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Tough Time in Galloway

Tough Time in Galloway


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:17 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Bengray, Cairn Pat, Cairnsmore (Black Craig of Dee), Fell of Fleet, Grey Hill, Knockdolian, White Top of Culreoch

Date walked: 10/12/2017

Time taken: 15 hours

Distance: 43.4 km

Ascent: 2340m

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With Storm Caroline on the way, South was considered a better option than North. Even so, driving conditions were far from pleasant south of Girvan towards our destination at Newton Stewart, with snowy roads and hail being blasted horizontally by strong winds. Took a bit longer than usual to get down. A lull in the weather whilst we put up the tent and hunkered down for the night. I'd identified a number of Marilyns in the area to choose from over the weekend - hoping to finish up on Shalloch on Minnoch on the Sunday, leaving me with just 2 Donalds.


fellfleet.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


For Friday, i thought we'd head up to Clatteringshaws, where there were 2 hills to be climbed. The first - Fell of Fleet, had no trip reports logged and appeared to require beating a path through forestry - never a happy thing. I was irked to find that I'd left the OS map for the area at home, so relied on the GPS alone. We parked at the start of a cycle route and set off along the track, crisp snow underfoot and clear blue sky above. We branched off left still in the trees and saw that a fair section of the forest had been cleared on the slopes of Gormal Hill - OK we didn't have to fight through trees but still had to negotiate the morass of stumps and holes left behind. hard work, but eventually we made it to the heather clad side of the hill. I had hoped for easier going but we were into an all too familiar land of tussocks requiring much plodding. Snow showers came and went as we inched our way towards the summit. There at last we sought shelter from a chill wind behind some rocks and contemplated our options - either to return the way we'd come or make a dash through the trees and back to track. I opted for the latter - we spent an uncomfortable half hour performing acrobatics through fallen trunks and branches before gaining the track again.

ImageDSC00169 by Al, on Flickr

Gormal Hill, with felled forestry
ImageDSC00171 by Al, on Flickr

Benniguinnea & Cairnsmore
ImageDSC00172 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00174 by Al, on Flickr

Tough going
ImageDSC00175 by Al, on Flickr

Summit of Fell of Fleet, more snow on the way
ImageDSC00178 by Al, on Flickr

Descent into the trees...
ImageDSC00179 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00180 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00181 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00183 by Al, on Flickr





dee.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Back at the car it was now just gone 3pm and I was keen to get another hill in before we returned. I looked at my GPS route which suggested the nearby Cairnsmore/Black Craig of Dee was 4.5km, of which about half was on track. Should get that done defore nightfall, thought I. Unfortunately i had only drawn the route one way (relatively uncommon for me to do that) so of course it meant that we had 9k at least to do... We drove round to the Visitor centre where we parked and paid £2 then set off up a track to a transmitter mast on Benniguinea, passing a cluster of caravans in a clearing in the trees. By the time we made it to the summit of this hill the sun had already set and the summit of Cairnsmore looked a long way off - furthermore there was a not insignificant drop from Benniguinea to take into account. We decided to go for it, although we had little idea of the torment that would ensue.

ImageDSC00186 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00188 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00189 by Al, on Flickr

Top of Benniguinnea, Cairnsmore ahead
ImageDSC00191 by Al, on Flickr

Coming off Benniguinea involved avoiding some steep crags then dropping down to a land of soggy tussocks that drained what remaining energy we had. Hard going indeed - in the failing light. I was concerned about the impact on Allison's back and we conferred about what to do. Neither of us fancied going back summitless and having to repeat the whole exercise another time - this was always going to be a brute whatever the season. So we kept on - i found a deer track which eased the pain for a bit and we stumbled to the trig point as darkness fell. Return was easier than I had feared - it was not too hard to see our outward footprints despite the heather and long grasses. When it became too hard to follow our trail we switched headtorches on. Relief when we hit the track again. The night was clear and the sky pierced by numerous stars - cold hard light with the Milky Way evident. I enjoyed our walk back along the track, a very occasional car creeping by on the raod, but no other signs of humanity, just the starlight. We didn't get back to the tent til almost 7 and were in need of a feed by that time. Then a hot shower and bed.

Summit Cairnsmore
ImageDSC00192 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00194 by Al, on Flickr

My gaiters - covered in ice balls
ImageDSC00195 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00196 by Al, on Flickr


bengray.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Another fine morning greeted us on Saturday. We had the choice of 4 hills near Gatehouse of Fleet to contemplate today - bearing in mind yesterday's rather taxing exertions I opted for the two shortest routes. That meant Bengray and White Top of Culreoch, missing out Pibble Hill which I had been keen to climb because of its name :lol: Anyhow, we drove to Gatehouse of Fleet upon gritted roads then made somewhat slower progress up a small road to just short of Laghead Farm, where there's a layby at the start of a footpath to Loch Whinyeon. All signs of the footpath were hidden under snow, a hard frost meant that the ground was less soggy than I suspect it usually is. Through a herd of cows and onto an ATV track up to Benfadyeon Hill from which we could see Bengray up ahead - some undulating terrain to navigate, but much firmer underfoot than yesterday's efforts. Cross a barbed wire fence for the final short section to the summit trig, which Allison left her mark upon. back more or less the way we'd come.

Benfadyeon
ImageDSC00197 by Al, on Flickr

Bengray
ImageDSC00202 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00203 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00204 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00206 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00207 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Windyeon
ImageDSC00208 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00209 by Al, on Flickr



culreaochx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



We drove up the road for less than a mile to arrive at the opening of a forest track, at which there's enough room to squeeze 1 car in without causing obstruction. I'd read McMole's trip report of a nightmarish journey through felled forestry and determined to avoid that...The beginning of the walk is along hard forestry track, past the imposing Craig of Grobdale until a stream is reached. We found a gate, hidden amidst bracken and undergrowth and began a slow ascent up the side of the stream, between a fence and a partially decrepit wall. More tussocks and boggy holes to manage but at least no dead trees. Eventually we climbed a short steep section of bank towards the summit - crowned with an uprooted tree and a small cairn. Excellent views back across to the Loch Trool hills which were covered on their tops with a white cloud blanket. We returned by the same route and - although it was quite early - decided that was enough for the day and returned to Newton Stewart. There we discovered that more snow had fallen in our absence and freezing fog enclosed the town. We nipped into the town centre for a couple of things for our tea then sought shelter in the tent.

Craig of Grobdale
ImageDSC00210 by Al, on Flickr

Culreoch
ImageDSC00213 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00215 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00216 by Al, on Flickr


Summit
ImageDSC00219 by Al, on Flickr

Towards the Glen Trool hills
ImageDSC00221 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00222 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00224 by Al, on Flickr

Scraping the tent - a frequent occupation this weekend
ImageDSC00225 by Al, on Flickr

Newton Stewart
ImageDSC00227 by Al, on Flickr

Misty Cree
ImageDSC00228 by Al, on Flickr

More snowfall overnight and a very icy morning - my plan to tackle Shalloch on Minnoch from the north (Stinchar Bridge) was shelved as I really didn't fancy driving a dozen miles or more along a narrow unclassified road in the snow. I was a bit irked as this would mean no chance of finishing off my Donalds before the end of the year. What else to do then? cairn Pat, over at Portpatrick, had been looked at as a quickie, so we could do that and visit Portpatrick as well. I knew there were several Marilyns south of Girvan, though I had neither OS map or GPS routes. Luckily there's phone signal in Newton Stewart, so I was able to check out the hills on WH - noting that the indefatigable Rob Phillips had posted routes for Knockdolian and Grey Hill. That seemed a plan.


pat.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Getting started was a little tricky - couldn't get out of the tent as the zip had frozen solid and I had to breathe on it to free it :lol: Folding the tent away involved scraping hard ice from it (the residue of which fell all over my hall when I got home and hung it up to dry). We were off west, snow being less as we headed towards the coast. Reached the concrete track up to Cairn Pat - one of the smallest Marilyns at only 182m. There was enough room for one car at the start of the track - we had fun trying to walk up the concrete which was completely frozen over with sheet ice and slippy as a skating rink. Where are the microspikes when you need them? The summit is home to a telecoms mast as well as the trig point and boasted some great views of Ailsa Craig and the Antrim Coast - which was just as snowy as Scotland.

ImageDSC00229 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00230 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00231 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00232 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00236 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00237 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00238 by Al, on Flickr


We returned to the car and drove the short distance to Portpatrick, a typical little summer tourist honeypot, with pretty harbour. It was a gorgeous day and we wandered up to the ruins of Dunskey Castle, then around the harbour. There are little niches in the harbour wall, each of which was occupied by a pigeon - there was a strange subterranean cooing sound as we walked along the harbour wall. Lunched on a bench overlooking the water before heading up the road.

Portpatrick
ImageDSC00239 by Al, on Flickr

Dunskey Castle
ImageDSC00244 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00246 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00250 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00252 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00254 by Al, on Flickr



knockx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I'd decided to do Knockdolian Hill first - we took a B road just after crossing the River Stinchar at Ballantrae - the hill being clearly visible ahead. We drove past Finnart Cottage (you could park there and possibly access the hill from there too?) and found a suitable parking place where a road track cuts to the east. Walked back along the road for a couple of hundred metres to a gate that opened onto the hillside; an ATV track wends through sheep and over to the hill itself. There's a clear path (whether sheep or human was uncertain under the snow) that leads to the summit - we saw another walker descending as we arrived. Even better views of Ailsa Craig and also the whole of Arran, which was all under snow. Allison was in her element, musing ruefully that she'd never been to Arran in the snow. We retraced our steps and returned to the car. Only 2pm - time for another hill!

Knockdolian
ImageDSC00257 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00259 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00260 by Al, on Flickr

Yes, it's a bloody Marilyn!
ImageDSC00261 by Al, on Flickr

Arran
ImageDSC00262 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00264 by Al, on Flickr

The Glen Trool hills
ImageDSC00265 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00266 by Al, on Flickr





greyx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



We looked at Grey Hill, which was kinda on our way home. Rob's route was from the east, on a small road, and looked very wet, with numerous streams shown on the map. We decided to climb it from the west - up Pinbain Hill and over the back of the rolling ridge to what I'm assuming is the volcanic plug that marks the summit. We found a layby on the A77 just under Pinbain Hill and set off up an old farmtrack, then up steep grassy hillside, crossing the Ayrshire Coastal Path and continuing up to Pinbain Hill itself. It remained a lovely afternoon, the sun turning the grass golden as it lowered iself in the sky. There are some boggy areas where cattle have been feeding, but the frost meant that we were able to cross largely unscathed. One barbed fence to cross then onto Grey Hill proper -we could see a figure up at the trig point. Another chap enjoying the late afternoon views, we exchanged pleasantries as our paths crossed. On our way back the sun was sinking towards the sea, bathing all in glorious amber light. Temperatures fell as the sun sank - it got as low as -4.5 driving home and i was quite thankful not to be tenting it tonight.

Grey Hill
ImageDSC00267 by Al, on Flickr

Up here
ImageDSC00268 by Al, on Flickr

...steeply
ImageDSC00269 by Al, on Flickr

Arran again
ImageDSC00270 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00274 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00277 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00278 by Al, on Flickr

Knockdolian
ImageDSC00279 by Al, on Flickr

Girvan
ImageDSC00280 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00283 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00287 by Al, on Flickr


ImageDSC00293 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00294 by Al, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby PeteR » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:19 pm

Black Craig of Dee currently sits as a failure on my list............got half way across the boggy, lumpy saddle earlier in the year and gave up :( Utter torture that one.......

Been looking at Fell of Fleet for a while though, so your route might be helpful.......apart for the stumps and fallen trees bit (so pretty much most of it). Could be one for a summer's day perhaps.
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:26 pm

PeteR wrote:Black Craig of Dee currently sits as a failure on my list............got half way across the boggy, lumpy saddle earlier in the year and gave up :( Utter torture that one.......

Been looking at Fell of Fleet for a while though, so your route might be helpful.......apart for the stumps and fallen trees bit (so pretty much most of it). Could be one for a summer's day perhaps.


Oh we were so close to turning back at that halfway stage :lol:
There may be easier ways off Fell of Fleet, coming down a bit to the north of the treeline might be a bit easier as you'd be passing through younger trees.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby robertphillips » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:46 pm

whats not to like about the smaller marilyns in scotland bog, deep heather and no paths and more bog and heather. :lol:

was not that far away from yourselves this weekend, bagging humps, tumps, donald deweys from langholm to creetown.
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby malky_c » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:43 pm

Christ, are you pair gluttons for punishment? :lol:
Looked worth the effort though. Some of those lower Galloway hills around Clatteringshaws Loch look nice, even if they're a complete arse to get up. Coastal ones looked very good too, and a bit easier going :) .
Better get yourself a canoe for Ailsa Craig :wink:
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby GillSte » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:38 pm

Lovely photos! I was no more than 20 miles or so from where you two were, and there were several other baggers in the area also, though we didn't find out until later. Stunning weekend wasn't it?
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:08 pm

GillSte wrote:Lovely photos! I was no more than 20 miles or so from where you two were, and there were several other baggers in the area also, though we didn't find out until later. Stunning weekend wasn't it?


was a great weekend, yes - maybe more of the same this coming weekend, think we're headed back down the way
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Re: Tough Time in Galloway

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:53 pm

Blimey, that's quite a busy itinerary!


There is nothing worse than crossing cleared forest plantation. Except crossing cleared forest plantation in snow.... :lol:


Some lovely images too.
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