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More Turbines for Windy Standard

More Turbines for Windy Standard

Postby McMole » Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:54 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Windy Standard

Donalds included on this walk: Alhang, Windy Standard

Date walked: 10/08/2017

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 900m

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In April this year the road up Afton Glen was being widened to allow passage of large wind turbine components when Jaywizz and I were there to climb Blackcraig and Blacklorg Hills. Now, four months later, I thought I would get a little closer to the construction on my way to Windy Standard, but I hadn't imagined how much there would be or how close I was to get to it.

Starting in New Cumnoock, signs told of the construction under way. There were 'No Parking' signs warning of large loads being delivered before 8am. There was also a road closed sign. The driver of a parked lorry told me the closure would be after the caravan park. I didn't know where that was, but I kept going while anticipating my walk might just have got quite a bit longer. My hopes rose when I found no barriers in my way and I parked in the usual car park just past the water treatment works.
Windy Standard Alhang route windfarms small.gif
My route with each red X showing where wind farm plans show a turbine.
I started walking not long after 10am along the track to the dam, turning to the right after 150m onto the path up past Castle William to reach the road marked on the OS map. There was a barrier on it where the gatekeeper asked me to wait while a couple of artics started up the hill. He explained that three large loads arrived every morning and it took three days to deliver the parts for one wind turbine - three blades, one generator pod and five for the mast perhaps? They had bits for about five on site and with 25 to build I expect it'll be mid-October before they have all arrived. There are many other large loads arriving as well. The two waiting to continue uphill were a tanker and a lorry with part of a crane jib on it. I'd overtaken it earlier as I drove from Kirkconnel to New Cumnock.
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Artics waiting to drive up the road.
Once the artics had ground their way out of sight I continued along the road to pass the large assembly of yellow offices after about a kilometre.
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Turbines being assembled on Black Hill.
A little later one of the regular stream of 4x4s stopped and I was asked to leave the road since it was now entering a construction site. This was near the col between Black Hill and Lamb Hill so I just moved ten metres to the west and continued up what appeared to be the usual walkers' route on the other side of the fence that runs along the ridge.
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Looking back from the walkers' path beside the fence at the yellow site offices.
As I climbed the full extent of the construction became apparent with turbine foundations being built as far as the col between Wedder Law and Millaneoch hill.
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A turbine base on the Wedder/Millaneoch col.
I found a plan on-line showing 27 turbines though the gatekeeper and the direction signs on site seemed to agree that there would only be 25. I've marked most of the 27 on my route map though the southern pair may have been dropped from the scheme since there was no activity on the ground there.
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View NNE from Windy Standard trig point.
As I approached the Windy Standard trig point the sun came out briefly and I could enjoy looking at construction from the north to north east and a working wind farm spread round the rest of the compass. There is no escape!
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Wedder Hill with turbine base construction and Blacklorg Hill in the distance.
The Donald Top of Keoch Rig was faintly calling me from the south and at the cost of an extra 3 kilometres and 100 metres of ascent I decided to visit it and add the Deil's Putting Stone to my collection of named stones.
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Looking back up Windy Standard with the Putting Stone on the left as I head for Keoch Rig.
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The Deil's Putting Stone with Keoch Rig, then Moorbrock Hill then Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and Beninner in the distance.
It's only a few metres from the ATV track and is probably named because it is the only boulder visible anywhere near there. The lack of any cairn on Keoch Rig also points to the lack of suitable material in the vicinity to build one. Wind farm aficionados may soon have the Windy Rig Wind Farm to visit. I found details on-line of a plan to cluster twelve turbines around the top of Keock Rig. I've marked them on my route map.

After Keoch Rig I contemplated heading for Alhang by contouring below Windy Standard, but decided it would exchange 100m of easy ascent up a known path for a kilometre of traverse across an unknown and probably pathless slope. So up I went then back down towards Millaneoch Hill. I could see a gate on the col below me, but wanting to cut the corner I crossed the electric fence while insulating my hands from it with my laminated A4 map of the area. As I swung my leg over the wires it brushed against them and I'm sure I felt a jolt of electricity. Others be warned! From there crossing the col to Alhang was reasonably bog-free with suspicious patches easily bypassed. The 160m climb up Alhang required a couple of stops (to admire the views of course!) en route to its small cairn well away from the fence.
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View of Wedder Hill from Alhang.
Another descent passed the Source of the Afton (I didn't visit) and an easy slope arrived at the Donald top of Alwhat.
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Heading for Alwhat with Blacklorg and Meikledodd beyond.
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Alwhat summit.
That gave a better view of all the activity around the south end of the reservoir. Why constructing a wind farm high above requires so much work down there I can't guess.
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Construction around south end of Afton Reservoir.
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Another view of northern end of Afton Wind Farm site.
I had semi-planned descending to the end of the reservoir and returning along the forest track on its west bank. With all the activity going on down there I decided to continue my circumnavigation of Afton Reservoir by visiting a third Donald Top - Meikledodd Hill. I reached it after a total of five hours and found another completely uncairned summit.
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Blacklorg Hill from Meikledodd's bare summit and another wind farm squeezes into the picture!
From there an ATV track then sheep paths traversed me below Blackorg Hill and led to the final summit of the day - Cannock Hill.
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One of the turbines being assembled - taken from Cannock Hill.
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Wedder Hill and Windy Standard from Cannock Hill.
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The north end of the construction site from Cannock Hill.

After taking a series of photos of the construction site to link into a panorama (attached below) I carried on down to the dam and back to the car. Both the vehicle and pedestrian gates on the track just below the dam were padlocked shut so I had to climb over them. That did lead me to wonder whether visitors were being discouraged, but there were no notices on the subject anywhere that I could see.

After the previous walk up Blackcraig and Blacklorg in April I attempted to find information about the wind farm being constructed. I found details of Brockloch Rig Wind Farm and thought that was it. It wasn't. This month's more thorough look found details of both the Afton and Windy Rig Wind Farms as well as of Windy Standard 2 and 3 also called Brockloch Rig 2 and 3. I also found a map showing many more planned for the immediate area. Just shows that once one wind farm appears in an area others will flock to join it. I might have been knackered at the end of the day, but I did enjoy it and access doesn't appear to be a problem at present.
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Sequence of six forming a panorama of most of the wind farm site.
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Re: More Turbines for Windy Standard

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:21 pm

Great and informative report :clap: :clap:

I was there last December doing a similar round of 5 Donalds and what a difference a few months makes - not for the better. Your photo's really do highlight the huge problem we are facing, the relentless march of the turbines.
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Re: More Turbines for Windy Standard

Postby Jaywizz » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:26 pm

It looks AWFUL! I shall go there - for Donald compleatness - but not looking forward to it. Hope construction stops on Sundays (also don't fancy meeting big loads on that road).
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Re: More Turbines for Windy Standard

Postby PeteR » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:46 pm

Glad I did these hills before the 21st century forest really took hold :shock:
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Re: More Turbines for Windy Standard

Postby iangpark » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:48 pm

The process has come a long way since I visited those Donalds a few months ago - only a few turbines were up at that point. Can't say I'm against them, but I can see when it goes a bit too far.
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