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]

Wednesday 12 November 2014

GT Day 15: White Coomb & Co

Monday 10 November 2014


What a good day that was! I set out with optimism that I was going to get a view (once again the forecast said there was an 80% chance of cloud-free summits, and I surely couldn’t be in the unfortunate 20% again, could I?!) and, to an extent, I did.

After a chilly boot-off crossing of the burn, followed by a splashy, wall-hugging path, I got to the top of White Coomb and this is what I saw:


Not ideal, and not the sunshine in which I had set out. On the plus side, I hadn’t entered the cloud until 700m (White Coomb is 821m), and I had a plan: I was going to add a few more tops into my planned circuit and amble about until either the weather obliged me with a view or I ran out of daylight.

Over to Firthrig Hope I went, thence to Donald’s Cleuch Head where, instead of turning right to drop back down (per the original plan), I turned left, leaving the security of the wall to follow a line of old fence posts to do an out-and-back to Great Hill. Barely able to see the next post from the one before for most of the way, I was almost at the top of this small raise when I noticed a small patch of blue above me, which soon expanded such that I could see this:


Acknowledging that this may be the only view I saw all day, I declared an early lunch and plonked myself down on the grass to enjoy it. As I sat, this was the progress I witnessed:


It was still looking pretty good as I headed back along that line of posts, back to Donald’s Cleuch Head:


It didn’t clear entirely (there was always a wall of cloud in one direction or another) and that cloud keep drifting back over me, but even so, when I reached Firthybrig Head I decided that I had plenty of time for another out-and-back, this time to Molls Cleuch Dod, where I was again a happy ambler:


I was so pleased to finally see a few snippets of the loveliness of this area!

Alas, by the time I got to my last top of the day (Lochcraig Head), there was not a single view to be seen. In fact, a couple of minutes after I took this snap, I was struggling to see my hand in front of my face:


Carelessly, I was fooled by this cairn, and now realise that I missed the actual summit.

With the day marching on, and no other top falling naturally on or near my route, down I went, steeply at first, then taking what felt like a non-standard (i.e. heather- and bog-wading) route to cut over to Loch Skeen once the land levelled out. The trodden line around the loch was wet in the extreme, and my boots are no longer entirely waterproof, but it mattered not. I’d had a cracking day and only had a mile and a half of walking downhill to get back to warm dry socks and a cup of tea.

The stats for the day were extensively stated in my previous post, but now that I’ve resurrected Anquet and have imported my track, I see that I actually walked 10.25 miles with just over 3000’ of ascent.


As an aside, early in this outing I had stopped to listen to what initially sounded like distant cries for help. I very quickly decided that it was an animal, but it went on and on and I couldn’t positively decide what animal it was (donkey was my best guess from a distance, but that seemed unlikely in this location!). I eventually found the culprit – a goat. You can barely see him/her in this 9-second video snippet, but it does capture the cry:

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