We have electricity this evening, so the laptop has been charged and now I can publish this delayed post, about the first couple of days of this trip.
Thursday 5 May 2016
Woodhead Hill (NX927713)
Having left home in wall-to-wall sunshine, and having driven north in similar, gloriously warm, conditions, we hit the Scottish border to be greeted by low cloud and drizzle. My enthusiasm for the afternoon’s hill started to wain and a good hour was killed in Tesco’s car park in Dumfries.
Happily, the miserable weather didn’t persist and by the time we were parked up and setting out the cloud was lifting and it was dry. Such was my enthusiasm now that I didn’t even baulk (too much) at having to pay for parking (even though our start point had been a last-minute change of plan; the original plan would have seen us start from a free layby on the other side of the hill, for a much shorter walk).
A bit of a navigational blip at the start (should have looked at the map, rather than following the ‘all walking trails’ signs in the car park!) gave us a bit of a circuitous start, but it was on good trails through nice woodland, and we were in no rush, so no harm was done.
The information I’d gleaned from hill-bagging.co.uk, as to the location of a narrow mountain bike trail which winds through the trees and comes out within 40 metres of the summit, was spot on and before long we were thrashing around in a newly replanted scene of devastation, with the detritis of the felling of the previous trees still very evident. Presumably it was because of the replanting (which seemed very recent) that the cairn marking the top has disappeared, as I couldn’t find it, even though I visited every possible high point.
A bit of variety was had by following a slightly different route back (via an enormous dress, made out of marble, deep in the woodland) and we returned to Colin with 5.3 miles walked with 700’(ish) of ascent.
Friday 6 May
See Morris Hill (NX902779)
A good start to the day: the parking spot which looked a bit tight for Colin when I viewed it on StreetView turned out to be perfectly sized in reality and thus rather than having to leave Mick behind, to move Colin if access was needed, he was able to join me for this early outing. A nice easy one it was too, with a track up to a mast providing access to within spitting distance of the summit.
By 9am we were back down at Colin for second breakfast, having covered 2.3 miles with around 600’ of ascent.
Killyleoch Hill (NX878820)
The parking for this one was exactly as it looked on StreetView – probably big enough for a car not to cause an obstruction, but not so for a 6m van, so Mick was left reclining on the sofa with his book as I set off upwards.
It would have been a lovely walk, if not marred by a ‘Private – No Public Right of Way’ sign on a gate through which I had to pass. I knew the sign to have no legal standing, but still find such notices off-putting by the implication that the landowner didn’t want me there. So, I strode up the track as fast as my little legs could carry me, and met no-one until my descent (and they didn’t bat an eyelid at my presence).
The top provided an excellent 180 degree viewpoint (the other direction being forested), but it was protected by bogs such that my socks were wrung out when I got back to patiently-waiting Mick. I’d covered 3 miles with 700’ of up.
I couldn’t find a single other log on hill-bagging.co.uk which took my intended approach for this hill, but aerial photos suggested it was viable, so rather than spending time and diesel driving around tiny lanes, we used the same start point for both this and the next hill: the car park at the NW end of Glenkiln Reservoir.
It did give a longer walk in, but forest tracks are easy going, and when we got to the point where I’d identified a break through which we could exit the trees, we could see a potentially better route ahead of us. It worked nicely, even depositing us close to a place where we could cross a barbed wire fence and a wall without any need for clambering. With only a bit of yomping through heather left ahead of us, we were soon at the big monument (a memorial to a John Turner) which sits atop this hill.
A rather more direct route was taken to descend, and ‘rough’ would be the best word to describe it. Bogs and tussocks a-go-go. This one was a round trip of 4.5 miles (2.9 miles up, 1.6 down) with 850’ of ascent.
Bishop Forest Hill (NX849796)
Being pathless, I’d feared that our passage up Bishop Forest Hill would be as rough as our descent of Bennan had been, and in places it was, but those areas were few and relatively small. Moreover, the summit, which had looked such a long way away when viewed from Bennan, didn’t seem so distant once we got high enough for it to come into view.
What a fine viewpoint it was when we got there! All of the previous three hills were within sight (possibly yesterday’s too – I didn’t look for it at the time and I’m not going back to check!), and lots of empty lumpiness surrounded us. Lovely!
With a carelesss amount of wandering into bogs on the way down (on my part anyway), I arrived back at Colin (with just over 2 miles walked, and 700’ of ascent) with shoes, socks and lower trousers in such a state that a visit to the nearby stream was in order to get the worst off (oooh, that reminds me: must go and get my shoes in before dark, or we’ll be driving off without them in the morning).