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Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale


Postby Christo1979 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:31 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Hart Fell

Grahams included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen

Donalds included on this walk: Andrewhinney Hill, Bell Craig, Bodesbeck Law, Cape Law, Capel Fell, Croft Head, Ettrick Pen, Hart Fell, Herman Law, Loch Fell, Swatte Fell, Under Saddle Yoke, Wind Fell

Date walked: 04/11/2019

Time taken: 24 hours

Distance: 82 km

Ascent: 3700m

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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 walk in this report, my total is currently 75/140. I had hoped to get them all done by 15th November, dad's birthday, but weeks of being variously unwell or working every day have sabotaged the goal. I'm attempting to 'up the game' with much longer rounds to make up for lost time...

Part One - Moffat to Over Phawhope


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I travelled up to Moffat by train from Newcastle via Carlisle and Lockerbie, and when the bus deposited me in Moffat in good time, I didn't hang around - straight out on the road until I could drop down and join the Southern Upland Way. Following the 'old route' made for some very pleasant scenery, and once up the very steep 'dry gutter' it was a straightforward hike up to Croft Head. Cloud and rain had already set in, and by the time I had sped down the zig zag path at Cat Shoulder the light already seemed to be fading. With less focus on enjoying the views, and more 'head-down, speed-on' I hauled myself up the steep shoulder of West Knowe, after which it was straightforward (though wet) walking up and down various summits all the way to Ettrick Pen. It was now dark, and I didn't waste any time dropping down the steep side to join the track for a break at Over Phawhope bothy.

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Part Two - Herman Law to Bodesbeck Law


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I dropped some stuff off at the bothy, and prepared for the next slog. Travelling light and with gritted teeth and PLENTY of head torches/batteries, I stormed through the rain, along the Southern Upland Way for an hour or so, until gaining the hills again via a steep but straightforward climb. Night walking might not be for everyone, but I find I climb much more quickly, and focus on nothing but putting feet (and hands on some of these steep grassy domes...) in front of each other. The going 'up top' was far from easy, and very wet, but navigation wasn't difficult thanks to fence lines. I hated most of this section of the walk, the weather was pretty wild and in the dark my fears came out to play. A tough, bagging mission only, and no justice was done to the hills, which I could see the next morning were quite stunning. I stumbled a few times coming down from Bodesbeck Law, and fell in some awful mud on the track back down to the SUW and the bothy, but was delighted to find the bothy again, and sleep a few hours in absolute comfort on the leather sofa!

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Part Three - Over Phawhope to Blackshope


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I could have slept for days already, but I was up again first thing, and plodded back up that muddy path at Potburn, this time leaving to haul myself across Potburn Rig, a couple of Donald Tops, and eventualy Capel Fell. It had looked dramatic from the 'other side' the previous day, but the walking on tired legs was a bit painful, and the sun wasn't up yet. Some light in the air, but nothing to enjoy or admire, and I cursed the point of hill bagging as I retraced my steps, slowly, contouring under the tops and dropping down to the track that would lead me to Bodesbeck. Every muscle in my body was aching, and when the madness of the final objective - the Black Hope Horseshoe - revealed itself in its beautiful but intimidating glory, I considered giving up. But after a rest, and a chat with a farmer (the only person I saw the whole time) who certified me insane when I revealed I had been 'up there' walking through the night in 'that weather', I steeled myself and headed into the mist.

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

Part Four - Blackshope to Moffat


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Climbing Saddle Yoke did indeed feel like a climb rather than a walk, and I'm not sure how I did it. Fear kicked in as I picked my way up the steep, wet, ridge, and adrenalin did that thing I now no so well - makes me go faster, blocks out views and even the desire to stop for breaks. It was a shame about the low lying mist, because I have a feeling that when the summit is actually visible, this might be the finest hill I've stood on in all Southern Scotland (so far). This 'classic borders hill walk', which I would love to do again in clear conditions and on its own, tested me to my limit. Walking was generally straightforward, but I was tired, the wind was strong, the visibility poor, and the views non-existent. Eventually at the other end of the horseshoe, I caught glimpses of Black Hope, but the VERY strong wind kept me from the path at the edge, and hanging back for most of the walk on boggy fence lines, I made light work of the last stretch back to Swatte Fell. At Swatte Fell, my phone suffered yet another water/sub zero injury, and I also ground to a halt myself for a short while, to let this walk sink in. I found myself crying a little as the adrenalin gave way to aches, pains, and the realisation that I had done about 24 hours of tough walking - almost but not quite getting me back on track with my charity challenge. I wondered if my dad would look down and be proud of me, or look down and think I am an idiot. Possibly both.

What I do know is that I am an idiot for initially hoping to extend this expedition to take in Erie Hill and the couple of tops over that way above Gameshope. Absolutely not an option this time, and this whole thing was a real lesson in knowing my absolute walking limits.

From Swatte fell I headed down to Blue Cairn and soon dropped back into Moffat. The ground was dry but very rough and in my exhausted state I nearly took a few tumbles, eventually making it back with about 15 minutes to breathe, before getting the bus and starting the long trip home.

Update. The day after, I have largely been unable to move, and have taken a day off work. I'm always learning...

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr

ImageEttrick/Moffat Hills by Christopher Watson, on Flickr
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Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 152
Munros:10   Corbetts:11
Grahams:20   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby Sgurr » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:03 pm

Madness, but admirable madness.
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Sgurr
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3687
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
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Sub 2000:569   Hewitts:139
Wainwrights:160   Islands:58
Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Location: Fife

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby iangpark » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:03 pm

Jeezo Chris! That walk, if you can call it that, was something else :shock: Even in dry conditions I'd guess that walk would be beyond me, especially walking at night I'd get lost without a doubt. I think we all have a walk like that at some point on our hillwalking career and as you say they're actually quite useful in understanding how far we expect to push ourselves in rubbish conditions :lol: Do the rest like that and you'll only have about 3 walks left!
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iangpark
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 241
Munros:5   Corbetts:13
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:42   Hewitts:12
Wainwrights:15   Islands:9
Joined: Dec 29, 2015
Location: Greenock

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby Ben Craig » Sat Nov 09, 2019 1:43 am

!
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Posts: 1
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Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby dav2930 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:27 pm

That's a lot of Donalds in 24 hrs! Don't think I'd fancy walking on those hills at night in the rain :shock:
You're obviously a man on a mission, and an admirable mission it is too. I wish you all the best. :clap:
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dav2930
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1345
Munros:237   Corbetts:13
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Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:162
Wainwrights:214   
Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby Christo1979 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:06 pm

Sgurr wrote:Madness, but admirable madness.


Thank you, I think. And thanks again for your kind donation!
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Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 152
Munros:10   Corbetts:11
Grahams:20   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby Christo1979 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:08 pm

iangpark wrote:Jeezo Chris! That walk, if you can call it that, was something else :shock: Even in dry conditions I'd guess that walk would be beyond me, especially walking at night I'd get lost without a doubt. I think we all have a walk like that at some point on our hillwalking career and as you say they're actually quite useful in understanding how far we expect to push ourselves in rubbish conditions :lol: Do the rest like that and you'll only have about 3 walks left!


It was certainly a beast. I agree though, we have these huge challenges in us and so think it’s amazing what we can do when we just grit our teeth. That said, I’m very keen to start enjoying the hills again - I can’t remember the last time I had a glorious view!
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Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 152
Munros:10   Corbetts:11
Grahams:20   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby Christo1979 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:10 pm

dav2930 wrote:That's a lot of Donalds in 24 hrs! Don't think I'd fancy walking on those hills at night in the rain :shock:
You're obviously a man on a mission, and an admirable mission it is too. I wish you all the best. :clap:


Thank you, sir! When this mission is accomplished I very much look forward to taking my time, and experiencing the hills as they are meant to be experienced :)
User avatar
Christo1979
Walker
 
Posts: 152
Munros:10   Corbetts:11
Grahams:20   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:50   Hewitts:75
Wainwrights:65   Islands:25
Joined: Oct 21, 2017
Location: Gateshead

Re: Tough Donald Bagging Around Moffatdale

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:28 pm

Great walk
You thought Saddle Yoke was steep :) If you do the normal Hart Fell round and come down the other side of Blackhope valley - where the grass is very finely sheep-cropped - that is seriously steep and slippery :lol: :lol: And I have pictures of avalanches in the Carrifran valley next door
past my sell by date
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Posts: 692
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Wainwrights:159   
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