Sunday 8 May
Well Hill and Ballencleuch Law (NS913064 and 935049)
My high hopes for these two hills were not disappointed; an excellent walk was had in fantastic surroundings.
From a layby just a tiny bit south along the A702 from the county border (D&G/S Lanark), I had hoped that it would be feasible to follow the boundary fence up to Well Hill, and so it proved to be. Pretty good going underfoot too, so much so that I was genuinely surprised when we got to the point at which no more 'up' could be seen. My question of "Is this the top already?" was a tad ridiculous given the excellent visibility and the quality of my eyesight these days.
The descent to the pass was Very Steep Indeed, and the climb up to Durisdeer Hill got the heart thumping too, but the effort must have soon fallen out of my mind, as on the approach to Scaw'd Law I suggested that it looked as easy to go over it than taking the planned line around.
It was just gone noon as we arrived on top of Ballencleuch Law, where we might have paused for lunch had the wind not been so strong. Instead we snapped a few photos (including of the 'golf ball' radar station on Lowther Hill, next to which we camped just over a year ago) before dropping down Gana Burn where suddenly the promised hot day materialised. By the time we stopped for lunch in the valley it was plenty warm enough to sit around in t-shirts, and I was thinking that shorts would have been a good choice.
Returning back along easy tracks to Colin, 8.3 miles had been covered with around 2500' of ascent, so it wouldn't have been unreasonable to have sat around doing not much for the rest of the day. Moreover, as I had now exceeded my planning for the first part of this trip (given that I've known for almosy a year that I'd be Marilyn bagging in Scotland this month, it was nothing short of careless that I didn't do any planning at all until 3 days before we left home, and equally careless that I didn't plan nearly enough hills).
A quick shufty was had at the resources I did have available and, having selected a hill for tomorrow, and a kipping spot for tonight, I thought we might as well detour slightly on the way to see if it was possible to park to the west of:
Dungavel Hill (NS942305)
It was possible, right by the cattle grid, but even so, Mick decided to sit this one out. He found some entertainment just after I'd gone, as a man in a van stopped to chat (it was soon established that the man's brother was in the RAF and lived in Forres; for once it wasn't someone Mick knew). Meanwhile, I discovered that this pleasingly-shaped pimple isn't quite as easy as it looks (it was easy, it just looked *really* easy). Bog low down and long grass and tussocks towards the top slowed me down a bit, but as it was only three quarters of a mile each way, it wasn't a lengthy outing.
The best thing about this hill (as is the case with so many Marilyns, thanks to the prominence requirement of the classification) was the view from the top and I was particularly taken with the look of tomorrow's hill, just a stone's throw away.
Relocating to tonight's intended kipping spot a bit of Colin repair was called for. His water pump switch (which is part of the electronic control panel, not a simple mechanical switch) broke yesterday. With the removal of thirteen (!) tiny screws and the application of a dod of superglue, I soon had the broken bit put back together and Mick declaring that he has a clever wife. Let's just hope the superglue holds for at least 3 weeks!
As for the current weather, the evening has become a glorious one and as I type this at 7.30pm it's still 27 degrees inside Colin (and we have 3 windows open). Tomorrow is also promising to be good. I do hope the weather isn't peaking too soon - it needs to be this nice next week for the TGO Challenge!