Sunday, 2 August 2009

Cairnsmore of Fleet.

The Saturday night forecast predicted that the best mountain weather was once again down in Galloway.Agreement was reached that we would go for the long walk in to Mullwharchar via Loch Valley,Loch Neldricken and Loch Enoch taking in Dungeon Hill on the way.A quick check on the Sunday morning however and it didn`t look that promising.I`m more or less happy if I can just stay dry on the hills,Bob however insists on sunshine and blue sky .This makes life difficult in Scotland :-)

The general forecast was still best in Galloway and we set off down the M77 not really knowing where we were going to end up.Having succesfully passed a few old pit bings which Bob didn`t notice we saw that the sky was indeed blue in the Girvan area.Troweir Hill being my only remaining Marilyn in this area was deemed to be the objective.It was still early however and it was only another 30 odd miles down to the Costa del Solway .I suggested we travel onwards and head for Cairnharrow south of Newton Stewart.It`s not a great big hill but I`ve often looked at it on the map and it seemed to promise a great view,England,the Isle of Man and Ireland.I know you can see Wales from the Merrick but I doubted we could see it from Cairnharrow but you never know.

Newton Stewart was jumping as we passed through and though we kept an eye open for Munchie up in a dormer window we never saw him :) Down the coast we headed.Bob looked at Cairnsmore of Fleet basking in the sunshine and announce that he wanted to go up that instead.Bit of a surprise to me as it`s usually me that wants to go up the bigger hills while Bob likes the smaller hills with the better views.I wasn`t going to argue.Popped in to the garage in Creetown to buy a map and a scratch card.Now Bob buys a scratch card every Sunday in the hope that he can win enough money to give up work.A £5 investment this time made a return of £15 which probably won`t be enough to retire on just yet but at least paid for the map and his share of todays petrol as some consolation.

Back up the road a few miles and we turned off the A75 and followed the signs to a car park at NX 462 633.

Bob recreates his own version of the statue in Chamonix with the aid of a cushion....Cairnsmore of Fleet replaces Mont Blanc.Feel free to use your imagination...!

I must have been drunk when in Chamonix because I don`t remember anything like this .!

Here`s the route for anybody intending going up this way.Carry on up the the lane from the parking bays to a gate.Through the gate and turn left.Follow this past the entrance to Cairnsmore House and you will come to a small sign indicating the hill path leading off to the right.This passes under a canopy of trees and rhodedendrons for a few hundred yards.On reaching the next track turn left,go straight through a crossroads and up to a gate with a warning sign on it saying “Beware.Cows with calves can be dangerous”.You are now in an open field and at imminent risk of death by aforementioned bovines :-).There are no indicators as to where to go,so,head diagonally up the field aiming for the north east corner and you will eventually see a gate hidden behind a clump of gorse .Through this gate and you are on the trail to the summit.

It was a fairly good day but a bit of a haze around and a fair bit of brightish cloud cover.Bob put on his shorts and donned a pair of red tinted sunglasses which gave the impression of better weather .This boy never gives up..! We soon reached a granite memorial bench about half way up the forest and stopped for a bite to eat and a smoke for myself.The bench was a memorial to a certain Rosemary Pilkington who "did so much to establish Glenure Forest". Pity the sitka has sprouted to such an extent that poor Rosemary`s view is now restricted to the width of a forest ride.Onwards again and out on to the open hillside where a stiff breeze gave a merciful release from the flies lower down...

This is an excellent well made and drained path making use of the granite boulders which litter the hillside.Reached the top in a respectfully quick time,given our age, of 1 ¾ hours.It was still dry but a horrible big black cloud had settled over our heads.

Creetown and Wigtown Bay below the cloud.....

We wandered over to the memorial stone to the US airmen who had crashed here during the second world war.Because this hill is a bit of an outlier it attracted more than it`s fair share of low flying aircraft.Seven US crews are commemorated on this tablet.

We hunkered down out of the wind in the substantial shelter and mused on what we would do now.

Bob at the summit with the Merrick behind.....

I had harboured a notion of going round all the Donald tops of the hill but didn`t want to risk having to put the goretex jacket on and ruin the blog :-) We left out Meikle Mulltaggart for another day and set off towards the Knee of Cairnsmore walking around the top of the corrie.There is some really wild country to the east of this hill.I`d always wanted to do a rock climb on the Loch Grannoch slabs to add to my list of esoteric crags…I doubt very much if the routes have had more than a couple of ascents each given their location.When I go back for Meikle Multaggart this is the way I`ll do it by biking in from the Water of Fleet viaduct and up by Loch Grannoch lodge. The big black cloud was still hovering above accompanied by a cold wind although the views were half decent over Wigtown Bay,the Machars and towards the Mull of Galloway with Ireland visible in the haze beyond.

A few sheep were having a chinwag and enjoying the hazy view to the east.....

Bob hared by the cairn and downwards while I,with full length trousers on,took my time :) We spied the path leading over Knocktim which would lead us back to the car and,as usual,went off in our own separate directions.This proved fortuitous as there was a herd of wild goats lower down.I went down to the north of them whilst Bob headed downwind to the south of the herd.I managed a few shots before they got wind of me and they then took off in the direction of the Door of Cairnsmore where Trapper Bob was waiting with camera at the ready.

Bob returning from the Door of Cairnsmore after the wildlife shoot....

It was really quite warm and sunny now and even Bob took of the rose tinted sunglasses as we sat awhile looking out over Creetown and beyond.An hour or so through the lower slopes,fields and the policies of Cairnsmore house saw us back at the car.

Rather than go back via Girvan we thought we would return via the single track road via Rowantree Toll to Straiton for a change.It had been a long time since either of us had travelled this road and we had forgotten how desolate and empty it was.30 miles of single track road with passing places in Southern Scotland and we only saw three other cars.

Good views of the Merrick range all the way up.I don`t think Bob believed me when I told him there were 600 foot ice climbs on the Merrick but then not many folk would. See here for more details....

Merrick ice climbing

We got a distant view ,albeit hazy, of the crag where they are situated.We stopped to see the David Bell memorial near Rowantree Toll with it`s fine outlook over to the Merrick and an unusual relief map of the Galloway hills on top...

Davie was a hard man from Ayr and produced a weekly cycling column for the local newspaper up until his death in the mid 60`s.He was renowned for his traverse of the Merrick and nearby peaks way back in the 50`s…by bicycle :)

A young fox nearby disappeared with it`s lunch.Shutter lag on the digital camera prevented a cracking pic as it was only 10 feet away at one point…

We hit a traffic jam on the M77 near Kilmarnock on the way home but,rather than sit it out, we cut across country at the old Eaglesham Moor road.Pulled over for a quick walk in to the new Whitelees windfarm,the biggest in Europe, and took a few photographs before the security men descended upon us.

The official opening date is in September sometime if you fancy a traffic freebike trip over the tops.

We then rounded the day off by going up Ballageich Hill to sit and look at the evening light over Glasgow and the hills to the north.The blog would not be replete without the obligatory multi story flat photo from`s this weeks offering.A zoomed shot of Glasgow with the fantastic Red Road flats taking prominence on the right of shot.....

A cracking day out even though the weather wasn`t as good as we had hoped.

This weeks mission is to find out how to create smilies on blogspot..!

1 comment:

The Glebe Blog said...

Another excellent blog guys,and excellent pictures.
Munchie's tucked away in the Glebe,but he's got a great view and probably got a look at you as you passed through.