Readers with an excellent memory or fabulous text searching techniques will remember a walk from August 2010 where we were unimpressed with some Donalds near Durisdeer but thought the other hills in the area would make a much better day out. Well, today we were back to find out, and to play around in some of that white stuff you’re meant to get in winter but which seems pretty scarce this year 1.
We couldn’t actually get to the village because the lanes were icy and without four-wheel drive and ice chains I bottled out, leaving us with a nice wander in. The plan was to do an anti-clockwise loop by going up the Wald Path passed the Roman fort and then going up onto the hills to the left to return to the village. Things looked very promising and scenic as we started up (you might like to compare a summer/winter view on the Then and Now page). It was an easy (and surprisingly warm) wander to the bealach where we were going to break off and start climbing. Near the top Jazz got into “working dog” mode and headed off to sniff. I assumed it would be her favourite Red Grouse (there were lots flying around) but instead she hit gold and lifted six Short-eared Owls who were obviously roosting in the heather. Superb. They circled around using their weird flight and giving us a close look with their gorgeous eyes. I haven’t see a Shortie in a while, so getting this gang all together and at short range was the highlight of the day.
Unfortunately the next bit wasn’t so much fun as we had to head up Well Hill. As my knees and lungs will attest, this is basically vertical and with a decent covering of snow, this made for a slow and painful ascent 2. I’ve decided that I no longer do “steep”: instead, I’m happy to put in more distance for a shallower gradient. Jazz passed the time waiting for my cardio-vascular system to reboot by searching in every hole she could dig for things to play with.
The view from the top of Well Hill was pretty impressive even though clouds had covered up the nice blue skies of the morning, leaving everything looking monochromatic. After a spot of lunch (since Jazz couldn’t find any voles or rabbits she made do with sharing my cheese+ham sandwiches) we headed into the splendidly named Glenbo Hass before heading up the last hill of the day: the nicely white Black Hill. Jazz was doubly pleased because not only was this another trig-point for her collection, but some kind previous visitor had left a nice pig ice sculpture.
From the summit it is a steep drop back down to the village. The snow was starting to melt which made for a slippery descent 3. However, the view over Nithdale was very attractive. Without wanting to sound too smug, it turned out that the hills on this side are much more attractive and enjoyable (apart from 30 minutes of hell getting up Well Hill, obviously).
And on the way home we stopped off for a couple of now Obligatory Long Exposure Photos (OLEPs). One was at the nice little path beside Carron Linns and the other on the River Nith itself.
- Probably caused by the BBC’s “It’s going to be another great year for Scottish skiing” report they did when Cairngorm had a snow flurry back in November. ↩
- Well, for one of us ↩
- The odd expletive may have inadvertently escaped my lips, but don’t worry, Jazz was out of earshot – rabbit warrens needed to be inspected. ↩
|Do It Again:|