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Report on Wanlockhead
3 April 2010   (75418 views)

Day Walk Wanlockhead
Saturday 3rd April 2010

Today?s walkers with Trench Foot were Mark, Irene, Gail, Amy, Denise, James and Belle the mutt.

Text we received said meet at Visitor Centre kitted and booted, ready to walk at 11am. James, Belle and myself arrived sharp at 10.45am only to get a call to say other car load were running late but would be there for 11am. Left Belle patiently waiting in the car and we went into the coffee shop and had tea and scones, very civilised. Others arrived about 11.20am with some story that Mark had to go to supermarket and buy eggs to boil and paint for our Easter egg rolling. Finally set off at 11.30am.

Lovely crisp sunny morning and we headed east out of the car park and up some treacherous snow covered steep steps towards the children?s play area at the top of the hill. From here we crossed the road and headed towards Lowther Hill. There was a lot of snow, knee deep in places and it was fun to watch Belle bounding over the hill and getting stuck in the odd drift.

About a third of the way up the hill we reached a track which looked as if it went all the way to the top, but we only followed it for a short time and then headed back down into the valley to cross a bridge over the river. We planned to follow this route between Lowther Hill and Green Lowther. It was quite hard going as we were walking along the sloping side of Green Lowther which was covered in snow. Every so often a squeal would go up as someone?s legs slipped from under them, mostly Irene I have to say! Mark kept shouting keep to the path which was more like a sheep trail covered in snow which nobody could see anyway.

Then the hailstones started! Fortunately the hail shower didn?t last long and when it ceased we decided it might be a good time to stop for lunch whilst it was dry. We dropped down right to the valley floor and followed the river past some lovely water falls till we found a good flat area which was well sheltered. We all got our painted eggs out. I couldn?t find any felt pens so mine was painted with nail varnish. Irene?s was a masterpiece with a pout Katie Price would have been proud of and beautiful sky blue eyes and every hair lovingly drawn on. Mark?s had a nice smile but was a bit follicley challenged.

We climbed a little and rolled our eggs down, with strategically placed rucksacks to stop them dropping in the river. Irene launched hers from a great height and it came down like Sir Barnes Neville Wallis?s dam buster bomb, clearing the bags and dropping in the river. I rolled my sleeve up and quickly retrieved it wishing I hadn?t bothered as the river felt like liquid nitrogen. Worried Irene might get lead poisoning now! Irene, Amy and Mark proceeded to have an egg fight (think conkers but with eggs). Amy has obviously taken part in this discipline before as she knew exactly what end of her egg to use to obtain best results with minimal damage to her own egg. I was much too hungry to join in so cracked my egg and spread it on a roll, delicious, Belle had the other one.

Discussion ensued during lunch about the covenanters, to learn more check out
My homework is to submit a 2 page essay to Mark a week on Tuesday regarding same. Much refreshed we set off again. This time crossing another bridge and following a farm track uphill behind Green Lowther. Stopped to admire lots of frog spawn in the river, then more in puddles all along the track, then yet more just lying in the muddy fields. Some frogs not very bright! Also spotted loads of hares on hillside, but on closer inspection through James?s binoculars turned out to be rabbits!

Just starting to enjoy a proper path when we set off across country again and a steep descent back down to the river, which is getting wider and no bridges in sight. Decide to cross at a bank where there is a large stone mid way across river. Mark throws rucksack over and jumps to the other side using stone as a step. I go next then call to James to remove Belle?s coat in case she falls in. My dog has more brains than most and jumps nimbly on to stone then safely on to the bank. Irene standing camera at the ready to get an action shot of anyone going for a swim.
Finally it?s Irene?s turn, camera safely packed away and gloves hooked together in case they fall in. She leaps, slips on stone, grabs Mark?s outstretched helping hand and falls head first into the torrent pulling Mark in with her. Unfortunately no photographic evidence is available, but trust me when I say it was the funniest thing I have ever seen.

Much debate now as to whether Irene should strip off and go commando with her waterproof trousers or carry on as there was another crossing at the end of the walk. Decide to carry on and change later. Steep ascent now jumping back and forward across river looking for best way up. Gail shouts from behind how much she hates this walk and to remind her never to come this way again. Finally get to top of hill and sun is shining, steam coming from Irene?s boots. Stop for another hot drink and laugh at Irene and Mark?s unexpected swim (really worried about Irene getting lead poisoning now). Then head downhill to another farm track which Belle begins to follow. This would be the sensible route to take but Mark likes to go as the crow flies so set off uphill again and across the boggiest field I have ever had the misfortune to find myself in. Irene and Mark don?t care as their feet are wet anyway. Finally reach a drover?s path called Dempster Road that Mark was searching for and follow it all the way back to main road. One more really wide river between us and road. Gail and I debate lying Irene in the middle and using her as a bridge but it looks about 6 foot wide so would still be 3 foot short.

On descent now and can see Mark up ahead searching for a narrow way across. Stops at a wide part with a grassy island in the middle. Before we can all catch up to debate if this is the best place to cross, he has thrown his rucksack over to the island. No going back now, so much for democracy! Irene decides to wade over as she can?t get any wetter. The rest of us all manage to jump and James decides to wade carrying Belle. It wasn?t very deep but unfortunately he stepped into a deep plunge pool up to his knee but to his credit never dropped the dog.

45 minute road walk back to the car park and arrived too late to sample the macaroni cheese and chips at the caf? at the visitors centre. It closed at 5pm and it was now 6pm!

Apologies for the rambling report, but it?s my first one and I didn?t want to miss anything out.

Denise Smith

leaving Wanlockhead
Amy and Mark
More snow
The team minus Irene
Easter Eggs
The river Irene fell in
a helping hand
steep climb
looking back
home page photo
Gail on the last snow this year
Irene in snow

Photos: Irene Cahill

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