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A Short Day for Three Marilyns

A Short Day for Three Marilyns


Postby McMole » Fri Jan 18, 2019 6:30 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Benbeoch, Cairn Hill, Craigenreoch

Date walked: 14/01/2019

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 723m

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Not so much a short day as a much shortened day for walking due to the amount of driving necessary to get to and link three easy hills. With an intent to start early from just west of Edinburgh it was about 7:15 as I set off to find the rush hour was well under way. Fortunately this time I was heading in the opposite direction and had a uncrowded two hour drive to get to the very single-tracked road to my chosen parking spot for hill number one - Cairn Hill.

Cairn HIll - 4.4km, 280m, 1.4 hours
Cairn Hill route.gif
Jaywizz had told me of the passing-place-free stretch of road that led to where she parked - the junction where the track heads off to Kirkbride. I 'drove' along it in Streetview and spotted a suitable place not long after the railway bridge where at the expense of a longer walk I could leave the car and avoid any problems meeting vehicles on the next half-mile of narrow road.
parking s.jpg
The potential parking place on Google Streetview's 2010 image that isn't there any more
My best-laid plans, however, were foiled when I found the fencing had been rearranged to leave only a passing place instead of the large expanse of gravel that appears in the 2010 Google image. So my walk immediately shortened by about a mile and my fingers were firmly crossed as I drove up the thankfully deserted road to park at the Kirkbride junction.
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Parking at the start of the track to Kirkbride
From there I had dry weather all the way to the summit and back though showers could be seen in the distance and most hills were cloud-capped. From near the car I climbed the steep grassy bank to reach the track leading past a silent Kirkbride, though smoke was issuing from a chimney. At Kirkbridehill Plantation there was a choice.
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The track enters Kirkbridehill Plantation
The farm gate leads into a fenced area with feeding and watering stations (for game birds I guess) while the stile to the right takes you over the wall but still outside the fence.
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Use the stile and then keep walking beside the fence as it turns left and heads through the trees
This can be followed through the trees and past the fenced area to eventually emerge through another gate onto the open hillside.
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Follow the fence a bit further then turn right to - - -
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the path through the trees
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Looking back at the exit from the forest
There was an open gate at the far end of the enclosed area so both routes were possible.
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The view north from Cairn Hill's summit
On my way down I first heard geese? and then a cockerel as I neared Kirkbride, then a cacophony of barking as a pack of seven dogs ran round to greet me from the other side of the fence. Their owner followed in the distance shouting a string of commands at them to calm down. They were possibly quite friendly and pleased to see me, but I shouted a few words of apology to the lady and continued walking grateful for the intervening fence and cattle grid. As I reached my car a shower started and a landrover drove up the track. Good timing on my part since if I'd been a few minutes earlier I'd have met it on the road, and if I'd been later I'd have been rained upon.

Benbeoch - 4.2km, 255m, 1.4 hours
Benbeoch route.gif
After a 3/4 hour drive I followed Weaselmaster's advice by parking in the narrow layby near Pennyvenie Bridge (NS 4990 0689). If you choose the right spot to head up the bank you will find a stile over the fence to join the track past the ponds. I didn't!
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Looking at the stile I didn't find until after I'd climbed the fence. The car is just the other side of it!
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Walk along the track past these pools
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Benbeoch from the track
From there the track leads easily up to a T-junction where I headed straight on over a tussocky, marshy area up to a fence. This took me to the bank above the Pennyvenie Burn where narrow paths led on to later cross the burn and then head up to the large cairn on Benbeoch's summit.
P1030265.JPG
Looking NE over the now closed opencast workings from the summit
Visibility was better here than it had been on Cairn Hill, but showers could be seen approaching. On the way back I walked along the ridge to look down on Fox Park, an area of boulders surrounded by a wall.
P1030267 s.JPG
Fox Park from the summit ridge
The whole ridge is an SSSI because of the geology. The volcanic sill there is where the rock 'kylite' was first found and described. There is nothing in the documentation about Fox Park. Another WH report claims it was walled off for safety reasons. This time a light shower joined me for the last 200m as I neared the car.

Creagenreoch - 4.4km, 190m, 1.2 hours
Craigenreoch route s.gif
Another 40 minute drive took me to Nick of the Balloch and a layby a short distance past a track contouring up Rowantree Hill (NX 3485 9238). This time a shower started as I set off. A steep first few metres reached the track which took me south around the hill to a double fence.
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Nick of the Balloch from the track with my car's roof just visible next to the passing vehicle
In preference to an ATV track I started following the fence uphill. By keeping close to it and therefore below the crest of the hill, I hoped I would be partly sheltered from the wind and rain. Almost all the ascent was over in the first 800m and I soon joined the ATV track that I'd ignored earlier and followed it most of the way to the trig point until it faded as it crossed a boggier area.
P1030272 s.JPG
Looking back at the ATV track as I neared the summit
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Only a short stop at the trig point.
On the way back the rain had stopped and I splashed along the ATV track almost all the way. Back at the car it was 3:22pm and about one hour before sunset. Enough time to drive back onto wider roads before dark and to enjoy another two and a third hours of driving mostly on dual carriageway and motorway through the middle of rush hour Glasgow and along the M8. It had been another non-wintry winter's day with not a sign of snow or ice on any of the surrounding hills, though I admit many were hidden by cloud.
McMole
Walker
 
Posts: 179
Munros:141   Corbetts:50
Grahams:40   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:143   Hewitts:25
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Joined: Mar 25, 2016

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