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A fine day for Cairnkinna and Fell Hills

A fine day for Cairnkinna and Fell Hills

Postby McMole » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:04 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Cairnkinna Hill, Fell Hill

Date walked: 08/01/2020

Time taken: 4.2 hours

Distance: 12.2 km

Ascent: 640m

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After a week of depressing weather, Wednesday's forecast looked hopeful for Galloway. The Met Office predicted a 5% probability of precipitation most of the day for Moniaive, with some sun thrown in for good measure. Decision made, some essential pre-walk reading of reports by Fife Flyer and Inca then followed before bed.

A 7:30am start from just west of Edinburgh was slow at first as I navigated though the morning rush hour, then speeded up as I headed away from rather than around the town. Driving along the M74 then A702 I met a couple of heavy showers on my way to the Dalveen Pass, but from then on it was dry as I hit the single track roads leading from Penpont to objective one.

Cairnkinna Hill - 2.2hrs, 5.7km, 385m
Cairnkinna Hill route s.gif

I parked in the disused quarry 500m after passing Chanlockfoot - NS 78697 00508. Plenty of room for several cars there. The first hundred metres of the walk are the most difficult. There's a strip of felled forest with new plantings interspersed with brashings and liberally endowed with brambles up to a fence topped with barbed wire.
P1040025 s.JPG
Parked in the quarry with my route starting a few metres to the right of my car
I started up the eastern side of the quarry where a groove/ditch? led up easily at first then the brashings and brambles increased. Once over them I reached the barbed wire fence and managed, with some faffing around, to climb over it without damage to either me, my clothing or the fence. I discovered on my return that the boundary turned into a dry stone dyke just 50m to the SE with an inviting gap through it. From there a rising traverse met a flock of sheep that headed up-valley away from me. There was another flock beyond another barbed wire topped fence running up the hill, so I zigzagged up the steepening slopes to reach the fence junction shown on the 1:25,000 OS map. There were gates there so no crossing problems.
P1040027 s.JPG
At the fence junction with the summit (and its cairn on the original image) visible
An ATV track ran from there almost continously to the trig point and the nearby massive cairn.
P1040029 s.JPG
The ATV track running towards the summit
This had a hollow on its northern side which gave shelter from the wind - and sun - for my 11am snack.
P1040030 s.JPG
Cairnkinna Hill trig point and cairn
P1040031 s.JPG
The Lowther Hills golf ball and aerials
On my way up the ridge I had noticed a dark cloud to the south and heading my way, so when I felt a few raindrops I stopped to pull on my overtrousers. The sun then appeared and I never felt another drop all day. There was quite a cold wind so the extra layer on my legs was useful and I kept them on. I even used my gloves for a while! On the descent I deviated onto another track where there had been a gap on the way up, but to no advantage.

Back at the car I demolished a cheese, pork and pickle pie with some coffee before heading to and through Moniaive to objective number two.

Fell Hill - 2 hrs, 6.5km, 230m
Fell Hill route s.gif
Parking was at the start of the forest track from the minor road west of Loch Urr - NS 75030 84350. Its recent(?) upgrading was for forestry and it has nothing to do with the wind farm that has appeared on and beyond Fell Hill. All access for that is from the west. Not far along the track I crossed a cattle grid and shortly afterwards met the cattle at their feeding station.
P1040038b s.JPG
Disinterested herd with Fell Hill on the left
They looked incuriously at me as I walked past and hardly moved. When I returned they appeared to have been served their supper. There were several blue tubs of feed that hadn't been there earlier.
P1040040 s.JPG
Forest track with Fell hill in the distance
P1040042 s.JPG
Zoomed view of Fell Hill with turbines, trig point and cairn
A second cattle grid appeared after another few hundred metres and the track continued to a padlocked gate as it reached a remnant of the forest most of which had been felled
P1040053 s.JPG
Leave the track after passing the gate
P1040052 s.JPG
Disused track beside the trees to Fall
Here it was possible to squeeze past one of the gateposts and then walk along the old overgrown track beside the trees, through another gate and up to the Fell ruins.
P1040051 s.JPG
The ruins of Fell
The area in front of the ruins had the deepest mud I found all day. On the way back I walked along the back which slopes down towards the stream and is therefore drier.
P1040043 s.JPG
Looking back at the ruins
Once past the ruins a steep climb up to a wind farm access road was liberally punctured with cow prints and anointed with cow pats.
P1040050 s.JPG
From there the tall square section cairn was visible with several 'steps' protruding from its side.
P1040047 s.JPG
Fell Hill summit
P1040044 s.JPG
View from cairn over Loch Urr of a hazy Ben Bogrie
I wasn't tempted to test their stability and climb it.
P1040045 s.JPG
More of the Blackcraig Wind Farm - 23 turbines totalling 69MW opened April 2019
I suppose it does provide a good viewpoint for the wind farm. and on a clear day the shapes barely visible in the distance could be Lamachan Hill and its neighbours.
P1040048 s.JPG
View WSW over lochs Skae and Howie to clouded Lamachan and Merrick
I only stopped a few minutes for photographs then reversed my route back to the car for more coffee. Then followed a two and a half hour drive back home to arrive in time for the evening rush hour and another heavy shower.

Altogether a successful day with both objectives achieved and full marks to the Met Office. I'm beginning to have a lot more faith in their forecasts!

Some additional information from Google Maps - the aerial view showing part of the wind farm, its roads, and the depleted forest with its tracks.
Fell Hill aerial s.jpg
Google's latest serial view shows the wind farm and changes to the forest
Posts: 180
Munros:141   Corbetts:50
Grahams:40   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:143   Hewitts:25
Joined: Mar 25, 2016

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