Monday, 5 May 2014

An Easter Backpack in the Galloway Hills: Day 2 - Mullwharchar and the Northern Rhinns of Kells

Saturday 19th April 2014

A long sunny day in the hills, during which I only saw one other person! 

Distance: 26km; Ascent: 1220m; Warm & sunny; Solo

After a reasonable night's sleep, I woke up to a gloriously sunny morning next to Loch Enoch high in the Galloway Hills.  There were excellent views across the crystal clear water towards The Merrick rising above the far side of the loch.

Morning sun at my Loch Enoch camp
Loch Enoch
I set off walking at around 9am and headed up the southern slopes of my first hill of the day, Mullwharchar, with fantastic views all around.  Soon I reached the cairn on the summit of Mullwharchar (Graham, Donald).  I took a short break by the cairn for a second breakfast, whilst admiring the views.

Mullwharchar summit cairn
Looking west to The Merrick & Kirriereoch Hill from Mullwharchar
Looking north towards Loch Doon from the N ridge of Mullwharchar
I continued northwards along the ridge, past my planned campsite for last night, to reach the summit of Hoodens Hill (Donald Dewey).  From here there were good views northwards to Loch Doon, and from a little bit further down the ridge I could pick out my planned route through the cleared forest to a footbridge over Gala Lane.

Summit rocks of Hoodens Hill
Looking down to Loch Doon and Gala Lane from the N ridge of Hoodens Hill
As I continued northwards the ridge narrowed and became more distinct, with a faint path heading down the ridge.  By now I was quite low on water and the day was starting to warm up, so I detoured westwards to resupply from the pleasant looking burn of Eglin Lane.

Loch Macaterick and Eglin Lane
Eglin Lane
My route down to the footbridge, through the cleared forest, was easier than I expected but still quite boggy in places.  At the footbridge I stopped for my first lunch break, and soon after I crossed the footbridge I joined a forest road, on which I made fast progress heading NNE towards my next hills.

On the forest road on route to the next range of hills
Log pile
The forest road annoyingly, although not surprisingly, ended in the middle of the woods leaving me with around a kilometre of forest to make my way through to reach the open hillside.  Luckily there were several firebreaks to make this easier, although I still ended up having to push through the last few metres of densely planted trees to reach the open ground above.  Now I was out of the forest, I soon joined up with a reasonable path ascending up to reach the summit of Coran of Portmark (Donald, Graham Top).  Shortly before reaching the summit I met the only other person I'd see all day, who had just finished a traverse of the Rhinns of Kells.

Loch Doon from the NW slopes of Coran of Portmark
Summit cairn of Coran of Portmark
After a good break for a second lunch by the cairn, I continued southwards over the summit of Bow (Donald Top, Graham Top) to reach the trigpoint on the summit of Meaul (Donald, Graham Top), with good views of the next section of the walk along the ridge to Corserine.

Cairn on Bow summit
Trigpoint on Meaul; looking towards Corserine
I now ascended up to above 800m for the first time on this backpack and headed towards the massive cairn on the summit of Carlin's Cairn (Donald, Graham Top).  From here I could make out my route on to Corserine, which appeared to be quite a bulky hill.

Carlin's Cairn
Corserine from the North
A final pull brought me up to the trigpoint on the summit of Corserine (Corbett, Donald), where I stopped for a break whilst deciding where I should camp for the evening.  My original plan had been to reach the Lochans of Auchniebut, but to reach this spot would involve climbing a further two hills today and I doubted I'd have time to do this before sunset.  Therefore instead I settled on somewhere on the ridge between Corserine and Millfire.

Carlin's Cairn from the N slopes of Corserine
On the summit of Corserine
Looking south along the Rhinns of Kells ridge
I took a detour east from the southern ridge of Corserine to stock up with water from the headwaters of the Hawse Burn, which here ran through a quite steep sided little gorge high up on the hillside.  Regaining the ridge, I continued southwards before finding a lovely flat grassy spot to camp high up on the ridge with excellent views.  I pitched my tent and watched the sun set over The Merrick whilst enjoying a pleasant dinner of couscous, pepper and chorizo.

Ridge top camp in the Rhinns of Kells
Sunset from the tent

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