Culter Fell and Friends

Culter Fell from Hillshaw Head

The map just south of Biggar goes all brown and contoury 1 and is an area we usually just drive passed. Well, a bit of winter planning came up with a route that takes in one of the bigger lumps, Culter Fell and a few of its friends in a nice circuit taking in four Donalds and so today my legs got a much-needed stretch on a beautiful Spring day. 

Looking towards Culter Allers

There are several routes up Culter Fell but I decided to take the one where the contour lines were as widely spaced as possible (although there were parts where they became uncomfortably close!).  We parked near Culter Allers Farm and headed through the farm heading away from our target 2 through some nice deciduous woodland on a recommended track that zig-zagged its way up the hill to King Bank Head. After a couple of weeks of great dry weather it was refreshing to have a light drizzle to cool us off.  This passed as we left the track and ascended the last stretch to Culter Fell itself, and another trig point for Jazz’s collection.  Eighty minutes from the car to the top won’t break any records but it seemed like a decent pace for me (and only 10 minutes behind her Jazz-ness).

Jazz at summit of Culter Fell

A sandwich stop at the top 3 met with the approval of man+dog with the opportunity to admire the view.  To the north is nearby Tinto Hill and the Southern Highlands beyond with the usual suspects easily identifiable; to the east I could see the Pentland Hills ridge that we’d walked a few years back; to the west our old friends of the Lowthers and Goat Fell; everywhere I could see wind farms, existing and under construction.  Having got the main top in the bag (as we Donald-baggers say), it was time to press on for the splendidly named, if currently inaccurate, Gathersnow Hill.

Looking towards Tinto Hill from Hillshaw Head

Looking south from Coomb Dod

There is a decent track that bounces over Moss Law and then up Glenwhappen Rig.  To the left is another Donald, Coomb Hill, that must get the prize for dullest Donald: we left it for another day.  The next three Donalds – Gathersnow HillHillshaw Head and Coomb Dod straddle the county border and while not spectacular to look at, do give great views all around and are easy climbs.  From the last trig point we headed back, taking a straight line for Coulter Reservoir by following the lovely but rough Back Burn. The only “track” is by sheep and the old heather was a pain to cross, but the stream had lots of lovely pools for a Spaniel to cool off/contaminate.

Gathersnow Hill from Coulter Reservoir

Coulter Waterhead

Culter Fell from car park

Waterfall on Back Burn

Things improved at the reservoir where we joined a lovely track all the way back to the car going around the reservoir and then following the Culter Water 4 down a beautiful glen.  For the last couple of km we had a fellow birder, Jimmy, for company and the chat made the tarmac section pass very quickly.  This was a long but very satisfying walk through some lovely country I hadn’t previously known.  From the tops we had fun planning a whole pile of new routes for future days.


  1. I’m sure that’s a word.
  2. I like to confuse hills in the hope they relax their guard and smooth out the gradients – it’s a nice strategy but so far without success.
  3. Cheese, ham and piccalilli – since you ask.
  4. I wish they’d make up their mind whether to use an “o” in the name!
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