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Moffat Dale, Saddle Yoke, Hart Fell, Swatte Fell, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
[ 15.4 km] Wed 22 Aug 2012

NT 1541 1048
It was a fairly miserable drove north along the M6 motorway with cross winds and torrential rain at times. As I drove along Moffat Dale I began to wonder if walking today was wise as the hills were shrouded in low cloud and rain was just around the corner. I wasn’t optimistic about the weather but carried on regardless. The hills around here don’t have much in the way of defined footpaths and even less in the way of path markers. A ‘Shepherds Memorial’ sign pointed up Spoon Burn and a short way up a boulder by the river had a plate on it saying:
1938 – 1972

View down Moffat Dale

I’d passed this way on Tue 21 Jun 2011 on my way up Saddle Yoke and the first part of today’s route is the same as then.
The last time I was here the weather was similar and I soon vanished into cloud as I got higher. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get a view of the impressive ridge up to Saddle Yoke.

Gloomy mountains ahead

Over the top is a sharp ridge to Under Saddle Yoke and though I got a brief view back to the valley bottom the wind and rain continued. However, as I approached Redgill Craig the weather began to get a bit brighter and the distant fells appeared. In the distance was Hartfell Rig but to get there I had to cross Whirly Gill. Over Redgill the ground had been rough but the descent to the higher part of the gill was better.

Moffat Dale from Saddle Yoke

I traversed the head of the gill and started up Saddle Craigs and was relieved to reach firmer ground. The clouds continued to come and go but I got the occasional view down the impressive valley of Black Hope. Eventually I came to the fence line that took me to Hart Fell summit and the Ordnance Survey trig post with the plate reference of:
It was surrounded with a rough low wall which didn’t seem to serve any purpose. There were no distant views and all I could see was the fence vanishing into the mist. I started the descent SE to Hass o' the Red Roads and up to Falcon Crag and saw a couple of walkers coming the other way. I was pleasantly surprised to see clear fell views across the valley and some blue sky.

Hart Fell summit trig post

Wide view looking down to Blackhope Burn from Nether Coomb Craig

After Upper Coomb Craig I kept to the edge of the valley top to get the best of the views. There were now impressive views down to Blackhope Burn and any doubts I had about setting out earlier were now forgotten. Above Black Crag an easy slope began to descend and there was even a faint path. I’d seen a group of walkers coming up it earlier. Unfortunately there was no sign of the path lower down and I had to pick a route carefully as the gradient got steeper. When I reached the valley bottom the rain returned and by the time I’d reached the bridge at Blackshope and the A708 it was raining very heavy. It didn’t matter as I only had half a mile walk back to the car and a change of clothes.

A Rainbow crosses Black Hope