The last time we were in the Dungeon Hills we ran out of time to do Craignaw and so a return was needed: as this is a Donald we couldn’t leave it out. And contrary to your expectations, this did actually involve a modicum of planning. It needed to be:
- before the summer when the bracken in Glen Trool is awful;
- after a dry spell to avoid a mud bath;
- with a breeze to keep the insects at bay;
- on a decent day when I had a pass from my domestic servitude.
Well today was the confluence, and we had a great day, if a bit on the tough side.
After the last time I wanted a way to avoid the Gairland Burn “path”. Unfortunately the options aren’t great and there was an added complication. Over the winter I’d attended an SWT talk by Andrew Jarrott of the FCS who mentioned an unusual, self-starter Rowan wood on the banks of Loch Valley and guess how you get there…yip, up the Gairland Burn “path”. Well, we’ve just got to go see that.
It was a great start going through the sublime Glentrool Oak Woods with all lots of nice birds to entertain us: the best being a pair of Whinchats, and a pair of Great Tits beating up a Lesser Whitethroat. It took our minds off the climb up the burn: we’ll skip this unpleasantness.
After about an hour we’ve reached where the burn pops out of Loch Valley and we can see the Rowan wood on the south shore of the loch. It looks quite extensive with both ancient looking trees and lots of young whippersnappers. We can also see why it is so successful: it is in a boulder field where no sensible goat/sheep/dog/human would go. Let’s just say the next hour is one I won’t be repeating. If someone quizzes you: “I’m thinking of climbing Craignaw. Is the best route A: Along Loch Valley, or B..?” The answer is always B. I believe it would be easier to chop down an oak with a herring 1, haul the timber and wood-working tools up the path, construct a boat at the west of the loch and then paddle to the east end. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We had lunch overlooking Loch Narroch at the foot of Snibe Hill. It’s actually a relief to start climbing on grass and rock. As we head up a herd of around 20 feral goats with a lot of kids play about on the rocks above us. Jazz spots the pointy bits and decides to play nice. The scenery here, like all the Dungeon Hills, is just weird: a very thin grass layer tries to cling to great slabs and outcrops of bare granite with lots of erratic boulders perched at bizarre points. The rock slabs are great for walking on giving good grip. There are gashes and linear rock features that make the ascent to the cairn at the summit straightforward. Below us we could see Dow Loch trapped in a bowl of granite. The second phase to the top of Craignaw itself is more of the same, and the climb is pretty enjoyable.
The view from the top of Craignaw is spectacular. To the north we can see Loch Doon, to the east is the Rhinns of Kells and the Silver Flowe, to the north-west is the Awful Hand, and to the south the Lake District.
From the summit we drop down precipitously 2 to the Devil's Bowling Green: a massive slab of granite with lots of boulders strewn across it by glaciers and previous visitors. We then join the path coming down from the Nick of Dungeon and retrace the route we took previously around Loch Neldricken. Apart from some nice views across the loch and its lovely beaches there isn’t anything new to report.
However, as we leave Loch Neldricken I think that there’s a lot of sun glare: that’s odd, where’s my hat? A futile check of the rucksack confirms that, yes, I did leave it at the summit of Craignaw. I could see the spot. That hat has great sentimental value and I discussed with my team-mate the possibility of going back for it. I won’t record the response I got. Telekinesis also didn’t work. So it looks like I’ll be buying exactly the same one next week. Now some kind person may read this and come across it one day and send it to me; but there are two problems with this:
- Hardly anyone goes there.
- The goats will have eaten it by now: it’ll be the most nutritious thing around.
So RIP dear hat.
|Do It Again:|