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]

Thursday 30 May 2024

Mendick Hill, Black Mount and Broomy Law

 Sunday 26 May

After spending a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon in Arbroath, sampling wares such as the Arbroath Smokie Fish Pie from Cel's on the harbour...

...and some expensive and not particularly nice chips from a harbour chippy, heavy rain came in overnight.

Faith was put in the forecast that the rain would abate around noon and not restart in earnest until 4pm, so towards this collection of three hills we headed. 

Overview of the three gpx files I recorded
Mendick Hill (NT 12155 50530; 451m)
Start Point: Minor road opposite monument to N of Dolphinton
Distance and ascent: 7.5km, 270m
Weather: if I got rained on on this one, it wasn't more than a few drops
I did the head of the lollipop clockwise
Most people (or most people who log their hills on approach this hill from West Linton Golf Club. That didn't suit a Bertie-sized vehicle, so I opted to approach from the opposite end of the track that runs past this hill. Poring over the map, I'd contemplated continuing along the track to take the 'usual' route, or to go up the SW spur, but decided to defer that decision until I was on the ground, looking at what lay before me. 

Having decided that the more direct route looked feasible, I would have started ascending before Ingraston, except that field held both sheep and cows, and I wanted to disturb neither. As it went, I did disturb three (one with a spindley-legged new-born) who were on the track, two of whom took fright even though I'd explained to them quite clearly what I was doing and reassured them that they needn't moooove on my account.
Once through the next gate, opposite the farm buildings, the hillside was attacked head on. Eeeeh, that was steep! Things then got easier from a gradient point of view, but was harder than expected underfoot (not the first time I've been caught out by rough terrain in these parts, where I expected grazed fields). Fortunately, the route worked out nicely from a gate point of view - every fence I encountered had one,  even if only one of them was of the opening variety. 
It was somewhere towards the summit, making my way through long, wet grass that I became aware that I wasn't the first person up this hill today. There were definite shoe-shaped imprints in that grass at the right distance apart for someone just a touch taller than me. 
I'd intended going back more or less the way I'd come, but my attention was elsewhere as I left the summit and by the time I realised that I was descending steeply, rather than following the ridge, I didn't feel inclined to reascend. Probably a good call for two reasons: friendlier terrain and I had a stoat/weasel run in front of me as I made my way back along the track. It's ages since I last saw one.

Okay, so in the scheme of Marilyn-bagging terrain, this is reasonably tame, but it felt rough compared to my mental picture of grazed fields
Summit views

Back at Bertie, I shoved a piece of fish pie into my mouth, then it was onwards to...
Black Mount (NT 07995 45965; 516m)
Start Point: Track end to NE of Kirkhouse (no parking here)
Distance and ascent: 4.7km, 250m
Weather: Showers, only one heavy/long enough to get me wet

I had intended to tackle this one from the same start point as Mendick Hill, but in the interests of me fitting in all three hills and making it to Shap by bedtime, I begged a lift to the track end from Mick, even though it meant him doing a bit of back-and-forthing, as there's nowhere to park in the vicinity of my start point. 

Beyond Kirkhouse the track became a lovely grassy one, which took me through a patch of woodland then through a field of sheep, before making me huff and puff to reach a gate from where I would strike off up the hill. The gate proved to be in the 'wrong' fence, and didn't allow me access to where I needed to be, but a bit of limbo dancing (where I'm sure many have limbo danced before) got me to the right side, and upwards I went.

The steepness was made more difficult by the area of landslip that, whilst stable, wasn't an entirely firm surface. It was just before I got back on to solid ground that the rain started.

By the time I got to the top of the steepness, picking up a trodden line for the relatively-level final kilometre to the summit, I was contemplating donning something waterproof. If I had taken the trouble to do that, I wouldn't have been quite as cool when I reached the trig point...

It's seen better days. What did someone attack it with, and why?

Before I tripped over the fence behind me
...and maybe if I hadn't been so cool I wouldn't have tripped over the fence as I stepped over it to investigate whether the ground was higher on the other side. 

Not fancying the steep, loose surface of the landslip on the way down, at an appropriate point I stepped over the fence (more elegantly than at the summit) and cut a corner. That involved wet deep heather, new growth bracken, and lumps and holes hidden by all of that. Fortunately, the fence I needed to cross on the way was also easily step-overable and soon I was trotting back along the track, summoning Mick on my way to come and pick me up from the track end. From there it was another short drive to...

Broomy Law (NT 08547 42876; 426m)
Start Point: track end at NT100444
Distance and Ascent: 4.4km, 170m
Weather: Bit of rain early on, then dry

I'd identified a pull-in just E along the road from the track along which I was going to start my approach to this hill, but what I hadn't been able to see on StreetView was how slopey it was. That wouldn't have been a problem if my plan hadn't been for Mick to cook tea whilst I was out, so that we could eat as soon as I was back, so that we could reach Shap before bedtime. Fortunately, a few yards away from the pull-in, there was a large track entrance and it seemed unlikely anyone would want access to the gateway at that time on a Sunday afternoon, so the plan wasn't scuppered.
The track I took only lasted for a matter of paces, but beyond it there was a trodden line which took me all the way through the moorland (the area to my right had been recently mowed/churned up; no idea why). A gate into field of sheep and a small down and back up, took me to a summit littered with masts. Not the most inspiring location, but I had no intention of loitering. 
My legs protested a small amount at the re-ascent on the way back, but otherwise I jogged my way back down to Bertie, arriving just before my tea was put on the table. 


  1. That was a full day! Well done, and good to see you in Montrose.

  2. Would that I could be embarked on knocking off Scottish Marilyns. There is a feast of varied hills in that list with many, I suspect, rarely visited. Keep them coming.