This was my second Quality Mountain Day of this most recent Bank Holiday weekend. I’m doing them to get on a Mountain Leader course and you can read about the previous day in this blog post. Thanks to Hannah Belshaw for some of the photos!
My wife and I had been up Merrick the previous day. The way down had been interesting, mainly because I’d just taken the quickest route, whether or not it was actually a good idea.
With this route, we wanted to make sure we were on the correct side of the Galloway Hills so that we could get home in good time for our children. I planned the route with Hannah, my wife, but decided we’d have to play it by ear a bit depending on the terrain.
The Mountain Weather Service report said that the Galloway Hills on 7th May 2018 would be sunny and warm, with very little wind. Here’s a PDF of the report.
It was a straightforward walk up past some standing stones and a farm. I’d wanted to go and explore them, but there were lambs in the field so I thought it best not to disturb them.
Further on, some of the rams had very curly horns.
The route took us up past a disused lead mine. Some of the smelting chimneys were still standing. The air shafts were well marked and fenced-off.
After looking around the abandoned buildings (apparently there were 50 dwellings here at one point) we set off, but on the wrong track. I realised when we started entering the trees, and turned around.
However, instead of going all the way back to the path, I decided that we’d go along by the fence and then join the train. That meant we had to traverse lots of grass hummocks, which was hard going. In fact, this was the least steep of the hills but the most difficult walking.
Eventually we found a track up Knockower (511m) and followed that.
We got near the top and stopped for some coffee. It was at this point we made a decision to only go up Black Craig.
We headed down Knockower and towards Black Craig. This part involved tramping over heather, which was difficult for Hannah’s knee (which was already hurting a bit).
I suggested that on the way back down we use the stone wall as a ‘rail’ and head down into the forest.
The top of Black Craig (528m) was beautiful with magnificent views over Loch Doon. As we ate lunch, Hannah saw a track up Coran of Portmark and suggested we go up it. I agreed.
We trudged down Black Craig through boggy heather. Hannah spotted a moth, and we saw a lot of bees.
Crossing a wall and stream, we started our ascent of Coran of Portmark (which is an odd name for a mountain).
We walked at a steady pace near to the fence. It was straightforward but reasonably steep.
We made it to the top of Coran of Portmark (623m) and then looked for a track back down.
By this point, I’d realised that my watch had stopped tracking our route, which was annoying. Nevertheless, we just wanted to get back to the car and home.
We headed back past the disused lead mine. I wanted to investigate the air shafts, but Hannah stayed well clear.
We made it back to the car. My watch had stopped recording walk after about 5km but we did around 17km in about 5.5 hours.
Things I learned:
- The second day is always harder than the first, especially for less experienced walkers.
- I shouldn’t just rely on one method of tracking my route.
- The terrain can make the difference between an enjoyable walk and a tough one.