Slackdhu - 496m
Tuesday 22nd December 2009

Weather/Conditions: The snow continues on the Campsies. Conditions similar to yesterday with snow showers, low cloud and fog but less sun than yesterday.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 4.6km / 420m / 2h 20m
Accompanying: Alone

Day II on Slackdhu. This day bears enough resemblance to the day before (you can read about that trip here) that I barely distinguish between the two in my memory. It did feel great, however, to be on the hill again. I started walking later than the day before (2pm as opposed to 12.40pm), so the final climb to the summit was done quickly to beat darkness. 70m below the summit also marks the point that I passed 50 vertical kilometres in the mountains in 2009. Essentially, if you pile up all the metres I've climbed in 2009 one on top of another, I'd be 50km's above the ground. Some people may find this kind of note taking a bit anal, but I've always enjoyed to ponder over the heights climbed. It also gives rise to many observations and thoughts on hillwalking that I wouldn't otherwise have made. While long walks can be blasted over painlessly on a sunny day, short walks among wintry blasts and drifted snow can become torturous. It always fascinates.

Today, I varied my route a little to include some more difficult terrain, including rock outcrops and slabs. My trail from the day before was still etched onto the face, so I needed some kind of challenge. It was all good fun, but brought home the fact that it really is damn scary to climb on rock with no obvious holds. It mirrored my descent from the Buachaille Etive Mor the day before, using axes and crampons to find handholds on blank rock. I repeat my statement from that walk: I don't mind climbing above drops, but only when the holds are obvious and sound.

To put it one way, I find the Campsie Fells a great testing ground. Without spending time and money getting to the Highlands, it's great to travel just fifteen minutes and have a playground at my expense to test out fitness, exposure or whatever I feel like on the day.

Today, I'd originally planned to explore some of the icicles gathering on the face too, although darkness prevented this. By the time I'd reached the foot of the hill, darkness was fast approaching and I'd end up missing my bus by 15 minutes.

Having pissed about Blanefield for ten minutes, I stopped in the Kirkhouse Inn for 45 minutes for a (non-alcoholic) drink and crisps. This walk would be my last before Christmas. With snow staying down to ground level and with weather so clear, I'd spend the next couple of days dreaming of the hills. The snow continues to lie though and with Christmas over, I hope for one more trip to the Campsies before the snow melts again.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 2.00pm Blanefield
(1.25) 3.25pm Slackdhu
(2.20) 4.20pm Blanefield

Written: 2009-12-26