Slackdhu - 496m
Dumfoyn - 426m

Dumgoyne - 427m

Saturday 19th September 2009

Weather/Conditions: Sunny with cumulus cloud and blue sky. Very nice weather.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 8.7km / 620m / 1h 48m
Accompanying: Alone

This was another day on the Campsie Fells, another day walking on the hills that are so close to hand. I often walk this route when I've got an evening spare but today, speed was the objective. I could saunter over the same hills day after day, but sometimes you need to go somewhere with it: today my goal was to time myself Strathblane to Strathblane across Slackdhu, Dumfoyn and Dumgoyne.

So as I started up the private road from Strathblane memorial, the stopwatch was ticking. I climbed down the river banks and up onto Slackdhu's lower slopes. Today, the cows on these slopes weren't a problem and I worked on covering as much terrain as possible undistracted. I was up against my best time so far of 2 hours 25 minutes. I usually took 55 minutes to reach Slackdhu - never less - and after that, I'd climb across the hummocks to Dumgoyne at the far end. Today, I had the additional problem of negotiating bracken and nettles on Slackdhu. I learnt the hard way to follow streams and not prominences. The growth is simply too thick to climb through. Even with trousers, I climbed out above the bracken with nettle stings all the way my lower legs. It was a terrible slog too, very tiring, but the final steep ramp to the plateau presented itself to me soon enough and I was up in no time. A couple of minutes across the plateau brought me to Slackdhu's summit.

I had climbed it in 43 minutes. I wasn't so sure how I had cut 12 minutes from my last fastest time, but I had and that's what counted. I'd have to make sure I kept up to good progress so I didn't stop at the summit either. Every second counted so I was then on my way down to Dumfoyn. I was obsessed by the clock. You could say that what I was doing was fell running, but for now I'd say I'm a hillwalker who's interested in speed. Or I'm in denial.

Having ran off Slackdhu, I crossed the rough ground to the foot of Dumfoyn, and held the same pace up its grassy slopes, following a shallower gradient to keep progress up. I was up Dumfoyn in five minutes and twenty minutes after leaving Slackdhu. These times I was coming out with were surprising me but I was also becoming very tired. It's not a pace I can keep up, but I had one hill left and after that it would be all downhill.

Without stopping on Dumfoyn, I ran to the foot of Dumgoyne and ascended via. the scree gully. Ascending by the right hand side, I only joined the scree on the last twenty feet. In addition to being wet, it was noticeably harder this time around to find hand and foot holds. In addition was the dampness. On the shaded north side of the hill, the sun hadn't evaporated previous rainfall, but it wasn't too problematic and I was up in no time anyway. I arrived at Dumgoyne's summit stone to the company of some other walkers admiring the views.

And the views were sure beautiful, across Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps to Ben Ledi in the east. I paused for a minute to catch my breath, giving thought to the late afternoon vistas. But I was off again, running down Dumgoyne towards the approach track from Strathblane. Intent on beating the two hour mark, I half walked and half ran the distance back, passing through a group of cows on the way back. It was a bit tense... Sometimes I thought I wouldn't make two hours, but as passing fields became driveways and street lights, I knew I was close and knew I'd make it. With the end in sight, I sprinted the final metres for good measure, finishing 1 hour and 48 minutes after starting out.

The following day, I could feel the energy lacking from my legs. I didn't realise it had taken that much out of me. For the record, I chose to wear light trainers, take one litre of water and some chocolate as well as a jacket and camera. If I were to simplify things further, then the next logical step would be to take a camera smaller than an SLR and leave the jacket altogether. But that's if I can even get close to 1 hour 48 minutes again. If I can repeat that speed, then the next goal would be to beat the 100 minute mark. It's a vicious circle.

Having met dad at the end in Strathblane, we spent the evening above the Queens View at Auchineden Hill. The stroll was good for my stiffened legs that had only sat in the car for a matter of minutes. And the views were nice from there too...

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 4.34pm Strathblane
(0.43) 5.17pm Slackdhu
(1.03) 5.37pm Dumfoyn
(1.14) 5.48pm Dumgoyne
(1.48) 6.22pm Strathblane
Written: 2009-09-??