The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Wauk Hill and Queensberry

Saturday 7 May

Wauk Hill (NX841909)

There possibly was just enough room to get Colin onto the verge alongside my access gate off the A702, but rather than risking putting all tyres on grass of unknown firmness, Mick opted to go for a slightly obstructing position and sit this hill out.

Thus I trotted through a field of inquisitive/very mildly threatening cows with very young calves and about a third of a mile uphill before I realised that I couldn't breathe and that a slower pace would be sensible.

It's only necessary to cross one wall to summit this hill from my start point, and that wall bears an excellent built-in stile. Knowing that there were more stiles further up, I decided to ignore that crossing option and instead keep to the easier looking ground on the S side of the wall. The further crossing points were all present, but were ladder stiles of great age and dilapidation. I opted to return on the north side, which turned out not to be bad underfoot after all.

Being only 1.1 miles from the road, it only took me just over half an hour to gain the pleasant summit (another excellent viewpoint, but it was hazy today) and twenty minutes later I was again proving overly interesting to the cows on my return to Colin. With the 2.3 miles of walking came just shy of 700' of ascent.

Queensberry (NX989998)

I'd only put two hills on the agenda today because this one required a bit of a walk-in, particularly as we didn't know until too late that it was acceptable to park by the buildings at Mithellslacks.

So Colin was neatly abandoned half a mile away and back down the road we walked, noting that the 'down the road' would become 'up the road' for the very end of our outing.

Queensberry sits in a lovely area of lumps and bumps of various shades of beige and green, often with few or no buildings, roads or windfarms within sight (helped, perhaps, today by the heavy haze!) and it was a pleasure to walk the old being-reclaimed-by-nature track which runs up the valley.

Leaving the track, an arduous yomp might have been expected for the final mile of so, but a log entry on had once again come up trumps and told me the location of an ATV track which runs the whole way to the summit. I've often found ATV tracks to be a double edged sword, having created horribly boggy lines through the landscape, but happily today's wasn't one of those. In fact, it had created almost perfect underfoot conditions (firm and grassy, but without the tussocks), meaning that the only impediment was the headwind which had picked up since this morning's hill.

Sheltering behind the large cairn at the top, a good while was spent sitting around before steps were retraced. The outing came in a bit shorter than expected at 7.6 miles with something like 1500' of up.

If the weather will just play ball, then I've high hopes that tomorrow's hills will be just as fine as this afternoon's.

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