Sunday, 12 July 2009

Blackhope Scar.

I was going to miss out on posting this trip because it was the first time I`ve ever been bored on a hill and I couldn`t think of anything positive to write on it.Usually there`s always some plus factor about this pastime, even if it`s only the masochistic pleasure of being up high in foul weather.

As usual it started of with a phone call from Bob and,as always,he had a "plan". I still haven`t got back into the routine after my holiday and needed a bit of cajoling from the man."I`ll just pick you up" he says, "you`ll enjoy it". I couldn`t be bothered arguing.... :)

A wee bit later than usual he pulls up."Bring your binoculars and get in the car" the order rang out. Once on the M8 heading east the "plan" was revealed.Apparently we were heading to Benarty Hill in Fife.Bob wanted to see some of the bands playing T in the Park and decided that we could watch them for free from the summit with the aid of binoculars :) I breathed a secret sigh of relief when the Fife hills appeared over to the north shrouded in cloud. I`m more of an acoustic music fan so I was grateful that the weather Gods had intervened and saved me from having to listen to Death by Tinnitus and Massive Eardrum Assault and rubbish of that order :)

A 90 degree turn was quickly executed when Bob spotted a patch of blue sky to the south hanging over the Moorfoots.This is one of Bob`s favourite cycling spots and as we drove through the back roads I could see why.Another one of these areas that look boring on the map but in reality are quite delightful.Nice quiet roads with little in the way of traffic,secluded houses,old stone walls from a bygone age and lots of native woodland.

Gladstone reservoir was our destination and we parked at NT 291 528 on the southern fringes of the loch.Blackhope Scar had to wait a half hour or so as we sat out a couple of squalls and passed the time swapping sections of the newspaper and having an early lunch.You can`t put it off for ever though and as soon as there was a weather gap we headed off towards Moorfoot farm.Passing through the farmyard ( dog free ) we headed southwards up the glen towards the path that heads up the Kipps.

Track heading south from the farm....

It was drizzling on and off but nothing that required a jacket.We made our way up to the plateau and it was all downhill from there so to speak.The rain came on quite heavily.I put on my trusty Rab overtrousers ( best money I have ever spent on a piece of hill gear apart from a Thermarest ) whilst Bob annnounced that he was not one to be intimidated by the Scottish weather and was "going commando".Two sheep and myself put on a sprint at this moment :)

As we usually do,we split up and meandered uphill each finding our own different lines and met up at the summit.Thankfully Bob had donned a mid thigh length goretex jacket by this time :)There were views over the Firth of Forth to Fife and out east to Bass Rock but the going underfoot had been dreadful.Deep heather,hidden tussocks,spongy sphagnum moss and bogs.I`d so lost interest that I took one desultory photo and that was it.

Desultory zoomed photo showing Arthur`s Seat and Salisbury Crags.Firth of Forth and Kirkcaldy in the background seemingly the only sunny place in Scotland that day.Still wouldn`t park my car there for more than a few minutes though :)

Bob wanted to head back in the same direction and continue along the escarpment to Torfichen Hill.I did not fancy repeating the route.Browbeat Hill wasn`t far away to the west and at least there was a trace of a path in that direction.It was also a Donald tick for meself,albeit one that had been desecrated by a windfarm.We toddled off and it soon became apparent that neither of us were enjoying this at all.A quick stop for something to eat at the col and Bob headed northwards down the glen and I continued on to bag the summit.

View on the way back down the ridge...

We met up just before the hut marked on the map having disturbed a peregrine on the way down.After that we took our time walking down the glen back to the car.Loads of bird life in the glen today,wheatears,pippits,wagtails,skylarks etc;

Anyway,that was that.Bob has promised some decent pics and I`ll bung them up when I get them and take these down.
On a brighter bagging note Blackhope Scar is a Graham,Donald,Marilyn,Hump and had a nice trig for me to bag also :)

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