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A Donald With a View...

A Donald With a View...


Postby Christo1979 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:28 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Cairnsmore of Carsphairn

Grahams included on this walk: Blackcraig Hill, Windy Standard

Donalds included on this walk: Alhang, Blackcraig Hill, Blacklorg Hill, Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, Moorbrock Hill, Windy Standard

Date walked: 14/09/2019

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 41 km

Ascent: 1935m

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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 47/140, and I aim to complete them by 15th November (his birthday). I'd better get walking...

I’d decided to start this round of hills at the tiny village of Carsphairn, and though it is only some 106 miles from Newcastle, I had to allocate most of Saturday just to get there. A train to Carlisle, a train to Dumfries, a bus to St John’s Town of Dalry, then another bus out to Carsphairn. I was the only passenger on the latter, and enjoyed chatting with the driver about the usual suspects - wind farms, underused bus services, cuts to community funding, the madness of hill bagging, that sort of thing.

But, importantly, the weather was glorious, and it looked like I might be in for my first views in weeks. Perhaps there’s more to walking the Donalds than mist, bog, and uncomfortably wet nights…

From Carsphairn it was about a 1km walk out to Bridge-end, then straight onto the farm track, past the intriguing Green Well of Scotland (apparently an old pagan site repurposed as an early Christian baptism pool), and gently climbing towards Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, which would be my 23rd Donald and my 9th Corbett. Where the track faded-away under Dunool, the ground became soft and wet, but the presence of rock on these grassy slopes meant there would be none of the incessant squelching I’ve become accustomed to lately. The pull up to Cairnsmore from about the 450m contour was pretty steep, the wind was growing stronger, but the views were gorgeous looking back over my shoulder, as the sun got a little lower in the sky.

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

The late start meant I would have to get a spurt on if I was to stick to my plan. Very strong wind meant I didn’t hang around at the summit, and headed down over more rock-strewn slopes to the Nick of the Lochans, and quickly up to the Donald Top that is Beninner. It was already beginning to get dark, and I raced back down towards the Nick and headed down the rough hillside to Pt.465 to avoid any burn crossings (dry feet today, I wanted to keep it that way!), made my way up to the estate track and slogged my way up Moorbrock Hill. It was dark by the time I reached the summit, and I pretty much retraced my steps rather than risk another one of my rough, downhill plods in the dark. This added more time to the walk, but it didn’t matter because I was looking forward to sleeping at Clennoch Bothy rather than finding a place to camp.

The bothy was a welcome sight, but I laughed when I realized there was a little ford – and I’d tried so hard to stay dry.

My second ever night in a bothy, and for all there is no stove at Clennoch, I enjoyed a cosy night, alone, with no phone signal, and just a few gigantic beetles and spiders for company. I read the comments in the bothy book, planned tomorrow’s walk, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep, pleased to have taken a 4-season sleeping bag.

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Up early the next morning, I stepped out of the bothy, stretched my legs, and admired the hills surrounding me. The whoosh of what felt like a million wind turbines up above created quite a sound, but the wind itself had died down and once again, it was dry. Small pleasures!

Climbing from Clennoch, I followed the estate track toward Hog Hill, then left the track to head up to the summit of Keoch Rig, complete with its hardware. Is there a summit in this area that hasn’t been gifted a turbine, mast, or other such piece of equipment?

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

From Keoch Rig it was back to the grassy track, across slightly boggy ground, and up to the summit of Windy Standard. The scale of wind farm operations here is quite staggering, and what must be hundreds of turbines lay across almost the entire vista from the trigpoint, where I stopped a while and had a snack. I noticed a cherry-picker at one of the turbines, and before long a van sped up the track past me. I gave the workmen a wave, but they grimaced and looked the other way. I shrugged, and plodded on towards Millaneoch Hill, which was quite a steep little descent. Before Millaneoch, I turned and followed the fence down across boggy and wet ground, then on towards my next Donald, Alhang. It looked pretty impenetrable and steep, but once on the slopes upwards it didn’t seem too bad. All the same, I find these Donalds quite tough at times, and it was with some relief I arrived, huffing and puffing, and via a little fence crossing, at the summit.

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

It was here that I got my first glimpse of Afton Reservoir below, and I descended towards the source of the Afton, where for some inexplicable reason I found myself reciting Burns in a voice that sounded something like Brian Blessed. Onwards to Alwhat.

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Between Alwhat and Meikledodd Hill the ground was boggy and the going a little slow. The sphagnum moss made the landscape an almost impossibly bright shade of green, but I nearly lost a boot on more than one occasion. Superglue moorland. A couple of brief bog hops and plank crossings brought me to the tarmac road and the pylons that sit above the reservoir, and a after a quick breather I stormed my way up Blacklorg Hill. An unremarkable summit in itself, but it was nice to look back across all the hills I had walked – a rare treat.

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

From Blacklorg it was down into another soft and wet no-man’s land, but fortunately it didn’t last long and I was soon plodding slowly up Blackcraig Hill. By now I was pretty tired, and I found myself having to stop regularly for little breathers. Eventually I gained the sprawling and rocky summit, and enjoyed the views in a very cold wind. I seem to recall Blackcraig Hill was the last hill in Percy Donald’s own round of ‘his’ hills, so I smiled to myself and raised a water bottle to him.

There is a well-trodden path away from the summit trigpoint, down to a cairn and on to Quintin Knowe, but it took longer to descend than I had planned, and eventually I joined the track which would take me all the way down the hillside to Blackcraig Farm in Glen Afton. Lots more wind turbines on the hills ahead, and signs of more tracks being constructed, presumably to build more turbines.

Tired but pleased to have completed this round in good time, I then took a leisurely walk along the road all the way through Glen Afton, stopping at the lovingly cared-for Burns Cairn, and into a very grey and sleepy New Cumnock, where I made for the station. Just fifteen minutes later, my train arrived and just like that, another glorious adventure in the hills was over. 47 Donald/Donald Top summits attained so far, 93 to go…

ImageThe Glen Afton Donalds by Christopher Watson, on Flickr
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 220
Munros:15   Corbetts:40
Grahams:35   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:101   Hewitts:154
Wainwrights:175   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: A Donald With a View...

Postby Tinto63 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:24 am

Well done, that was a great walk. The large mast on Keoch Rig was not there early last year and is what is put up to assess wind speed for another wind farm. Sometimes I despair at the developments in Glen Afton - when I first visited only Windy Standard and Hare Hill had turbines.........

Good luck with the rest of your round of the Donalds, is there a Just Giving page for your chosen charity?
User avatar
Tinto63
Wanderer
 
Posts: 929
Munros:129   Corbetts:46
Grahams:38   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:30   
Joined: Jul 20, 2011
Location: West Lothian

Re: A Donald With a View...

Postby Christo1979 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:21 pm

Tinto63 wrote:Well done, that was a great walk. The large mast on Keoch Rig was not there early last year and is what is put up to assess wind speed for another wind farm. Sometimes I despair at the developments in Glen Afton - when I first visited only Windy Standard and Hare Hill had turbines.........

Good luck with the rest of your round of the Donalds, is there a Just Giving page for your chosen charity?


Thank you for for your comment and encouragement :) I don’t think the wind farms are going to reduce in size any time soon, and suspect when I’m next in the area I won’t recognise some of the tops myself...

There is a Justgiving page - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donaldsfordonald - I’m currently just about half way to the target, and have a very difficult few weeks of walking ahead! :shock:
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 220
Munros:15   Corbetts:40
Grahams:35   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:101   Hewitts:154
Wainwrights:175   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: A Donald With a View...

Postby dav2930 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:43 pm

Some very nice photos there. Looked like a really good trip, despite the Windfarms. Haven't done these ones yet and I'm looking forward to them.

Good luck with your challenge; that'll be quite something if you manage it! 8)
User avatar
dav2930
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1433
Munros:237   Corbetts:13
Grahams:14   Donalds:42
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:164
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

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