Well here it was - the last hillwalk before our university graduation, my last hillwalk starting from Dumfries and perhaps the last Donald trip without a car driven by myself! Jack was up for a wander to fill the day and Iain, having just moved briefly to Walkerburn, happy to join. Picked up in Dumfries by Jack at 9:30, picking Iain up in Innerleithen and parking the car by 20 to 12.
The initial steep ascent up the Cross Borders Drove Road has us sweating before long, but it flattened out by Craig Head where we had a break (and also where a geocache is hidden should you care to look!)
Where we would end up:
Birkscairn Hill a long way off:
The short, burnt heather was excellent to walk on and we made quick progress up Kailzie Hill, thinking that Kirkhope Law was Birkscairn Hill for a good while. The large cairn at the top was perfect for another break.
Craig Head and bumps:
Common Lizard at Kirkhope Law cairn:
Birkscairn Hill looked a bit daunting, especially considering it was only the first Donald of the day, but it was effectively identical in ascent to Kirkhope Law. Some decent wildlife on the way up.
No break this time around as we were hoping to get to the top of Dun Rig post-haste. The views had really opened up by now.
Cloudberry leaves - I had heard of their presence here on a forum and indeed they were about, although still unripe:
I had not expected the ascent of Dun Rig to be so littered with peat hags; they were everywhere and enormous! The ground had started to get pretty squelchy and sluggish by now despite a good few days with no rain. This walk would be much more difficult to enjoy underfoot after some. Although a longer walk up than the last two, we finally arrived at the only trig of the day. Jack and Iain sat down for lunch while I nipped to both potential tussocky tops before joining them.
Dun Rig summit area:
Ettrick Pen and Bodesbeck Law:
Culter Fell peeking over:
We didn't follow the fence initially which meant we were crossing over boggy heathland, arriving at a pretty big bog, but eventually got back on track to join the proper track up Glenrath Heights.
The first steep Donald of the day didn't take long but got the sweat going once again. We barely stopped at the top. The views west and north really opened up here.
Glenrath Heights summit:
Lowther Hill, Green Lowther, Dun Law and Lousie Wood Law behind Clyde wind farm:
The plan had been to take a break at Broom Hill while I dump the bag and jog over to Stob Law to later descend to Newby Kipps, but the other two were intent on joining me as long as we didn't go back up! Fair play to them as the map really does not do justice to the depth of the col between them. No way was it happening in this heat! We decided to descend via Hundles Hope instead.
Stob Law ascent from Broom Hill:
The way down took a beating on our ankles but we pressed on with the gruelling steepness of Stob Law beginning. It took us 15 minutes or so to get to the top, where we took another long break again to finish the last of our food on the short, springy, dry heather.
Tinto gable end:
West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law and Carnethy Hill of the Pentlands:
Dollar Law with Donald Top Hunt Law to the right:
Jack and Iain beginning descent:
It was a painful way down but a few grassy ledges allowed us to take a few breaks. The glen itself was extremely pretty so we were kept appeased by that. Eventually we reached the larch trees which joined the oddly-shaped sheep pen.
It was now a case of following the grassy quad tracks (and sheep) back to the farm, where we split off on a bridle path then down through a sheep field to the farm road. This went straight to the corner of the minor road before Crookston. Cademuir Hill was tempting in a way but it was now quite late on, still boiling and we had all noted the pain in our feet! It was then a flat but sore walk to the first of the housing estates (not marked on the WH map) where we followed Jubilee Park then Glen Crescent back to the Glen Road. Another 5 minute break ensued before Jack dropped Iain off again at Innerleithen and we went for a fish and chips in Biggar - much needed!
A memorable, if not exhausting, way to finish my hillwalking university chapter - only 19 Donalds remain!
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.