The road down Glen Afton is being widened to prepare for an extension to Windy Standard Wind Farm. Another 30 turbines are being added on Brockloch Rig each generating up to 2.05MW. These are much larger that the present 36 which only generate 0.6MW each, hence the road improvements. There's also a third phase being planned to add another 20 turbines - the largest yet up to 3.6MW and up to 177.5m high to blades tip - to generate another 67.2Mw. As we drove along the parapets of several bridges were being reconstructed further apart.
We used the car park marked on the map just past the Afton Filter Station. It was already half full and more vehicles were arriving as we set off along the track leading to the dam. From the east end of the dam an indistinct path led up through a narrow belt of woodland then turned into a well-trod groove leading steadily up the hillside and heading for the col north of Cannoch Hill. We were heading first to Blackcraig Hill, so from the col we contoured round dropping about 20m as we did so. There would have been no advantage in shortening the route by heading more directly for Blackcraig Hill - that would have run into the same deer fence twice! It runs up one side of the main burn, crosses it, than continues back down the other side. It did led to a slight jiggle in our altitude as we climbed about ten metres uphill to go around the fence.
We managed to find a succession of sheep/deer? tracks that eased our way to the col below Blackcraig Hill, so there were not many complaints about tussocks en route!
From the col a steady climb found us at Blackcraig summit in under two hours. I continue to be amazed at the number of wind turbines that can be seen scattered around the south of Scotland - especially on such a fine day with excellent visibility. Perhaps I should restrict walks to days with low cloud, or not wear my glasses. After a 20 minute stop it took less than an hour to reach the cairn on top of Blacklorg Hill, again over good firm ground.
A short stop for more photos then we took the route beside the remains of what must have a quite a low wall heading for Cannock Hill. As we approached it we saw a walker on the summit - the first of the day, We contoured past to re-join our morning route back down to the dam. This time we crossed the dam and walked down the track on the other side reaching the car four and a half hours after starting.
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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.