Sunday, 6 December 2015

Croft Head & Scaw'd Fell

Walk Summary
Hart Fell from Yadburgh Hill
Almost to the day, this time last year, following a walk around Dulyn reservoir that went more or less exactly as planned I remember thinking "...maybe I am getting the hang of this hill walking malarky". Well this year - today's walk went even better than planned. Even though I could not get to the walk start point at Selcoth Fish Farm due to the A702 being blocked by flood water, following a night of rain and the after effects of Storm Desmond that had devastated Keswick, Glennridding as well as other large areas of the Lake District and Cumbria.
Opting not to drive through flood water of an unknown depth and turning back towards Moffat I decided to fall back on a route I had also planned but had abandoned due to the weather and lost walking days during this trip.
The route was what was now the isolated Marilyn Scaw'd Fell, due to it being bypassed on a walk earlier this year to Capel Fell. It was this familiarity that enable the walk to go even better than planned.

Other walks on this trip
2015
November
25th Whitfell & Black Combe
26th Whitbarrow, Gummer's Howe & Top o'Selside
28th Dodd (Lorton)
29th Birkside & Hunt Laws
December
01st The Wiss
02nd Hods Law & surrounding Donald Deweys
03rd Law Kneis & Ward Law
06th Croft Head & Scaw'd Law
08th Four Marilyns between Moffatt and Berwick
10th The 100th English Marilyn

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 06 December 2015
Walkers - Steve Smith

Accommodation - Moffat Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Start Point - Off road parking near bridge over River Moffat on road to Craigbeck (GR - NT10651 04301)
Start Time - 09:56
Finish Point
 - Off road parking near bridge over River Moffat on road to Craigbeck (GR - NT10651 04301)
Finish Time - 16:03
Duration - 6hrs 07mins
Average pace - 2.04mph
Distance Walked - 12.49miles
Height Ascended - 1031.61metres


Peaks visited
Munro (282)
NONE
Murdo (443)

NONE
Corbett (221)

NONE
Graham (224)

Croft Head (2)
Marilyn (1218S - 1552E,W&S)

Croft Head (55S - 177E,W&S)
Scaw'd Fell (56S - 178E,W&S)
Hump (2168S - 2976E,W&S)

Croft Head (68S - 254E,W&S)
Scaw'd Fell (69S - 255E,W&S)
Donald Dewey (248)
Scaw'd Fell (13)
S: Scotland. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland


Route
GPX can be downloaded from www.shareyouradventure.com

Walk Description
Looking across at Craigmichen Scar and Selcoth Burn below
from Croft Head ascent
Parking at the same spot used back in January to climb Capel Fell near the bridge over the River Moffat on the road to Craigbeck, then setting off along the Soutern Upland Way, it did not take me long to realise I could extend the days impromptu route and include the original days first Marilyn - Croft Head as part of the days route. The planned route was already 9½ miles but unlike previous days the weather was dry and because of the bad weather I was well rested so  had no hesitation to carry on past the turn off to Scaw'd Law below Allan's Craig, along the already familiar SUW around Birch Hill following Wamphrey Water to the col between Croft Head and West Knowe. I had already seen the path from this point up Cats Shoulder on the way to Capel Fell earlier in the year, so the plan was to take this route up to Croft Head summit, then back along the same route to the Scaw'd Fell turn off passed earlier.
Steep descent down Allan's Craig from Gateshaw Rig
Studying the map more closely I noticed a ridge walk to Gateshaw Rig and steep descent down Allan's Craig back to the SUW making a very pleasant circular route, thereby avoiding the backtrack along the SUW. The ridge walk is in fact an alternative high level option to the SUW, providing a fine view of the SUW below and a walk of faith from Gateshaw Rig towards what looks like an edge over Allan's Craig. Turns out it is not a climb or even a scramble down but very steep descent requiring care through thick wet heather and scrub.
After a quick bite and drink I finally started heading up the forest track towards Scaw'd Fell and looking for the sharp turn back into woods that would take me towards Coombe Cairn.
From Coomb Cairn you can see Scaw'd Fell summit off to the left, but the best route is to continue on the shallow ascent to the fence then turn sharp left, following the fence all the way to Scaw'd Fell summit.
With both the days Marilyns bagged and with at least 3 hours of daylight left instead of heading back along the fence I decided to drop lower to the east and follow the fence down Logan Gail. From the fence corner I could see Yadburgh Hill in all its splendour.
Bathed in afternoon winter sunshine,
steep descent then reascent to Yadburgh Hill
Bathed in winter afternoon sunshine bisected by thick pine forest on one side, the other golden yellow grass with it's full 74m prominence obvious and ascent route clear along the forest boundary. I know it is only a TUMP but it is on the way to Big Hill and who knows it may save a return visit. Not that I am bothering with TUMPs!
Anyway after summit photos time to press on to Big Hill. Continuing the descent along the forest boundary I was looking to turn right in to the forest down a boundary track just before the 424 spot height. Instead I found the forest had been cleared and it was a case of picking a way through the tree stumps until finding the forest track  on the NW side of Yadburgh Hill that would take me back towards the SUW behind Craigbeck Hope.
Following this to the sheepfold on the east side of Big Hill I had the choice of carrying on to the SUW and home or turning up hill and in to the forest to pick off Big Hill. Well surprise surprise I opted for the hill. Not an easy find because hill-bagging only had it as a 6 figure grid reference and as it had only been visited by 3 other people so far, hence no obvious or worn path to the summit.
Big Hill summit near small clearing within thick plantation,
difficult to focus in fading light
Having reached the 6 figure grid reference in a small clearing it was obvious there was higher ground to the NE. Only problem was it was within densly packed trees. Well I am not coming all this way to not finish the job and found the high point as best I could. I did take a photo but because of the fading light and poor light due to the tree canopy the summit photo was somewhat out of focus. The descent route via a compass bearing to the north again through dense pine forest until reaching the SUW along which I walked early, leaving only 40 minutes of easy downhill walking back to the van.
A most satisfying day. At 12½ miles would be the longest walk of the trip but more importantly an extra Marilyn that I will not have to do on a later visit when I will be able to head straight for West Knowe along Selcoth Burn rather than up Croft Head first.


More Photographs
Scaw'd Fell summit near fence from cairn to the SW
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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