10th February - the last bit of route checking for organising purposes was to see what the flags were like on the descent from the mast on Bennan to the Bruce's Stone carpark. I carried Bruce in his rucksack most of the way up and then back to the big deer fence stile. He was quite happy! The weather was foul and it was pretty hard work - hopefully it won't be like this in April! I haven't been that way since the Merrick Hill race in September and the path is much more defined than it was before the race. There are also a number of canes with either red and white tape or yellow tape. Since everyone will be in daylight I think it will be easy to follow the flags and the path down.
To find the path you cross the deer fence on the huge stile, head up the track and just at the end of the loch which is on the right, the path starts there and goes left. It contours and drops along the plateau before dropping steeply to a deer fence stile, then down the side of that deer fence to cross the forest track and continue on the other side. Here it goes right and along the ridge line before plunging left down a steep and very tussocky descent. The path makes this a lot easier. Then you bend right onto a good grassy path down through the bracken to the top carpark. Bruce's Stone is a checkpoint (you've got to visit the namesake of the race and it's not far out of your way!). Then down to the road and left on the well signposted footpath which takes you to Caldons Campsite. Photos with description in the file name of Bennan descent
If you are thinking of putting in a team then please can you do so - even if you just enter the Team Leader's details? This is so we have an idea of numbers for catering, toilets, trackers etc. Thank you.
3rd February - Steve and I have been reccying again - Shiel Hill this time. And again I know it's a navigation event but for this first one, because it's in two months time so people haven't much time to recce and because I don't want teams turning round halfway up Shiel Hill and heading back to the safety of MRT in the valley (!!!) I have cut back the worst of the brash on this ascent and partially marked it. This is because on the map it looks a simple "follow the stream up" decision but in reality there are too many dense trees near the stream and it is not possible to stay near the stream. I have taken photos and labeled them in order. Basically1) Leave the track at the gate. Follow the smaller forest track up and round to the right. When it ends head through the passageway on your right. 2) There is only really one way through the trees, heading slightly uphill to your left. Looked for clippings on the floor. Cross the stream on your right into a rough area.3) Leave the stream and head right. The stalkers have chopped down about three bigger trees, Head right and climb up through these trees. You're now on an open grassy bank. DO NOT keep heading directly uphill.4) Turn left and follow the bottom of the grassy area, slightly uphill and back towards the stream. I have taped this.5) Contour and climb slightly, parallel to the stream. 6) You need to look for where you can get back to the stream. Drop slightly back into a wide stream valley with flattened rushes in it.7) Follow the rushes up hill. They end and you have to go right again up the banking. 8) Then contour left back to the stream when it is a grassy. Follow the grassy stream bed up until it gets very steep, there are fallen trees across it. 9) Climb out, up a very steep, grass, heather bank.10) Head parallel to the stream again to a wall of standing trees. I have cut a way through on the right. Go through this.11) Once through contour left again.12) Cross the stream to the forest edge and stay on the low side of the forest edge to the open moorland where you head directly up grass to the Trig point on top of Shiel Hill.From Shiel Hill there is a faint path all the way to Craigmasheenie and onwards to the other hills.
Photos with descriptions in the file name - Shiel Hill recce
2nd February - I have had an email asking whether there is any rules over the make up of a Mixed Team. Basically any combination of men and women makes a Mixed Team. I've added this information to the Information page too.
We have also changed the SI Entries entry process so that the Team Captain can enter a Team without completing all Four Team member details until a later date. This helps the Team Captain as gathering all the information asked is sometimes a lengthy process and means changes can be made until mid March. If you do this we will check the experience later of the added Team Members but so long as two or more members are well experienced we are considerate in our appraisal.
30th January - I know this is a navigation event however anyone that knows Galloway will also know that direct lines on a compass bearing can be horrendous. There are a couple of such descents and I've found this to my cost coming off Cairngarroch a couple of years ago hence I found the way to the "Outdoor centre" last year. This is a reliable route as you only have to find the top of the stream and it leads you down to the gully and the house / fields. However you then have 2km on the track to do.
So as I was keen to get back on the mountains and Tuesday being the "best" weather day Steve and I drove round to Clatteringshaws loch and climbed Cairngarroch. The summit has a big cairn on it but it was cold and I didn't get a good photo (sorry!). Then we descended down on what was described by Galloway Mountain Rescue as "good ground near the forest". We headed off passed the lochan / boggy area and gently down and across. It's ok going with grass and small tussocks. You arrive at the felled forest and a cairn. I would avoid the felled area as its been pretty trashed. There was a few deer trods alongside and then down. We found grassy and bracken ramps to descend on. When you get to the still standing forest you can either go in the forest or down the side, which has been planted up but it's ok. And you get to the forest track without much difficulty. There will be a Checkpoint probably at the track junction before the bridge with hot food etc on the race.
And then the Ascent of Darrou. In August when I did the recce I went along the forest track to the standing forest where there is a track leading into the forest. That ends and you head up the forest to the end edge where an old forestry track traverses back towards the stream / quarry. I followed this and crossed the stream. It was then pretty tussocky up to the plateau. Looking at it now you could stay on the right of the stream in the bracken which would be better. In August the bracken was too high.
But another route and one that was ok today was to go into the quarry and follow the tracks leading right, then zig zags. Then through the few trees that are left and climb higher. You need to start traversing right at some point. We went quite high up and traversed. There are lots of deer trods and you can swop from one to another through the tussocks. The tussocks get smaller the higher you go. The summit has three big rocks and some smaller ones on it.
Photos with descriptions in the file names - Cairngarroch and Darrou
27th January - Thinking about the Start times and if Teams are struggling to get up on Friday evening we can start you off later into the night. We would like everyone to have finished by 4pm on Saturday and I took 15 hours in August to run the route. So I think running teams can be set off up to midnight if that helps with logistics.
If anyone wants to recce and needs help with route or logistics then contact me on email@example.com
I visited Caldons House on Friday 26th January and spoke to the lady there who remembered the OMM fondly and was very happy for us to set up the Event centre on the area below her house. The start also runs through her garden which she is more than happy with too. I called in at the Glentrool Hive and asked about using the showers there (they also have self catering unit available) and also at the https://www.Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site.co.uk/ who said they have 30+ camping pitches for anyone that wanted to camp on the Saturday night / Sunday night.
24th January - so while I was on the Spine Galloway Mountain Rescue have got the entries up and running on SIEntries https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?elid=Y&event_id=12973 and I have entered my team "The Four Tussockteers"! I am on the Pre-Selection list at the moment.
I am going to visit Caldons Campsite this week and check the route from the start. I have also been thinking of accommodation and can see that https://www.Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site.co.uk/ have availability for that weekend. The other option I want to check out is the https://www.Glen Trool Hive.co.uk/ as they have showers and it would be nice I think if we could offer showers to runners when they finish.
5th January - Things are progressing on all fronts. I am having regular meetings with Galloway Mountain Rescue and we're working through all the organisational tasks. Forestry Land Scotland have been in contact and everything seems to be progressing well there. I've got the backbone of the website up and running! And I'l get a Certificate organised so it shows as a Safe website. The route is up so reccies can begin! I will tape the ascent to Shiel Hill through the forest! Entries will open shortly on Si Entries once the Entry page is created etc.