Hills: Cardon Hill, Chapelgill Hill, Culter Fell, Coomb Hill, Gathershow Hill, Hillshaw Head, Coomb Dod, Hudderstone
Date: Friday 30th May 2014
Company: Just myself
Distance: 28.9km, Ascent: 1260m
Time: 8Hrs 15Mins

I set off from home at 3.45am this morning to drive to the Scottish Borders for an ascent of the eight New Donalds surrounding the Coulter reservoir. I arrived at the start of the walk just before 8.00am.

On arriving in Coulter, I drove up the glen and parked just beyond Culter Allers farm where there is room for three or four cars. There is a sign advising no vehicles beyond this point.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Car parking beyond Culter Allers Farm:

From the parking area, I set off along the road for a few hundred metres until passing a small wood. I followed the track alongside the wood heading up towards Tippet Knowe. During the ascent of this track, I heard a cuckoo in the small wood and I passed a grouse which tried to lead me away from its eggs.

Start of track next to small wood:

I gained height fairly quickly.

Looking back to small wood:

Culter Fell is very prominent during the ascent however this would be my third hill of the day. I had Cardon Hill and Chapelgill Hill to ascend first.

Culter Fell:

On looking back, Tinto was also very prominent.

Tinto (zoom):

Looking back along track and down into Kings Beck:

From the 587m top to King Bank Head I tried to avoid an area of peat hags by following a path skirting below them.

King Bank Head and Chapelgill Hill:

En-route to Cardon Hill:

I saw and heard numerous skylark today and numerous other birds too including plover and curlew.


I visited the SW top of Cardon Hill en-route to Cardon Hill.

Looking towards Cardon Hill from SW top:

I reached the summit of Cardon Hill at 09:40. Cardon Hill is a New Donald.

At the summit of Cardon Hill:

From Cardon Hill, I returned to the SW top and descended a short distance before making my way across to Chapelgill Hill.

Ascending Chapelgill Hill:

Two things annoyed me at the summit of Chapelgill Hill, i) the proximity of the windfarm on neighbouring Glenlood Hill and ii) the fact someone has placed a memorial at the summit of the hill. The memorial was dated December 2013, so it is fairly new. The hills should not be littered with memorials or wind turbines! Chapelgill Hill is a Donald, New Donald and HuMP.

At the summit of Chapelgill Hill:

From Chapelgill Hill, I next made my way across to Culter Fell - the highest hill in this circuit.

Culter Fell from Chapelgill Hill:

Once past an area of peat hags, the ascent of Culter Fell was fairly pleasant. Both the ascent and descent of Culter Fell is mostly on short grass.

Ascending Culter Fell:

Looking back from Culter Fell to Cardon Hill and Chapelgill Hill:

Most of the walking today was spent following fences. I had to climb over the fence to reach the summit trig point. Culter Fell is a Graham, Marilyn, Donald, New Donald and HuMP.

At the summit of Culter Fell:

Descent from Culter Fell towards Moss Law:

Coulter Reservoir (zoom):

During the descent of Culter Fell, I walked over a small hill called Moss Law. This hill was fairly wet underfoot. From Moss Law, I continued my descent to Holm Nick. 300m of height is lost descending from Culter Fell to Holm Nick.

Descent to Holm Nick:

On reaching Holm Nick I followed a good track leading towards Glenwhappen Rig. I passed an old, disused Larsen trap just above Holm Nick.

Larsen trap at Holm Nick:

Looking back to Coulter Reservoir and Culter Fell:

On reaching Glenwhappen Rig, I descended a short distance while making my way across to Coomb Hill.

Heading out to Coomb Hill from Glenwhappen Rig:

At Coomb Hill I had a short break to have something to eat and drink. Coomb Hill is a New Donald.

At the summit of Coomb Hill:

Selfie at the summit of Coomb Hill:

From Coomb Hill the ascent of Gathersnow Hill is straight-forward.

Gathersnow Hill:

Gathersnow Hill is a Graham, Marilyn, Donald, New Donald and HuMP.

At the summit of Gathersnow Hill:

The next two hills were equally straight-forward - not much distance or height gain required.

Heading out to Hillshaw Head:

Tinto beyond Coulter Reservoir:

Looking back to Culter Fell and Chapelgill Hill:

Hillshaw Head is a Donald and New Donald.

At the summit of Hillshaw Head:

The smaller hills surrounding the Coulter hills are covered in wind turbines. It won't be long before the Coulter hills are also covered with them . A pre-windfarm mast has been erected on Coomb Dod and another has been erected on Dod Hill just below Hudderstone.

Coomb Dod:

Coomb Dod is a New Donald.

At the summit of Coomb Dod:

Pre-windfarm mast on Coomb Dod:

Until now the seven New Donalds ascended were all reasonably close together. The eighth and final New Donald of the day looked miles away!

Hudderstone - a long way off!:

The traverse from Coomb Dod out to Hudderstone was by far the worst section of the walk. There is lots of very wet terrain to cross.

Skirting round top of Hillshaw Burn:

Ascent towards 534m hill and Dod Hill:

Another pre-windfarm mast on Dod Hill:

Camps Reservoir and lots of turbines:


Looking back to Gathersnow Hill, Hillshaw Head and Coomb Dod:

One hour twenty minutes after leaving Coomb Dod, I reached the summit of Hudderstone. Hudderstone is a Donald, New Donald and HuMP.

Hudderstone was my 100th New Donald. 18 to go.

At the featureless summit of Hudderstone:

Tinto from Hudderstone (zoom):

From Hudderstone I descended towards Culter Waterhead. There are numerous potential ways down. The route I chose was fine until reaching the lower slopes which were covered in ferns.

Descent towards Culter Waterhead:

Coulter Reservoir and Culter Waterhead:

Coulter Reservoir and Culter Waterhead:

From Culter Waterhead, I walked 3km back along the tarmac road to reach my car.

Looking back to Culter Waterhead from road leading back to Culter Allers Farm:

During the walk out I saw my first ever Cuckoo. It flew really close to me making the noise "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, ..." So 100% certain of identification .

This was an enjoyable day out but it is really sad to see this landscape being overwhelmed with turbines.