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Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws


Postby Graeme D » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:45 am

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Craigowl Hill

Date walked: 18/03/2011

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 560m

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Friday afternoon and a good looking day weather-wise. It had been a long, hard week in Ninewells following Ailsa’s arrival on Saturday and the rollercoaster ride of the events which followed. By now I had been practically living in the hospital for 10 days from the time Debbie had first been admitted, and I was fast going stir crazy, despite the joyful distraction of a beautiful baby daughter and a wife on the road to recovery. I’d spent hours and covered miles pacing the corridors and labour and maternity wards, breathing in the dry, sterile air, drinking the almost undrinkable coffee and, for two nights, sleeping on the floor in what could really only best be described as a large cupboard.

With Debbie and Ailsa due to be moved on the Friday afternoon from the high dependency unit on the Labour Suite and into a room on the Maternity Ward, this meant that from then on, it would only be myself who would have unrestricted access. Her mother would now have to restrict visits to during the two 1 hour slots in the day. I therefore suggested that I would make myself scarce on the Friday afternoon, leaving her mum some time to spend alone with her and Ailsa.
My original plan was to head back down the road towards Perth and possibly head up Glen Devon or into the Glen Artney hills. Then I thought about the Angus Corbetts and Grahams – Hill Of Wirren, Mount Battock, Hunt Hil e.t.c. To be honest thought, I was still feeling pretty knocked out, both physically and emotionally, so I decided to take it easy and continue my recent run of Sub 2000ft Marilyns on Craigowl Hill, the highest point of the Sidlaw Hills a few miles to the north of Dundee. I had had a good sight of it for the past week and a bit as I drove along the A90 into Dundee, and I reckoned it would give me a decent view of the city that felt like it had, temporarily at least, become my adopted home.

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Ailsa - 5 days old


I left the concrete sprawl of Ninewells at 1.30pm and headed along the Kingsway and onto the Forfar Road, turning off the A90 at Tealing. I continued through the village and up the farm road to Hillside of Prieston, where I parked up just short of the old ruined farm buildings. There was a red car parked there already and as I gathered my gear together and put my walking boots on, the owner returned and asked me if I was “going right round”. Not quite sure exactly what he meant – I had no OS map for the area, having basically just looked at the mapping on here the night before and counted on heading straight up the track (which turned out to be a tarmac road) and back down the same way – I explained that I didn’t really know the area and was just out for a quick jaunt up Craigowl Hill and back down. He advised that I head off across the fields to the north east rather than heading up the road, before looping back round to the summit. He then went on to describe how I could continue the walk to Auchterhouse, but to be honest, my mind still felt like it had turned into Swiss cheese and he kind of lost me a bit there!

Anyway, I have to really thank this guy, cos if he hadn’t spoken to me, I’d probably have whacked straight up the road and back down in jig time, then jumped into the car and headed for some other wee half hour hill, kind of like foggieclimber’s four part Sub2 report from last year. But instead I took his advice, and headed across the fields to make a big looping approach towards the mast infested summit, at the start of a walk that will live forever in my memory as a classic.

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Start of the walk at Hillside of Prieston

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Views open up south to Dundee and north east Fife beyond

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First views of bigger hills to the north

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Closing in on the hardware strewn summit of Craigowl Hill


It was only when I reached the summit of Craigowl Hill that I understood what he had meant about continuing beyond this point. The views north to the snow plastered Munros of Glenshee and Glen Clova were stunning, Dundee and Fife beyond the Firth of Tay spread out below to the south, and off to the west I could see two other prominent lower hills (one quite heavily wooded, the other sporting what looked like a trig pillar at the summit) which looked like they would make a nice extended circuit.

I spent ten minutes or so amongst the hardware at the summit of Craigowl Hill, much of it focussing on the layout of Dundee to the south and the grey buildings and prominent chimney of Ninewells Hospital in the south west of the city.

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Summit trig and view north

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View north east towards Forfar and Turin Hill

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Looking down on Dundee - Dundee Law, the Tay Rail Bridge and the Ninewells chimney stack all clearly visible

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North over the trig point

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Self-timed effort


From here I picked my way along the narrow but seemingly well-trodden path through the heather towards the bealach to the west.

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Descending to the path in the bealach - looking back over the heather towards Craigowl Hill

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Auchterhouse Hill


Here I picked up a broader, more defined path heading north, which I followed for a while before cutting off to my left through a stand of pine trees and into some pretty rough heather as I traversed around to begin the ascent up onto the hill fort summit of Auchterhouse Hill.

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Back onto a good path - heading into the wild

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Nice wild camp spot


It was around about this point, on the path and then as I wandered off it and into the trees, that I began to feel an absolute and overwhelming sense of …… well, I don’t quite know what it was. Relief. Happiness. The tension and anxiety of the previous week just washing away. I literally felt like I could just keep walking on this bearing forever and everything would be perfectly OK. I realised that I actually had very little idea exactly where I was, and yet at the same time I knew exactly where I was.

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In the deep stuff - looking north east


I soon picked up another good path which climbed through the pine and larch trees to the small, perfectly formed bald summit of Auchterhouse Hill, from where I descended south before skirting around and up to the view indicator and memorial plaque at the summit of Baluderon Hill, before descending a broad grassy track about the width of a dual carriageway and then cutting across the lower southern flanks of Craigowl Hill to pick up the service road for the last few hundred metres back to the car.

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Dundee from Auchterhouse Hill

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Craigowl Hill from Auchterhouse Hill

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Looking back to Auchterhouse Hill

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Final pull to Baluderon Hill

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Craigowl Hill from Baluderon Hill view indicator

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I see what Mr Scroggie saw in this place!

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North to Glen Clova from summit of Baluderon Hill

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Contouring the southern fringes of Craigowl Hill

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Almost back at the car - looking up the road to Craigowl Hill


For an opportunist strike to get me out of the hospital for an afternoon, this turned into a minor classic that will live forever in my memories of a week that changed my life forever.


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Graeme D
 
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby FestinaLente » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:06 am

Nice to read your wife and daughter are now improving
Don't know anything of such a situation healthwise, never wanted children.
Not as yet read all this report of yours but the pic that caught my eye and your comment was of Syd Scroggie and you could see what he appreciated about the view.
Syd Scroggie was blinded during 2nd World War but still enjoyed time on the hills. Read an excellent article about him in a magazine several decades ago.
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby Stretch » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:12 am

Cute youngster Graeme, hopefully you'll let Debbie take a break soon? :lol:
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby ChrisW » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:44 am

Fantastic Graeme, a fine walk with great pics and a beautiful little daughter to boot. When I went down to Lincolnshire to vist my new grand-baby you were just a man, now you are.................. .....dan dan daaaaaaaaaaaaa.....a DAD :D

Congratulations to you both, from my quick skim of the site since I returned it seems your wife had some difficulty so it is good to hear she is now on the mend. I can imagine what a fantastic, emotional walk that must have been and can 'feel' it in your report.

Hope I bump into the three of you out on the hills someday :D
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby Paul Webster » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:01 am

now you are.................. .....dan dan daaaaaaaaaaaaa.....a DAD :D


This means you'll become a great dancer :D

Excellent report, sounds like you were glad of the fresh air. Hope you all get to go home soon :D
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:26 am

All the best for the future, Dewar family ! That's a nice memorial to Syd Scroggie, I didn't know it was there. I was sorry to here of his passing a few years back,the same year as another great of the Scottish hills, Tom Weir. I had always wanted to meet Syd after reading his excellent book "The Cairngorms Scene and Unseen".
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby malky_c » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:51 pm

Glad to see you and your family are OK. Al least it has given me the kick in the backside to register to donate blood - one of those things I just never seemed to get around to doing.

Good to see another Craigowl/Auchterhouse Hill report -Craigowl is probably my most climbed summit in Scotland. Must've walked, run or cylced up it 25 or 30 times over the last 10 years! Was thinking of putting some kind of report together at some point, just to give it a bit more coverage, but yours has nicely shown the best bis of it. Auchterhouse is a nice addition as well. I agree this is a great afternoon out, although my reasons are slightly different from yours :)

Lundie Craigs and Keillor hill a bit further west are also worth a look (I'm sure you'll only be allowed to do short walks now :lol: ). Nice for an hour or two's wander within a short drive of Perth.
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:47 pm

Nice wee report Graeme,glad to hear that your Mrs looks to be on the mend.
Just one thing if you don"t mind me asking.......................I take it Ailsa has taken her good looks from mum :) :)
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby kevsbald » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:36 pm

Graeme,

can't imagine the lows and highs you've been through recently. Just glad mum and daughter (and you) are all well.
Hope to see you on the hills with me soon.

Kev
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby walk aboot » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:39 pm

Lovely report (and photo), Graeme. Hope you are saving/printing a copy of this trip report to show Ailsa when she's older :) .
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby rockhopper » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:44 pm

Aw shucks Graeme...very cute :D Glad to hear your wife's very much on the mend.... enjoy your freedom while it lasts :lol:
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby Graeme D » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:59 pm

Cheers folks for all the kind comments - including you GLW! You are probably right about Ailsa's looks. Guess I've gotta face facts! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby Alastair S » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:15 am

Glad to hear you wife is on the mend - sounds like a really scary time. Being a long time blood donor its gratifying to hear of someone close to home (so to speak) benefiting.

And was that an orienteering point next to the Sydney Scroggie monument? If so then looks like a serious course they must run around there!
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby yokehead » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:07 pm

All the best to the 3 of you, good to hear things are moving forward. :) A bit of breather and reflection time for you looks like it was well timed, but hope your brain isn't too fried from all that kit on the hilltop! :D
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Re: Escaping Ninewells - Perspective & Reflection in the Sidlaws

Postby monty » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:31 pm

Nice report Graeme. Nice to hear things are looking good and congrats on being a new dad. :D
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