Hills: Capel Fell, Smidhope Hill and White Shank
Date: Sunday 28th November 2021
Company: Myself and Ann-Marie
Distance: 12.2km, Ascent: 705m
Time: 4Hrs

On 18th November 2014, I completed the 89 Donalds. Since completing, the Scottish Mountaineering Club has changed the rules requiring an ascent of all 52 Donald Tops, as well as all 89 Donalds, to complete a round of Donalds . I have since therefore been chipping away at the Donald Tops. I set off this morning to ascend White Shank, one of five I had left to ascend. I would also be repeating ascents of Capel Fell and Smidhope Hill.

Last night, according to the MetOffice, the weather today would be sunny with blue skies throughout the day . On looking out the window this morning, I was therefore surprised to the see the snow dingin' doon. The MetOffice apparently revised their forecast at midnight extending their existing Yellow alert .


After a careful drive to get to the starting point we parked in a small parking area at Sailfoot to commence our walk. The snow was still dingin' doon on arrival at the car park.


Once suited and booted we set off up the wide forestry track which zig-zags up Sailfoot Law.


We soon encountered a tree blocking the track which we had to climb over to progress along the track. Given the ferocity of recent Storn Arwen, I was suprised not to encounter any further trees on the track beyond.

Storm Arwen obstacle:

The excellent quality forestry track allowed for fast progress up the hill. The track was a bit slippery in places with ice under the thin covering of snow.

Ascent via the wide forestry track:

Looking back towards Capplegill:

On reaching the col between Capel Fell and Sailfoot Law we followed a vehicle track leading towards the summit of Capel Fell.

Ascent of Capel Fell beyond the forestry track:

Looking back to col between Sailfoot Law and Capel Fell:

Looking back to Sailfoot Law:

View towards Sailfoot Linn:

Alas on reaching the summit of Capel Fell there were no views. There was not a breath of wind at the summit which meant no windchill .

At the summit of Capel Fell:

As we progressed from Capel Fell towards Smidhope Hill we began to get fleeting views along the ridge.

View towards Smidhope Hill during descent of Capel Fell:

We followed the fence and then the dyke up Smidhope Hill.

Following the dyke up Smidhope Hill:

Looking back:

At the summit of Smidhope Hill:

From the summit of Smidhope Hill we continued along the ridge to my main objective of the day, White Shank.

Limited view towards White Shank from Smidhope Hill:

To reach the summit of White Shank we had to climb over the dyke which was straight-forward as there is a low section.

At the summit of White Shank:

From White Shank we returned to the car via the same route with the exception of a short detour on reaching Capel Fell to avoid having to re-ascend to its summit. Walking in soft unconsolidated snow made the ascent and descent harder than it would otherwise have been. There was three to four inches of snow on sections of the ridge.

Heading back from White Shank:

As we approached the car, the cloud started to disperse to reveal the blue skies originally forecast. Had we set off later in the day we could have been walking under blue skies but I always like an early start in winter.

Blue skies appear during final descent:

Nice view during descent:

I hope to ascend another Donald Top tomorrow.