Drumelzier Donalds in Winter

Donalds: Drumelzier Law, Middle Hill, Pykestone Hill

Date walked: 31/01/2019

Time taken: 6.75 hours

Distance: 18.9km

Ascent: 964m

After quite a decent break from hillwalking over the festive period, marred by a serious mental health episode, it was finally time to get back to the Donalds. Every time I go on a trip near here I tend to think it will be my last via public transport, but I always manage to find a new bus route and make it work. I have now finally exhausted this resource and there is only one trip of this kind left (Dumfries-Biggar-Peebles), which is seriously pushing it. These hills were the next best thing and, as before, required a 4:30am rise for a 5:35am bus. Finally arrived in Biggar by 7:05am and waited in the bus stop until 7:55am, joined the bus with some schoolchildren reciting higher biology even worse than I did 5 years ago and arguing about the pronunciation of 'trachea'. There was thick fog down which seriously increased my excitement at the possibility of an inversion. Arrived in the hamlet of Drumelzier at 8:20am.

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I had 8 hours before the bus back so there was no rush. Decided to pay Tinnis Castle a visit, which was reached in no time. I could see Trahenna Hill peeking it's pink head over the clag.

In the bleak midwinter in Drumelzier:
1 - Drumelzier below the cloud.jpg

I chose a terrible way up onto the ridge through waist-high heather and light snow, and I overshot the top as well, deciding to follow the S contours instead and joining the dry stane dyke at the bealach between Faulds Craigs and Scawd Law. Going got much easier here thanks to the little space inbetween the heather and the dyke. I'd recommend following the paths which go up Finglen and steeply joining later on.

Culter Fells with inversion:
2 - culter fells with inversion.jpg

White Meldon looking NE over Dawyck glen:
3 - white meldon looking NE.jpg

Dawyck glen Scots Pine:
4 - dawyck valley scots pine.jpg

The Scrape was a bit further off than I'd thought but the ascent was at least as big as expected.

Up The Scrape:
5 - up the scrape.jpg

Making a new path - I could see it from Drumelzier Law later:
6 - making a new path.jpg

The Isle of Tinto:
7 - the isle of tinto.jpg

Culter Fell, Chapelgill Hill & Cardon Hill:
8 - culter fell, chapelgill hill and cardon hill.jpg

I weaved my way up, following animal tracks most of the way. A pretty unrelenting ascent but the snow wasn't deep, just slidey.

Pykestone Hill from The Scrape summit:
9 - pykestone hill from the scrape.jpg

The highest point of the day was in fact the easiest summit of the day other than the two bumps inbetween Pykestone Hill and Middle Hill - shows you how much work The Scrape was! I had lunch just before the summit and, taking my gloves off, my hands were in agony despite the blue sky and effectively zero wind.

Dollar Law, Cramalt Craig and Broad Law from Pykestone Hill trig:
10 - dollar law, cramalt craig and broad law from pykestone trig.jpg

Middle Hill:
11 - middle hill.jpg

Grey Weather Hill and Broad Law:
12 - grey weather hill and broad law.jpg

Clouds on Broad Law:
13 - clouds on broad law.jpg

Way up Dollar Law:
14 - way up dollar law.jpg

It was a pleasant stroll down and over the next two littler hills, admiring the unbelievable scenery, which I had all to myself. I had followed someone else's footsteps for a while but they disappeared to head up Dollar Law I think. Middle Hill seemed a tad boggy at the fence so I skipped the fence junction a bit. Uneventful and flat at the top. I spotted a figure reaching Pykestone who I thought was the trig for ages - no idea where they came from or went.

Down to Taberon Law:
15 - down to taberon law.jpg

It was a long, steep way down to Taberon Law, and the heather was grippier than the ATV path. Easy gradual ascent though.

Middle Hill from Taberon Law:
16 - back up to middle hill.jpg

I couldn't decide what to do next as heading the whole way back up Middle Hill was almost out the question. I decided to go half way back up to the fence, slightly higher than the Drumelzier Law bealach, and follow the contours round. Less bad on the feet than I thought it was going to be. Chewed on an icicle for a bit as well.

Nearing Drumelzier Law:
17 - drumelzier law.jpg

The wind was completely gone by now and the sun was warming the back of my head, which felt wonderful. I wrote some lyrics in the snow and had another cup of tea on a makeshift stone seat. A few false summits on the way up but it didn't take long.

Almost at true top:
18 - nearing the top.jpg

From here the views were excellent in all directions.

Clyde valley and southern Lowthers vista:
19 - clyde valley and the southern lowthers.jpg

Upper Lowthers with Coomb Hill, Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head and Coomb Dod:
20 - upper lowthers and gathersnow hill.jpg

Celestial spires of Lowther Hill and Green Lowther:
21 - celestial spires of lowther hill and green lowther and coomb dod.jpg

I still had three hours left so chose the longer route along the ridge. Not much to see close by other than the endless hare tracks and a pointy stone which I had another tea on.

Kingledores Glen from a different angle than I'd seen it from last year:
22 - kingledores glen.jpg

I'd planned to drop down to the W and onto a mast track but ended up ignoring it and followed it to the top of Logan Head.

Drumelzier Law from Logan Head:
23 - drumelzier law from logan head.jpg

It was a quick and easy drop down Finglen Rig and onto the track which is being used for sheep and game. Gentle stroll back to Drumelzier through some picturesque farmland and sheildings. Good information board about Merlin and the castle too!

Back to Drumelzier:
24 - back to drumelzier.jpg

I'd tried my best to go slow but it was now a 1.5hr wait for the bus taking me to Biggar. I'd considered walking to Broughton for something to do but decided against it as it was a dodgy road. I sunned myself for a bit, met a walker (maybe from earlier) who offered me a lift but had to decline as he was off to Peebles. The bus going there showed up as he left too. I went in circles for ages and watched the songbirds while my feet got to a level of stinginess and soreness which was almost to the point of panic. Finally the bus showed up and I joined the same schoolchildren who I'd seen in the morning. Dove straight into the Crown Inn for an excellent pint, dinner, dessert and pot of tea which I'd booked. 2 hours later the bus to Dumfries showed up, which I fell asleep on. Probably my last Donald trip for a good few months, before I finally get around to buying a car; got a lot smaller hills and gems to keep me occupied in the meantime I suppose!

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Comments: 8

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User avatar
Location: Inver/Gla/D&G
Occupation: Student
Activity: Wanderer
Camera: d7000/iPhone 6/35mm
Ideal day out: Bit lost & sunny

Munros: 3
Corbetts: 11
Grahams: 20
Donalds: 66
Wainwrights: 1
Sub 2000: 34

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