Tobar nan Ceann Gang

The blog of a bunch of middle aged men trying to stay youthful…!

Feb-25-2012

Hart Fell


This walk was arranged as a practice / training walk for our up and coming West Highland Way walk in aid of Soldiers off the Street – Scotland.You can find out more details over at SotS-Scotland website or SotS-Scotland FaceBook


Hart Fell Photo Gallery

Marek’s quality video of our walk over Hart Fell Ridges

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEr5n8Kx5gM&list=UUuHoyXsUERZUZg-VdFX5cnQ&index=1&feature=plcp[/tube]


Report by Craig Hall

Driving up the M6 motorway towards Scotland on Saturday was a strange journey. The weather forecast was showing bright red, severe  weather warnings for snow and ice in the Moffat area, but the view through the windscreen was of clear blue, sunny skies. As we approached Carlisle, the picture changed and the heavens opened. Any thoughts of being lucky seemed dashed! Thankfully, another 20 miles later and we were back to blue skies and that set the picture for the rest of the weekend.

After a good evening in Moffat and a lovely stay at the Hart Fell Hotel, the gang met up early on Sunday morning. 6 of us this time – Craig, Jeff, Jock, Marek and Stuart were joined by Wendy who was given a (very) temporary, one day’s pass to join the TNC Gang!

We had a map and directions but still managed to get a little confused at the start – unsure where to leave the road and head into the hills. We could see the majestic outline of the horseshoe before us – the tops covered in snow looking very inviting. We hadn’t been expecting a lot as the area didn’t conjure up many thoughts of big hills, but the combination of blue sky, snow covered peaks and warm (ish) sunshine led to a feeling of excitement and eager anticipation.

 

Having decided on a route, it was only a short distance from the road to the foot of the first climb, hardly giving our muscles the chance to warm up before it was straight into a very tough ascent. We had been pre-warned that the paths were a little ‘faint’ and we weren’t disappointed! But largely the overall route was pretty obvious – it was just a case of getting to the top of the first hill (Black Craig – 2100 ft) and then following the ridges down one side of the valley and then back up the other.

The footpath snaked up the side of a gorge cut out of the side of the mountain by an ancient stream. The going was tough and extremely steep as we zig-zagged up the side of the hill following the narrow sheep trails. All our efforts on improving fitness were temporarily masked and deep breathing was heard from all quarters! Even Marek seemed a little tired although he had kindly gone the whole of the previous night without any sleep just to put us all on an even playing field…!

Eventually we made it to the top of the first section and after that, the gradient became less steep. As we gained further altitude then there was more and more snow lying on the ground and any scarves, hats and gloves that had been discarded on the initial ascent were quickly retrieved as the temperatures plummeted.

The trail then continued around the ridge towards the summit of Hart Fell at the far end of the valley. Midway along we encountered a pinnacle jutting out into the valley close to Swatte Fell (a 2392 ft Donald). With its steep sides and prominent position it was a great place to rest and have a photo taken before carrying on. Eventually we made it to the trig point that marked the summit of Hart Fell, a 2651 ft Corbett.  As always we marked the achievement by standing on the trig point and having photo’s taken – much to the amusement of some other walkers who assumed that this was a special occasion rather than just getting to the top!

Our new acquaintances (complete with their ice axes for a couple of inches of powder snow) kind of ‘cramped our style’ and our stay at the top was prematurely ended to escape to a quieter place to have lunch. Lunch proved to be a swift affair as it was far too cold to keep the gloves off for more than a few minutes!

The return to the car was a much more ‘up and down’ experience than the outward leg. First though we had to cross a ‘largely’ frozen bog as we headed up towards Under Saddle Yoke (2444 ft)  and then Saddle Yoke (2411 ft ). I say largely frozen as Wendy managed to find a deep bit that wasn’t frozen… haha!

As is usually the case, coming back down proved to be a painful experience for a few of us – very sore knees on the steep hillside. By the end of the walk we were all pretty shattered and headed back into Moffat to have a well earned drink and bite to eat at The Black Bull.

Another fantastic day for the TNC Gang and more good training for the upcoming West Highland Way.

Hart Fell Photo Gallery

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