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New Year's catch up in the Borders

New Year's catch up in the Borders

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:42 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Culter Fell, Ettrick Pen, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Bell Craig, Bodesbeck Law, Capel Fell, Chapelgill Hill, Croft Head, Culter Fell, Ettrick Pen, Gathersnow Hill, Herman Law, Hillshaw Head, Loch Fell, Wind Fell

Date walked: 01/01/2017

Time taken: 17.25 hours

Distance: 59.1 km

Ascent: 3260m

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New Year's weekend. Weather forecast was for heavy rain on Friday and Saturday almost everywhere, but the Borders seemed to be spared. An ideal opportunity to head down there and play catch up on Allison's missing Grahams, do her Donald count no harm either. Three quite long walks, possible if there was no snow lying in the daylight hours at hand.

whinney4.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We headed down Moffat way on Friday morning, arriving at the Grey Mare's Tail car park at 10ish. I'd chosen to climb the 4 hills lining the road, from Herman's Law to Bodesbeck Law. We'd start from the car park, go straight up Mirk Side, head south first, then return in the direction of Herman's Law, saving a long road walk. A bit steep going up Mirk Side, but mangeable on grass and short heather. Unfortunately clag sat along the tops of the hills, so today was not going to be one for views. We reached Bell Craig, and continued through thick clag towards Mid Rig, then followed the fence line along. We passed over Nowtrig Head, a Simm I hadn't climbed previously on our way to Bodesbeck. Bitter wind, some shelter sought just below the cairn for lunch. Then retracing our steps along to Bell Craig and on, so easily, up to our Graham, Andrewhinney Hill. More easy going along the fence line to Herman's Law, passing several further cairns. An empty pack of Gripples sat beside the fence (they're for splicing fencelines together). Down the path to Birkhill and then a mile or so along the road to the car.

Up here
ImageDSC02377 by Al, on Flickr

Grey Mare's Car Park
ImageDSC02378 by Al, on Flickr

Bell Craig
ImageDSC02379 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02381 by Al, on Flickr

On to Herman's Law
ImageDSC02382 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02383 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02384 by Al, on Flickr

Next question - where to camp? I'd planned the Ettrick Pen circuit for the following day - we could either stay near Grey Mare's Tail, or consider an alternate start for the circuit, from Ettrick. Looking at the map, this cut down both distance and ascent compared to the route from Bodesbeck Farm, although it did need a lengthy drive round the top of St Mary's Loch. I decided to try for a camping spot along the Meggat Reservoir, leaving us a 20 mile journey in the morning. Pitch discovered, we set about getting fed and settling down for the night.

ettrick5.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Saturday - we were up at the back of 7 and off in the still darkness along to Ettrick. A crazy border terrier rushing out of a farm gateway to "round up" the car almost got squished. We parked at the end of the road, before Potburn and set off, initially through the woods, over Pot Law and on to Fauldside Hill. From here it was more fence following, over White Shank and on towards Capel Fell. Drop down to the much rougher terrain of Craigmichen Scar following the Selcoth Burn from high up on the south bank then the circular sheep fold. Ahead lay the steep Croft Head, a path zigzagging up the eastern side. Knowing that this is followed by the steeper climb up Lochfell Shin, we take it easy, have lunch in a sheltered nook on the descent. Then, no avoiding it, 200-odd-metres of steepness joining the treeline to the flat top of West Knowe and on to Loch Fell. At the trig point we turn NE and descend, still in clag, some bogginess under foot. Onwards over Wind Fell to Hopeton Craig, knowing only one more hill lies ahead. Arriving at the large cairn on Ettrick Pen Allison is almost blown from her feet. We descend west towards the trees and then find Over Phawhope bothy - very neat and tidy with leather couch, new sleeping platforms, maybe even electric light (although didn't switch on for us). Expect it would be packed for the bells tonight, but now it's empty. Onwards along the track, past Potburn, the rain begins to drizzle - pleased it has stayed off this long.

View from the end of the public road
ImageDSC02385 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02386 by Al, on Flickr

Capel Fell - windy
ImageDSC02387 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Croft Head
ImageDSC02388 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02389 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02390 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Fell
ImageDSC02391 by Al, on Flickr

Ettrick Pen
ImageDSC02393 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02394 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02395 by Al, on Flickr

Drive back to Meggat where wwe have decided to spend another night. Heavy rain as we get the tent up, continues most of the evening. Owls gossip outside. Quiet night otherwise. Rain stops in the late evening, very mild til about 4am when it suddenly chills. In the morning the raindrops have frozen on the tent, the zip gummed shut with ice. Cold fingers getting the tent dissembled.

ImageDSC02396 by Al, on Flickr

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But the weather is fine - we drive to Culter along a quiet M74 arrive behind a number of other walkers out for their New Year's hill. I offer Allison the choice of just the 2 Grahams - our priority after all - or the 5 Donald circuit. Wise lass, she opts for the bigger route. I've routed us up by Tippet Knowe, which avoids having to ascend then re-ascend Culter Fell when heading out to Chapelhall Gill. It is still a bit of a slog, ground half-frozen bog wind chill. We follow more fences, King Bank Head and onto Chapelgill. Time's ticking on, though I know the second half of this circuit is a good deal quicker due to good tracks. Retrace, back to Culter Fell, pass some other walkers as we near the summit. Cold hands despite my good gloves. own the easy slopes to Moss Law, stop for lunch by the fence. Down to the stream at Holm Nick and up the rounded shoulder of Gathersnow Hill, following an ATV track. No time to pause at the summit - too cold. On to Hillshaw Head then onto the windfarm track which makes rapid progress possible, past a number of semi-built turbines, toothed blades waiting assembly. Sky over to the west is glowing yellow/orange. Off the track near the top of Dod Hill - I step on what appears to be frozen moss but whatever it is, it hides a deep pool and I end up over my knee in freezing bogwater. On to Hudderstone, our last hill of the day, then down the ATV track, flooded in places to join the road at Windgill. A trot along the road and we're back at the car by 4.30 as the light is starting to fade. The rain begins as we drive off home, another case of good timing.

Towards Tinto
ImageDSC02397 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02399 by Al, on Flickr

Culter Fell in backdrop
ImageDSC02400 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02402 by Al, on Flickr

Towards the Talla Linnfoots
ImageDSC02404 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02406 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02407 by Al, on Flickr

Jagged edge
ImageDSC02408 by Al, on Flickr

Tinto from Huddlestone
ImageDSC02410 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02412 by Al, on Flickr

So a good amount of hills done over these three days, Allison's Graham defecit reduced to only 6.
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Location: Greenock

Re: New Year's catch up in the Borders

Postby PeteR » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:12 pm

That is some "catching up" :lol:

Three good circuits though, so well done. Glad I got to your third route before more turbines were planted, although I do have to return at some point for a couple of minor Donald Tops I missed off originally.
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