Dumgoyne - 427m
Dumfoyn - 426m
Slackdhu - 496m

Friday 3rd February 2012

Weather/Conditions: Good weather and wintry-feeling. Bleak mountains on Slackdhu when the sun went away - a really beautiful place, though. And a walk back in the moonlit dark.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 9.3km / 700m / 6h
Accompanying: Tom

Tom and I had climbed Dumgoyne not long previously, and on that walk, Tom had been interested in going further than just Dumgoyne. At the time he'd been talking about going back to Garloch Hill, but of course we stuck to the front of the plateau this time and went along to Slackdhu - one of my favourite hills.

One of the great things about going up hills with Tom is that we spend so much time talking, that we get very little actually done. There's always enough to go around, general mountain-talk, the state of black metal (that one comes up again and again), and philosophy too. The weather was good on the way up Dumgoyne, where we met a couple. The (very) exuberant girl was filled with awe that we were going all the way over to Slackdhu. (I thought this was fun. Tom must have enjoyed it.) Later on we met Dave, the dad of an old school friend of mine. We chatted briefly on the way up, and then on the summit.

But Tom and I had plans. We descended the scree gully of Dumgoyne (always a lot of fun) and headed over towards Dumfoyn by a circuitous route across 'Drumiekill Knowes'. There's a little pinnacle here that we climbed across and sat on top of having a break.

The day got late as we crossed Dumfoyn and towards Slackdhu. When we finally made it to the top of Slackdhu, the sun had gone down and we found ourselves on the snowy plateau with blue light of dusk shrouding all the tops. It was a hell of a place to be. Earl's Seat had a white cap of snow, edged against a dark sky - a defiant out-of-this-world look. I persuaded Tom to take the extra effort to walk to the edge of the Slackdhu cliffs - an experience he must have loved and hated in equal measures!

I love these cliffs, their open, airy feel and the paralysing exposure that I haven't felt about many cliffs. They are 100m high - many Highland crags are higher, but whatever it is about them, the great bowl is cliffs is always an inspiration for me. After a look, Tom and I headed back along the front of Slackdhu, down the north-west gully and back to the road.

As a side note, I always look for rock climbing lines when I'm in the hills. North-west gully is the first gully you see on the Slackdhu face, starting from the left. There seemed to be wee buttresses in this gully of sound rock, that could hold lines of up to 10 metres. For now it was time to get down, the darker it got, the harder it was to read the ground! We descended the fields and got back to the road at Cantywheery. Walking the return road was a strange experience, because although I cycled it once years ago, it seemed like a completely alien viewpoint on hills I otherwise knew so well. In moonlight, I freaked Tom out who I don't think enjoyed the dark spaces among the forests. (Sorry for freaking you out Tom :-) )

All in all, I thought this quite a special Campsies walk. We did the standard round of three hills from a new starting point. Dumgoyne and Dumfoyn were much as you'd expect, but the mood on Slackdhu was fantastic in the snow and the twilight. It's what winter is all about.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 1.00pm Car park
(1.40) 2.40pm Dumgoyne
(2.40) 3.40pm Dumfoyn
(4.10) 5.10pm Slackdhu
(6.00) 7.00pm Car park

Written: 2012-08-01