Sunday, 29 March 2015

Great weather for the Gameshope Donalds

I can't believe it's nearly three months since my last hill walk. So much for my plan to walk much more often in my year off! To be fair the weather in January and February were mainly wet and windy and dry days were taken up with things already booked to do. We also had a death in the family and another close family member struck with cancer, so I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be out on the hills walking. Any hoo, the forecast for last Wednesday was perfect, wall to wall sunshine, no wind, high cloud base and I had a day to myself. I consulted my list of walks to do, much looked at when I couldn't get out and decided to do one near to home. I find it better to do an easier, near one when I haven't been out for a while and then build up again, does any one else do the same?

Talla reservoir, perfect reflections

My faithful hound walking companion and I set off at 8am for Talla reservoir. I resisted the temptation to sneak back to bed for another hour's sleep once youngest son was on the school bus and make the most of a beautiful day. I was rewarded for this decision by the perfect reflections on the reservoir. I stopped the car several times to take photos, it was beautiful. There was not a ripple on the water, I don't think I've ever seen such calm water in Scotland! I parked the car just beyond the entrance to the farm at Talla Linnfoots, there's plenty wide grass verge here to park safely. 

The climb ahead from the road

I was not looking forward to the initial climb on this walk. Having read several trip reports on the walk and looked at the map I decided to do the same, get the climb out the way and enjoy the rest of the day on the hills. Not even a quarter of the way up I was questioning that idea, and every other idea I have about hill walking, steep it is, its rough walking / climbing through tufty grass and never any sign of the top until you almost crawl over the last hump and the trig point comes into view. Out of practice and as unfit as I thought I was I stopped plenty times to get my breath back and give my aching legs a rest. In the end it took just under an hour and I think Bracken probably did it twice, running backwards and forwards on his long extending lead, show off,

Bracken, king of the hill

Looking back down into the valley, can you spot my tiny car?

More great reflections on the reservoir

At last the trig point on the top of Garelet Hill came into view and after a few minutes recovery, the reason I do this was plain to see. Fabulous clear views in every direction, not a sound appart from bird song and not a soul to be seen. I do like walking the mountains further north when I have done them in the past, but I really do love these lowland hills, I don't know why, I just do. 

The view from Lairds Cleugh Rig looking south to the hills on this walk, first new donald of the day

From here it was an easy walk for the rest of the day, five hills over approx eight miles and a two mile walk out along Gameshope valley. There were patches of snow as you can see in the photos and the dead grass was flat enough for easier walking. The route more or less follows the fence line along the tops all the way to the last hill of the day, Cape Law. At the second hill Erie Hill you take a wee detour right on to the top. This hill was tricky in that it is covered in Luzula sylvatica or greater woodrush, a short grass with glossy flat leave, normally they are upright but after a winter of being flattened by snow they were slippy and not easy to walk on. There is a wee pile of stones as a marker on the top of Erie Hill.

Looking back to Lairds Cleugh Rig and Garelet hill, the route so far

I cut across the top of Erie Hill and back down the south side to join the fence / wall line and on towards Garelet Dod. Because we had a dry week, unusually for these hills it was fairly dry underfoot, what wet boggy bits I came across were easy enough to cross, which made a pleasant change (this was not quite the case on the walk out, more of that later!)

Looking back to Erie Hill and first sight of Fruid Reservoir

Looking towards the Lowther Hills from Erie Hill

Looking down to Games Hope Burn from Garelet Dod

Again the hill top is slightly off the fence line, Garelet Dod is a flat top and no cairn or marker that I could see. The views were great again, a bit of cloud gathering to the south, but still high. I was making good time so far. Bracken was having a great time, even though he isn't allowed of the lead, it's a long extendable one and he can still run twice as far and more than I walk on any outing! 

Gameshope Loch from Garelet Dod

Hartfell Rig from garelet Dod

Shed and sheep enclosure from Garelet Dod

From here I could see so many hills I have previously walked, Saddle Yolk, Hart Fell, White Combe, Broad Law, Tall Cleugh Head, Coulter fell, Tinto, Lowther hills, Moorfoots, Pentlands and the Ochils, a truly 365 view of central Scotland. It's a steepish descent to Ellers Cleugh between Garelet Dod and Din Law. Lots of boulder and boggy bits at the bottom where the run off from the loch cuts down to the valley below. Din Law the forth and last hill was different in that it is rocky and craggy on top, all the others are flat and grassy. There was a great view right down Fruit Reservoir with Tinto and Coulter Fell in the background.


Great view from Din Law looking down Fruit Reservoir

Now it was an easy walk to Cape Law, last and highest hill of the day. Another flat grassy top with great views of snow covered Hartfell Rig and Hart Fell which I walked in February 2009, such a long time ago! How life has completely changed in those 6 years.

Sometimes it helps to have four paw puppy drive! Heading up to Cape Law

Bracken and I on Cape Law, last hill, what a great day

Cladonia growing on the wall stones

Once I'd taken some photos, inhaled the success of the walk so far, enjoyed the views and had a look at the Cladonias on the wall we started walking down into Gameshope. A gentle walk down the side of Loch Hill past the loch on our left and eventually to the valley bottom where there was the stream to cross, done with no misshaps and then a stop for lunch and a boulder in the sun by the stream was perfect.

Our lunch spot by the Games Hope Burn

Give me your cheese sandwich says Bracken

We didn't stop too long as it was chilly sitting, and yes Bracken did get some cheese sandwich, despite having had his own doggy biscuits, he adores cheese. Looking at the map there isn't any easy way to walk along the valley until you get to the bothy. I decided to cut uphill a bit behind the shed and over the spur of the hill, I hoped it would be a bit drier and quicker than following the burn's every twist and turn. This proved a good idea and we were doing well over the rough grass until we got to the large square walled enclosure. I was negotiating our way over a very boggy bit which was also very orange in colour. As I was doing this I didn't realsie Bracken has seen some sheep further up the hill (this is why he has to be on a lead) and he took off towards them, dragging me on the other end of the lead right through the deepest parts of the bog. I was soaked and orange almost to my knees and he was a white and orange dog! We were nearly back onto a proper path too, dogs! 


Looking back up Gameshope, there are lots of waterfalls all the way down to the end at the reservoir

Gameshope bothy and shed

Eventually we reached the brightly coloured shed with bothy behind it. I didn't bother crossing to look inside as the water was quite deep and I was wet footed enough after our bog encounter. It's certainly a pretty spot to stay a while. From here there is a track all the way back to the road at Talla Linnfoots so east walking, thankfully.


Funny the things you see


Talla Linnfoots bathed in sunshine
After about half an hour from the bothy we were back at the car, tired but really happy to have had another great, successful walk and in brilliant weather.


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4 comments:

  1. What a fabulous area to be able to go walking in Rona. Suffering from vertigo I'm not a hill walker but my partner would be more than happy in such an environment. Bracken looks as if he was enjoying himself too.

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    1. Hi Anna, I am very lucky, this are is only half an hour away, and within an hour or so I can be in the mountains of the Highlands. I used to not like heights, but am much better these days. Bracken loves his walks, he's so frustrated today as it has rained and been very windy, so not even a short local walk.

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  2. Wow, what an amazing area you live in. I'm so sorry about your family sadnesses, I hope spending some time in such a beautiful place helped a little. The first photo is absolutely stunning, and the scenery throughout is gorgeous. I could do with a morning walking there as well I think! CJ xx

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    1. Thanks CJ, it always helps top get away from everything, emptying my head and appreciate the greater picture, having all that space, sky and no one else certainly helps. Although I come back exhauted I also feel refreshed and ready to try again with everything x

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