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Completing the Lowther Hills (Oddly Pleasurable Torture)

Completing the Lowther Hills (Oddly Pleasurable Torture)


Postby Christo1979 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:24 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Queensberry

Donalds included on this walk: Ballencleuch Law, Comb Law, Earncraig Hill, Gana Hill, Queensberry, Scaw'd Law, Wedder Law

Date walked: 21/08/2019

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 40.5 km

Ascent: 1645m

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I'm attempting to climb all 140 Donalds and Donald Tops in aid of charity. 'Donalds for Donald' is a personal challenge in memory of my late father, Donald, and in aid of Mesothelioma UK. After the round in this report, my total is currently 31/140, and I aim to complete them by 15th November (his birthday). I'd better get walking...

Having done a round of Donalds from Wanlockhead not too long ago, I decided to tackle the hills in the south of the Lowther range this time. The weather forecast bothered me somewhat, with 50mph wind and heavy rain predicted in the hills - but I had booked these two days specifically for the walk, so it was onwards and upwards. Public transport issues meant it was almost 4pm when I arrived at Durisdeer, donned my waterproofs, and set off on the walk (I had left Newcastle at 7am! :shock: )

I followed the good, raised track skirting the base of Durisdeer Hill, which gave good views of the hills ahead, and after fording Durisdeer Lane (being wet was to be the main theme of this walk...) near the impressive sheepfold, it was straight up over the pink hillside to Hirstane Rig. The wind was pretty savage at the top, and as ever, the fence made way-finding easy and felt quite reassuring. Off I went to the summit of Comb Law, where I stood for all of 20 seconds admiring the mist, before retracing the 'path' across to Hirstane Rig and round to the Donald Top that is Rodger Law. The going was quite tough due to the weather, the occasional bogs and hags, and the need to cling onto wire and fence as if on an assault course. Sadly no good photos, no views, more of a test of character. :lol:

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Next came Ballancleuch Law (nice to have bagged a free Graham for the same price as the Donald), Scaw'd Law, and then across to the second top of the walk, Glenleith Fell. At this point the weather was at its worst, the mist was thick, and the light was fading (though I was impressed how light it had stayed up a height, the omnipresent white mist lighting the way so no head torch was needed until later on :lol: I realised camping up here was a ridiculous notion, and set my mind to finding shelter. I really didn't fancy simply following the track down from Glenleith Fell to find a place for the tent in the glen, because I was soaked, everything was soaked, the ground was so wet even the frogs were out in force looking for somewhere else to go, and I just didn't fancy a night in the tent. Decision made - torch on, plod on over Wedder Law and Gana Hill, and make my way to Burleywhag Bothy.

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

I was delighted to find a vehicle track not marked on the map at Gana Shank (it leads to the track that is marked, a little further to the south), and followed it for a while until it was about time to head off down Whitespot Hill to find the bothy. The experience of heading down the hill in that weather, in the dark, is not one I'd be in a hurry to repeat and having to cross Capel Burn was about as much as I could take for today. I'd never stayed in a bothy before, but getting in there, gear off, stove on, was almost indescribably pleasurable, and I slept like a baby.

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

The circumstances of my arrival meant I didn't have anything to leave at the bothy for future users, so it was all I could do to use as little fuel as possible, tidy the place up a bit, and saw some wood up in the morning. The weather had improved, so once packed-up the walking was more pleasant to start, as I plodded up the slopes of Earncraig Hill, before following the fence round to Penbreck, and on to Queensberry Shoulder. The mist rolled in and I somehow found myself further round (and down) the western slopes of Queensberry, before realising the error and hiking up to the summit cairn of the 9th and final summit of this walk. The mist had teased me now and again, blowing away to reveal lovely views to the east, but by the time I touched the cairn - well, you guessed it :lol:

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

The views did open up as I left Queensberry and made my way steeply down to Pot of Ae, with views of the gargantuan wind farm, the forest with no trees, and a large machine doing its work.

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

The going past Pot of Ae was wet and rough in equal measure, so I took the chance to hop onto the vehicle track (actually, a road :lol: ) at the met station marked on the map, wandered through the wind farm complex and eventually joined the Romans and Reivers Route. Before long the path came to the minor road at the edge of the forest, and the 'Crooked Road' wound its way past some interesting historical sites, soon merging with the Southern Upland Way and then the Annandale Way. Though the rain never let up, the sky cleared enough to give me views of the Moffat Hills, and I dropped into Beattock for a drink and then an incredibly long bus and train journey (delays galore) all the way back to Newcastle. 9 more hills done, and the same time next week I'll be back this way for more (hopefully a lot more, if I'm to complete the challenge...) Donald action.

I'll be praying for views...

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageWalking in the Lowther Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 148
Munros:9   Corbetts:9
Grahams:14   Donalds:31
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:22
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Completing the Lowther Hills (Oddly Pleasurable Torture)

Postby iangpark » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:41 pm

This report is hauntingly similar to my two days in the Lowthers 3 years ago, but your wayfinding (and steadfastness) was certainly better than mine! Had I known about bothies at the time I'd probably have had a night in Burleywhag too. That's a real challenge you've set yourself with the Donalds, and a truly respectable one too. I'm planning to complete them in a couple of weeks and it's been a wonderful journey so far - combining them all into about 3 months is worthy of enormous praise so very best of luck!
User avatar
iangpark
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 229
Munros:3   Corbetts:13
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:40   Hewitts:12
Wainwrights:15   Islands:9
Joined: Dec 29, 2015
Location: Greenock

Re: Completing the Lowther Hills (Oddly Pleasurable Torture)

Postby Christo1979 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:11 pm

iangpark wrote:This report is hauntingly similar to my two days in the Lowthers 3 years ago, but your wayfinding (and steadfastness) was certainly better than mine! Had I known about bothies at the time I'd probably have had a night in Burleywhag too. That's a real challenge you've set yourself with the Donalds, and a truly respectable one too. I'm planning to complete them in a couple of weeks and it's been a wonderful journey so far - combining them all into about 3 months is worthy of enormous praise so very best of luck!


Thanks for your comment - I'm not sure if it's steadfastness or utter lunacy, but I too am enjoying the Donalds despite the weather and the short time frame! I'll find your report and give it a read :) Have you completed the round now? I am hoping to get back up to Galloway this weekend but MWIS forecasts seem to suggest it could be a bad idea...
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 148
Munros:9   Corbetts:9
Grahams:14   Donalds:31
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:22
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Completing the Lowther Hills (Oddly Pleasurable Torture)

Postby iangpark » Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:06 pm

They really are a great list :) Should complete in 2 weeks tomorrow! Aye weather doesn't seem to be playing ball but I think I'll be too stubborn to turn back...
User avatar
iangpark
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 229
Munros:3   Corbetts:13
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:40   Hewitts:12
Wainwrights:15   Islands:9
Joined: Dec 29, 2015
Location: Greenock

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