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A Criffel Christmas cracker

A Criffel Christmas cracker


Postby denfinella » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:30 pm

Route description: Criffel circular, from New Abbey

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Criffel

Date walked: 24/11/2016

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 570m

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Only late November but Christmas seems to have come early for walkers this year - the sunniest ever November for Scotland, with hardly any rain. A few days of hard overnight frosts (even in Glasgow) made this the perfect time to climb Criffel: a hill with a reputation for serious bog. In fact, the circular walkhighlands route from New Abbey gets the dreaded 5-boot bog status :shock:

-5C as we left Glasgow at about 8.30am, and in several spots along the M74 southwards. Low sun combined with frozen screenwash made for a somewhat tricky journey with a number of stops to clear the windscreen, but we eventually made it to the car park up the hill from New Abbey, where the temperature finally rose just above freezing. Starting from here cut about two kilometres of road walking from the walkhighlands route (which is below).


criffel-new-abbey.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



The first section of the route passed through fields to Loch Kindar. Paths were intermittent with an eye on the map needed. Very frosty in the shade; golden sunshine elsewhere. To the north, the Waterloo Monument looked especially fine.

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Not a ripple on beautiful Loch Kindar, with a waymarker pointing the way south around the bank.

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A gate led into thicker woodland, with a meandering path climbing to a forestry track above.

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Gaps in the trees gave views first to the loch, and later across the Solway Firth. The Lake District beyond... wow.

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Further on, the track intersected with the path from Ardwall. A right turn here and the ascent properly began, first on a perfectly-made path:

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At the edge of the trees it all goes a bit pear shaped: the path from here to the summit is a mess. But the bog was almost completely frozen over, with ice where running water had frozen over the only thing to be careful of. Some spectacular cylindrical ice crystals forming on the soil, and a grouse silhouetted over to the left near the summit.

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We'd been in the shade for almost the entire ascent, only breaking into the sun just before the summit. A few shallow snow patches near the top, and the ice had just started to thaw in the sun, with a few partially frozen swamps to watch out for. Views from the top speak for themselves:

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Time for a sandwich at the summit, but despite the sunshine we were soon feeling chilly - it was probably still a couple of degrees below freezing with a light but noticeable wind. Time to head north towards Knockendoch. On the gradual descent we passed a hill runner, who soon overtook us again on his way down, at a seriously impressive speed considering the slippery ground. The path was just starting to come into the sun at this point, but still mostly frozen underfoot. View ahead to Knockendoch:

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And from the summit:

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Back to Criffel:

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The steep descent from Knockendoch starts off OK but soon becomes a boggy mess... again. At least on the ascent you can divert around the worst parts; on the descent you're hemmed in by a wall and thicker vegetation. The ground was still mostly frozen for us, but care required. More pleasant to focus on the views:

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Eventually we entered a gloomy forest where the path noticeably improves. The last section of path to the car park has partly been obliterated by a new track, but the way is clear. New track:

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The track branches left and the old path is visible again underneath - fork right here.

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A real cracker in conditions like this, and a good escape from the Christmas shopping crowds!
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denfinella
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Re: A Criffel Christmas cracker

Postby litljortindan » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:57 pm

Some beautiful pictures there though I have to admit to bias arising from being Dumfries born.
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litljortindan
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Re: A Criffel Christmas cracker

Postby denfinella » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:31 pm

litljortindan wrote:Some beautiful pictures there though I have to admit to bias arising from being Dumfries born.


Thanks. It's a lovely area, though we've been a bit unlucky weatherwise on some of our other visits. Criffel was definitely one of the better days!
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denfinella
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Re: A Criffel Christmas cracker

Postby dav2930 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:27 pm

Very nice photos of a lovely day. Criffel is a familiar landmark in views across the Solway from the Lakeland fells. I've only been up it once, and that was by the shorter route from Ardwall; your route looks much better. I remember the views of the Lake District were pretty spectacular. :)
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dav2930
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Re: A Criffel Christmas cracker

Postby denfinella » Fri Dec 09, 2016 12:16 am

dav2930 wrote:Very nice photos of a lovely day. Criffel is a familiar landmark in views across the Solway from the Lakeland fells. I've only been up it once, and that was by the shorter route from Ardwall; your route looks much better. I remember the views of the Lake District were pretty spectacular. :)


My route (shortened version of the walkhighlands circular route) definitely a good one, but be aware that the New Abbey descent route is even boggier than the Ardwall path! Agree about the Lake District views - stunning.
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denfinella
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Location: Edinburgh

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