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One goes to Blackhope Scar - where the marshes are

One goes to Blackhope Scar - where the marshes are


Postby Hevs_ » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:05 pm

Route description: Blackhope Scar and the Moorfoots

Grahams included on this walk: Blackhope Scar

Donalds included on this walk: Blackhope Scar, Bowbeat Hill, Dundreich

Date walked: 30/06/2019

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 17.75 km

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So initially 3 of us had planned to head up Blackhope Scar, Bowbeat Hill and Dundreich on Sunday 30th June but my lame ass buddies all ditched me and I had planned on painting the hall instead, however, faced with a paintbrush I hurriedly put together my walking gear and jumped into the car - I was going to solo this walk. The alternative was gloss paint in my hair. It was a no brainer.

I arrived at the location as provided by WalkHighland and parked up at the grassy edge of the southwest side of Gladhouse Reservoir - it’s just before the "no parking beyond this point" sign and there's room for quite a few cars. So far so good. Its a miracle I didn't get lost even following the satnav to be honest.. At this point it’s worth taking a wander to the edge of Gladhouse Reservoir just for the view from the shore, and to stretch your legs after the drive. I used this time to grab a protein bar and a drink before heading off up the road, past the "no parking beyond this point" sign and up towards Moorfoot.

Now the directions on WalkHighland tell you to turn right after the house towards Gladhouse Cottage but there isn't a sign for it and you are actually walking through someones farm. As someone who frequently goes the wrong way this gave me a little anxiety - so I kinda walked up and down for 10 mins pretending to be on my phone, trying to decide if it was the actual right turn after the house. I eventually plucked up the courage to just walk past the house and the farm area and found the grassy path and recognising the castle ruins - I was on the right path. Phew. I crossed the little bridge over the River South Esk and headed up to the ruins

I took a little time to appreciate the ruins of Hirendean Castle and get some selfies (II highly recommend it, I got some cool photos) and the sun came out for a bit and I was feeling rather pleased with myself for making it this far without dying. Confidence was my friend - this was not something that was going to last very long. Neither was the sun.
Leaving the lovely ruins behind me, I continued to climb upwards meeting a fence, and turning right for a little bit looking for the nice stones that would allow me to climb the fence safely. I was a little confused to be met with a small stone on my side and a slightly larger one on the other side and in the middle a lovely BARBED WIRE fence for me to climb. Being of a slightly older persuasion and only 5'3 I was unsure if I would make it safely to the other side with my trousers intact not being as flexible as I once was, so I took off my jacket, laid it over the fencing and as I got my leg over the fence, the heavens opened. :shock: As I scrambled over the fence, trying to remain upright whilst hastily grabbing my jacket to put it back on, I realised I had, in my hurry to leave the house, forgotten to put my under layer on. I also realised I am a bit more flexible than I initially thought I was, as I threw my other leg over the fence with the finesse of a gymnast upon the realisation I was about to get absolutely soaked. And soaked is exactly what I got. At this point I was cursing out loud, at the rain, at the fence, at myself and gave serious thought to climbing back over, going back to the car, driving home and denying i was ever there. But that determined voice in my head demanded we keep going and she is not one to be messed with so onward we ploughed, head down into the rain. 30 mins later I realised I was going the wrong way and cue a rather interesting journey to the correct path which involved a lot of vertical climbing, coupled with swearing, a lot of funny looks from sheep and sheer joy when I realised I was on the right "heathery" path I was meant to be on an hour ago. So, make sure when you climb the fence you go all the way up till the shoulder eases off and find the track, and don't just follow the first track you see like I did. Idiot! I was appeased by the rain leaving and the sun returning, giving some lovely views of the reservoir :D

I enjoyed the next part very much. An upwards walk, the rain came and went and we passed lots of grouse butts and the way ahead was clearly pathed. The wind decided to really pick up at this point, thankfully blow drying me in the process
I continued to follow the tracks, its a long walk and after a while I thought maybe I was lost again but eventually I saw the fence which was obviously followed by a loud cheer and a "yas there's the f****g fence". The next couple of hours were not so joyous as I discovered just how marshy the climb to Blackhope Scar can be. The description says it doesn't matter which side of the fence you climb on, both are marshy. I chose to climb the fence and go up that side as the ground is not as grassy and mossy so you can see the marshy areas more clearly - not that it helped. As I was deciding to climb the fence I took 3 steps towards it and both my feet disappeared into what felt like a swamp. A cry of "aww FFS" - yup, both feet soaked. I was not going to enjoy this. Not at all. But I now got a surge of determination. This would not beat me. So I pushed on. Now, wet and mud is nothing new to me. I have hiked a marathon through Aberdeen, I have climbed munros, hills and I did Ben Challum which has its own water log issues plus, I own a horse so traipsing through fields is something I am used to. But this was like the Krypton Factor of hills. I was dodging some serious marshy ground, climbing along the fence line to avoid positively deep water logged areas, dancing around marshes using my walking poles to test the ground before jumping from solid ground to solid ground and climbing over ridges of peat. I considered perhaps I might get trench foot at the very least. My feet were already soaked which made it all the less infuriating when I got it wrong and landed in wet marsh. Eventually I reached the top, but it was so windy I didn't want to hang around. I considered heading back the way I had come and getting off this hill as quickly as possible but the thought of going through an army assault course to get back down made this a definite no no. So climbed yet another fence and headed down towards the wind farm which would take me to Bowbeat Hill - an easier walk downhill, so much so I practically skipped the whole way down, which almost caused a few broken ankle

I eventually reached the base of the wind farm and followed the path to the highest wind turbine - it was a bit of a creepy walk on my own with only the whining, whirling and clanking of turbines for company but they do make great photos and are so huge. You do get an urge to duck when you actually pass one though for some strange reason :lol: There is a stunning forestry along the way to take some nice piccies of though. Once at the highest turbine I left the track and hopped on to the top of Bowbeat HIll which is rather undistinguished indeed, to the point I wondered a few times if I was actually on a hill. I rejoined the path and continued down to the next stage of my climb through a gate near the wind farm control house and off the paved, stony path and back to marshy paths - oh the joy

At least this climb wasn't as bad as the first one - I I followed the atv track, trying not to get blown away by the increasing wind which was giving me quite a battering - I did tell it to f off a few times but to no avail and I almost lost my hat on repeated occasions. Because I had my head down against the wind I missed the NWW turn in the track where it branches off in 2 directions at one point and I spent 10 mins on the wrong track before realising I was in fact going downhill rather than up so backtracked and found the right track on which I eventually I headed up the ridge. The path here isn't greatly defined but its enough to get you to the top of Dundreich. At this point I was was just amazed I wasn't dead/lost/broken and feeling pretty chuffed with myself headed off down to the fence NE to Jeffries Corse, looking for the dry stone wall so that I could swing a right and head downhill. And OMG downhill it was - I just kept telling myself I should be grateful I wasn't climbing up this - a tad sore of the knees heading down and I had to climb a gate as for some reason the farmer has tethered his gate shut with multiple knots of bailing twine to ensure nobody opens it, but I could see the reservoir ahead and soon I was reunited with the path back to the cottage and then the road back to my car. I have never been so glad to see my car in my life - I practically hugged it. I then realised had not set eyes on another human being since leaving the car park - just sheep, who are not the best at hanging around for a chat.

This was challenging for me and I hated parts of it with a passion - my feet were so wet I took my shoes off, changed my socks and drove home minus shoes. :lol: I am generally well prepared for a climb but I was not prepared for the marsh that Blackhope Scar presented me with and at one point I did wonder if I could call Mountain Rescue and have them airlift me the heck out of there :lol: But given me some confidence to do some more solo climbs though. Although any time I see the word marshy on a walk description I go look for another one now :lol:

Cripes that was a long walk description :o
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Hevs_
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 7
Munros:6   Corbetts:1
Grahams:3   Donalds:7
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Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Airdrie

Re: One goes to Blackhope Scar - where the marshes are

Postby Sgurr » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:07 pm

Where are all those wonderful piccies? Not difficult.

Wait until you are of old enough persuasion to take warfarin, and then the barbed wire fence is a real challenge if you don't want to end up like something out of "Walking with the Macbeths".

Nice to have a laugh.
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Sgurr
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Re: One goes to Blackhope Scar - where the marshes are

Postby Hevs_ » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:51 pm

Sgurr wrote:Where are all those wonderful piccies? Not difficult.

Wait until you are of old enough persuasion to take warfarin, and then the barbed wire fence is a real challenge if you don't want to end up like something out of "Walking with the Macbeths".

Nice to have a laugh.


Sadly I can't post photos as I haven't posted enough to be allowed to post any.

Lol :D
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Hevs_
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 7
Munros:6   Corbetts:1
Grahams:3   Donalds:7
Sub 2000:2   
Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Airdrie

Re: One goes to Blackhope Scar - where the marshes are

Postby aaquater » Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:47 pm

Did a similar round last month; agreed, the fence is more for a rough sense of direction than to be walked close to. I somehow managed not to sink into the marshes, but the zig-zagging required would've been more appropriate for somewhere far steeper... and it looks so innocent on a map, too!
aaquater
 
Posts: 8
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Joined: Jul 8, 2019

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