A perfect day of weather forecast across central Scotland, and with a work commitment to get to near Glasgow in the afternoon, Culter Fell seemed well placed for a morning's walking halfway along the drive west. Time was a bit short for the full horseshoe route recommended on WH, and in any case I wasn't keen on the long, pathless or boggy stretches which seemed to be the defining feature of the western half. Instead, after gathering a few opinions on the forum, we opted to return along the glen past Coulter Reservoir.
Nice scenic drive through the Borders and into Lanarkshire. Workers were just finishing replacing a major bridge across the Coulter Water few miles from start. Fortunately the road was open, but it may have been closed in the preceding days. There's space for several cars to park close to Culter Allers Farm. Sheep and lambs in the surrounding fields - spring must be here!
After heading up the glen along the (private) tarmac road, Culter Fell soon loomed large on the left:
The ascent up Fell Shin is direct and sustained, but benefits from a good path, a line of grouse butts to rest on, and good views across the glen towards Woodycleuch Dod and Ward Law - which actually looked quite interesting now we'd taken the decision to miss them out
False summit and tiny cairn at 680 metres, with Tinto prominent to the northwest:
Chapelgill Hill to the northeast:
Not much more than an hour's walk to the 748 metre summit. I always find the hills around here seem lower than they actually are. Starting amongst fields makes it feel like you're starting close to sea level - whereas the car park is already at 250 metres.
A few small patches were all that remained of the winter snow cover around here, but the hills to the south looked a bit whiter:
Looking ahead to Moss Law, and it's just a case of following the fence. There's a faint path / track for much of the way, and although a bit wet in places there was nothing to worry about - and very little re-ascent. After having been sheltered from the strong wind on the way up, it was in our faces for the descent.
Looking back to Culter Fell:
The valley track from Holm Nick down to the reservoir was very pleasant - good scenery and warm sunshine.
Back along the reservoir on a good track:
The track becomes tarmac at the dam; from here it's about 2 miles back down the glen to the start. A good circuit - definitely recommended as a shorter alternative to the full horseshoe.
Travel and Coronavirus
Temporary Coronavirus restrictions and travel advice applies until Monday 26th October.
Click for details
Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.