The A702 between Carronbridge and Elvanfoot goes through the Dalveen Pass. This is a wonderful gash cut through the hills. I had never heard of it and so the drive was a bit of serendipity. It turns out that its sweeping curves are a favourite with the organ-donor community: the narrow bridge parapets being a particularly rich source. Pull in at various points and enjoy the view: it’s like a south-Scottish Glencoe except this had Romans rather than murdering Campbells. And there were no bus-loads of tourists on the “Glens and Tartan” tours.
Jazz and I stopped to admire the view by crossing the Dalveen Lane 1 and climbing the hill above Upper Dalveen where we could look back down the valley. There were lovely gullies cutting down from the neighbouring hills. However, this was just a pleasant distraction – we had more serious business ahead: Donald bagging. We were heading for a trio at the head of the Daer valley.
We parked at Kirkhope (NS964054) at the end of the road passing round the Daer reservoir. Nothing particularly scenic on the way up but an increasing feeling of remoteness and wonder at how anyone can make a living up in this wilderness.
The route went up the glen and then take an anti-clockwise tour of three Donalds at the head of the valley: it looks like an upside-down balloon on the end of a string on the map (I know this will greatly help you visualise things). The rough track takes a steep route up onto Shiel Dod and then onto Wedder Law – the first of the Donalds of the day. Up here it is rough, unloved upland and so we follow the county boundary over the Thick Cleuch and Five Wells (someone can’t count!) before heading up Gana Hill. The view here was lovely looking over to an unimpressive Queensberry and the valley towards Thornhill.
Jazz and I share an apple 2 here and then head for the last Donald of the day: Earncraig Hill. This drops down to the oddly Germanic-sounding pass called Daer Hass 3. As we get to the top we can hear geese and look up: the first skein of the autumn — c.70 Barnacle Geese heading for the Solway. Lovely to see but it gives me a twang as I realise that winter is coming: my least favourite season of the year.
From here we head back to the car over the finger of Whiteside Hill towards Daerhead croft: another one that didn’t make it and is now returning to the land. We then rejoin the track we followed this morning for a couple of km back to the car. The hills weren’t exciting but the views were enjoyable and the solitude was refreshing.
- Lane is a Galloway word for “deep, dark, slow-moving stream that is difficult and dangerous to cross” – now that’s an expressive word! ↩
- Strange coincidence time: Jazz’s kennel name is Some-Nonsense-Pink-Lady. And our favourite apple is: the Pink Lady. She doesn’t like the core but loves the fleshy bit that I have to bite off for her. It is important for a young Springer to get her five-a-day. She eats more healthily than some teenagers I know. ↩
- Probably Dutch for “uninteresting place with no café selling strangely addictive stale sponge” ↩
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