The wife had me on the night feed on New Years Eve, which meant an early night for me. However, when life gives you lemons, you go for a walk. I spent an hour or so on New Years Eve planning this walk, you can read more about that process here in my beginners series.
Early on New Years Day, I grabbed a bag (more info on selecting the right bag here), a map and the dog and headed to the Kilsyth Hills about 15 mins from home. This travel restriction of staying in your local authority area is really messing up my plans for some big walks this winter. But it’s better to be safe, so I will stick to the small area of hills I can access and make the best of it.
I had the idea to try and see the sun rise on the new year out on the hills, so Max (the dog) and I headed out about 7.30 into the icy morning. Once we had parked up and skated across the car park, a short walk up the road led to the start of the hill path we were following. This was to be Max’s first proper hill day, so as you can imagine he was bouncing around ready to get going.
We headed off into the murky morning gloom, and made our way up what would normally have been quite a significant stream. Luckily this morning it was all frozen. Threading our way through the trees, the view behind started to open up.
Heading further up, the ground started to steepen, and Max found that the easiest way was just to bulldoze your way through the snow rather than try and run over it. Eventually the view ahead opened up to give us a view of our first target, Tomtain. It’s the highest point in North Lanarkshire, and whilst not a particularly challenging walk, the views are all out of proportion.
I could see Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in the East, Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi to the North (other indistinguishable hills further north too) and I could also see what I think was Mull way out to the West. I’m not too sure, but it was incredible.
After a brief rest for a drink and a photo we headed on west to the next target, Hunt Hill. For those of you that are used to massive drops and regains in altitude, prepare to be disappointed. Barely 10 mins later after an enjoyable scoot down the hill in the snow, we attained the next summit, not much more than a bump in the broad ridge from Tomtain to Garrel Hill. It was at this point that my phone decided that it was too cold and stopped working, so there aren’t many more pictures of this walk.
We deviated slightly from the trodden path in the snow to peak on Hunt Hill, followed by an enjoyable slip and slide back down again. However no rest for us this time as we tramped on into what, in warmer weather, would be an absolute quagmire. As it was frozen, it didn’t cause too many issues, but Max definitely got a bit mucky abs wet here. The climb to Garrel Hill is a little longer than the previous one, maybe just shy of 1km.
Max and I made short work of it though and we’re on the summit by the small cairn about 1 hour 45 mins after leaving the car. A stop at the top to play in the snow (Max, not me) some leftover turkey and a drink and we were ready to tackle the return leg. We returned pretty much the way we came, however selecting the lower route, missing the summit of Hunt Hill.
Once back on the summit of Tomtain, we started the long skid back to the car over the iced up snow and bog surface back to the road and on back to the car.
All in all, I had a blast, some great little hills with outstanding views and Max did really well on his first day out with me. We were back home for 10.30 ready to tackle the beginning of the new year with fresh air in our lungs and some miles in our legs. Looking forward to the next one Max.