Hills: Black Law and Deer Law
Date: Monday 17th November 2014
Company: Just myself
Distance: 17.3km, Ascent: 660m
Time: 4Hrs 45Mins

With only five New Donalds remaining, I set out this morning to ascend Black Law and Deer Law.

I gave consideration to a number of potential routes: i) from Craigierig (via Foulbrig), ii) from Glengaber, iii) from Manorhead or iv) from Dryhope. I decided to go in from Dryhope despite this option being the longest. This route had the advantage of a vehicle track rising to a height of 530m.

I parked in a small lay-by 100m east of the Dryhope track where there is room for several cars.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

After walking 100m along the A708, I walked the track leading to the Dryhope farm.

Start of track leading to Dryhope:


On reaching the farm I took a left turn through a gate to access the track leading to the hills.

Next to the farm is an old tower. According to Wikipedia this rebuilt version of the Dryhope Tower dates from 1613.

Tower beside Dryhope:

As I walked along the track I spotted a number of cattle ahead which were standing fairly close to the track. As I approached the cattle I could see that as well as cows there were also several bullocks.

I am always apprehensive about walking close to cattle however today there was no way to bypass them. I could see a gate a short distance beyond the cattle so I knew, if I had to, I could run and jump over the gate. However what I didn't realise was that there were more cattle on the other side of the gate!

I walked slowly towards them showing no fear with my walking poles held above my head like large antlers. The first group of cattle just stood and watched. The cattle beyond the gate got startled and ran off along the track in the opposite direction.

Track beyond Dryhope:


I managed to get past the cattle with no issues.

The weather today was fairly inclement, it rained on and off throughout the walk. The good track made for fast progress.

Track alongside Kirkstead Burn:

As I walked along the track I noted the locations of bridges across the Kirkstead Burn. I spotted three bridges across the burn two of which could potentially be useful on my return. There is a bridge at the base of Drycleuch Rig and another at the base of Black Rig.

Looking back to Dryhopehope:

Sections of the track were wet today due to frequent rain showers.

Track heading to col between Conscleuch Head and Layer Knowe:

As I approached the end of the track, I hoped that the track would actually extend beyond what was indicated on the map. No such luck today. The track ended abruptly and the terrain beyond was pants.

Beyond the track involved heather bashing, peat hag avoidance and tussock negotiation.

Terrain beyond end of track:

Terrain beyond end of track:


The terrain improved once onto the slopes of the SW Top of Black Law. The ascent was however still trackless.

Ascending SW Top of Black Law:

I initially visited the SW Top of Black Law before continuing on to the actual summit.

At the SW Top of Black Law:

Black Law is a New Donald, Donald and HuMP.

Summit of Black Law:

From the summit of Black Law, I continued back towards the SW top but made the mistake of cutting-off early to descend towards Consleuch Head. The terrain was again awful.

As I approached Consleuch Head, I could see numerous hags ahead. I therefore made my way across to the fence which I followed up Consleuch Head. Consleuch Head is a Donald Top.

Heading for Conscleuch Head:

From Consleuch Head I progressed onward to Deer Law.

Looking towards Deer Law from beyond Conscleuch Head:

On reaching the summit area of Deer Law, I visited two cairns the second of which is apparently the summit. Deer Law is a New Donald but is not a Donald.

Cairn on Deer Law:

I wasn't feeling particularly well today and wasn't impressed when I threw up near the summit. I probably shouldn't have been out on the hill today!

Summit cairn on Deer Law:

I had a quick look at the map and decided to descend via Milehope Head and Black Rig to reach the bridge at Dryhopehope.

During the descent I passed a large Larsen trap. The trap was in a state of disrepair with no wildlife in it.

Large Larsen trap:

Descending Milehope Head:

As I made my way down Black Rig, I spotted a line of old grouse butts which I followed down the hill.

Descent of Black Rig alongside old grouse butts:

Approaching Dryhopehope:

On reaching Dryhopehope I put my camera into the rucksack as it was getting soaked.

I again encountered the cattle on the return. The cattle on the near side of the fence posed no problem. However, once through the gate I passed the largest bullock which stood, stared and then started to repeatedly hoof the ground with one of its front hoofs. I had to walk within twenty feet of it!

I stood my ground, put my walking poles on my head and also shouted angrily at it. Thankfully it didn't run at me, if it had things could have got "interesting".

I was much relieved when through the next gate beside the farm.