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]

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Cairnharrow, Pibble Hill and White Top of Culreoch

Saturday 3 September

As I sit and type this, Colin looks like a laundry. It has not been a nice day for walking up hills today (although it certainly could have been a whole lot worse) and I seem to have created enough wet stuff for two people.


Cairnharrow (NX533561; 456m)

It was dry as I set out from the end of the transmitter road which sits to the N of this hill, but even so I had done something very rare indeed: I had donned full-blown gaiters – something I usually only do in more-than-ankle-deep snow. Having managed to dry out all of my socks and shoes in yesterday afternoon’s sunshine, I was on a mission to keep my boots dry today, and I suspected that I would again be pushing through wet grass.

All three of today’s hills had in common the feature of my chosen routes involving some downhill. This one saw me head up the transmitter road for a while before dropping down 80m, knowing that I was going to have to regain that height again on my return.

With an ATV track (sometimes a bit vague) most of the way, the going was pretty easy, but views weren’t going to be a feature on this hill, as it sat with its head in the cloud. All I saw at the top were the trig point and, a little distance away, the cairn which marks the high point.


My return route was almost the same as my outward one, save for where I struggled to follow the line in the grass. Only a little flailing through high bracken was had.

The rain started about a quarter of my way through the outing and reached its heaviest about three minutes before I got back to the shelter of Colin (oh, to have set out three minutes earlier, or have faffed less on the way!). I’d covered 3.8 miles with around 350m of ascent.

Pibble Hill (NX533605; 383m)

Right across the road from Cairnharrow sits Pibble Hill, so after lunch Mick threw me out to go and walk up it (I was getting far too comfortable with my book!). Deciding that Paramo was the appropriate attire for this weather, I hung up the wet stuff from earlier (including the gaiters, which I’d decided against for this one) and off I set.

Incredibly, it stayed dry for most of this one, although my trousers got wet from the grass. The ATV track proved elusive for most of the outward leg, but the tussocks weren’t a patch on those encoutered earlier in the week, so the going wasn’t too bad, although there was an incident which saw me plunge my right foot down a hole full of water. That’s the second time this week I’ve had a boot-full-of-water incident (actually, the first time I fell in a boggy wallow this week, both feet were involved; at least today it was just one) and the moment where I wished I’d worn my gaiters again after all. So much for keeping the inside of my boots dry!

The cloud was drifting in and out as I reached the top, so I did get to see some of my surroundings, which in the near distance were mainly barren moorland, and further away included Wigtown Bay.

This one came in at 3.2 miles with around 120m of up.

White Top of Culreoch (NX600633; 344m)


This one wasn’t originally planned for today, but there were enough hours of the afternoon left, by the time I’d finished the other two, to make me think it sensible to slot it in. A nice hill it was too (even if I did have to start by heading downhill!), striking me as very Welsh-looking. The weather was decidedly Welsh too, as my visit was accompanied by quite convincing rain.

It was another relatively easy one, as once I’d battled through a patch of high bracken as I left my approach track, I was on a good ATV track, which led me to within 200 linear metres of the top, with just 40m of ascent remaining. I chose the steep, heather-clad way up into the long-felled forest to find the cairn by a fallen tree.


The rain was head-on on my way back, which wasn’t entirely pleasant, but at least was shortlived, as I was soon back at Colin, stripping off wet stuff once again and guaranteeing that his front window will be covered in condensation in the morning.

This one came in at 2.8 miles with around 260m of ascent.


  1. In my caravan I have a duel fuel electric/gas radiator incorporating blown air as an option. I stuff a sock in the main cabin vent and direct all the warm blown air into the toilet compartment and this makes a highly efficient drying room - your boots would dry overnight and normal clothing much more quickly. That is fine when I am on site where the cost of ANY electricity used is included in the fee - using gas elsewhere may be a bit more expensive but worth it if you haven't got the benefit of hot sunshine.

    1. Even with the gas heating system, it's the electric used by the fan which is the limiting factor. I also must get around to putting up some hooks, or maybe even a rail, in the toilet so it can be used more effectively as a drying room.

  2. What about Ailsa Craig while your'e in that part of the world? It would be a good adventure if you could fix it.

    1. Ailsa Craig is on my list of 'Marilyns that I'll probably never visit due to a boat being involved'. Except for the requirement for a journey by boat, it does, however, look like a good one.