It was that cold we almost didn't leave the car.
Back at the starting point the car park was filling up with the local mountain rescue crew who appeared to be meeting up for some form of exercise. As it was that cold there was no point in hanging around, we simply had to get a move on. We were clad in all manner of layers. Mark was leading the way with his Michelin Man impression, but Stu took the biscuit with a combination of storm trooping headgear and a scarf wound around his chin like an old fashioned dentist’s bandage. The ascent soon had us all sweating our way past “The Grey Mares Tail” and up into the wasteland that lay beyond. It was right out of the top drawer. The sun was out, the hills that were slowly coming into view and were dusted with icing as though they were great cakes in a bakers window. These views and the glorious sunshine really lifted the mood. Here we were walking through an area that was unknown to all of us, following the snaking stream and then all of a sudden there we were at the outlet Loch Skeen. What a breath taking view it was. There were hills all around this loch with just the one sign of man. Someone had found an ideal spot by the loch and pitched their tent within a yard or two of its lapping shoreline. This mood soon changed as we started the ascent up the exceptionally steep flank of Lochcraig Head. Gravity almost proved too much. There was many an occasion when the only thing that stopped me from taking a tumble back down were a few handfuls of grass. In the end we all straggled up to the summit at our own pace and slumped on the icy snow that had built up behind the summit wall.
The last mile to the summit followed the rim of a huge corrie and looked as though it would provide an interesting route of descent. Mark for some reason seemed keen to inspect the way down; however I could see from the map that there was a possibility of staying high for some time longer. We were about to split again, this time Mark and Clyde took a route down into the great bowl of Blackhope whilst Gary and I motored on at great pace along the top of the south western crags. What a brilliant choice we seemed to have made. Or so we thought. By the time we started to make the final descent to Blackhope Farm our knees were turning to jelly. So much so that rather embarrassingly I had to come down the last few hundred feet backwards. I was in absolute agony. Somehow even with our unusual style of descent we still managed to arrive back at the car at the same time as Mark and Clyde.
All we needed now was a cracking bar meal and a three hour drive home. Another top notch day.