working on the slight incline. 5 hours later I was really pleased with my decision as the ascent up Garelet Hill would have been a real shock to the system.

Image Initial track

Image Looking back to the start

Image The way ahead, would soon leave the track and head off to the right

After about 1km I decided to leave the track and now the going got tough, no path or even any hint of anything resembling a path just long frost covered grass. It was just a case of head down and grind it out stopping more frequently than I would have liked to get my breath. The good news is that because I was already at 450m I only had about 250m to suffer.

Image Looking back down whilst getting my breath

Image Looking across towards Broad Law

Image Typical Borders scenery

Once I reached the higher slopes of Carlavin Hill the going then became easier and the views opened up and it wasn't long before I reached the first summit of the day - the strangely named 'Molls Cleuch Dod'. When I say summit, it wasn't entirely obvious where the high point was, so I covered all the bases and wandered around.

Image One of many walls

Image Wind farms appearing on the horizon

Image Wind farm zoomed

Image A few of these near Molls Cleuch Dod

Image Arty shot

Image First frost for me this autumn

After MCD I followed the fence SE and then south paying the summit of Donald's Cleuch Head a visit. I then followed the fence towards Great Hill but after about 800m decided it was time to make my way downhill. I scanned the terrain I would be descending and picked out a route of sorts and was aiming to cross Games Hope Burn and ascend near the sheepfold. My thought process behind that idea was that the ground may be a bit more friendly underfoot near the sheepfold. The descent was easy as the grass was longish and the angle of descent was anything but severe.

Image Unfortunately I would have to descend right down there

Image Whatever this is? Zoomed

Image Opted to head for the sheep fold

Image Not quite a raging torrent

The ground either side of the burn was damp and I would imagine after a spot or two of rain would be anything but fun!!

Image Sheep fold from the other side

Now for the second tough ascent, the good news being there was less than 120m, the bad news was the grass was tufty and about a foot long. After a few stops to take in the views and a photo or two the terrain levelled out and I reached the fence and wall which would take me to Cape Law. Yet again the summit of Cape Law wasn't obvious, after a few photo's I set off NW following the fence/wall which would take me to Din Law.

Image Opted to walk between the fence & the wall

Image Looking in the opposite direction

Image Gameshope Loch

Image Fruid Reservoir

Image You hear them before you see them

Image Makes navigating easy

Image One for the wind farm fans

Image Fruid Reservoir again

Image I think you can see the way ahead

Image Ellers Cleuch Rig, quite a lump

Image Couple of wild goats, full zoom, they spotted me first

The walk from Cape Law to the northern hill Garelet Hill is straightforward and it is just a matter of following the fence or wall, with the occasional deviation to visit a few extra lumps on the way if you fancy. Having said that it is also quite undulating but the descent / ascent is nothing like as bad as the 2 previous plods, mainly because the terrain underfoot is rather better.

Image Difficult to capture on full zoom

Image Plenty of descent and of course ascent

Image The final two summits of the day

Image Fruid again

Image The way ahead

Image Looking back

Image Erie Hill summit


Image Only trig of the day, Garelet Hill

Garelet Hill really is a fantastic spot to take in the surrounding views and once the descent starts you feel as if you are almost vertically above Talla Linnfoots (farm). Descending was easy, although it was very steep the long grass gave good traction underfoot. The descent also gave me a good chance to look across Talla Reservoir towards Talla Cleuch Head. TCH is on my radar and my plan was to park along side the reservoir and just head up, but a better option probably easier in all respects is to park near to where I am parked now and head north from there as I would be starting at over 400m :lol: :lol:


Image Looking down on an Ambulance from Garelet Hill, zoomed

Image Same shot

Image No zoom, it is a long way down and relentless

Image Looking south

Image Great view down

Image Trying to highlight how long the grass is, about a foot in old money, easier to descend on, glad I didn't go up this way

Image Tourists?

Image Car zoomed, problem is still plenty of descending ahead and then the walk uphill on the road

Image Same view down

Image Indicating the angle of descent - steep

Image Looking back up

Image Looking across to Talla Cleuch Head

Once at the bottom of the descent there is a bridge that takes you across Games Hope Linns (river) and then onto the road. It is then a matter of plodding uphill on the road that has a gradient of 20%, easy in the car not much fun after 5 hours though :lol:

Image Looking down Talla Reservoir from the road

Image Looking back to Garelet Hill

This was a cracking day that was very enjoyable, the weather was ideal for walking, very little wind and nice chill in the air to keep me moving.
Next on the menu will be more Donalds, it is just a matter of watching the forecast to see where the better weather will be, got a few odd ones to visit so a bit of planning will be required.
User avatar
Fife Flyer
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2363
Munros:172   Corbetts:40
Grahams:16   Donalds:20
Sub 2000:120   Hewitts:2
Joined: May 15, 2013
Location: Guess?

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:51 pm

Lovely reservoir pics - and lots of the others, it's not exciting scenery but I love the curves and the colours :)

The rusty thing is a kind of shepherd's hut - there's a photo of it towards the bottom of my report here http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=54948.

Going along to Talla Cleuch Head from Cairn Law is a bit rough because they've built a big new deer fence with sticky out legs which you have to dodge, but it's doable. I came down Muckle Side, which I think would be ok as a way up, but it is longer!
User avatar
Posts: 1308
Munros:19   Corbetts:9
Grahams:7   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:53   Hewitts:134
Wainwrights:214   Islands:34
Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby Jaywizz » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:53 pm

Some great photos - yes, the slopes really are that steep! Also nice to see a touch of frost, may make some of the boggy areas in Borders hills a bit easier .................
User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 225
Munros:237   Corbetts:32
Grahams:70   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:123   Hewitts:9
Joined: Sep 16, 2012

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby Tinto63 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:45 pm

Nice report and some good views of these lovely, empty hills. I would have gone over Great Hill and then down to the tin hut, quite large when you get close to it, and then traverse up to Cape Law, but it is really six of one, half dozen of the other.

I have walked TCH from the Megget Stone via Cairn Law a couple of times and it is certainly less enjoyable now the deer fence has been constructed. You could also walk TCH from Hearthstane on the A701 (park next to the bridge, about 400m S of the Crook Inn), and go over Hog Hill, Manyleith Head, Snout Hill and onto Mathieside Cairn. It's hard work this way but you avoid the deer fence until Mathieside Cairn. On the way back I went down past Snout Hill and then cut down to the Hearthstone Burn and back on the track.
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 921
Munros:129   Corbetts:46
Grahams:38   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:30   
Joined: Jul 20, 2011
Location: West Lothian

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby ExpatEddie » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:51 pm

Just getting roound to reading this report which reflects the marvellous day you had. Whenever I'm in the Talla area I look at what was your descent and think 'not doing that'. I prefere MCD with Lochcraighead and the Garelet/Erie pair from the Fruid side. But it's lovely to see these hills in clear weather as that is when they are appreciated. Roll on getting the remaining Donalds.

I found it strange when I did TCH. From near where your car was and then going up the Broad Law route from Meggat Stone I was actually higher than TCH when I turned off to go to it. I think you have to do that to avoid the scar that is Talla Cleuch.
Posts: 418
Munros:72   Corbetts:11
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:24   
Joined: Aug 10, 2012
Location: Scottish Borders

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby simon-b » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:53 pm

That's a beautiful area, Martin. And that route, with a small detour, would be useful for anyone who missed the true summit of Lochcraig Head on the White Coomb round :oops:
User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 1914
Munros:282   Corbetts:30
Grahams:7   Donalds:12
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:156
Wainwrights:214   Islands:4
Joined: Jan 2, 2012
Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Re: Another 4 tough Donalds

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:57 pm

Couldn't help noticing: that was a pretty speedy round!!!
User avatar
Posts: 2882
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

2 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).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online