First-bagging in the National Nature Reserve of Cairnsmore of Fleet
Ever since seeing them from the ridge during a cold February walk with a friend on Cairnsmore of Fleet in 2009 , a group of 8 unGeographed squares in the valleys to the east had been winking at me. I’d rather assumed (wrongly) that they must have been protected by some sort of access restrictions into the National Nature Reserve, but a call to the warden at the Dromore Visitor Centre confirmed that those sorts of archaic conditions genuinely only affect us poor souls in England and Wales. Open access on the hill is pretty much the case in Scotland, subject to a few stalking closures and the like. But not in Galloway, and not in February, so it was ‘game on’ for a weekend.
On this occasion, my mate was struggling with a bad knee, which limited his walking distance somewhat, and he was most interested in picking off Curleywee and Lamachan Hill, the last two unclaimed Southern Upland summits in his copy of the Corbetts book. So he dropped me and a bike at the northern end of the forest track that runs through to Dromore, and went off to do his own thing, with a vague “Text me later, and we’ll sort out when we meet this afternoon”
So the day started with a ride south through the forests of Knocknevis on a well established and well used track, part of Route 7 of the National Cycle Network . At the junction with the track leading to the disused Grannoch Lodge, I hid the bike in a patch of heather (it’ll be fine, it’s hardly worth anything these days…) and walked west then north into the intriguingly-named Cleugh of Eglon just short of Loch Grannoch .
Tough ground across half a mile of Molina grass and moor over Craigherron led to the foot of a 700’ climb (including a brief rocky scramble) onto Craigronald Hill , where at least the conditions underfoot became much easier; the sub-zero conditions undeniably helped in that respect. A steady walk west then south in improving weather, past led up onto Meikle Mulltaggart, which needed photographing for the Hill Summits website Link as well as Geograph.
Being a summit, the next section was inevitably downhill, back down towards the damper moorland and Little Mulltaggart between the Carrouch and Mid Burns, passing a well-sited marker cairn and some small rocky outcrops on the way . Thence into the corrie of the Mid Burn, with a great view of the Clints of the Spout, an area of steep ground on the east side of the main Cairnsmore of Fleet hill . This corrie is rather boggy, as the contours suggest, but a couple of hundred yards of tussock-hopping saw me to the small lochan , which issues the Mid Burn , and a choice of dry rocks for lunch a bit further downstream.
A little more bog-trotting as far as the Cardoon Burn , and then it was back onto well made forest tracks for the long walk back to the bike via assorted signs of a working forest and the farm at Cullendoch .
The main walk picked up 8 Firsts; there were also 2 just on (or very close to) the cycle route near Craigwhinne Hill and which fell victim to this long day out. Overall it comprises about 12 miles of cycling and the same amount of walking. Quite a result, but tiring. By the time I’d ridden back to the A712 road at Clatteringshaws dam, my mate had been waiting in the car for little more than 15 minutes.
The whole trip, slideshow and route, is documented fully on Rudi's Geotrips site at Link
- Thu, 14 Mar 2013 at 10:50
- Chosen Photo
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