A Lomonds Mist(ery) Tour
Nigel Rose
Twelve Carnethy enthusiasts gathered at Craigmead car park on Sunday morning for the Lomonds journey run. The promised sunny weather had failed to materialise but at least it was dry. We nearly got lost during the exit from the car park, which didn't bode well for the rest of the day. We started off on the path towards East Lomond, going very carefully as the path was covered in ice. Near the top of the hill we met some local runners on their way down. There was quite a lot of snow on the top, and a bitterly cold wind so we didn't stop long to look for a view.
There was plenty of snow on the path down to Falkland so there were one or two tumbles on the way down. By the time we got into the forest lower down we were beginning to warm up so stopped for a while to shed a few clothes. Our route took us past the old mill at the back of the town and down through picturesque streets to the market cross. We passed an ancient pub on the way and had to restrain one or two of our number from going in. We continued on a convoluted route through the back streets of Falkland, at one time going on a path that seemed to go through someone's garden. Further on we passed a large rock with the words "Pillars of Hercules" carved on it.
We turned at another rock with "Maspie Den" carved on it then took a small diversion to see the grand pile of Falkland House. We were now in Maspie Den, a dramatic gorge that winds its way up through the hills. There was a good path beside the burn that flowed through the gorge. At one point we came to a stone archway that looked like the entrance to a railway tunnel. I don't think anyone had believed me when I told them that we were going to do some underground hill running! Fortunately the tunnel wasn't very long although it was very dark in the middle.
We progressed up the Den, passing several attractive waterfalls that tumbled over large horizontal slabs of rock. At the top of the Den the path crossed under the burn in a shallow cave, with a waterfall pouring over the edge. We then took to the fields and headed for the forest on the north side of the hill. In the forest a succession of tracks and paths led us to the huge tower of the Tyndall Bruce monument. It was built like a hollow lighthouse and there was plenty of room for us all inside.
We continued by more forest paths and fields back towards Craigmead. There was quite a lot of snow underfoot and a bitter wind so just before we left the forest we stopped for a while in a sheltered clearing for a lunch break. By the time we reached the main path to West Lomond a thick mist had come down. We became well spread out on the path and soon lost touch with each other. The mist was so thick that some missed the turning for the direct path up the hill. Others did come up the short way and I was somewhere in between. I met a couple of walkers on the way up - they thought I was lost until I told them that I had lost eleven other people.
I found the front runners at the summit; they were sheltering behind the summit cairn and looking at what appeared to be a line of prayer flags attached to the cairn. It was bitterly cold in the wind and some were beginning to get chilled. I suggested that they could navigate down the hill a bit to get out of the wind but it turned out that I was the only one carrying a map. Fortunately the last two runners arrived before anyone got too cold. The mist was so thick that we had to take a compass bearing to get down from the summit.
Our next objective was the Devil's Burdens - an unusual rock formation like a line of tors along the top edge of a shallow cliff. We did find the right place but it was too misty to see much. We lost another runner on the way. While we waited, Paul ran on to see if he could find him. He reappeared out of the mist several minutes later, alone. Luckily Shane realised that no-one else was around and came back soon afterwards. Reunited, we climbed down to the foot of the slope below the Burdens but all we could see of them was a vague outline in the mist.
We followed a good sheep track along the foot of the hills and soon got out of the wind and down below the mist. It was very nice to be able to see where we were going again. We eventually got onto a good track through the forest beside Harperleas reservoir and ran round to the end of the dam. From there we could see most of our route back to the finish. The pace quickened as we crossed the dam and got onto a farm track past Little Ballo. The track was treacherous with ice in places and I took a wildly-flailing fall but luckily landed on my rucsac. Before long we were back onto the road with a short run back to Craigmead. The run seemed to be enjoyed by all and although it was only ten miles, it was more than enough to blow away the winter cobwebs.


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