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I want my ATV…tracking around the Culter Fell circuit

I want my ATV…tracking around the Culter Fell circuit

Postby superstar_tradesman » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:03 am

Grahams included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Chapelgill Hill, Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Hudderstone

Date walked: 29/10/2017

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 23.8 km

Ascent: 1050m

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A good forecast, an extra hour to use in the morning…and a decision to make on whether to go north, west or south. The expected cold north wind tipped the balance towards south, and since I’d had my eye on the Culter hills I decided to head back down the A702, a week after I’d visited Mendick Hill at West Linton.

I was parked at the road junction at Culter Allers Farm, and on my way just after 9, with a plan to go for all 5 Donalds.

2017-10-29 09.04.20.jpg
Looking back to the start of the walk

Rather than climb Culter Fell twice, I decided to take a more direct way to Chapelgill Hill. So I left the reservoir road just before the usual way up Culter Fell, and instead followed the rough ATV track, then faint path up onto Tippet Knowe, high above Kings Beck. The ATV track resumed as the slope steepened again, and I found it a quick way to gain height.

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Looking back down the initial route of ascent; first of many photobombs by Tinto!

I lost it briefly but jumped across peat hags as I kept a fence to my left, and then turned left as I met the Lanarkshire/Peebleshire boundary fence. I followed that NE, over more peat hags, and it was hard going for a few hundred metres, before the peat hags and heather gave way to grass again, and another faint ATV track. This time, a solitary quad bike lay parked to the right, with no-one in sight.

2017-10-29 09.55.46.jpg
Four wheels or two legs?

But I was here to walk, not to drive, so I carried on my way, taking a rising traverse round the head of the Hope Burn, and out the spur to Chapelgill Hill. I reached the smooth top and its small cairn just over an hour after leaving the car, and felt I’d made good time so far.

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East from the summit of Chapelgill Hill

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The big one…Culter Fell from Chapelgill Hill

I retraced my steps, past King Bank Head, this time sticking to the ATV track and bypassing the worst of the peat hags. The ATV track petered out as it rejoined the fence, but the climb south to Culter Fell was steep but fairly easy going, and I reached the summit trig after 1h 50m. The top was busy, with a group already there, and three more people arrived shortly after. While the views in all directions were terrific, it soon got chilly, and with no shelter I decided to press on.

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North from the top of Culter Fell

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The way ahead…windmills in the distance

The slopes south to Moss Law are just as wet as the WH report indicates, and at one point I skidded on and nearly wrenched my knee. Thankfully the pain soon eased off, though it did make me wonder whether studs would be a better choice if this was what the rest of the walk was going to be like!

Heading south, and out of the breeze, it began to warm up, and as I approached Holm Nick, I could see some convenient boulders, which made for a nice sitting spot for some lunch. Now refuelled, I plodded up yet another faint ATV track to Glenwhappen Rig, then turned W to summit Gathersnow Hill right on the 3 hour mark.

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Tinto and Culter Fell from Gathersnow

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Talla and Fruid reservoirs, and the big Border hills

Hillshaw Head didn’t look too far away, and the route was obvious—follow the fence, and if you reach a windmill, you’ve gone too far! Jumping past a couple more bogs, I quickly reached the top—the cairn (such as it is) is on the Borders side of the fence. At this point, I realised I’d have to get used to the thrum of the enormous windmills, which would be my companion for the next couple of miles.

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Things sticking out of the ground at the top of Hillshaw Head

I headed north, slanting downhill, and soon picked up the access track for the wind farm—not on my map, but not unexpected. This track is well-engineered, wide, and hard-packed, and made for very fast walking. I was torn between mourning the loss of the land as it was, and welcoming the much easier passage northwest to Dod Hill.

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The motorway to Huddlestone

I stopped under a couple of the windmills for photos—they’re pretty intimidating as the blades come towards you, and the shadows act almost like strobes.

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Big scary windmill

The way up to Hudderstone involves leaving the main track (signed “Exit”) and taking a side track towards Windmills 211 and 212. Soon I was off the hard-packed track and back squelching on another boggy ATV track. But it was an easy pull up to the last summit of the day.

The descent down over Cowgill Rig lay ahead of me, and the last ATV track of the day led to a gate and then to a slightly firmer track, along the ridge, past a wee block of trees, and gently down to the public road.

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Shadowman and the way down from Cowgill Rig

The last couple of km were a very pleasant wander along the tarred road, past Windgill cottage and its beautiful tree standing guard.

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Windgill cottage and its tree

I was back at the car just before 2pm—just under 5 hours for the trip and a whole hour ahead of what I thought might be my schedule. A good workout, and plenty of calories burned that were suitably replenished through a big plate of chicken and sausage casserole followed by sherry trifle :)

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Mountain Walker
Posts: 126
Munros:170   Corbetts:31
Grahams:16   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:82   Hewitts:3
Wainwrights:1   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 6, 2013
Location: Northeast Fife

Re: I want my ATV…tracking around the Culter Fell circuit

Postby McMole » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:03 pm

This time, a solitary quad bike lay parked to the right, with no-one in sight.

I was out collecting the three Donald tops on Monday (which required climbing the four intervening main Donalds as well) and that quad bike was still there. It looks to be in the same position as shown in your photo with wheels turned to the right.. I looked around for the shepherd but couldn't see anyone .
In fact I didn't see anyone else all day unless you count the workers driving around the wind farm track at Coomb Dod.
Posts: 180
Munros:141   Corbetts:50
Grahams:40   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:143   Hewitts:25
Joined: Mar 25, 2016

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