26th October 2012.
A crisp sunny midweek forecast saw Bob and I down in Galloway for the first visit of the year.The road up from the A712 at Clatteringshaws to the parking spot at Craigencallie seems to have deteriorated even further since my last visit so be warned 🙂 Luckily we didn`t meet any forestry trucks as the passing places are few and far between.
It was late afternoon leaving us just enough time to get into White Laggan bothy by nightfall.10kgs of coal,some kindling and a bottle of wine in the panniers to ward off the chill 🙂
Bob was having a problem with his brakes and I was having a problem with my fitness.Going uphill he cycled while I walked and going downhill I cycled and he walked 🙂 With all the yo-yoing it was dark when we reached the bothy.
Being midweek we didn`t expect company and on nearing the bothy there was no tell tale smoke coming from the chimney so I got the fright of my life when I opened the door and there was someone standing immediately on the other side 🙂 Turned out it was a young English couple,Jordan and Kate from Manchester,who were up to take photos of the stars having read about Galloways new Dark Skies status.
The only fuel at the bothy was a few scrawny twigs so Jordan and Kate must have been thankful when we pulled out the bag of coal 🙂 Unfortunately for all involved the coal turned out to be Ecoal
Now,if you ever see this stuff then I advise you to walk right on by as it`s bloody useless.About the best that can be said of it is that if you opened the front of the stove it gave of a little bit of light but no heat that we could feel.Apparently it is good for the environment though according to their blurb.No wonder.It doesn`t burn 🙂 We fed the fire with twigs and whatever we could find,which wasn`t much,and chatted away for the rest of the night.Jordan was up for a few hours photography in the middle of the night and showed us some stunning pictures of the bothy with Orion just above,among the best night shots I have ever seen 🙂
We said goodbye to them the next morning as they were away home to Manchester.We turned our attention to the hills above.Well,I did anyway,Bob I don`t think was overly keen as the promised sunshine was noticably absent 🙂
We ignored the path heading up to the col and instead set off on one of Bobs “shortcuts” which was a direct line through the sitka plantations towards the shoulder of Millfore.To be honest,it wasn`t as bad as it looked from below but I was still delighted to emerge at the far end with both eyeballs intact 🙂
Emerging back into the land of the living .
From the exit we headed off up and along the weirdly named Buckdas of Cairnbaber though it is not perhaps weird in a Galloway sense when you compare it to the Rig of the Jarkness,Rig of the Gloon,Nieve of the Spit amongst others 🙂 It was bitterly cold and the first day of winter on the hills.Again,like the bothy,we didn`t expect to meet anyone on the hill given that it was midweek and it was Galloway.On nearing the summit however we spied someone coming towards us from the opposite direction.We sat down beside her for a a bite to eat and while talking away discovered that Sue shared an office with a friend of ours at SNH in Inverness.I wasn`t sure which was the most gobsmacking,that or the fact that she had actually done a PhD on grouse 🙂
We set off to the west passing the White Lochan of Drigmorn…
….over some boggy ground….
…and then the Black Loch.
Down at the col we split up,Bob heading back down to the bothy while I headed onwards and upwards again onto Bennan Hill,where the promised sunshine duly arrived,and then Curleywee.
Bennanbrack and Curleywee.
Looking back from Bennan Hill to Millfore.
View over to the Merrick from the summit of Curleywee.
Glen Trool from Curleywee.
Over to Corserine.
After lounging around on the summit for half an hour I made a beeline straight down to the bothy,and,being Galloway,had the usual struggle with the tussocks on the way 🙂 A quick tidy up and then back on the bikes for the return leg in the afternoon sunshine.
Dungeon of Buchan..
Craignaw and the Dungeon of Buchan over Loch Dee.
Back home via Moniaive,sausage supper in Thornhill,the Dalveen Pass and the M74 🙂