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It’s Never Boggy, When It’s Freezing and Foggy!

It’s Never Boggy, When It’s Freezing and Foggy!


Postby TdF8 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:33 am

Route description: Culter Fell circular, near Biggar

Grahams included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill

Donalds included on this walk: Culter Fell, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Hudderstone

Date walked: 01/12/2019

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 18.5 km

Ascent: 892m

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It’s Never Boggy, When It’s Freezing and Foggy!

I had read about the route around Culter Fell a while back after trying to find a walk to do while one of my offspring were at training in how to float fast in Larkhall. I had the full day to fill so I was looking for a walk of a few hours so that I could be back in plenty of time to pick them up.

I held off doing this walk until the beginning of December as every single person I spoken to told me that all the routes around the area were not just a bit boggy, but that I’d actually need waders on some of them!

Anyway, I dropped offspring #3 at Larkhall and headed off at 8am, getting to Coulter at 830am. Not too many parking spaces around the place (most roads had “private - no parking” signs up) but with it being early, December and -8 degrees, there was only one other car there.

Yes, I said -7 deg!

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Cold Start!




I had been watching the weather all week and all of Scotland had been experiencing a cold snap, the first of the winter. Temps had been well below zero all week and approaching -10 on several nights. Ideal, any boggy ground stood a good chance of being frozen which should make for good ground to walk on.

On setting off I was slightly disappointed as it was quite foggy, loads of low cloud which was in danger of spoiling the views and potentially making navigating a challenge as I didn't know the area at all. I had maps, compass, gps, the lot, but there is still that feeling that if the clouds closed in too much then I’d need to be careful.

I set off along the single track road and although it was very cold, there was absolutely no wind which all made for a very pleasant start.

Cloudy Start.jpg
Cloudy start?


I soon found the path off the the left that headed up to the first climb of Coulter Fell. The path is clear and heads straight up. The blood started to pump quickly & the gradient didn’t ease off until the top. By this time I was well and truly in the clouds, visibility was poor & it was MUCH colder. Ice on your clothes cold in fact! On the plus side, there was no sign of any boggy ground, not even frozen boggy ground……. So far.


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Coulter Fell.... somewhere in the cloud!


There wasn't any point in hanging about here, there really was nothing to see & I could only hope that the clouds would lift and break up as the sun rose, or that a wind would get up and blow them away. So I headed off towards Moss Law. As soon as I set off the magic happened & the clods broke. What a view!


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Walk to Moss Law



The ground had leveled off now & the path was less obvious. If it was summer Id have described it as “heather bashing” although I imagine it would have also been really boggy. Not today though, the ground was frozen rock solid and I was making good ground. And the views were opening up all around me, in all directions. Crystal frozen icy ground below, clear blue skies above, bright orange sun low on the horizon. It was turning into one of those amazing winter days.


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Moss Law Trig


The view at the top of MOss Law was so good that even although it was still early in the day I couldn’t resist stopping and having a cuppa as took in the 360 degree vista surrounding me.


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View from Moss Law


This part of the walk was as straight as the road to Damascus following a fence all the way downhill towards Gathersnow Hill. The ground was still frozen solid, but I could see what others had been on about when they described this walk. I was walking on ice, and it would have been a very different experience if I had been doing it in warmer weather. And yes, waders might have been needed!


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Coulter Reservoir

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Towards Gathersnow....

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Path to Gathersnow



Soon the path joined a landrover track and I was climbing up towards Gathersnow.

I am a bit of a stranger to this part of the world, but as I walked this section I found myself wondering why. The walking was good, the views were amazing, and the route that I was on could easily have been extended or altered to include the numerous other hills surrounding me. The landscape is very different from the north & west highlands that I normally frequent and the hills seemed to flow into each other. Horizons broadened……

Gathersnow Hill doesn’t have a cairn at the top. Seriously, it doesn’t, but it does have a pile of sticks! I kid you not. More time to pause and take in the changing & expanding views.


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Gathersnow Hill






With the clouds almost gone, this gave me the clearest views of the day. Hills in all directions, lochs, dams, wind farms, but not a single person in sight. Not just that, even though I knew where I was going and the risk of challenging navigation gone with the clouds, there wasn’t even many views of paths. Not an issue though as the grass and heather were short and walking was easy.

Onwards to Hillshaw Head and lunch next to the wind turbines!


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Hillshaw Hill

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Getting windy for lunch!




From here the route doubles back on myself to join one of the Land Rover service roads for the windfarm. Despite being on the road, there were still no other humanoids around and I was still alone.


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Wind farm landrover track


UI followed the road for a while before peeling off to the left to climb the short effort to Dodd Hill. By now the ground was really showing how it would make for difficult walking in milder temps. Frozen moss, mud and big puddles. The ice formations today were amazing & looked like works of art.

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Arty Ice Puddles


I paused at the top as I knew I’d be dropping down soon and that the days walk was soon coming to an end. At this time of year the sun isn’t up for long & it never gets too high. It was already getting low, changing colour and the temps were dropping again. Not sure they got above freezing at any point as my hat remained frosted all day!


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Dodd Hill


As always happens, I was all too soon dropping height back to the car, along a clearly defined track which eventually became a tarmac single track road. By now the clouds, or was it fog, was starting to slowly form and it gave for a very atmospheric final half hour. The ground looked magical with icicles and frost all around and that eerie silence you only get when its cold and there's cloud closing in.


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Icicles on the river

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Almost finished.....




Then, I was back at the car, changed and on my way back to pick up the child.

What a fantastic walk, and a timely reminder that you don’t need to go for the big, wild, technical hills to have a cracking day out. I’ve done quite a few walks this year as I get back into this, but this walk was the best I’ve had this year. I couldn’t recommend it more than that.

One thing though……. Be careful if its above freezing. From what I saw, and what others have told me, this would have bean a very different beast if it wasn’t for Jack Frost!





The route is on my Strava - "Tee Dee Eff" and the Relive video is on that activity as a comment.
TdF8
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 6
Munros:10   Corbetts:2
Grahams:4   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:4   
Joined: Oct 8, 2019
Location: Dumbarton

Re: It’s Never Boggy, When It’s Freezing and Foggy!

Postby Odin boy » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:35 pm

Myself and my son were also out on Coulter fell, must have been an hour or so behind you. We did see someone way ahead as we set off on the road and someone starting as we came over Shin Fell.

I did this walk years ago in the spring time and remembered the bogs, but with below zero temps it’s a great walk. Perfect weather with some fantastic views once the fog cleared.

My 9 yr old loved it but we shortened the route and came past the reservoir.
Odin boy
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 17, 2019

Re: It’s Never Boggy, When It’s Freezing and Foggy!

Postby TdF8 » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:13 am

Odin boy wrote:Myself and my son were also out on Coulter fell, must have been an hour or so behind you. We did see someone way ahead as we set off on the road and someone starting as we came over Shin Fell.

I did this walk years ago in the spring time and remembered the bogs, but with below zero temps it’s a great walk. Perfect weather with some fantastic views once the fog cleared.

My 9 yr old loved it but we shortened the route and came past the reservoir.


I'm glad that you and your son enjoyed the day. It was amazing weather for doing that particular walk.
TdF8
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 6
Munros:10   Corbetts:2
Grahams:4   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:4   
Joined: Oct 8, 2019
Location: Dumbarton

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