Finally, Craiglee GM/SS-150. Unique #498

Ha! Finally activated this one. It’s taken 3 attempts. First was either Craignaw with Craiglee or Mullwharchar. That was my 1st introduction to wild walking in Dumfries and Galloway and I was only just able to activate Craignaw. Then the second attempt I found a very big hole about 3km along the 5km lead in. I found the hole when the ice broke and my leg was all in a very cold, wet hole :frowning: After that I did significantly more research to ensure I had the best route. To be truthful, all routes are bit poor but some are much more poor.

The problem is twofold, it’s a wee bit of a hike from the nearest car parks and the ground is damn awful with almost no paths. Typically there’s tussock grass and heather which means maybe 50cms holes around the tussocks often full of water. Also there are often a fair number of cattle at the start of the real climb and they have turned the terrible ground into something resembling the Somme after a 5 day non-stop artillery barrage.

Anyway I was down in Blackpool for the rally and driving all the way there and back meant I planned to back some uniques. I got #495 Dufton Pike, #496 High Rigg, #497 Lord’s Seat and left this one which has become a bête noire with me. The WX was a bit rubbish the day before in the Lake District, but the WX for this day was mainly sunny, very sunny, quite sunny and very sunny. It’s also been dry for about week for the first in 6months. Right, this time we are going to succeed.

I parked in the upper Glen Trool car park and was booted and bagged for about 9.30. It was T-shirt WX and as a last minute thought I’d thrown my summer hat, sun-creme and inset repellent in the bag. The walk starts of with a descent and that means a climb when you’re tired to get to the car. There’s a good forest track for the first 5km and in total you descend 175m and climb 275m so it’s a good warm up for the climb itself. It’s easy to make good time along here and today the WX was awesome, sunny but not too hot and not much wind. And the views in the old Oak forest and the newer plantations are stunning.

Gairland Burn, I could spend all day on the bridge watching and listening to this.

Anyway I kept plodding on in a determined way for about 3km when you get to see the Shiel Burn Waterfall. Lamachan Hill GM/SS-061 is the hill behind the waterfall and you get to the hill by climbing up alongside the waterfall. Even at a distance the noise is impressive.

The view back from the same place. The Oaks have given way to Spruce and Fir trees. All the grass etc. on the hills is still dead from Winter. Soon it will all be green and probably harder to walk on! The light seemed to be very good.

So I plodded for 5km and was looking for the gate. Through the gate and up the hill. Not very hard really so I don’t know why I’d made such a fuss about this! And then you get to the ground at the start. Now today it was quite manageable. But these three photos show what it’s like after a 7 dry days. Imagine what it’s like with cattle and rain. Oh and it does rain here. From the obvious drying mud to the next ridge still in shade the ground is boggy nastiness. It was wet and gloopy and every step was an adventure to whether I’d sink or not. About 150m of sheer delight :slight_smile:

Cattle damage, this mud can be well over ankle deep.

It doesn’t look that bad here. You’re welcome to come and test it. :slight_smile:

About 2/5ths of the way up. The bog dries out and it’s just Galloway tussocks etc. Walking poles essential as you need to prod the ground for every step - just in case… The gate direction is to draw a straight line from where I’m standing through the obvious boulders and on to the road. It took quite some time to get here.

The ground steepens a lot and despite the slope it was still quite wet in places. Also there often big voids around the rocks and boulders to catch out an unsuspecting leg. Just go up and up and up.

Finally the slope levels off and there’s about 500m of uneven granite outcrops and pools to the true summit and trig point. Nearly there. Looking East, the far loch is Clatteringshaws Loch, a reservoir built in the 1930s and part of the Galloway Hydro Power Scheme. Hiding behind and right of this loch is Cairnsmore, Black Craig of Dee, GM/SS-170, a summit loved by all who have suffered it’s leg breaking capabilities :slight_smile:

Ground on the relatively flat top. I do like these granite, grass and pool summits.

And so here we are at the top. So up with the EFHW in inv-7 style and onto the bands. The radio had been a bit rubbish the day before and I was hoping for better today. Not bad is how I’d describe it. Nothing on 10 or 12m but OK on the other bands. I had end stop 4G signal on my phone. Just as well as not long after turning on the KX2, Mrs. FMF rang and wanted to know how to restore the power as a breaker kept tripping. Then the hotel where I’d stayed rang because they had my credit card details wrong. But I was able to check on SOTAwatch all the time and regularly jumped to anyone spotted on 10m. But once more, this, Lord’s Seat and High Rigg where challenge point free :frowning:

10MHz worked well, a few G stations as it was quite short skip plus the usual EU stations. Then onto 7MHz SSB. No WAB net but I was working a GW station who was POTA/SOTA/WAB or something. But I wasn’t able to complete because some retarded buffoon insisted on QSPing all the details thus spoiling the QSO. I called him out and he said he was “helping”. Well it’s not in my log because if I didn’t copy the call and report without some 3rd party giving it to me it’s not a valid QSO. I don’t why so many people find this such a difficult concept to grasp. I QSY’d and had a very nice well behaved group of genuine SOTA chasers call in. Sort of made up for the mental bantamweight who spoilt the first QSO. I worked 5 more on 18MHz CW and finished off on 14MHZ CW. I kept flicking back to 10m but no copy on anyone. :frowning:

FMF summit junk! 2006 vintage Tesco garden kneeler and a piece of house vapour barrier. It’s water proof in one direction and rolls up and weighs nothing but makes a nice dry area to sit on. KX2, paddle, log, phone, glasses case, dry-bag, stuff sacks, belay jacket, water bottle and walking poles.

And then it was time to go. The computer said 50mins to climb and it took 1hr20. I knew it would take an hour or so to get to the track and at least 1hr30 to get to the car. So I packed up, had a chocolate bar and took photos and savoured the view. Apart from the trig point, at the summit there is no sign of human activity no matter where you look. If it wasn’t for the occasional contrail in the sky, I could have been the only human on the planet. I’ve enjoyed reading about Ben on Dun and Tim and Fraser on Ben Nevis and friends. They all had plenty of other people with them. Me? I saw just one person in 8.5hrs from leaving the car to returning and they were nearly back at the car. It is awesomely remote down here considering where you are !

Some panoramas to set the scene.

Lamachan Hill GM/SS-061. Summmit cairn can be seen on the top.

L-R Merrick GM/SS-028 Craignaw GM/SS-096 and Corserine GM/SS-033 (on the right). Behind Corserine is Carlin’s Cairn. On these last two summits you’ll find WW2 wrecks for 2x Avro Anson, 1x DeHaviland Mosquito, 1x Douglas Dakota. The ground in the flat bit between Craignaw and Corserine is known for being “a bit damp”.

Benyellary, The Merrick GM/SS-028 and Craignaw GM/SS-096

Craiglee GM/SS-150 summit trig with Lamachan Hill GM/SS-061 behind it.

3rd time lucky for MM0FMF :slight_smile: Whilst it was still sunny, the wind had enough chill to it that I had to admit defeat and put on a fleece.

Looking ESE down to Loch Dee. Many of the lochs here have wonderful sandy beaches to them. The sand however is assorted granites and the pieces are about 1mm cubed not fine like sand is normally. The hill to the right and behind the loch is Curlywee Hill. A Hump that most Lamachan Walks suggest you include. It looks good. The obvious peak left and far distance is Millfore GM/SS-092. That is a brilliant hill and the ground is much easier than here.

It was back down to the gate. It took me 1hr to do it without falling, tripping, sliding, getting wet or too muddy. I had a long break and drink at the gate, adjusted layers, repacked the bag, adjusted straps and the fit on my back and set off on the 90min trek to the car. The walk was anything but tedious or tiring as the views were so good along with all the birdsong. Walking along the track on a nice day is reward enough never mind climbing a hill or getting contacts.

So finally, Craiglee is done. It’s not that hard TBH, it’s 15.5km and about 550m ascent. Just needs the right weather and some determination to surmount the bloody awful ground once you leave the track. In fact some kind of masochism has started emerging that seeing Craignaw and friends on such a nice day has got me thinking I might do some of these summits again. I always said once is more than enough for most of them but looking at them in the nice WX had them calling out to be climbed again. That or senility is calling :slight_smile:

Thanks to the chasers, all the SOTA people behaved very well.

Now to plan Mullwharchar with Gerald G4OIG. Watch this space.


Oh yes, never to be forgotten. A summit that makes me pleased that I’m hooked on Uniques so I won’t ever be tempted to go back. :relieved: I activated it on the day that you activated Craignaw and we met up later in the day. I was aiming to add Fell of Fleet GM/SS-181 to Black Craig of Dee, but wimped out and switched to White Top of Culreoch GM/SS-245 and so lived to continue activating. :joy:

My activation of Craiglee was with Neil 2M0NCM and he kindly took me the soft route via Craignaw so I did not have to suffer the ascent between the track and Craiglee. I know that I got off lightly. You’ve certainly earned the Unique, so well done on that. I look forward our venture to slay the mighty Mullwharchar in due course.

Many thanks for the great report and super photos. It was a real pleasure to see Galloway again… if only we had hover boots…

73, Gerald


Unfortunately we climbed it pre-SOTA, so will have to revisit if we want it for SOTA. Besides the ground we also had to contend with being harassed by Peregrines: we must have strayed too close to their nest while trying to find a route.

We do need to go back to Galloway, not least because Martyn did Merrick before I was licensed, though I doubt we’ll manage to find the elements from his original SOTAbeam that managed to fall out of their tube somewhere on the descent 20ish years ago!