Friday, 30 January 2015

Beinn Bhreac-liath & Beinn Udlaidh

Planned Route to walk on 30 January 2015
This route was not planned as part of pre-trip planning because I had not intended to stop off in Tyndrum. However having attempted 4 of the 5 walks planned for the Moffat area and in need of a couple of days rest, thought it would be better to move further north closer to next weeks destination in Kinlochewe on Sunday.
I had also visited all 3 Corbetts in the Moffat area and wanted to increase the Corbett count in the one remaining walk I intended to walk before continuing north to Kinlochewe.
Having stayed at Tyndrum before at By The Way, Tyndrum I decided to stop off here and catch up with some blogging. Beinn Bhreac-liath & Beinn Udlaidh are two Corbetts both within walking distance of the campsite giving me the opportunity to increase my overall Corbett count to 11.
Here is the plan. Walk summary, route and description is included further on this page below the planning notes.
Planned route to walk 0n 30 January 2015
Above route includes 2 Corbetts and 1 Graham Top of a Corbett.
At 10.7 miles and 1100m of ascent it is about as much as I would want.
Basically it is not a do all at all costs plan but to get out in the snow and be back at By The Way, Tyndrum within daylight hours.
The route is to go for the first summit Beinn Bheag,which happens to be the Graham Top and if conditions are favourable (weather, snow/ice my energy) continue on to the first Corbett - Beinn Bhreac-liath. Having reached Beinn Bhreac-liath I will have a good feel for the snow conditions and will be able to decide if I have time or inclination to go on to the 3rd and final peak of the day Beinn Udlaidh then returning home via the 587 spot height above Coire Sheileach following fence back to Beinn Bheag and returning to the A82 along the ascent route to Beinn Bheag.

However, as is often the case I have woken up on the morning of the walk (6am ready for 8am start, daybreak this far north) fully refreshed after my 2 days rest ,with a clear head and probably my clearest thoughts regarding the purpose of the initial part of this trip. 
It would be a perfectly achievable plan if the days were a bit longer in better weather. Or I had more experience in dealing with severe and unpredictable winter conditions. However, although the MWIS forecast is predicting a 60% chance of cloud clear Munros (the plan is at the lower Corbett levels) there will also be considerable buffeting and wind chill across the hills. So like 3 of the 4 routes walked so far this trip; most likely will return back without visiting all or even any of the planned peaks.
While I want to visit as many peaks as I can while I am near them, the objective of this trip was and remains to prepare myself physically and mentally for next weeks course. So the objective of this walk is not to visit all three peaks but to get out in the hills and experience some of the excellent conditions in a relatively benign environment after the previous days snow. The overriding objective is to be back at By The Way within daylight hours. Any of the 3 peaks bagged will be considered a bonus.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 30 January 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - By The Way, Tyndrum

Start Point - By The Way, Tyndrum
 (GR - NN 32841 30145)
Start Time - 08:25
Finish Point - By The Way, Tyndrum
 (GR - NN 32841 30145)
Finish Time - 13:40
Duration - 5hrs 15mins
Average pace - 1.61mph
Distance Walked - 8.45miles
Height Ascended - 727.38metres


Other walks on this trip
2014
January

23rd Hart Fell
24th White Coomb
26th Broad Law

27th Capel Fell
30th Beinn Bhreac-liath & Beinn Udlaidh
February
03rd Beinn Alligin round
04th Fuar Tholl

06th Beinn Eighe-Spidean Coire nan Clach
07th Forcan Ridge and The Saddle
09th - 14th Various Marilyns on the way south

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)

Beinn Bhreac-liath (10)
Graham (224)

NONE
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

Beinn Bhreac-liath (40S - 121E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Beinn Bhreac-liath (51S - 185E,W&S)
Donald Dewey (248)

NONE
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Route
GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com
Walk Description
Beinn Bheag

A particularly early start for me and setting off with some trepidation based on the MWIS forecast for the day. The calm clear conditions where at odds with the "atrocious" conditions forecast for the West Highlands but these were not expected in the south of the area until later in the day.
Setting off along the West Highland Way from By The Way Tyndrum and Tyndrum Lower rail station through virgin snow admiring the scenery it was not until I was well past the cemetery approaching Beinn Odhar that I realised I had gone too far.  Cutting left to the A82 and walking back towards Tyndrum I soon found the gateway and forest track up Beinn Bheag through the newly harvested forest plantation. This was only on the lower slopes as the track disappeared on a steep incline through snow covered fir trees to the plantation boundary at the 450m contour.
The plan was then to follow the fence line to the left turning right and following the fence all the way to the summit. However the ground looked pretty rough so I opted to head straight up hill cutting off the corner. Pretty tough going but as I cleared the first ridge the fence appeared on the left which would lead all the way to the first summit of the day, Beinn Bheag.
Beinn Bhreac-liath
So far so good. Having woken up not expecting to reach any summits I had already bagged the first peak of the day and could also see both Corbetts ahead. The sun was still shining but I could also see dark grey snow clouds building to the west. Walking through calf deep snow from the plantation had also taken its toll so at this point I decided to just visit the closest Corbett, Beinn Bhreac-liath, leaving Beinn Udlaidh for another trip. The objective of this early part of the trip was to prepare me for the winter mountaineering course next week in Torridon not exhaust me physically.
Following the fence west the winter sun sitting low in the sky soon took me in to shade and more solid snow. Not only that the gradient of the descent increased requiring me to get out my band new ice axe for the very first time side slashing steps for me to kick into and descend safely.
From the bealach I had intended to head north and skirt around the scree on the southern nose of Beinn Bhreac-liath, but the deep snow had covered the scree and levelled out any steep ground so was able to head straight for the summit plateau. Another bonus was that I had seen an alternative descent route towards the A82 down Coire Chailein, this would avoid having to reascend Beinn Bheag.
The views were indescribable made better by the fact that I had ascended most of the hills to the east and including Beinn Dorain and Beinn Odhar. To the south was the Beinn Oss/Lui range ascended last October and further to the south was Ben More Cruach Ardrain and many more.
Looking west was Beinn Udlaidh gradually succumbing to the shroud of snow cloud embracing its summit. The thought did cross my mind that maybe if I had gone there first I would have managed both summits, but like I said I want to save myself for next week.
All that remained now was the descent to the A82 which again was great fun heal stepping through knee deep snow, a descent route which again I suspect was more direct because of the snow.
By the time I reached the A82 I was well satisfied with myself. Apart from finding a better descent route the walk had gone exactly to plan. Well in all honesty I had so many planned variations to the plan and exit route that I think I had covered most eventualities.
That was the fifth walk of this trip and feel i am prepared as I can be for next weeks exertions and challenges winter mountaineering in Torridon.
Even more satisfying was walking back to Tyndrum along the West Highland Way in a heavy snow storm. Decisions  taken during the day had placed me at this point at this time rather than half way up/down a mountain with 3 or 4 hours to get home.


More Photographs
Meggatt Reservoir from Wylies Hill summit
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Capel Fell

Walk Summary
The route off Broken Back down to Selcoth Burn
and up Clough Head on the other side
Mixed feelings of disappointment combined with satisfaction after today’s walk.
Disappointment because only managed two of the four planned peaks and disappointment that I had not read the contours sufficiently during the planning stage to realise there was too much descent then re-ascent between Capel Fell and Croft Head. Maybe it is achievable on a warm summer afternoon with plenty of water onboard (topped up in Selcoth Burn) by traversing up west of Nether Coomb Sike, but certainly not this afternoon in the windy showery gloom at 2pm in January.
Satisfaction though that despite the difficulties I managed 12.38 miles in 5 hours 16 minutes, a creditable 2.35mph. Achieving the main purpose of the trip to prepare me physically but more to the point mentally for the winter mountaineering and winter skills course booked with Mountain Vision next week. Most satisfying was recognition in the grip of ‘summit fever’ that I was not going to get up Croft Head without a lot of physical effort and in the time available to be back before dark, even off the fell before dark and on to the relatively safe Southern Upland Way (SUW). The revised plan devised the night before, was to loop back over Croft Head via Broken Back and pick up Scaw’d Fell on the way back but after ending up in Selcoth trying to find a suitable crossing over the wide, steep sided, fast flowing Selcoth Burn decided in view of the weather, time of day and time of year to trudge back to the van along the A708 with my tail between my legs.
Still a massive steep decent to cross Selcoth Burn at Selcoth.
Then whole ridge to ascend to Croft Head
Don’t like giving in but this was the correct decision. With the days experience behind me I should have started at Selcoth (there is a convenient car park for both walkers and fishermen near the fish farm) going up Capel Fell along the west ridge via Broken Back then carrying straight over the top down to the SUW approaching Croft Head up Cat shoulder, returning down the ridge I declined today and back to the car.
Really if you have gone to the trouble to plan a route before the trip in a comfortable armchair don’t get seduced into changing it to pull in that extra peak. On the other hand the original plan was floored so would have needed changing as conditions dictated.

Lesson
So the lesson from this walk is to stick to the plan you carefully devised from the comfort of your armchair but adapt it as the conditions of the day dictate. The second point worked today and would have worked on the original plan because having discovered the steep descent and reascent I would still have been fresh enough to return to Capel Fell, find my way to the SUH and get up Croft Fell. OK I would not have had the chance of Scaw’d Fell but 3 Marilyn days are rare and are rare for a reason. They are bloody hard work.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 27 January 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation -  
Start Point - Craigburn (GR - NN ***** *****)
Start Time - 10:00
Finish Point 
Craigburn (GR - NN ***** *****)
Finish Time - 15:16
Duration - 5hrs 16mins
Average pace - 2.35mph
Distance Walked - 12.38miles
Height Ascended - ****.**metres


Other walks on this trip
2014
January

23rd Hart Fell
24th White Coomb
26th Broad Law
27th Capel Fell

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)
NONE
Graham (224)

Capel Fell (1)
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

Capel Fell (39S - 120E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Capel Fell (50S - 184E,W&S)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland



Route

To Follow
Walk Description
Capel Fell




Craigmichen Scar and pyramidical lump
of Capel Fell from SUH.
Top is hidden beyond false summit
The










Broken Back


A

Broken Back on right immediately behind trees
+ first indication of drop to Clough Head
A





 

More Photographs
Lunchtime view near summit of Ben Lui down Glen Lochy towards Beinn Cruachan and Loch Etive
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Monday, 26 January 2015

Broad Law

Drive to start point
Hart Fell from A701
Driving along the A701 from Moffat to Broad Law, walk start point between Talla Reservoir and Meggat Water I looked to the right and realised I could see Hart Fell for the first time this trip. This is in spite of going up it three days ago in less than what could be described as clear weather.
The Thursdays ascent route is clearly visible heading towards Hart Fell Spa then heading up Well Rig from Hart Spa Burn on the right. On to Arthurs Seat and finally to Hart Fell Summit.
On the right the descent route is also visible down Lochan Burn, left of the woods near Newton Farm Cottage and rejoining the Old Edinburgh Road at Ericstane, bottom left corner.
Tweedsmuir from A701
The pretty hamlet of Tweedsmuir marked the point to exit the A701 and head down the single track road to Talla Reservoir where once again I was prompted to stop the van to simply record the scenery.
Sight of the road up the side of Linnfoot also confirmed my decision to start closer to Meggat Water rather than at Tulla Linnfoots and steep climb up Coddleteth Hill or long hike up afore mentioned road.
Sometimes the journey is as good as the actual walk.
On right is Hart Fell Spa ascending to Well Rig on to Authurs Seat then Hart Fell summit.
Descent route on left down Lochan Burn and Ericstane bottom left.
Click on photograph for more photos taken on journey to walk start 
Walk Summary
Today's route went exactly as planned visiting all three planned peaks, in fact it went better than planned by starting closer to Wylies Hill resulted in all planned peaks being visited but in a shorter distance.
In spite of the late start, still managed to cover more than 6½ miles in just under 3½ hours. There is nothing more satisfying than completing a tough challenging walk in excess of 10 miles and finishing as daylight disappears, but sometimes it is great to finish mid afternoon and be home and showered with time to spare. Today was just such a day.
The only disappointing being that I was less than 450m away from Mathieside cairn and did not realise it was listed in the DoBIH & hill-bagging without paying it a visit. I cannot imagine I will be returning for that one isolated hill, unless I start including ex-Donald Tops as peaks to visit.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 26 January 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - 
Howslack Farm Caravan Club (CL) Campsite
Start Point - 396m spot height near corrugated metal hut (GR - NT 15837 20540)
Start Time - 10:59
Finish Point 
396m spot height near corrugated metal hut (GR - NT 15837 20540)
Finish Time - 14:22
Duration - 3hrs 23mins
Average pace - 1.94mph
Distance Walked - 6.57miles
Height Ascended - 599.60metres


Other walks on this trip
2014
January

23rd Hart Fell
24th White Coomb
26th Broad Law
27th Capel Fell

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)

Broad Law (9)
Graham (224)

NONE
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

Broad Law (38S - 119E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Broad Law (49S - 183E,W&S)
Donald Dewey (248)

Wylies Hill (4)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Route
GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com

Walk Description
Wylies Hill
Not a lot to say about ascent up Wylies Hill other than it only took half an hour from revised walk start point. This made it feel even more like a cheat but as I am fast coming to realise you do not need to be involved in an adventure or difficult route every time you go out. While the planned route straight up the south ridge looked quite steep and lacking a worn path there is a natural line to follow from the tin hut near the 396m spot height on a diagonal traverse up the west side ascending out of Muckle Clough  to the low point between the 532m spot height and the 609m summit.
No summit marker to speak of but the view to the east over Meggat Water is well worth a look.

Broad Law
From Wylies Hill the route to the NW and Broad Law looked straight forward enough. A reasonable amount of descent to the bealach then a steady ascent to the summit heading for porridge cairn. Shortly after the cairn you will see the fence over to your left that leads to Broad Law summit but I tended to stay on the high line  straight for the fence corner, trig point and summit cairn. The only thing of note was the increasing amount of snow and ice as the ascent increased.   The dry conditions and strong winds meant the snow was quite powdery and blown in to drifts exposing ice lying on frozen ground making me wonder if it was worth putting on crampons. I resisted the urge and they remained shiny and unused in my back pack.

Talla Cleuch Head
Meeting a fellow peak bagger on Broad Law summit confirmed I was not alone enjoying hills at there very best. The wind was particularly strong and visibility had diminished, but there is something about ignoring these conditions with you back to the wind discussing routes and taking each others photos. His start point was near Megget Stone on the cattle grid and was going to return back along the fence and not bothering with either of the other two hills on my route.
He set off before me leaving me to enjoy the moment in solitude before following him south along the west side of the fence to Cairn Law in varying depths of snow that had drifted along the fence line.
Heading south I could see the mass of Talla Cleuch Head to my right. It is only about 2km in a direct line from Broad Law, but without doubt the best rout is following the fence to Cairn Law then turn right at the fence following it west all the way to Talla Cleuch Head summit. 3 miles in total but much easier walking with out unnecessary descent followed by re ascent.
If I had started at the original planned point I would just have to descend down Codleteth Hill following Codleteth Burn to Talla Linnfoots. Whereas the route back to van will be retracing my steps, albeit on the other side of the fence to maintain the illusion of a circular walk, back to Cairn Law. From Cairn Law I stayed high going around the source of Little Cleuch returning to the van over Clews Hill. 
Yes a short(ish) walk but one I am pleased with considering what seem like relatively benign winter conditions, but conditions not everyone is either prepared or capable of going out in. Nearly 7 miles in under 3½ hours, and 3 summits visited including the 3rd and final Corbett in area 28, 3 of only 7 Corbetts south of Glasgow.



Lesson
This was the second day I had cut the walk short due to adverse conditions. Not a bad thing it is always important to recognise when you are near your limits and take appropriate action. i.e. get off the hill back to transport or base as quickly and as safely as possible.

More Photographs
Meggatt Reservoir from Wylies Hill summit
Click on photograph to view slide-show


Saturday, 24 January 2015

White Coomb

Walk Summary
Anticipation of clear skies and snow covered summit plateaus.
Under Saddle Yoke and Saddle Yoke on way up Carrifran Burn
Three routes planned as options to visit White Coomb and like all my walks each route tries to pick up as many of the surrounding summits. The longest at 11.18 miles with 6 peaks is really too long for short winter days, even in perfect weather conditions, so I had set my heart on the “medium” route at 8.57 miles and 4 peaks. The third route, a straight up and downer from Corrifran on the A708 was planned but in all honesty not expected to be used.
Well the conditions on Hart Fell yesterday made me rethink that idea.
Today’s forecast was better with sunny intervals and the same wind strength as yesterday but from a colder NNW direction. That was until 2pm when showers for Moffat, hence snow on high ground, were expected to move in. Even so I still harboured thoughts to pick up the extra two peaks of Firthope Rig and Great Hill. You can’t fault my optimism. At just over 6 miles, including the extra peaks, a much shorter walk than yesterday but duration of just under 5 hours at the 1.25mph planned pace was much slower than that achieved yesterday, but closer to the anticipated pace. Not surprised really the wind more or less assisted the ascent yesterday but more importantly the gradient today up Dun Knowe and on to Carrifran Gans in deep snow was a killer.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 24 January 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - 
Howslack Farm Caravan Club (CL) Campsite
Start Point - Off road parking on A708 near Carrifran Burn (GR - NT 15895 11487)
Start Time - 09:26
Finish Point 
Off road parking on A708 near Carrifran Burn (GR - NT 15895 11487)
Finish Time - 13:31
Duration - 4hrs 05mins
Average pace - 1.29mph
Distance Walked - 5.26miles
Height Ascended - 722.14metres


Other walks on this trip
2014
January

23rd Hart Fell
24th White Coomb
26th Broad Law
27th Capel Fell

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)

White Coomb (8)
Graham (224)

NONE
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

White Coomb (37S - 118E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

White Coomb (48S - 182E,W&S)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Route
GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com

Walk Description
Carrifran Gans

Carrifran Gans from walk start point and off road
parking near bridge on A708 over Carrifran Burns
Not many options for parking near Carrifran and the cattle grid on the A708. In fact the only option is just before Carrifran on off road parking near the bridge over Carrifran Burn.
Rather than follow the fence straight up I opted to take the track to Keld Pot Spring leaving the track to the right heading up the tongue towards Dun Knowe. As expected it was really steep going requiring frequent rests to recover breathe.
In the absence of an established path looking up and picking the best line was essential. Fortunately visibility was good because the relentless slog on a bearing without sight of the next ridge would at best dampen spirits and at worst make you drift round ending up on crags off the south west shoulder.
Towards Moffat beyond Peat Hill.
Can still see walk start point on bend in road
After finally joining the fence near Dun Knowe skirting round a heather bed snow was more evident on the ground. Not sure it was the best strategy to follow the fence line. The snow was soft and as I followed the line of the fence, became progressively deeper. One stretch of this was at least a 1 in 2 gradient and in the soft snow each step became extremely difficult. Kick stepping was the order of the day but most steps sunk in about 12 inches continuing all the way to about the 740m contour and bend in the fence.
A right lung buster.
This marked the end of the hard work with effectively a level walk to the first summit of the day approx 400m to the north At the bend in the fence go over the stile to the east side of the fence to avoid having to climb over it later to the summit cairn of Carrifran Gans. I didn’t!
White Coomb
White Coomb and bealch
from bend in fence from Carrifran Gans
The fence although not marked on the map continues down to the 715m bealach and turns north east all the way to the summit of White Coomb. Easy navigation if visibility is poor. A gentle 100m ascent follows with a fairly large summit plateau making you wonder if the cairn no longer exists and you have walked over the high point.
Eventually it did appear out of the newly arrived cloud ahead and to the right. I was actually on the wrong side of the fence but was able to step over it without climbing due to the deep but now hard snow.
The next summit would have been Firthope Rig followed by Great Hill. Navigation was not an issue as the fence continued to Firthope Rig and if the map was correct would carry on to Great Hill. However the wind buffeting me from the right had weakened my resolve so the prospect of walking straight in to it towards Firthope Rig was not at all appealing. Once again, like yesterday, discretion was the better part of valour resulting quite correctly in heading back home after the main peak of the day had been reached.
Steep descent along fence.
Took the diagonal less steep gradient to the right
The wind and spin drift was straight in my face resulting in me having to put on snow goggles, but was down hill so took about the same time to return to Carrifran Gans from White Coomb as the journey to White Coomb had taken. However the descent from Carrifran Gans was a lot quicker and easier on the lungs than the ascent. More or less following my tracks in the snow but this time heel stepping rather than toe kicking. Leaving the fence and taking a more westerly diagonal descent avoided the really steep part just above Dun Know and although I frequently found footprints from the ascent did not manage to follow the route taken during the ascent for very long. Probably because most people go up and down via Grey Mares Waterfalls, however given the conditions of the day and small window of good weather I reckon this was the best option.

Lesson
Weather closing in around next summit Firthope Rig.
Think I will give it a miss. After all it is only a sub-Corbett!
This was the second day I had cut the walk short due to adverse conditions. Not a bad thing it is always important to recognise when you are near your limits and take appropriate action. i.e. get off the hill back to transport or base as quickly and as safely as possible.
The lesson is one I actually recognised with Gina during our Leith Hill walk. Her resolve was definitely weakened after spending a lot of time looking for TuMPs without getting closer to the days main objective – Leith Hill. Fortunately lunch and refreshment rekindled spirits and she did really well to finish the walk as planned albeit we did not finish until nearly dark.
In winter conditions I should always plan to go straight for the main objective of the day. That way you do not use up valuable energy on minor summits that can be bagged another time and more importantly make ill judged decisions to carry on for the next summit.

Not a bad policy at any time of the year really, some of these hills are hard enough without making things more difficult.

More Photographs
Looking towards Herman Law from south end of summit ridge to Carrifran Gans
Click on photograph to view slide-show


Friday, 23 January 2015

Hart Fell

Walk Summary
Leaving one camper at Howslack Farm.
Suggestion there will be snow higher up?
This was the first walk of the trip and right on queue the cold but dry, albeit windy conditions of the previous week gave way to warmer wetter weather driven by strong SSW winds. The night before there was a chance that the change would hold off until lunchtime but when I pulled back the van curtains in the morning the light covering of snow on the campsite was starting to recede. No worries I had an achievable 9 mile plan with an early start expected to complete the 9 miles, weather permitting, up Hart Fell then Whitehope Heights and finally along Chalk Ridge Edge before descending back down to Ericstane, well before it got dark at just after 4pm this time of year in Scotland. Well the weather was not permitting.
Pleased of an early finish.
Home at last and the snow has been washed away in the rain.
Don't think it will be gone on Hart Fell though
The persistent rain/drizzle at valley level changed to freezing rain during the ascent up Hart Fell, driven from my right and fortunately more from behind. Even though it was well below freezing at the summit, the rain persisted rather than changing to snow causing ice build up on the fence posts and wires not to mention shrouding the half buried trig point in more ice. So having reached the main peak of the day I decided discretion was the better part of valour and call it a day. Two choices; head back the way I came walking straight in to the teeth of the wind and rain or carry on with the route as planned following the fence down towards Barry Grain Rig and returning back to Ericstane following Lochan Burn and the track out past Newton Farm Cottage. I chose the second option. Still ended up walking nearly 10 miles in just under 5 hours, nearly 2mph, not a bad pace for the conditions.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 23 January 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - Howslack Farm Caravan Club (CL) Campsite
Start Point - 
Howslack Farm Caravan Club (CL) Campsite (GR - NT 07422 09000)
Start Time - 08:59
Finish Point 
Howslack Farm Caravan Club (CL) Campsite (GR - NT 07422 09000)
Finish Time - 13:58
Duration - 4hrs 59mins
Average pace - 1.95mph
Distance Walked - 9.73miles
Height Ascended - ****.**metres


Other walks on this trip
2014
January

23rd Hart Fell
24th White Coomb
26th Broad Law
27th Capel Fell

Peaks visited
Munro (282)

NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)

Hart Fell (7)
Graham (224)

NONE
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S))

Hart Fell (36S - 117E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Hart Fell (47S - 181E,W&S)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Route
GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com

Walk Description
Hart Fell

Footpath sign off Old Edinburgh Road to Hart Fell Spa
Starting from the van at Howslack Farm meant I did not have to drive to Ericstane the planned walk start point. It did mean an extra 1km walk along The Old Edinburgh Road but it was level and good going allowing me to sort my breathing and warm up ready for the start of the ascent. The footpath sign to Hart Fell Spa just after the corrugated metal clad community centre marked where I turned right and started the ascent up Spa well Burn. The path was well trodden without being obvious but gates through each fence confirmed I was still on track. This path carries on all the way to Hart Fell Spa but I left it at the deciduous wood heading left up towards Well Rig. Very soon visibility dropped to about 30m along with increase in snow cover but maintaining a NE bearing I eventually came across the track marked on the map to Billsceuch Moor.
Heading up an a bearing trying to make out faded track hidden
by snow. Strong crosswind from right and driving cold rain
Gradually this disappeared under the snow which was now about 1’ deep. I know this because it was fairly solid but not solid enough to bear my weight resulting in it giving way under each step. Regular checking of compass along with reappearance of track where wind had blown away the snow resulted in me the fence near Bill’s Cleuch springs appearing straight ahead. This was the last navigational aid until the fence along the summit ridge line. So it was more of the same walking on the same bearing and making sure I was still going up hill. The wind was giving me a good old buffeting and taking off my glove to record the desolate scene with the one picture I bothered to take during the ascent made me realise my brand new £50 waterproof winter gloves had started to leak. Well the one on my right side. So now my wet hand was freezing cold and not warming up when I managed to force the glove back on, restricted by my wet hand not wanting to slide on like it did in the shop or for that matter earlier this morning. A little bit of a wobble in the old navigation caused me to drift right near the ridge top but starting to descend made me reassess and turn left. Now not really knowing where I was on the map magically a fence appeared out of the gloom ahead of me. It was now a case of following the fence looking out for the trig point and familiar summit marker. 
All this way for a frozen trig point.
Not the place to hang around for lunch
The wind, rain and cold did not deter me from photographing the summit and trig point as well as logging its location on my smart phone. It did remind me however of how cold and wet I was especially when putting my wet gloves back on did nothing to restore warmth to my hands. I could have taken off my back pack and got out some dry gloves and an extra layer but that would have extended the time in what was now quite inclement conditions. I therefore decided to call it a day and decided to carry on walking away from the wind but head down and back to home along Lochan Burn rather than go for any more summits. As for my really wet and frozen (figuratively speaking) right hand, I took of the glove and used my spare woolly hat as a makeshift glove. With vigorous wiggling of fingers some life started to return. Turning left at the first fence junction rapidly increased the rate of ascent until the fence kinked to the right where I had planned to follow it to Whitehope Heights. Instead I now had to leave the fence heading slightly left and downhill without being able to see more than 30m ahead. Briefly the wind was straight in my face reminding me what it would have been like had I followed the ascent route back down. Not very pleasant and very difficult to maintain balance heal stepping to make a rapid safe descent. Again I wondered whether to take off my back pack and get out my snow goggles. But instead I pulled the hood across my face and carried on for a while longer to see what happened. Fortunately after a short time and some descent the wind eased and as I peered round my hood could see Lochan Burn below being joined by another burn which turned out to be Strong Cleuch.
Difficult terrain, but safer environment, following
Lochan Burn between Hartfell shoulder and Middlefield Know
e
A long way from home, but now at a safer level and out of the wind. The banks either side of the burn were very steep which meant I had to cross it several times to find the easiest terrain to walk over. At the base of Middlefield Rig there has been a lot of planting of native trees. Brilliant that this is happening, but also a lot of churned up ground by heavy machinery as well as some wheel tracks to follow some of the time. Climbing over the high gate to protect the saplings from roaming deer I could see a track around the bottom of Scaw’d Law. Having made sure it was the track I wanted I headed round the base of Billcleuch Moor contouring at about the 400m level. I could see the ford across Lochan Burn and even better it was now a bridge. All that remained was to follow the track to Ericstane, past Newton Farm Cottage and along the Old Edinburgh Road to Howslack Farm and the van. 
Have written a lot more about this walk than intended and although it seems a bit of an epic, was not really. Rather an example of how with experience what could have been a dangerous situation was dealt with (a) by changing the walk plan when conditions dictate and (b) dealing with each situation as it is presented at the time. All this is self taught so far and learnt in far more benign conditions. Winter conditions increase the stakes significantly and is why I am in Scotland on this trip to prepare physically for a Winter Mountaineering and Skills course next week in Torridon.

More Photographs
Heading up an a bearing trying to make out faded track hidden by snow.
Strong crosswind from right and driving cold rain. Hence not many photographs
Click on photograph to view slide-show