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Craiglee and Craigenreoch

There are two summits called Craiglee. There’s this Craiglee and the other one! This was the Loch Doon one, SS-152.

#Craiglee SS-152

The problem with a ruck of summits around The Awful Hand or Carrick Forest is that they are damn awkward to get to from where I live near Edinburgh. The good roads run North South. Or East West between Glasgow and Edinburgh. To get to the South West is a pig of a drive aound slowish A roads and through former mining/steel towns. It’s about 74miles to the Craiglee carpark. It took 2hr15mins to drive such a piddling distance. That’s a reason I’ve not been down here that often, it takes forever and costs a fortune in fuel. But if I want to complete the region…

Craiglee is commonly climbed from the Loch Doon castle carpark on Loch Doon. That’s 7miles down a “dead end” road from Dallmellington which as I already said takes longer to reach than driving to Proxima Centuri. OK I exaggerate a little. It was a good day. No, it was probably one of the best walking days I can remember. Wall to wall blue sky, a gentle cooling breeze and not too hot though it was warm by afternoon out of the breeze. Loch Doon is a popular place for overnight campers. Most people had not wandered far from the cars because they would have to carry the beer further. Some were fishing, some walking, some mountainbiking, some riding trail bikes (I think that’s illegal) and most recovering from last night’s beer. I smiled and made polite conversation to the others in the car park and made sure the pickup was locked and nothing valuable was in sight!

I followed the Craiglee trail. This is an easy path that climbs up the first hill, Wee Hill of Craigmulloch. The path runs to the top. From here you have to make your own way to Craiglee. Hoho, Galloway ground! Now I read that Gerald and Paul decided to miss out this first hill and contour round to save time and effort… wrong! I hate climbing to only descend and there was 60m of unwanted ascent and descent climbing Wee Hillof Craigmulloch. Or go around. But it’s Galloway Ground and having seen how bad it was as I climbed the path I decided it’s always, always quicker to stick to the paths here than make your own way. Up to the top then and survey the best route across 1.2km of boggy tussock grass and heather. Every step an ankle breaker with no easy way to go forward. Apart from the WX has been very dry, something like a 1/3rd the normal rain in the last 6weeks so the bogs were dry. Well not dry but you only sank a 1cm or so. This made crossing the col easier. Not easy but easier than if the grass was thigh high and the bogs wet. It was hard work still but I made myself smile by thinking what it would be like to do this when the WX was not so fantastic.

The view back to Wee Hill of Craigmulloch, you just know from those colours what awful ground that is.

Our target, Craiglee. Pick a route, they’re all awful and there’s no paths. But look at that sky!

The views around and about before even reaching the summit were just a little fabulous. Here’s the local big-boy The Merrick SS-028. The foreground ridge descends to a bump, Little Merrick then down and up to what will become a new summit Kirriereoch. (SS-288 I think).

Here’s one of Loch Doon’s Southern end. Not enough wind to break up the surface. The hills in the background are Meaul, Carlin’s Cairn and Corserine SS-033. There are plenty of crashed aircraft on those hills, two Avro Ansons, a DeHavilland Mosquito on Corserine and a Douglas Dakota and Hawker Hurricane on Carlin’s Cairn. Shame they are so much work to visit.

So after struggling with the vegetation I got to the flat topped summit and wandered over to the trig point. It was windy here so I dropped down into the lee and operated from there looking over Loch Doon. It was hard to concentrate. Really. 60m was quite good for the time of day and time of year. D-layer absorbtion makes this band not so good during the day in the Summer. I managed 5 SSB QSOs. I could hear Brian G4ZRP but he couldn’t hear me and Jonathon G2HFR was S9 but his local noise killed me. 40m was long, I worked HB8DHA with ease on SSB. 40m CW was quiet. I decided I really wanted to get the next summit done ASAP with such a long drive back and so I shutdown and packed up taking a few more pictures.

Shalloch on Minnoch SS-042

A selection damn difficult small summits… L-R in the far distance Millfore SS-092, Craiglee SS-150 (mostly obscured) Craignaw SS-096, Mullwharcher SS-073 (the hard to get to summit), Merrick SS-028, Kirriereoch (will be SS-288). The lake is Loch Macaterick. For scale, Merrick is 11.5km from here.

Finally a view North shoing the trig and the top of Loch Doon. The village beyond is Dalmellington and the loch to the left of the trig is Loch Finglas.

Descent down to the col was quite easy. I then decided to make directly for the path down to the car park rather than climb Wee HIll again. It was not easy crossing flat ground. In fact it was as hard to follow the pathless terrain and bust a new path through tussocks and heather (and some wet bits) as it would have been to climb the hill and descend the full path. Anyway back at the pickup it was 1/2l of water to go with the 3/4l drunk plus a Toffee Crisp and a can of diet Red Bull. Now only 17 SS summits on the bucket list.

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#Craigenreoch SS-135

This summit is reasonably close to Craiglee as the crow flies. But a fair old drive by roads as the South end of Loch Doon is a dead end. Or is it. The Carrick Forest Drive is a private road own by The Forestry Commission in the Carrick Forest open May to October. The road has bee graded such that there are no potholes etc. although the surface is loose rock chippings. It’s easily done in the average family car apart from 2 things. The amount of rocks thrown up into the wheel arches and the copious amounts of dust left behind as you drive along. This was especially true after such a dry spell. Anyway, I was in the pickup which has plenty of ground clearance and proper 4WD (no centre diff). I wasn’t too worried about the dust either. I’d not drive my shiny car along here, it would take a month to get it clean. But the pickup has mould and lichens growing on it, much to the disgust of my snooty neighbours! However, the window to the top-box over the pickup bed is currently removed as a hinge snapped. I realised why you need a window when I saw how much dust had been sucked into the load area. As I did the return journey via the forest drive, there’s amount 5mm of dust in there. I think a serious pressure washing is needed. The forest drive is 9km, then there’s 2.5km of public road that is a nightmare with potholes big enough to swallow a bus, then 8km to the Bell Memorial ccar park where you turn off for Craigenreoch.

There’s a fine layby about 50m before the start of the track that makes you think this will be a stroll in the park. It was quite warm now but starting to cloud up over the bigger hills. Mine was clear but just a few kms further the ground rose to 700-800m as there was significant cloud above these hills. At the end of the track you go up. Up and seriously up. It’s really quite steep but there is an obvious ATV track. This hill has a reputation for being very wet and unpleasant but it was fine for me after the long dry spell. Follow the ATV track to the summit of Rowantree Hill then follow the track to the summit of Craigenreoch. I didn’t but you should. It’s not as hard ground to walk on as Craiglee but the ATV track did make it much easier on the return. Learn from my mistake!

I passed the gate where Paul G4MD operated from. It’s in the AZ but well over 1km from the trig. I can understand activating from there if the WX was a bit against you. However, I had a glorious day and pressed on to the trig. It’s about 30mins to get to the AZ from the car park and about 25mins to the trig from the start of the AZ. It did seem to take forever to get to the trig as you can see it from a long way away. Navigation is easy, follow the ATV track and if you can’t find that, follow the fence that leads all the way to the trig.

At the trig I setup and started on 60m SSB then 40m SSB then 40m CW. Plenty more chasers this time than earlier. I spent the time watching the shadows move across the hills of the Awful Hand. Here’s Shalloch on Minnoch SS-042 and you can see the stunning sunshine of early is lost in cloud.

The Awful Hand, Shalloch on Minnoch SS-042, Tarfessock, Kirriereoch and Merrick SS-028. You can see how these highest hills have now got a cloud covering. The air has come in from the sea, risen of the lower hills and then on hitting these, the moisture has condensed out to form the cloud. The boundary is clear to see.

You get a cracking view of Ailsa Craig from here, a good reason to visit the summit and not activate as soon as you can. You can also activate the trig to make the trig chasers happy!

The trig and the view North-ish. You have to go past the end of the forest and continue to the summit of Rowantree Hill before descending down to the car parking area. Both this trig and Craiglee’s trig are unusual in they have no Flush Bracket with the benchmark and trig number. I can imagine the words said when having carried over 500kg of sand, 1200kg of gravel and 355kg of cement, build the trig and only to find you had forgotten the metal flush bracket. Then to do it again a few weeks later. Anyway, June1954 is when this trig was built.

The sky above me was wonderfully blue and you can see there were few clouds over this lower ground looking out towards Arran. I could see but the haze has masked it on the photo.

Finally a view showing that I’ve had a good seeing to with a strimmer (weed-whacker for our US friends) and had all the excess beard and hair removed!

Return was back the same way as ascent. Another can of diet Red Bull in the pickup, back over the Carrick Forest Drive and 2 3/4 hours of tedious driving back home where Mrs. FMF had a lovely meal waiting.

Only 16 SS summits left on the bucket list. I’m out on my new bike as much as I can to toughen up the nether regions ready for the assault on Mullwharcher :wink:

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A beautiful day and views Andy. Hopefully the wee midges haven’t woken yet

Chammois cream. Available with a minty scent (don’t ask me if the flavour matches the aroma - that’s a step too far even if I run out of Kendal mint cake).

I sure hope these two sentences are not related :fearful:

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Glaring into the camera like that, you remind me of something I saw once on the eaves of a cathedral!

Seriously, though, your pictures make that part of Scotland look really attractive, even though I remember too well the bogs, tussocks and never-ending tramps that are the reality!

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Do you mean like this chap?

No, that one is too handsome!

Yes I was really enjoying the photos, then… :wink:

Nice reports as usual Andy arousing some excellent memories, though Paul and I had somewhat different weather conditions on each of these summits to say the least.

Make that “forever” in several feet of snow. Hence the opt out on the activation location.

BTW, I don’t get the grumble about having to cross country to these summits. Paul and I have to do that after a 250 mile drive up the M6!

Missed you again!! Hi Hi

Like your reports, guess where I was on Monday/Tuesday?

Yes The Awful Hand, started at Bruce’s Stone at Glen Trool, up Benyellary, on to the Merrick. Followed the range of the Awful Hand to Shalloch on Minnoch where I camped over night to get some night time photography. Next morning back down to Stinchar Bridge then across to Barr village. 36.33km. And yes it was great weather apart from 5am when I was packing up to head off everything was frozen, slushy for morning drink!

Anyhoo I digress, I took a wee stroll up the hills at the back of Girvan today to scout out the new easy route to Troweir Hill for you and anyone else that fancies having a go. I will post on here shortly after I upload all the data and photos.

73 Neil

Hi Andy

Here is a brief of the Troweir route.

Start at wind farm access at NX213935, there is a cottage there but I’m sure there will be somewhere to park.

Basically follow the gravel road to the summit, about 50m walk from road now!!. Where the red line meets the blue line is where I started to follow the road, from there to the summit is approx 1.12km or 1120m whichever sounds less. :wink: The whole route is about 2.8km I presume as having just completed a long hike I think I scouted this enough for today as you see it was a 14km hike for me today. (Getting fitter).

This shows the new road heading across the hill, from centre of pic to left.

Looking down the road from turbine number 9.

Looking up the road from turbine number 9 with Troweir hill (the pointy bit).

Site info.

Hope this is of some help to you and other. I have a few more photos if you want to see them.

73 Neil

Well if you are kind enough to post a Troweir route I shall certainly invite you to accompany me up there and will happily buy you a beer. With the WX the way it was it was a wonderful place to be and that made the wait to activate these hills worth while.

Coz the A70 is a rubbish road that wiggles and bumps. You’re on it forever and don’t seem to get anywhere. The A76 is better, the B741 down to Dalmellington doesn’t have a white line in the middle for lots of its length. The continuation to Straiton is much worse. Then when you get to Straiton, the road down to eventually Glen Trool is very minor with holes big enough to hide a bus in them.

2 and bit hours to Dalmellington and you’re not actually at the hills yet. 2hrs (at the speed limit) gets me all the way Dalwhinnie or Braemar or Bridge of Orchy and you arrive less stressed as you haven’t felt like you’re driving a stage of The Monte Carlo Rally! And if you set off early and “drive with gusto” you can shave 30mins off those times going North.

It’s the contrast that I can get up into the Cairngorms etc. for less real effort that makes these hills seem such a pain to get to. You could sell up when you retire and move nearer! That would cut down on the driving. Then you’d moan about how rubbish the A70 is!

I can imagine in the snow and wind you and Paul thinking “we’ve been walking for forever and that trig isn’t any nearer, lets do it from here if we’re in the AZ”. My own plan after Shalloch On Minnoch was only to go to the AZ start but the WX killed that plan with the Noah’s Flood style downpour when I got back to the car. Last weekend was a bonus that you don’t get too often.

I bet the WX will be dire now for weeks!

That does suggest a bike activation is possible. Thanks.

It does so but from the point where the red and blue lines join it took me 15 minutes to the summit. The wind farms do have their uses!

Goodness me Neil, by posting the new route you are denying Andy the opportunity to go knee deep in cow excrement. Paul and I still often recall washing off our gaiters in the stream further down. Why should others get away with it? Thankfully we have not had a similar experience since Trowier.

Pleased to hear you are getting fitter. That gives me the excuse not to accompany you up any more hills. Oh, I remember… I didn’t accompany you, I trailed behind! :grinning:

We have to drive the same roads you know! As for the time spent to get to the summits, you are indeed spoiled somewhat rotten. It takes me 1 hour and 15 minutes just to get to Paul’s QTH and that is mostly motorway. Then we start the journey proper. Another 2 hrs 30 minutes see us at Tebay for breakfast and there’s usually a couple more hours to go after that. No wonder I am usually slooooow on the first ascent. :laughing:

That is a distant memory, no sorry a distant figure behind me. Honestly you did well to go at that pace for so long. Often wonder if the thoughts in your head were the same as the ones Cat says out loud. :joy:

As for the route you and Paul took it was never the best anyway. I think the farmer feeds the cattle there just to - what’s the word, annoy folk.

I can think of probably 8 feasible routes to Troweir and now with the wind farm road it is accessible possibly with a wheelchair all be it with chunky wheels.

I only wish I had something else to add for you when it goes Neil. Yes, Kirriereoch will come and that looked absolutely magic with the ridge connecting it to Merrick. A day activating Merrick then Kirriereoch is planned. Probably with cars at each end and 2 or 3 people. I think I can do Merrick, the ridge and Kirriereoch. Not sure if I can then walk back and I certainly cannot do a 36km extravaganza like yours.

The RHB list used to include it and Saugh Hill as the same double top Marilyn. Saugh has the trig point. AFAIK you can activate Saugh Hill with the same ref and then you could put the trig on the air. You’d be popular with a few people to get a trig on a hill that is going to be deleted as it may never be put on air again.

I climbed Kirriereoch last year and to be honest it isn’t hard, just a long slog. I would have to check my GPS data but I’m pretty sure Kirriereoch via the Merrick was similar times.

To do the Awful Hand range is about 18 km and should take between 6 and 8 hours depending on individual speed. I would recommend doing it south to north.

It is possible to do the Merrick and Kirriereoch as a circular route but it would still make for a lengthy day but still better than 2 long trips.

My hills will always be there Andy. First climbed these hills about 45 years ago when I was 8ish and ran away from home… Got hungry and went back! :laughing:
I climb these hills all the time and once you eventually get up - if it’s a nice day, you’ll realise why it’s a great set of hills. And the farmer always gives you a huge friendly wave from his quad bike.

RIP Troweir Hill. :sweat:

Thanks for accolade - I certainly don’t deserve it. Anyone who comes out with me deserves praise for their patience. Anyway, I rarely have negative thoughts on an ascent despite the challenge that some hills present. If the legs don’t work, the legs don’t work! Just have to keep stopping to refresh them. I got used to my limitations 50 years ago, so what is there to grumble about? I still managed 5 miles in 1 hour 15 minutes yesterday, but that’s town stuff, nae Galloway ground. :slight_smile:

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