walkhighlands

Moorfoots (I Didn't Start The Fire!)

Route: Blackhope Scar and the Moorfoots

Grahams: Blackhope Scar
Donalds: Blackhope Scar, Bowbeat Hill, Dundreich

Date walked: 29/03/2022

Time taken: 5.4 hours

Distance: 17.75km

Ascent: 625m


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I managed to squeeze in one more day off work at the end of March, so wanted to replicate my walk around the Lowthers from 1st March, but with less Donalds this time. Last time was six, but I would settle for three this time. I had a bit of a think about this one: the Culter Fell round is too long if I include Chapelgill Hill (my child's vaccine was on Tuesday evening so I had to be back by 7pm); Hart Hell or White Coomb were tempting but the forecast was a bit iffy (after 11 days of non-stop sunshine, this was the sort of 'pivot day' before snow showers arrived back on the hills on Wednesday). Finally I settled on the Moorfoots: a good round, fairly straightforward, with a proper route on WalkHighlands I could follow and a wind farm road to help me round some of it. 10% of Donalds in one calendar month would be beyond anything I expected at the start of the month. I'd only climbed 14 in my entire life before March... :?

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I drove through a load of thick fog on the M8 from Livingston onwards, and wondered if it was due to the altitude (Bathgate isn't exactly Everest Base Camp, but it's about 250m up). However, the fog continued onto the Edinburgh bypass, and was still there as I skirted round Penicuik. Finally, I broke out of the clouds near the Hopehouse Reservoir, to be greeted by a perfect still morning sky at the parking space. There were two birdwatchers, and a sign about hillwalkers that looked quite threatening at first, until a closer inspection revealed that it was actually saying "THIS CAR PARK IS FOR HILLWALKERS ONLY". Phew... 8)

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Yaaassssss. This beats sitting in the office (well, it's still the kitchen...)

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A sheep watches guard over its kingdom.

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There's quite a loud dog at this cottage, and a load of signs saying to use the track bypassing it to the left.

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A faint path leads up towards Hirendean Castle after the bridge. The view was already great towards the reservoir, although I don't think I would be seeing Edinburgh today, with all the cloud / haze / fog.

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Ah. Not much point having a big sign telling walkers to stick to the paths, when you stick a barbed wire fence right across one of the paths. Time to rip my waterproof trousers again! :roll:

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This was the steepest part of the whole day by far, up onto Hirendean Hill. Thankfully it's a short climb: the OS map is confusing here, as it switches between 5m and 10m contours. But in any event, this but is *steep*. :o

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Near the top of Hirendean Hill the path turns right and heads downhill (just slightly, thankfully), towards what appear to be a load of grouse-shooting hideouts...

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Inside No.9...... :shock:

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Finally the path skirted to the South of the summit of The Kipps, and Blackhope Scar (the only Graham of the day) appeared. The cloud was swirling around by this point, and the path petered out in some more beautiful peat hags...but at least the route was clear as it joined up with a fence.

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Bit random.

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The grass might change colour but it's still tricky underfoot after The Kipps,

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Mystical view.

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Made it! I thought the highest ground was actually just to the right before the fence junction / trig, so I did the whole thing of walking over each tuft of grass first.

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A rare inversion under the Pentlands.

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Yeah, watch out for bog around here. It hadn't really rained for 11 days and there were still some *moments*.

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This bit was tougher than I expected, heading down on the right hand side of the fence towards Bowbeat Hill over high tufty grass. I couldn't believe when I was almost at the wind farm road and noticed a great grassy track on the other side of the fence. How long had that been there? :crazy:

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It was a great relief to hit the road at Bowbeat Wind Farm to take me up towards the second summit.

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This is the summit...I think. It's not very clear, but OS seems to suggest it's at the turn of the fence. It's a very short walk from the road.

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Somewhere through that mist is the reservoir and my car, about 200 miles away...

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Back onto the road, the route led round to the North West before the road gives up at a control building.

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ABSEILER ON THE TURBINE HUB!!! ABSEILER ON THE TURBINE HUB!!! :shock:

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There were loads of vans about, but apart from the abseiler I didn't see any humans on site. Some of the turbine doors were open so maybe they were hiding inside, kind of like leprechauns (but 21st Century leprechauns).

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There's a faint path (sometimes a bit muddy) once you hop the fence at the end of the wind farm, that turns left then right to head into a small valley below Dundriech.

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This broken fence is a good place to cross over, then head straight up towards the last summit.

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Er. What's that? Maybe some more low cloud heading up and over Bowbeat Hill?

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Errrr...that's getting quite thick. Is my summit photo being photobombed by a wildfire? :shock:

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There's a great view North West from this summit, towards another reservoir.

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Ummmm......that's not cloud. No way. :o But the source of it is hidden by the brow of the hill, so I'll have to walk onto Jeffries Corse and see if I can see it from there.

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Ah. Just as I suspected. :shock:

It was right down in the valley that lies in the centre of the route, near the River South Esk. I didn't want to call 999 in case they thought it was time-wasting (it could be a deliberate one set by a farmer for some...reason?) I got my phone out and did something I never do on hillwalks - logged onto Twitter. I couldn't find any account for Midlothian Police (there was West and East, but no Mid...), so in the end I panicked and just tweeted Edinburgh Police with a kind of sideways-glance tweet, asking if they wanted to investigate while pointing out that I might be overdoing it.

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They didn't reply. I could see flames but they didn't show up in the photo. There are some old sheepfolds somewhere down there - was it one of those?

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I headed down towards Cotly Hill, where I randomly came cross a man with a 4x4 / Land Rover fixing a drystone wall. He seemed to stop as if he was waiting to apprehend me, and I wondered if I was going to have to explain that Scotland has free access to the hills (or that I Didn't Start The Fire!) But the path swung to the right and he didn't say anything, so in the end I just walked past awkwardly. It's not every day that you pass five vans and a 4x4 on a hillwalk...

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The views were good here towards the reservoir. The descent was fairly steep but it was a good grassy track (evidently good enough for an off-road vehicle).

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Back to the scary dog house, and more signs asking me to bypass it. Don't worry, I was going to...

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The fire was still burning, but the smoke hadn't turned black or even dark grey. Maybe it was a controlled fire? :?

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I arrived back at the car park in just over 5hrs 20mins, and hoped to head through the gate to briefly see the reservoir. Only, the gate was padlocked. :( So despite seeing it all day from the hilltops, this is as close as I got.

It was a very fun day all in all. There were faint tracks / paths most of the way round and the views were surprisingly good, given all the low cloud swirling around. I'll probably never climb 10% of the Donalds in a month ever again, but it's often possible to link a fair few of them together. I never did hear anything about a horrific wildfire in the Moorfoots, so presumably it was just a controlled one? It's just a bit disconcerting when you're out on the hills and see smoke, especially when it hasn't rained for ages (and after the freakish fire on Gruinard Island). And especially when you're the only human on the hills: well, apart from the drystone wall man and the abseiling workers... 8)

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Comments: 3



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Distance: 23.75km
Ascent: 975m
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Views: 401


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Distance: 7.4km
Ascent: 760m
Views: 403


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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
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Distance: 2.8km
Ascent: 160m
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Craiging619


User avatar
Location: Glasgow
Occupation: GIS Technician
Activity: Hill Bagger
Mountain: Goatfell
Place: Arran
Camera: iPhone / Canon PowerShot
Walk wishlist

Munros: 57
Tops: 11
Corbetts: 31
Grahams: 34
Donalds: 28
Sub 2000: 21
Islands: 21



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Statistics

2022

Trips: 2
Distance: 41.5 km
Ascent: 1600m
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 9

2021

Trips: 7
Distance: 59.45 km
Ascent: 4005m
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 3
Sub2000s: 4

2020

Trips: 2
Distance: 15.2 km
Ascent: 1360m
Munros: 2

2019

Trips: 4
Distance: 39.15 km
Ascent: 1875m
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2018

Trips: 4
Distance: 28.05 km
Ascent: 1630m
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 2

2017

Trips: 5
Distance: 68.45 km
Ascent: 3523m
Munros: 9
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1

2016

Trips: 3
Distance: 28.05 km
Ascent: 1770m
Munros: 2
Grahams: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2015

Trips: 3
Distance: 33.7 km
Ascent: 2180m
Munros: 5
Sub2000s: 1

2014

Trips: 6
Distance: 79.3 km
Ascent: 5070m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 5

2013

Trips: 15
Distance: 211.1 km
Ascent: 13345m
Munros: 8
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 7
Donalds: 2

2012

Trips: 3
Distance: 52.9 km
Ascent: 3650m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 1

2011

Trips: 9
Distance: 122.8 km
Ascent: 8555m
Munros: 3
Corbetts: 5
Grahams: 6
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 1

2010

Trips: 5
Distance: 66.2 km
Ascent: 2950m
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 1

2009

Trips: 1
Distance: 7.6 km
Ascent: 450m
Sub2000s: 1

2008

Trips: 2
Distance: 25.85 km
Ascent: 2545m
Munros: 2
Grahams: 1

2007

Trips: 1
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 990m
Munros: 1

2003

Trips: 1
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 420m
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1


Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Last visited: May 16, 2022
Total posts: 178 | Search posts