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, 19 May 2018

Brown Cow Hill (NJ221044; 829m)

Distance (bike): 7.2 miles (4.1 out; 3.1 back)
Distance (foot): 5.1 miles
Ascent: 450m-ish?
Weather: lovely, although if I was picky I'd have preferred less of a breeze
Start point: Corgarff Castle Car Park (NJ 25423 08956)

Blue = bike; Red = foot

Corgarff Castle

I was torn over whether to use the bike this morning. The argument against was that it would give me more flexibility as to route; without it I could opt for either a circular route or a lollipop, as the fancy took me. The thing that swung it was that 2.5 miles of paved estate road lay between me and my objective.

As you'll see from the stats above, my outward cycle leg was longer than the return. That was because when I got to Inchmore I suffered a navigational blip and merrily cycled onwards and upwards towards what I thought was my hill. Seeing a line of shooting butts heading up that hill, I figured there would be a path or track leading up nearby, so that's where I headed. Then I looked at the map, realised I'd taken the wrong track and this wasn't my hill at all. I duly backtracked (at least it was downhill on the way back!) and got myself to where I should have been.

Once the bike was ditched, much dithering was had as to whether to head up via Sron Bhuic and Cairn Sawvie, or whether to take the more direct route I'd originally planned. I made the wrong decision, and stuck with my plan. There then ensued a mental revolt that I can only compare with a child on a long journey constandly saying 'Are we there yet?'. Ordinarily on a hillside like this I'll just plod steadily upwards until the top is reached, maybe pausing once or twice to check I'm still on the right bearing. Today my mind was coming up with any number of excuses to stop, and I succumbed to most of them, constantly checking the map in some ridiculous hope that the top had magically moved nearer. The headwind (which was in the realm of 'breezy' rather than 'blowy'; yes, those are the technical terms...) probably didn't help.

Of course, the top did eventually appear in front of me, and what should I find up there but an ATV track, which cemented what I'd already thought: the walk via Sron Bhuic would not only have been more pleasing, but probably easier too.

The easy thing to do from the top would have been to retrace my steps (or to go down via Sron Bhuic - but that, rather obvious, option has only just occurred to me), but instead I decided to go via Clach Choutsaich, a rocky outcrop that sits atop one of the shoulders of this hill:

As far as the 823m top of Brown Cow Hill the going was a breeze (ATV track, then firm ground and stunted heather), but beyond there it wasn't the most hospitable terrain, with quite a few peat hags thrown into the mix. It was, however, worthwhile, as it gave more extensive views than were available from the summit.

I'm not sure this snap conveys the dimensions. At least the ground was dry and firm, so I could wander around on the bare peat without fearing losing a leg.

Nearby there was a large scarecrow holding a flag. In view of the location, I have no idea why.

I was back at Bertie plenty early enough to go and do another hill, but laziness prevailed. I want to enjoy my hills (and usually do!), so there was no point pushing on to another if it was going to see a repeat of the 'Are we there yet?' syndrome.

As it stands, I've visited 41 summits so far on this trip, of which 40 have been Marilyns. Without tomorrow's intended hill, I've only 2 more to go.


  1. The scarecrow...that's interesting. Similar to the ones found in the Angus hills? Raptor scarers would be my guess...

    1. My only guess was an aiming point for estate vehicles reaching the top of the track that runs up the glen, but I can see flaws in that theory. Raptor scarer sounds more plausible.