Map: OS 1:50,000 nos 57 & 65
Attendees: Me, Big Dog, Small Dog
Time taken: 2hr 15m
Back to January this year for a belated write up of 2 popular smaller hills in the Central area. My initial aim had been the Grahams of Mor Beinn and Beinn Dearg from Glen Artney. When I got there though, conditions were dreadful. Sleet alternated with rain, ice caked the roads and visibility was down to a few hundred metres. I put the seat back in the car and napped for 30 mins – no change. These two could wait for another day.
It had been an early start. Was I really going home empty-handed? I spent 10 mins considering options. Dumyat sat at the bottom of the same map. It’d do for starters. Didn’t have a route for it but its a popular hill and I was confident I’d get a route up on my ‘phone once I left (signal-less) Glen Artney.
Where else? Cairnpapple near Bathgate might work. Still unclimbed, it was comfortably on the way home to Edinburgh. I remembered reading it was an easy walk. Again, no route planned beforehand but I knew it was a Historic Scotland site. It’d be well signposted. Two hills and recovering something from nothing. That’d do.
Distance: 6.25k. Ascent: 272m. Time: 1hr 30m.
As hoped, I managed to get a ‘phone signal shortly after leaving Glen Artney. I then located the Walk Highlands (WH) trade route from the Sheriffmuir road to the west of the hill. One hour later I was parked there and good to go. It was cold and grey, however there was at least something to see.
Pretty much followed the WH directions to the top, absent the visit to the old settlement. There were several paths and tracks on the ascent to choose from. Most showed signs of heavy footfall however it was still early enough on a Sunday morning to avoid the crowds.
Low cloud on top but views from the trig point, brazier beacon and war memorial there were okay. And certainly better than they would have been in Glen Artney.
Returned as outward route. By now, it was getting busier. Especially with dog walkers. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many on a hill before.
At the time of writing I hear new tracks are being put in on Dumyat. For both bikers and walkers. There are doubtless good reasons for this; not least an attempt to stop the erosion of the hillside. All the same, I can’t help wondering if Dumyat has already fallen victim to its own success.
The Wallace Monument from the hill path
Version 2 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
Dumyat trig point looking toward River Forth
P1000151 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
P1000153 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
View north from Dumyat
P1000159 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
Distance: 2.5k. Ascent: 130m. Time: 45m.
Stopping en route for a sandwich lunch, I was parked up on the road to the east of Cairnpapple 90 minutes later. I was surprised to discover there only 2 other vehicles there. Signage pointed up a small wooden staircase and I followed this on to a good path which led gently to the old Henge and Cairn. By now the weather was much improved.
Access is usually permissible to the old burial mound here however it was lockfast on my arrival. (Historic Scotland operate seasonal opening times that end in September.) I pottered about for a while. It’s an impressive enough place –various excavations dot the ground- but the presence of the nearby radio mast and other buildings clangs. It’s an incongruity that’s hard to shake.
The henge site at Cairnpapple
fullsizeoutput_3e81 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
The henge as seen in its surroundings
fullsizeoutput_3e82 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
From there I dropped down the slope to the south, through a gate and climbed over two fences to gain a grassy track that took me uphill to the trig point. Easy going and there were reasonable views in all directions.
Cairnpapple trig looking south
fullsizeoutput_3e84 by Neil Mackay, on Flickr
Rather than return directly to the car, I followed a track that took me east over a couple of hillocks and across the minor road on which I’d parked. Another path on the opposite side led quickly to the Knock viewpoint where I surprised a lady taking ‘selfies’ with her dog. She seemed rather embarrassed. On the other hand, I thought this was an excellent idea. After she’d moved off, I spent several fruitless minutes trying to do the same. Neither dog proved amenable.
I then returned northwards along the road to the car.
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