It had been hard work digging out the van the night before. The snow in the village had turned very wet and heavy and it felt like every shovel full weighed a ton. As I drove towards Elvanfoot along the twisting mountain road I lost a fair bit of height and the snow began to diminish. My map showed a very steep bit of ground on my route today amongst the usually rounded hills. A small bit of mountain had been slipped in between Black Law and White Law. I decided to err on the side of caution and packed both ice axe and crampons, you never know I may actually get to use them for once.
7.2 miles with 615 metres ascent
The polluter was left parked next to a cattle grid not far from where the disused railway line crosses the road. I could hear the low rumble of the M74 from here which was a bit of an intrusion after the solitude of the last few days. This is another walk that I would recommend as a way of breaking a long journey north or south. The start is only a few minutes drive from junction 14 and Elvanfoot village.
The old railway track gives quick and easy progress down towards the viaduct marked on my map which crosses Elvan Water. I began to curse because ahead of me there appeared to be a distinct lack of one. Oh well there is sure to be a footbridge? My confidence rose when to the right of the track to the river I spotted the bridge I was after. Confidence once again led to disappointment when I realised that the ‘bridge’ was in fact a telegraph pole positioned across the not insignificant river with a trap set in the middle of it. Oh well at least I could straddle it and shuffle across, somehow manuvre over the trap and get to the otherside? No chance as whoever had engineered this crossing that was not designed for man, had attached a knee height wire fence along the length of it. Not high enough to provide a handhold to enable an upright crossing, but high enough to prevent a bum shuffle. I spent a few minutes cursing, weighing up the pros and cons of wet feet in the cold river (it was knee deep and crossable but full of freezing snow melt) or an attempt at walking across the pole with no hand holds. I went for the walk across option, very mindful that if I slipped forward the knee high fencing would mean that I would also end up going face first into the river six feet below me. Thankfully after a lot of faff I got across in once piece with the people at the OS being given colourful names under my breath.
I clambered back up to the old railway track and looked back to where it ended on the other side of the river. It definitely did not look like there had been any sort of viaduct for years now. I then crossed a stile and wondered why someone had gone to the effort of puting one over a low fence when you really had to struggle to cross the river…………….
The hum of the motorway accompanied me on the easy ascent of Louise Wood Law, the stretch of tarmac and toy sized cars shrinking as I gained height. The views however were extensive and when I reached the summit I was greeted with a great panorama.
From this vantage point it looked like it was a straight forward level walk to Dun Law, as the steep descent and reascent of the imaginatively named Little Windgate Hass was out of sight. I did have visions of having to put on my crampons or self arresting with my ice axe but luckily there were patches of grass and heather sticking out of the snow.
Getting up the other side was a bit of a slog an I always find steep grassy slopes more difficult to climb than steep rocky ones. Maybe it’s getting your arms involved as well on rock that makes things that bit easier?
Dun Fell gave another big snowy panorama with the masts of Green Lowther still white with snow plastered to them. A completely different day up there compared to when I was battling gales and driving snow couple of days ago.
It was now all downhill through virgin snow which enabled me to break out into a lumbering sort of run to the col before Glen Ea’s Hill where I struggled through deep heather trying to locate the landrover track off of the moors.
Down in the valley most of the snow had now melted and I was worried that the unbridged river would be difficult to cross. There was a wide shallow ford which I calculated could be crossed with dry feet if I ran across. Only one boot filled with water!
The disused railway track a short but steep climb up the other side of the valley gave quick and easy progress back to the van. I would imagine it would a pleasant route for a bike ride though the hills.