A Cold Day in Galloway: Cairnsmore of Carsphairn

A cloudy and cold hill walk in Galloway taking in Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, a hill that I had attempted around a year earlier but had to turn back due to howling winds and Sarah nearly blowing away! Although definitely not any warmer (and with less views than the last attempt), the weather was a little calmer this time and allowed us to make the summit.

[January 2019]

What a great way to start the year, with a reasonably straightforward hill walk in the Galloway Forest Park. The hill of choice was Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, a 797m Corbett that sits separated from the rest of the Galloway hills.

As usual, the day started with a long drive to the foot of the hill, this time south rather than north, which was fairly unusual for us as hill days usually involve heading north. This time my dad was accompanying me rather than Sarah, too. We arrived at the start of the walk (there’s a small area to leave cars near a cottage at the Green Well of Scotland on the A713) around 0830, quickly getting ready to set off as it was particularly chilly. There was no snow around and none was forecast – in fact, the weather had been reasonably mild until now – so we didn’t bring an axe or crampons, but did opt for winter boots for a little more insulation.

The walk started with a pleasant section of track through a sheep farm for a mile or so before turning off the track to make our way up and over Willieanna, now pathless and blazing our own trail.

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A pleasant start
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Looking across to the Galloway hills

The up-and-over did not take long and after descending Willieanna to reach a stile, we stopped for a quick drink before starting the steep ascent of Dunool, the start of a broad ridge towards the summit of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. We were now fully in cloud and as a result there wasn’t anything to see, so we trudged on along the very feint path towards the summit.

The summit was reached around 1100, 2.5 hours after setting off. Although not icy, the ground was hard and frozen and as a result quite difficult to make quick progress, so we were reasonably pleased with our progress. After admiring the “view”, we hunkered down behind the sheltered cairn in the lee of the now strengthening (and very cold) wind to have a quick bite to eat and a drink before setting off on our descent.

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A cloudy and cold summit

Rather than retracing our steps, we headed ESE along a wall from the summit, eventually reaching the top of the ascent track where we had turned off around a mile further down. The wind was now picking up and the temperature plummeted (the small patches of ice forming on my jacket’s zips were the main clue!) so we pressed on as quickly as we could to reach the top of the track where we would be lower in the valley and hopefully more out of the wind. Checking the weather information when we got home, it was supposedly around -2 or -3 in villages in the area, so with the ice-cold wind and the extra altitude it was probably safe to say it was a good few degrees colder than that where we were!

Thankfully the wind did die down as we reached the top of the track, which made progress easy as we sauntered back towards the car after a chilly, but still enjoyable day taking in a hill that had escaped me the previous year.

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More cloud
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Unchanged from the morning

We reached the car at 1300, a little over 2 hours after leaving the summit of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. Pleased with ourselves, we quickly changed at the back of the car into some warm clothes for the drive north back home. This leaves me with 2 more Corbetts to tick off in Galloway, so hopefully they’ll be on the cards soon!

 

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