Sunday, 26 April 2009

Criffel.

A dodgy weather forecast left us in two minds.The best place to go would seem to have been a clifftop walk at St.Abbs head in Berwickshire but there was a small chance of a good day in the Dumfries area.I really fancied a stretch of the legs though so we headed south down the M74 for Criffel.It didn`t look to promising going over Beattock summit as the windscreen wipers were brought out of retirement after 8 weeks inactivity.I think the last time was on the return from Kaim Hill on the 8th March :)

Things began to look up though as we cut off the motorway and approached the outskirts of Dumfries.Just after leaving New Abbey I took this pic of Criffel through the windscreen..



To reach the car park for Crifell you take a right turn off the A710 at NX978638 signposted Ardwall and along this single track to a fair sized carpark at it`s conclusion.A large notice board points the way through the lower section of sitka spruce.The path climbs steadily upwards alongside a rather nice stream and over the granite bedrock although there are a few muddy sections to negotiate.We soon crossed a forestry road and broke out onto the open hillside.

Bob and the River Nith below...



Soon however,as we hit the 1500ft mark, the clouds gathered round,obscuring what I know is a fantastic view over the Solway.Nae luck..! We made good time to the summit but didn`t hang around for too long,just long enough for me to get my trig point photo :)



Couple of rams on the way down....especially for Martina :)



An obliging hare in the farmyard near the bottom...





The day was still young however and we mulled over options for the rest of the afternoon.It was a toss up between going to find a cave that I had visited as a youngster near Ecclefechan and Southern Scotland`s answer to the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkneys,the Ukranian Chapel near Lockerbie......

Learn a wee bit about this hidden gem here.....

Ukranian Chapel


....or,the sunkissed delights of the Solway Coast.As Bob had indulged my Marilyn and trig point obsession it was the Solway wot won it.True to form the sun came out as we drove round.We hadn`t been to Rockcliffe for 15 years or thereabouts and had forgotten how nice it was.Parked in the car park at the start of the village and followed the road round to the beach....



There were a couple of nice looking wee hills along the coastal path to Kippford so we headed off along the well made National trust path until we spotted an offshoot heading towards Muckle Hill. (Named Mark Hill on the OS map) A cracking wee hill this is....loads of birdlife as well.
On the way up....



Bob on the rocky summit...



Looking over Rough Firth....



Made a detour to the Mote of Mark on the way back too....

Mote of Mark



The distance covered wasn`t very much at all ,a couple of miles and maybe 500ft or so all in but it took us a few hours due to the stunning scenery on display.Can thoroughly recommend this area for a laid back day out.Some nice gardens in the village too.Gazebo with a view over the Solway....



I even managed to drag myself up Castle Hill on the outskirts of Dumfries on the way home to bag another trig point....Bob sat in the car and read a paper...he`s got more sense :)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Grey Hill.

Down the coast road past Ayr for a change today....destination the Byne Hill to Grey Hill ridge just south of Girvan.Awoke to a cracking morning at the house,so much so that I took my coffee outside to the front door.A fag and coffee always taste better outdoors on a morning like this somehow :)

View from the door...



No derogatory comments about the length of the grass please...it`s a wild flower garden :)

Bit of a false start to this one.We parked next to the graveyard as is usual and followed our noses down to Brochneil farm.Our map was hopelessly outdated but this looked like the way up the hill.On the gatepost was a faded South Ayrshire Council sign with an unreadable homemade effort pasted over it.In we went to the farmyard anyways and were immediately surrounded by 3 snarling Jack Russels and a terrier of indeterminate lineage...this was Girvan after all so no surprises there then :)
Our mood was indeed buoyant so we let them live...
I stuck my head inside an outbuilding from where some noise emanated.A guy was pulling 3 turkeys out of a vat of boiling water and when I enquired as for access to the hill he replied that it was not from here but from round at Woodland on the main Girvan to Stranraer road.The sunshine had put us in a good mood and time was not a problem so we drove round parked up the road a bit.I`ll email the acess officer with regard to this one as I`m pretty sure we were in the right on this.

A steep climb up and onto our first summit of the day...Byne Hill...



What a day it was..!! The indicator on the top of Byne Hill..



Lazy hour or so lounging around up here before we headed off south in the direction of the Marilyn Grey Hill.We took a small detour down to have a butchers at the monument marked on the OS map but it was in a sorry state of repair and nothing inscribed to give an indication to whom it was erected.Nobody of any note I`d guess...probably a politician,soldier or landowner or the like :)

Looking back to Byne Hill..



Bob strides out towards the final hill of the day.. Grey Hill.It looks a lot duller than it was due to the cheap camera..



Trotting back off Grey Hill on the return to Byne Hill and the car.Girvan in the distance...



Bob decided to go down the Byne Hill burn which is an SSSI. It felt as if we were the first folk ever to venture down this stream.No paths or anything and very hard going underfoot and through shrubbery etc; Bob spotted a kingfisher too...too quick as usual for a photo.





Byne Hill from the car looking over the valley that is the SSSI....gorse giving it laldy....



Drove back up the coast road and stopped at Dunure for a wander and for me to bag the Ayr Fundamental Bench Mark :)



Spotted this catwalk model on the way back through Ayr :)



Another crap video...


Sunday, 12 April 2009

King`s Seat and the Sidlaws.

Reasonable forecast all over the Scottish hill areas albeit with a wee bit of cloud.The only area holding out the promise of non stop sunshine was the Sidlaws between Perth and Dundee.So,up the A9 stopping in at St.Maddoes to resupply with fags and sausage rolls in stunning weather.In fact,it was so good we couldn`t wait to drive round to King`s Seat.We pulled off on the side road to Kilspindie and headed for Pole Hill ( NO196260 )which looked from the map as if it would be a cracker of a viewpoint.
We were delayed at the start of the road up on to the hill by a field of alpacas...strange looking creatures.Mind you,Dundee is just up the road and there`s lots of stange creatures there as well :)



Nice pheasant nearby as well...



Parked at the high point and had a brisk uphill walk to the summit of Pole Hill which sported a fine looking trig point as a bonus :) The views were extensive to the north and west,the Cairngorms and Schiehallion particularly prominent, but we had to walk over to the edge of the escarpment at the old hill fort to really get the best of it.Perched above the Carse of Gowrie we hung around for ages looking over to Fife and beyond and out to the North Sea.Not a breath of wind either...

Alex at the summit of Pole Hill....



We then drove round to Collace and took the path up to Dunsinane Hill.This is a cracker of an old hill fort and well worth a visit.Off to the north west we headed....

Leaving Dunsinane with Black Hill ahead...



Looks like there may be some climbing on this crag as Bob spotted some belay stakes at the top.

Looking back to the lines of Dunsinane hill fort from the slopes of Black Hill...



We stopped for lunch at the col between Black Hill and King`s Seat and took loads of photos for Bob`s sister in the Australian outback to show her what the colour green looked like.Managed a pose myself.......no heid in the clouds as usual puns please....



Dawdled along to the King`s Seat summit for another rest...lovely trig point here :)



Took a descending traverse from the summit towards the farm at Balmalcolm and from there walked along the edge of the forest and back to the car.Bob suggested that we then go to Dundee for a quick trip up the Law as it was such anice day.We drove round the back roads via Lundie where there looked like some good cycling country and on downhill to Dundee.Drove up to the bottom car park and walked up the rest.I managed to fight my way through the hordes of sunbathing jakeys to bag the trig point whilst Bob got talking,or rather listening to,an auld guy over at the railings.The auld guy thought of himself as the fount of all knowledge about Dundee but Bob soon had him foxed with questions about housing schemes and the like.It ended up with Bob telling the auld guy about the history of Dundee :)

Auld Guy did come up with some interesting titbits.Apparently when the original Tay Rail bridge collapsed the engineer ,a Mr.Botch,received the blame for not ensuring the piers that supported the bridge were strong enough to do the job.This gave rise ever after to the term "a botched job".

Couple of pics from the top of Dundee Law...





Cracking day on the hill and otherwise too.Only spoiled by failure to find the wee side road on the Carse of Gowrie that would have bagged me the 10 metre high trig point which lives down there... :)

Wee video from King`s Seat....what sounds like wind is actaully my finger on the microphone.I`ve a lot to learn..!!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Duncryne.

Took a quick jaunt up Duncryne early this morning en route to Aberfoyle.....

Sunday, 5 April 2009

West Lomond and Bishop Hill

Once again to the Kingdom of Fife in search of a sun tan :) This time the destination was the Lomond Hills.Passing Cowdenbeath,Lochgelly and Markinch reminds me of a song I heard years ago in praise of the beauty of Fife. Some of the lines I remember are "see the bonnie pit bings all in a row" and "see Rosyth dockyard,the finest in the land". If anybody knows it can they send me the lyrics please..! I used to think it was a piss take but having spoke to a few Fifers I`m not sure if they take that view :)

Parked at the usual place on the high road between Leslie and Falkland under blue skies but accompanied by a chilling wind and set off towards West Lomond.

Looking towards West Lomond...



Looking back to it`s doppelganger East Lomond....



Great path all the way to the top and we had the summit to ourselves despite the good weather.
Looking south to Ballo reservoir from the heavily eroded trig....



It was a bit too chilly to hang around for long so we soon headed off south west to the Devils Burdens en route for Bishop Hill.This outcrop would not look out of place in the Peak District....just like a mini Stanage.We pottered around the various nooks and crannies and climbed a pinnacle or two before heading down to John Knox`s Pulpit.

Bob heading towards the Devils Burdens...




Devils Burdens from below..



Down to the saddle between West Lomond and Bishop Hill we stopped for a bit to eat at John Knox`s Pulpit halfway up a small crag.For a miserable old codger like him it is a remarkably beautiful place.

Bob in the Pulpit...



Had a wee traverse round the corner....



Fortunately,despite hanging around the Pulpit for an hour,I`m sure that I managed to avoid contracting a debilitating dose of the Presbyterian work ethic :)
The Pulpit is in a stunning location and can be seen halfway up the crag in this shot here..



We headed up the glen a bit to see the waterfalls and then upwards towards the Marilyn Bishop Hill..



We met our only other walker of the day here,a guy from Crail.On the way up to the summit we went down the north side to have a look at Carlin Maggie..



Bob suddenly remembers that his days of leading HVS are over and makes a jump for terra firma....



The windy conditions must have been ideal for the glider pilots from nearby Scotlandwell.They were staying up for hours on end it seemed on the thermals to the north of the escarpment.



We then headed back cross country to the car in a north easterly direction with a small detour into a forestry plantation so that I could bag the sadly negelected Drumain trig point.I`ve still to check to make sure but I think West Lomond was my 24th out of 31 on the county high points list :)