I’ve been meaning to climb Culter Fell for some time and kept putting it off. Anyway Mrs. FMF had the chance to accompany me so we set off with a not too brilliant weather forecast… showers at lunchtime turning to prolonged rain. At least the rain wasn’t going to be as heavy as in the Midlands.
There are several ways up Culter, we chose the classic direct route up Fell Shin, the idea being that we should be able to get to the summit before the rain, and then, depending on how bad the rain was either go back the way we came or go for a longer walk.
We parked at NT030310, near Culter Allers Farm. There’s quite a bit of space to park around here, but people should be aware that the road to Coulter Reservoir is private and the sign does state unathorised vehicles will be removed. There were two other car parked but we found another space and booted up. You follow the road to Coulter Reservoir and as soon as the sheepfold is on your right, strike up the path on the left by a small wooded area. This path leads to a run of grouse butts. There are several paths and landrover tracks so you need to keep to the path that runs to the butts. Look up to the top of the ridge of Fell Shin, you should see a large rocky outcrop, that is your target. Or if the following question applies “why can’t I breathe and why do my knees hurt?” then you know you are on the right path!
As you climb out of the steep sided glen, Lamington Hill, Dungavel Hill and Tinto Hill all emerge. Once at the rocky outcrop it’s a short walk to the top of Fell Shin and then the ground levels off. The steepness is replaced with bogs. The path is obvious across this gentle sloping area as are the bogs. Walk towards the ridge in the distance with the obvious path visible up its flank. The next ridge is not so steep and there is a cairn at its summit. From there it’s a gentle stroll across another gently sloping plateau. And bogs. More bogs. Big bogs. You can see the path, but you have to pick your way around the wet stuff. It’s probably about 1/2 a mile to the trig from here.
The summit ground is nice and dry but the trig base is in bad condition. The trig is interesting. The number suggests an late 30’s build. But the original trig was built in 1949 and replaced in 1968. The number was from a removed trigpoint from W. Yorkshire. Bizarre. The build quality of the 60’s is poor compared to the trigs built pre-war.
5MHz was in quite good form. No problems working 200miles to the NW Mafia. Longer paths to South Wales and South Coast were not so good. I didn’t hear any local GM stations (Messrs. COX, CFS, FAM, AXY, YMM). I could hear people working Robin GM7PKT but I couldn’t hear him. A look at the F2 plot from Chilton shows the critical frequency reached 8MHz yesterday, strange no local NVIS contacts. Also I worked Steph G1LAT for the 1st time. Always a pleasure to work a new to me chaser. Anyway, I QSY’d to 2m and proceeded to waste 10 mins calling CQ for no results. I don’t know why I bother with 2m in GM. Actually I only bother because I like to give points to Ken and Christine (GM0AXY,GM4YMM) if I can’t work them on 5MHz. Also Gordon MM3XGP is new to SOTA activation and I was hoping for another S2S with him.
Now the WX forecast wasn’t great. We had intermittent showers whilst I was activating and by the time I finished we were in the clag with no visibility. Sarah was feeling the cold. We decided that whilst it was wet, we were now wet and wouldn’t get any wetter so we would do the longer walk out. This follows the county boundary fence down to Moss Law and thence down to Holm Nick. There is a good path from there that runs around Coulter Reservoir and then up the access road back to the car park.
The walk out was pleasant as we soon dropped out of the mist. The path is easy to follow but boy is it wet ground. Everything I’ve read about Culter mentions the boggy bits and bog snorkelling stuff is needed for the flat bits on Moss Law. Anyway having reached Holm Nick, you are standing at the foot of Gathersnow Hill GM/SS-077, a 2 pointer only 12m short of being a 4 pointer. Gathersnow is a bit remote. It’s about 4miles from anywhere you can legally park, and this is why it is commonly done with Culter Fell. The best part of starting an ascent of Gathersnow from here is that you are already 470m up Gathersnow’s 688m height. Mrs. FMF was up for it but a few timing calculations showed we’d be cutting it very fine in order to get back for the monsters, sorry delightful children of mine. So Gathersnow will have to wait. A possible route for a nice day (if we get any this year) will be to cycle the 5miles along the Kingledoors Valley and then climb Gathersnow from the South.
We walked out along the reservoir road not really noticing the rain/drizzle. The heather is just starting to bloom and on a sunny day, the glen will be a spectacularly colourful place. Before the rains came the views to the North and North West from the summit were fantastic with Ben Lawers clearly visible some 75miles North of us. All the usual culprits were visible, the 3 listed earlier along with Broad Law, Green Lowther, The Pentlands, The Ochills. More distant with Ben Lawers was Ben More, Stob Binnein, Ben Vorlich, Stuc a’ Chroin, Ben Lui plus many, many more.
So a great day even if we were a bit moist on returning to the car. A new chaser worked, 4 points gained, some great views, and a good walk with Mrs. FMF. Total distance was 7.65 miles and 618m climbed, 497m on the ascent of Culter and 121m on the ridge on the way back.
What suprises me is that Culter Fell, even with it’s boggy bits so exceeds Tinto Hill for view and scenary. It’s only 7 miles from Tinto yet it’s hardly climbed in comparison. I know Tinto is just off a main road and there’s a car park and tea room at the bottom but the hoards of grockles on its slopes makes it somewhat hellish. So if you are in this area for a walk, don’t do Tinto, but cross the Clyde and do Culter instead. It’s the same effort but much more rewarding.