Windy Hill - 278m
& Tops

Sunday 3rd July 2011

Weather/Conditions: Hot clear weather - not perfect for moor-bashing, but it could have been rain, after all!
Distance/Ascent/Time: 17.8km / 480m / 3h 10m
Accompanying: Alone

My parents were spending a week on the Isle of Bute and I decided to join them for the best part of a week. There being no mountains on Bute, I came up with the idea of climb all the 30m prominence tops - a list of which there are 27. I didn't have to trawl the Cowal & Bute map to find my Tops, a database of all British 30m prominence Tops is available on the rbh Marilyn-baggers Yahoo group - there are over 16,000 of them! Although impractical to climb the lot, it is nice to pick out an area and work through the list.

The highest point on Bute is Windy Hill at 278m. It's not much more than moorland but the costal setting makes the views worth mentioning.

Kilbride Hill to Cnoc an Allt

I started from Ettrick Bay on a warm and sunny afternoon; the beach was heaving with Weegies. Some old dear commented "It's just like the old days." I cycled up Glen More, leaving the bike at Kilbride Bridge. My first destination was Kilbride Hill (imaginative names here, you see...), perhaps the 'second hill' of Bute behind Windy Hill. A guy parked up by me at the farm and I asked him about access to the hill. He couldn't give me information beyond what I could work out from the map, so I just struck a line up through the fields.

I trotted on to the top with Arran to the south looking damn impressive. Kilbride, along with Windy Hill and three other tops, were some of the first hills I climbed at the age of nine. By the time I'd walked to Kilbride Hill with a view of the rest, I was impressed I'd managed these at that age. The hills were low, but growth was so heavy it was like constantly walking through knee-deep soft snow. I'd hoped to stop at the top of Kilbride Hill but the moor was so thick it was hard to keep out the grass. Insects swarmed in the hot sun and I moved on quickly, over The Lyeing and onto Cnocanallt - the only top of the day I hadn't climbed eleven years previously.

The walk along the moors were at best uncomfortable, and sadly quite uninteresting. Among the thick grasses were holes and swamps, the insects were here to stay. It all got quite frustrating. I was glad to stop for a rest atop some boulders near Cnocanallt. You really notice the brief rock exposures when walking on moorland.

Cnocanallt is marginally higher than two tops to the north - the North and South Hills of Bullochreg. (I wonder where a name like that comes from?) I doubt I would have walked further north had Cnocanallt not been highest. These are only 30m Tops after all. I noticed how once I'd come up with the idea of the 30m Tops, they suddenly had an importance attached that was not there before. Much like climbing the Munros, some may say!

Windy Hill

Windy Hill followed next - the highest of the day. A trig point stood at the top. Flashes of my first ascent came back although most memories have faded into oblivion. I remember the never-ending toil from Shalunt up to Windy Hill (It must have seemed a lot for 9-year-old legs). Dad, Steve and I crossed form Muirton Hill to Kilbride Hill, and the little glen in between was one of my first ever responses to natural scenery. I'd been struck at the beauty of the forest, the greenery and dappled sunlight through the trees. And the sadness that a track had been bulldozed right through all the beauty. My one other prominent memory was the buzz of flies filling the air atop of The Lyeing. Dad had his new GPS out that day and I continued to use it until about 2008.

Enough of that talk. I'm starting to sound like an old guy. ;-)

Last Tops and back to Ardbeg

It was nice to stand on the trig point and get out of the long grass, but I went onto do two more Tops - Kames and Muirton. They both passed without particular interest, but long, energy-sapping grasses was a common theme. I was glad to descend back into the fields and back to my bike. I patched a route through fields and trees, dropping into Ettrick Burn. It was still quite beautiful, maybe not with the same vibrant beauty that memory adds. I walked along the bank, and as the bike came into view, a felled tree straddled the burn - a perfect way to get across the water. It was wide, and grippy and firm enough to walk across. I climbed the opposite bank to the bike.

I was a pretty tired on the cycle back to Ardbeg where we were staying. This was to become a common theme during the Bute holiday, but I was glad to make a start on the Tops. It was nice to climb Windy Hill again, as underwhelming as the actual hills had been.


Windy Hills and Tops from Kilbride Hill

Windy Hill 360°
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 3.40pm Ettrick bay (start)
(0.10) c. 3.50pm Bike drop-off
(0.40) 4.20pm Kilbride Hill
(1.05) 4.45pm The Lyeing Hill
(1.20) 5.00pm Cnocanallt
(1.45) 5.25pm Windy Hill
(2.10) 5.50pm Kames Hill
(2.20) 6.00pm Muirton Hill
(2.50) 6.30pm Bike pick-up
(3.10) 6.50pm Ardbeg (end)

Written: 2011-08-09