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Gameshope in every weather

Gameshope in every weather


Postby Driftwood » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:21 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: White Coomb

Donalds included on this walk: Cape Law, Erie Hill , Garelet Dod, Lochcraig Head , Molls Cleuch Dod, White Coomb

Date walked: 04/06/2017

Time taken: 8.33 hours

Distance: 25.5 km

Ascent: 1450m

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I had stayed in Gameshope bothy the preceeding night (3rd June), but decided to drop my sleeping gear back at the car before heading up around the hills. It might be easier to have headed up from further south, past the bothy. The slope which I did chose, though dry and grassy, was pretty steep and felt like warm work in the morning sun even at 8 o'clock.
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Gameshope burn

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Welsh poppies by Gameshope burn


The sunshine, temperature and effort encouraged me to appreciate the wildflowers on the slopes all the better. Either that, or I was still acclimatising to real hills after three seasons away from them. For all their rounded and green or heathery slopes, I find the Borders hills quite a testing preparation, or wind-down, for a trip to the Highlands.
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Cuckooflower, or Ladysmock

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Water Avens

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Violets

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But, eventually, I reached the trig point atop of Garelet hill, which is just the start of a series of hills that runs south (to then join the larger Corbetts of White Coomb and Hart Fell). Most of the tops are short turf, a mixture of grass, sedge and moss, but there's some boggier ground, especially to the south end of the circuit, with the worryingly-named Rotten Bottom.
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Following the fencelines


I did meet two Scottish walkers about halfway along the western side of my route, while the morning was still bright. They had passed the bothy (before I arrived), but gone on to camp on a grassy knowe above Gameshope Loch, a rare decent pitch. They were heading north, in the opposite direction to me, so it seemed that I'd have the hills to myself for a while. They did ask whether I'd seen any evidence of mice the night before, which I hadn't, though I'd not cooked or left food around during my overnight stay.
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Gameshope Loch


The skies did start clouding over towards mid-morning, with hints of showers, brief at first. But that set in properly as I negociated the boggier ground of Rotten Bottom. With the temperature now feeling cooler, I spent most of the remaining walk in waterproofs without feeling overheated, sometimes quite glad of the additional layer.

There was some steeper ground to traverse around a shoulder of White Coomb and then across a corrie towards Carifran Gans. I began to notice more planted trees, then some bags and other objects that turned out to be small treelets and other materials for planting. I remembered reading about a wildwood project in this area several years ago, so it would seem to be in progress. Though nobody was up and out planting on what was by then a rainy Sunday morning.

Getting around to Carifran Gans felt a particular slog due to the steeper damp ground above the corrie, though that eased once I was onto the broad ridge and gentle slope up to the Top itself.
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Towards White Coomb and Carifran Gans


But the cloud and (easing) showers discouraged me from staying more than moments. At least I could still see my surroundings and where I was going, though there was a helpful fenceline to follow north up White Coomb.

This is, more or less, the hill that started me off hillwalking and led me to start getting out onto bigger hills, about a half-dozen years ago. Though this time I was just visiting the top, rather than the interesting features lower down such as Loch Skene and the Grey Mare's Tail falls.

I turned left, picking from a junction of three fences, to head along to the neighbouring minor Top. Hopping over several stiles, I tried to locate the highest point, then it was back across and starting to return northwards. I did miss out the Donald Top of Great Hill during this stage, so still have some bits to catch up on.
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Showers from the west


I met many more people during this stage, including a larger group of about a dozen having a break behind a wall towards Lochcraig Head. But after that point I was off the popular Loch Skene circuit and walking by myself again. The same wall led up and across Lochcraig Head, though I needed to turn north alongside a fenceline to reach the actual summit.
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Wall ascending Lochcraig Head


From that, I descended and the climbed very gently to Nickies Knowe, in the quiet and with drier weather once again. From here, I started to retrace my steps, then tried traversing around the western side of Lochcraig head, aiming for the wall line across the head of the corrie beyond. It might have been the steep and uneven ground, or a lack of stops during the rainy weather, but my right leg began feeling tight, forcing me to take things very cautiously. This did recover little by little, but twinges and concern slowed me down for the rest of the walk.

Despite that leg, I traversed, then crossed the only-slightly-boggy head of the corrie to ascend the flank of Moll's Cleuch Dodd beyond. That brought me back to the easier ground of the ridge top, for a descent to the Donald Top of Carlavin Hill. I then followed a fence northwest, starting to descend gently. That turned left to descend very steep grass slopes, so I crossed to the south of a burn. That took care and attention, especially with a lot of sedge mixed into the grass and still damp after the previous showers, but thankfully my leg held out and I found a way down without incident.

The last few minutes along track were slightly rough, but smooth going compared to the pathless part before. Wildflowers along the glen included spotted orchids, bugle, ragged robin, marsh marigolds. A buzzard was circling near bottom of the glen, with larks and meadow pipit higher up.


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Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 305
Munros:200   Corbetts:40
Grahams:16   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Gameshope in every weather

Postby nigheandonn » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:35 pm

I've only been at Gameshope twice, but I still feel like I've been there in every weather - the first time I was sunbathing outside the door late on Saturday night, then spent the night listening to the wind and rain howling round and trying to blow my house down and came out to find the burn too high to cross. The second time I was sharing with a guy who was there for a tree planting project - there seems to be a lot of it going on.

I agree with you about that slope, but I'm not sure it would be any easier further along!
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nigheandonn
Wanderer
 
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: Gameshope in every weather

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:55 pm

RTC wrote:A fair trek! Nice to see somebody ticking off the Donald tops as well as the Donalds.


Since I started using hill-bagging.co.uk (originally mainly to find and record Munro Tops), I've started ticking all sorts of bumps and lumps. Mostly involving hills, that is, though I'm sure someone has a list somewhere for varieties of insect bite ...

But, anyway, there's few enough Donalds - and most of those fitting into sensible length days - that I have to do something to make it more trouble for myself!
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Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 305
Munros:200   Corbetts:40
Grahams:16   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Gameshope in every weather

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:03 pm

nigheandonn wrote:I've only been at Gameshope twice, but I still feel like I've been there in every weather - the first time I was sunbathing outside the door late on Saturday night, then spent the night listening to the wind and rain howling round and trying to blow my house down and came out to find the burn too high to cross. The second time I was sharing with a guy who was there for a tree planting project - there seems to be a lot of it going on.

I agree with you about that slope, but I'm not sure it would be any easier further along!



The burn was so placid on my visit that crossing (into and from the bothy) slipped my memory entirely. I even missed from the report that I'd crossed on a vehicle bridge, a short way north of where there's space to park some cars on the verge. But it's a steep-sided little valley and I can imagine that the burn would rise pretty fast given enough "interesting" weather.

There did seem to be some still-young but established sapplings, or at least the wrapping guards was weathered or blown off, so it must have been happening for a while.

And I'm probably just grouching about the slope. I tend to stray off decent paths and straightforward ridge-line walking at the slightest hint or hope of a shortcut, then get myself onto rough ground. I should thank Lochcraig Head for trying to teach me the error of my ways,
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Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 305
Munros:200   Corbetts:40
Grahams:16   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

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