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Another Journey's End

Another Journey's End


Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:30 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Craignaw, Lamachan Hill, Mullwharchar

Donalds included on this walk: Craignaw, Curleywee, Dungeon Hill, Lamachan Hill, Larg Hill, Mullwharchar

Date walked: 20/06/2017

Time taken: 15 hours

Distance: 39 km

Ascent: 2400m

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I have been waiting for a 2 day weather window and what a window it turned out to be - probably the 2 hottest days in Scotland so far this year and for someone who struggles in the heat, it was going to be tough :lol:
As the forecast looked promising I booked into a B&B (Cherrytrees) at Creetown, which is a couple of miles from Newton Stewart and that turned out to a fabulous stay. When I turned up at 6.30pm absolutely shattered my host Ken asked if I fancied a pot of tea and a pastry along with strawberries and ice cream - how many hosts do that. I accepted the tea and cake and I was so thirsty I had 4 cups, just as well it was a big pot.

Day one - Monday 19th June 2017
The plan was to tackle:
Larg Hill, Lamachan Hill & Curleywee

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Word of warning for anyone planning to follow my route, the 'fire breaks' on the map are not what they seem, as once again I would have been better off with a machete rather than walking poles :lol:
Now onto the first days walk, after my drive through from Fife via Weegieland and then the umpteen speed camera's in Ayrshire. I arrived at the car park just after 10am and was soon off on my way. I hadn't been to Glen Trool since January last year and conditions couldn't have been any different. I was surprised at how few vehicles there were in the Glen Trool area and when I was chatting to my B&B host he told me that he has only 2 bookings in the pipeline and that is right through to September :shock: If anyone reading this has never been to Dumfries and Galloway get yourself down there, it has so much to offer especially for walkers, I agree you won't get the pointy hills like the NW but you can still have a truly superb day 8)

Image Large parking area and it wasn't busy

Image Water of Trool, hardly moving

Image Good track gradually ascending

Image Views opening out

Image There's always one :(

I had a couple of routes plotted on my phone, one that I had devised by utilising the fire breaks through the forest, the other was the WH route which starts with Lamachan and doesn't visit Larg Hill. Everything was going swimmingly following the track gradually climbing and the views were opening out, until my route advised me it was time leave the track and head towards Larg Hill. It didn't start off very well as you can see, not to worry it is bound to improve :lol:

Image Now the 'fun' begins

Image Becomming quite an expert in jungle navigation :lol: :lol:

Image Almost cave like

Image Same shot zoomed

Image I obviously wasn't the first muppet to venture through here :lol: :lol: Does anyone know what the paint splodges mean, are they forestry related or for someone to follow in the pursuit of fun :lol:

One thing the photo's don't show is not only am I in the middle of a forest, but I am also ascending and as I was overheating the local insect population found me interesting and wanted to assist me on my route.

Image This tree was determined I wasn't getting past

Image Obstacles a plenty

Image Decisions

Image One of the easy bits

Image Someone else has been here too

It was with great relief when the track appeared again, I'm not sure how long I spent in the forest but it was probably about an hour :(

Image Back on track literally

Image So many fallen trees

Image Nice little seat for my lunch :wink:

Image The view from my lunch time seat

Time to leave the luxury of the track and head off piste again :(

Image

Image A faint path to follow

Image Follow the stane dyke wall

Image So far so good

Image Obstacle time

Image And more

Image And more

Image And more

Image Considerate trees, they fell the other way and not across the path

Image Looking back

Image Looking back and out of the woods - for now

The faint path heads uphill and not being one to stick to paths, I opted to head straight up the side of Larg Hill. My reasoning was that I would have to gain the height anyway and tackling it 'my way' would save from heading further east and then doubling back.

Image Plan is to follow the wall uphill

Image The summit cairn on Larg Hill, with Curleywee the pointy(ish) hill and Lamachan Hill on the left, very rounded

Image Curleywee zoomed

It had taken me over 3 hours to reach Larg Hill summit, not that time was a problem for a change. I wasn't expected at my B&B until 7pm so I had the luxury of time on my side and I certainly took alot more photo's than usual.

Image The path up to Lamachan can be seen with Curleywee to the right

It only took 25 minutes to reach Lamachan from Larg Hill and it was very straightforward 8) I wasn't convinced that the cairn was the highest point on Lamachan, the stone wall seemed higher to me :roll: There are a couple of cairns on the rounded summit area so both had to be visited (just in case) :(

Image Cairn on Lamachan Hill

Image Looking back to Larg Hill

Image First view of Loch Dee, there will be a few more photo's to follow

Image Curleywee

Image A couple of oddly named lochs - Round Loch of Glenhead and Long Loch of Glenhead :lol:

Image Loch Dee whilst descending off Lamachan Hill

The route off Lamachan Hill involves descending and ascending and there is quite a good obvious path to assist. I was also fortunate that I could see exactly where I was heading unlike a few of earlier Donald's where I was totally reliant upon my phone. I know the purists will be unimpressed, but I do carry map and compass as well, along with spare batteries etc.

Image Faint path to follow to Curleywee, which is a bonus in the Donald world :lol:

Image Path takes you round the 'Scars of Milldown'

Image Summit of Curleywee with the beautiful Loch Dee in the background

Image The two lochs again - zoomed

My plan from Curleywee summit was to head NNW descending via the Scars of Bennanbrack and then pick up the Southern Upland Way, which is pretty similar to the WH route.
Once the majority of height is lost off the Scars of Bennanbrack, the terrain changes to tufty grass that is knee deep and absolutely awful to walk on. I also had to watch out for holes as there are plenty of underground streams dotted around. Once again it was a pleasure to reach the track.

Image A couple of locals posing before they galloped off into the distance

Image Loch Dee on the descent - zoomed

Image Unusual star shaped flower type thing

Image My target the Southern Upland Way

Image Low level shot of Loch Dee and it's sandy beaches

Image All that gobblydeegook translates into don't stand on the stone :lol: :lol:

Image A different water feature

Image Looking back

The small group of trees in the photo above are where I got a huge fright, I was happily walking along counting my steps and I heard a noise behind me that I though was maybe a vehicle, so I turned round only to see the sky blocked by a C-130 Hercules doing the usual low level training. When I say low level I mean low level, the plane was barely above the trees and I felt as if I could reach up and touch it. Unfortunately I was too slow with my camera :roll: I know from my previous job that there used to be 3 planes spaced out by about 5 minutes, obviously that is a thing of the past due to cost saving etc etc, I was ready with my camera but was wasting my time :(

Image First glimpse of Loch Trool, only drawback is I have to walk to the other end of the loch which is about 2 miles long :lol:

Image Looking NW towards Nick of the Gully

Image Looking back

Image Looking back again

Image Still a fair bit to go to the end of the loch

Image Not a pretty sight :(

Really enjoyed the round, apart from the first venture into the forest. I was pretty fatigued when I eventually reached the car. Arrived at the B&B about 6.30pm and although I am familiar with the area around Newton Stewart as my late wife grew up just outside NS I have never been to Creetown. Not much in Creetown but it is close to the Solway Firth.

Day Two - Tuesday 20th June 2017
The was to tackle:
Mullwarchar, Dungeon Hill and my final Donald Craignaw


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If I thought yesterday was tough, well I was in for a massive shock. After my breakfast of cereal, full Scottish and a couple of slices of toast along with a couple of cups of tea. I was intending to travel light and only had a few brunch bars plus 2 litres of diluted Vimto and a bottle of orange. The food plan worked a treat as I was getting hunger pangs until I was 20 minutes from the car. Liquid wise was a different matter, even if I had a fridge on my back I would still have been struggling. I said my goodbyes to Ken and told him I hoped his business would improve.

Image Parking area a bit busier than yesterday

I hadn't realised that the initial part of the route is the same as the Merrick :roll:

Image Low level shot looking back to Glen Trool

Image The bracken has certainly grown, it doesn't seem that long since the bracken was brown and dormant.

Image 50 shades of green

Image The bothy en-route to the Merrick

Image Not for me today

Image The way up to the Merrick, I would be continuing along the track

Image Never in favour of this going down stuff - when you supposed to be going up :roll:

Image Track turns into big stones

Image And then all of a sudden ENDS :shock:

The end of the track was not what I was expecting, having said that I could see where previous explorers had been so it was into the forest again :lol: This forestry adventure was simple compared to yesterdays struggle, the main problem was the underfoot conditions. I can only imagine what it would be like in winter after a spot or two of rain.

Image In my element again (I wish)

Image Follow the faint path

Image The way ahead

Image Here we go again :roll:

Image A bit squidgy underfoot

Image Nice easy going

Image Daylight again

Once out of the forest I followed a faint path to the right that runs along the edge of the forest. The path then reaches a fallen down gate and then turns left and starts heading uphill. The uphill section to the bealach is fairly steady and not steep.

Image Aiming for the bealach ahead (of sorts)

Image Followed the fence down until another fence is reached, before the burn

Image Slight incline following the fence line

Once the bealach or brow of the hill is reached the view ahead is simply stunning, Loch Enoch has to be one the most picturesque lochs we have, especially above when you consider it is above 400m 8)

Image Loch Enoch

Image A bit of descending almost down to the side of the loch

There is a path of sorts that contours round the loch, as with plenty of other paths it disappears and reappears.

Image Mullwarchar is the round hump on the other side of the loch.

I apologise for all the shots of Loch Enoch, but they are taken from different angles, that's my excuse :lol:

Image Stunning

Image Mullwarchar

Image

Image Love the stone dyke wall continuing into the loch :lol:

I was wanting to take more photo's at the loch side but the local insect population were out in force, midges and bigger things I was kind of wishing I had my midgey net, so I had to keep moving to try and stay ahead of the enemy :lol: There was an occasional slight breeze but not strong enough to deter my tiny enemies so I just had to keep moving :(

Image Looking back whilst ascending Mullwarchar

Image How did that get there?

Image Loch Enoch from a bit higher up with the Solway Firth in the background

Image The Merrick

Image Loch Doon

Image Above photo zoomed

Image Loch Macaterick

Image Mullwarchar summit looking north

The views from Mullwarcher are fantastic in all directions, the Merrick dominates the view to the west and there are lochs in just about every other direction. I was scanning the terrain to my next target Dungeon Hill, I was planning to reduce the amount of descent/ascent and picked an area to head for, before the push up to the summit.

Image Looking across to the next 2 targets

The ascent up Dungeon Hill is easy and took under one hour.

Image Summit cairn on Dungeon Hill looking across to Craignaw

There is no path to follow descending off Dungeon so once again I picked a mental route and off I went, there is a kind of bealach joining the two hills. Once the bealach is reached there is then plenty of ascending and descending before I reached a steep grassy slope that means gaining height quickly but also very energy sapping.

Image A couple of females who were doing a different route to me, the only human beings I saw over the 2 days :wink:

Image Final Donald summit of Craignaw

Image Looking south to Loch Valley

Image Loch Doon zoomed

Image One happy and knackered bunny :lol:

Now to the descent, I had a couple of routes on my phone and ignored both of them, my plan was to head round Craig Neldricken and head round the southside of Loch Enoch.

Image Like a patchwork quilt

Image Steep descent off Craignaw

Image Arty shot

By the time I reached Loch Enoch I was feeling absolutely exhausted and to make matters worse the insects had found me again. I stopped twice at the side of the loch to soak my cap in the cool water, I also filled up my empty water bottle.

Image One of Loch Enoch's many beaches

Image And again

My final stop at Loch Enoch was on the beach for another cap soaking before heading uphill. I was so exhausted that I put my camera in my rucksack and didn't take any more photo's as I knew the route back. I did come across a large stag grazing in the forest, I managed to take a few photo's with my phone, before it dashed off into the undergrowth.
The rest of the descent and walk back to the car really did test my powers of endurance. I split the trudge back into imaginary sections, out of the forest, then along the track to the bothy and then finally I knew that once I reached the bothy it was only half an hour before the car would come into sight.
That is probably the hardest walk I have done, mainly because of the heat. It kind of compares to my visit to Ben Alder on a scorching July day. Although I had a monster day in Fisherfield this was even tougher.
Craignaw was my final Donald and I had deliberately saved this route as Kilted Biggles always mentioned Mulwarcher and how good it was and he was absolutely spot on :clap: :clap:
My round of Donald's is dedicated to my mother who sadly passed away earlier this year, her mothers surname was Donald so it seems like a perfect match :wink:
The Donald's are a fantastic and varied batch of hills, alright there are only 89 of them but they are spread out and I would recommend if anyone fancies tackling them to plan your routes very carefully. There are groups of hills that can be tackled in one day without too much effort. One pair of hills in the Lowthers are unique in that there is a tarmac road between the two summits, where else can you find that.
This journey started off during the winter months to keep up the fitness levels and progressed from there. The biggest hurdle with travelling from Fife is that Edinburgh is in the way to the majority of the hills, but getting to Dumfries & Galloway is far from easy.
So what next you ask? At the moment I am leaning towards revisiting Munro's starting off with the ones I climbed over 20 years ago and also the ones where the weather was pants :lol: Having said that I will be picking off any other hill that I fancy and we really are spoilt for choice.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby Chris Mac » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:53 pm

Well done that's a great effort and a very enjoyable read. :clap: :clap: :clap: You really captured some great shots of Dumfries & Galloway, might have to start taking some trips down that way since I don't have Edinburgh in the way to get there! :D

So do you get an "off-piste walker" sew-on badge for your shorts for finishing the Donalds? You should! :lol:
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby Sgurr » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:02 pm

Still to finish the Donalds, am having 2nd thoughts....some of that looked pretty tough. CONGRATULATIONS.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby prog99 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:31 pm

Nicely done, gradually chipped away at the odd Donald circuit from time to time. Good advert for the B&B cunningly slipped in too

Out of interest, if you exclude the Corbetts & Grahams what was your favourite Donald or Donald day out?

Your star shaped plant was a common butterwort and double check that the plane wasn't an airbus a440 that has popped up in quite a few parts of the country now.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby Mountainlove » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:39 am

Congratulations on finishing the Donalds! :clap: :clap: :clap: Your walk through the forest brought back not so nice memories from last Sunday. :roll:
I also realize that I was lucky, because I did not encounter any kind of insects or midges just a few days earlier. I agree about the amazing area and Mullwharchar…simply stunning! Saying that the next time I will try the loch valley way, to avoid another excursion through that forest.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby robertphillips » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:11 am

well done that was a great report. :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:05 am

Well done on finishing your Donald round.
That was a big circuit on the first day - forest walking of the challenging variety.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:12 pm

Chris Mac wrote:Well done that's a great effort and a very enjoyable read. :clap: :clap: :clap: You really captured some great shots of Dumfries & Galloway, might have to start taking some trips down that way since I don't have Edinburgh in the way to get there! :D So do you get an "off-piste walker" sew-on badge for your shorts for finishing the Donalds? You should! :lol:


Thanks Chris, rarely wear shorts on the hills - fear of ticks and other little critters :wink:

RTC wrote:Well done, Martin.


Thanks Russell.

Sgurr wrote:Still to finish the Donalds, am having 2nd thoughts....some of that looked pretty tough. CONGRATULATIONS.


Thanks. It was tough, mainly because of the conditions, not sure if there are ideal conditions to visit Mullwarchar as it would be very, very boggy after any rainfall.

prog99 wrote:Nicely done, gradually chipped away at the odd Donald circuit from time to time. Good advert for the B&B cunningly slipped in too. Out of interest, if you exclude the Corbetts & Grahams what was your favourite Donald or Donald day out?
Your star shaped plant was a common butterwort and double check that the plane wasn't an airbus a440 that has popped up in quite a few parts of the country now.


Thanks, favourite Donald is a difficult one to answer, for views and remoteness Mullwarchar, but I lean towards Windy Gyle. Thanks for the plant info and the plane was definitely a C-130, I used to be in the RAF and was an Air Traffic Controller :wink:

Mountainlove wrote:Congratulations on finishing the Donalds! :clap: :clap: :clap: Your walk through the forest brought back not so nice memories from last Sunday. :roll:
I also realize that I was lucky, because I did not encounter any kind of insects or midges just a few days earlier. I agree about the amazing area and Mullwharchar…simply stunning! Saying that the next time I will try the loch valley way, to avoid another excursion through that forest.


Thanks Maja :wink:

robertphillips wrote:well done that was a great report. :clap: :clap: :clap:


Thanks Robert :wink:

weaselmaster wrote:Well done on finishing your Donald round. That was a big circuit on the first day - forest walking of the challenging variety.


Thanks Al, am sure you have a bit of forest experience :lol:
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby Borderhugh » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:35 am

Well done Martin. :clap:

Looks like there are some great hills down there. Will take note of your forest experiences.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby PeteR » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:13 pm

Borderhugh wrote:Well done Martin. :clap:

Looks like there are some great hills down there. Will take note of your forest experiences.


Hugh, if you include Merrick in the Mullwarchar circuit you can avoid forest altogether :wink: Bog on the other hand........nae chance :lol:

Martin, I've been meaning to add my congratulations to you here too. Well done :clap: The Donalds are a fine group of hills and you certainly chose some more challenging ones for your final two trips. So glad you had fine weather for both days and were able to enjoy the experience :D
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby simon-b » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:16 am

Congratulations, Martin, and a fitting tribute to your mother.

The day you were on Lamachan Hill, I was on Snowdon with friends including Pam. The weather was nice, but a bit hazy - so we couldn't quite see each other! Apparently Lamachan Hill and Snowdon can be seen from each other on a very clear day.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby GillSte » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:57 pm

Well done Martin, and a great report! Tough hills, especially in the summertime, but really good. I've taken to visiting in the winter when the vegetables are less triffid like :shock:
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby inca » Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:19 pm

Firstly, congratulations on finishing your Donalds round. That's a tough little collection to wrap it up on :clap: :clap:

Secondly, I was interested in the dedication at the end of your trip report. It struck a chord. I lost my father to cancer in 2012. He was my best friend as well as my Dad. Don't mind admitting my world fell apart for several months afterwards.

Some time in late 2013, I hatched a plan to tackle the Donalds. Think I'd only done 4 or 5 at the time. There was a compelling and simple case for the rest - his first name was Donald. It all seemed perfectly sensible :lol:

Curious thing is it worked. I finished my round in 2015. My final hill was one listed in this report. The Donalds offered a solitude (mostly) that gave me time and space to think. To make sense of loss and and find some equanimity with what life left behind.

The Donalds? Back of the class hills in relative terms I suppose. But they'll always be special to me. And doubtless for you too now. What's in a name eh? Probably more than Percy Donald could ever have known.
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby kiltedbiggles » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:08 pm

Just getting around to reading this now Martin......worth the wait!!!! :clap: :clap:

Some fantastic photo's....especially good as I did most of these in the clag

It's quite hard to explain to people just how involved and exhausting Mullwarchar and co are

A massive congrats to you and very meaningful with the connection to your Mum

Bring on round 2!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Another Journey's End

Postby rockhopper » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:28 am

Missed this first time round. Congratulations :clap: A good set of hills down here on which to finish too - more rugged than many may expect - cheers :-)
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