This year I have set myself the modest target of walking (or hiking) 500 miles, which works out at just under 10 miles a week. In retrospect I am hoping to smash the target – but I have to get there first!
Using my GPS and the fantastic Garmin Connect, I have found a great way to log each walk.
This walk was a late-ish start on Sunday heading onto Cort-ma Law, one of the high points on the Campsie Fells just to the North of Glasgow. For anyone travelling North past Stirling on the M73 the Campsies rise up invitingly in front of their eyes. The hills cover quite a substantial area, almost reaching from Stirling to Drymen (this is a very general generalisation) and is encircled (very loosely, clockwise from Glasgow) by the A81, A811 and M9/M80. While there are some fine walks (Dumgoyne is a major early landmark on the West Highland Way) the majority of the ground on top is featureless, grassy and bog. If you like Sphagnum Moss this really is the place to be!
Anyway – I digress.
Cort-ma Law sits at 531m, a relatively modest height, with a trig point atop it. Access to the hills is from a car park on the locally named “crow road”, which passes right through the fells themselves. The car park sits at a fine spot, half way up the hill, giving superb views of the Kelvin valley and Glasgow itself. It is a favourite local beauty spot which is popular whatever the weather, although it tends to suffer from bouts of the local “wildlife” at times, if you get my meaning. This is where we started the walk.
From the car park it is a steep climb up a promising looking ridge (again I use the term very loosely). You can tell this is an ever popular walk here as the ground is well worn by plenty of boots. It is a deceptively steep ascent for this area as well, climbing over 200 metres in just under 1km. Eventually a cairn is reached at the top of the ridge and from here the views truly are superb. I must point out here that when we walked up we couldn’t see much more than 50m, the mist was so thick. Starved of our reward, we carried on regardless – compass and map in hand. The wind was on our backs, which at least kept the persistent drizzle off the glasses. There is a path up here that is relatively easy to follow for most of the way to the trig point on Cort-ma Law. The ground is undulating, very boggy in places and is reminiscent of moorland rather than mountain.
We got up to Cort-ma Law without incident – even passing a large group who were just returning from it. The original plan was to do a circular walk (there are several lumps and bumps up here which can be linked to form a rough horseshoe) heading North from the trigpoint towards Lecket Hill and descend from there to the road and back to the car. We were persuaded otherwise as the ground further round is notoriously boggy, quite possibly requiring the use of snorkels to complete the journey.
We managed to get ourselves lost – not lost really, we just went the wrong way – okay then lost, shortly after leaving the trig point. The low ground as we walked away was extremely boggy. As the mist seemed to get thicker we picked our way round it in seemingly the right direction before completely losing the path and becoming disoriented. Cue a check of the map and GPS which resulted in taking a bearing in the opposite direction in which we thought we should be going. Trusting to the compass rather than our rather out-of-sync sense of direction, we finally found the path about 50m away. By now the weather was vile, mainly because we were walking directly into the wind/rain/sleet.
The walk back wasn’t much to write home about, to be honest we could only see a few metres in any direction, and it was with some relief that each of the cairns passed on the way out loomed out the mist. Eventually we started the descent to the car park, and finally got some sort of view as the cloud had lifted a few metres from when we had started. There was still time to fall arse over apex before returning to the car, wet, cold and gasping for a pint.
Day Rating 4/10
Wet, cold, horrible and couldn’t see a thing. The only saving grace was it was a useful exercise in practicing compass work and some extra logged mileage. One to do again in better weather.