Moffat Hills and Galloway Forest - Photography Trip

Moffat Hills and Galloway Forest - Photography Trip

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 55.46692°N / 3.35825°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 17, 2009
Activities Activities: Mixed
Seasons Season: Summer

Introduction Moffat Hills and Galloway Forest trip - Hills, Rapids, Waterfalls, Wellingtons and Waders:-

This is a report about a five day trip in September 2009 to the beautiful area's of the Moffat Hills and Galloway Forest in the Southern Upland region of Scotland. I know many of you summitpost readers are keen photographers and this long weekend trip involved Specialist Photography of our beautiful landscape whilst out on the hill's along with the rapids and waterfalls in wellingtons and waders. It was an enjoyable break away being a fantastic time so read on to find out exactly what the Wellington boots and Waders where for...?

Just a few pictures of waders to get things started.

Dunlop Non Safety Waders
Dunlop Safety Waders
Dunlop Non Safety Waders

Now is it fishing, no? Or even working in deep sewers, no? These are the sort of things most people would associate the use of high chest waders with.

This visit to the Moffat Hills region of Scotland was for a totally different type of activity and this trip report covers the details of this long weekend break away. Myself, David and one of my best mates Nick had a great time whilst away, so read on to find out what the waders where really for…!

Day – 1 Travelling to Scotland:-

17th SEPTEMBER-2009
The long weekend break started with an early leave from my home county of Kent at 4.30 in the morning heading north for my friend Nick who lives in Harrogate, Yorkshire. I travelled via the M25, M11, A1 and A1(M) respectively until arriving at Nicks for spot on 10.00. The journey to Nicks involved only 1 main stop at a McDonalds services on the interchange of the A1 and A14 roads just west of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. Here I had a pot of there oats so simple with syrup and two of there large cappuccino coffees for a caffeine kick.

After picking Nick up from Harrogate we headed off for Scotland returning back to the A1 and A1(M) respectively all the way up north to Newcastle. When level with Newcastle we took the A69 road west towards Corbridge where we then took the scenic, winding A68 road north towards the Scottish Borders. Before hitting the Scottish Border at the famous stopping point of Carter Bar on the border we had an all day breakfast stop in the Camien Café situated in the small and pretty Northumberland village of Rochester. If you ever stop in this Camien Café and see a pen and ink drawing of the café framed on the shelf, that drawing you are looking at is a piece of my artwork.
Perfect reflections - Catcleugh ReservoirA near perfect reflection in the waters of the Catcleugh Reservoir

After the Camien Café we headed for the Scottish Borders at Carter Bar, but before reaching the border you pass the waters of the Catcleugh Reservoir and I was stunned when passing to see the water acting like a perfect mirror. I just had to stop and took the above picture consisting of three images each at a different exposure rate. The amazing thing is the sky in the reflection has more detail than the real sky.

Our target place for the end of day was my favourite and delightful little Scottish town of Moffat but Nick and I decided as the weather was so nice to take some diversions. Having been an engineer in the telecoms industry for a fair number of years I suggested finding some easily reached trig points either next to or near some of the radio towers I have worked on.

One of these towers was an old 405 line broadcast VHF TV Relay tower now used as a site share for other operators. I knew the forest tracks that led up to this tower situated at Wigg Knowe and the OS-Trig point that marked the point of Fanna Hill was about a 1 km walk to its west and was easily reachable. We drove up to many of the different access tracks from the main road with no luck on finding a gate unlocked.

The only thing was at one gate we had to come to the rescue of an off road motorbiker with not quite an off road bike, who had slipped his bike down into a rather deep and boggy ditch whilst trying to get it past the gate. Oh dear wasnt it stuck. It took all three of us to lift the bike out but that was after my mate Nick had got smothered in mud from the guy trying to start it and run it out of the ditch.

After helping the guy out of the ditch and sadly part damaging his bike we found the correct forest track. We drove all the way up to where the radio tower on Wigg Knowe was and parked up only to find the Ministry of Defence where testing a portable radar system looking out across the vast expanse of the Cheviot Hills. I asked about taking pictures of the radio tower itself as I am a keen mast and tower photographer and explained about getting to the trig point of Fanna Hill. He cleared things with us and said the only thing is please don’t take photos of our equipment. Oh well we did anyway. LOL..

We walked to the trig point of Fanna Hill at 514 metres and the views from here where quite rewarding for a small hill. Looking east, south and west we had fine views across the vast open expanse of the Cheviot Hills. Looking north though just stared into thick pine trees.
Streetmap Links:-
Wigg Knowe:-
Wigg Knowe - Streetmap Link
Fanna Hill:-
Fanna Hill - Streetmap Link

From this trig point on Fanna Hill and looking south our next target could be seen. This was the small Cheviot summit of Deadwater Fell.

Heading up for Fanna HillNick and I at the Fanna Hill
Fanna Hill OS-Trig point - 514 metresFanna Hill summit trig
Wigg Knowe - Radio TowerWigg Knowe radio tower

We returned back from Fanna Hill to the car, said our goodbyes to the MOD lads and then headed on down the forest tracks back to the main road.
The sun was out and the weather was lovely so winding on round the roads we then headed on up to Deadwater Fell. This small hill in the western reaches of the Cheviots overlooks the vast reservoir of Kielder Water and its summit is scattered with many radio towers, masts and radar structures which I had worked on many times in the past. The views from up here and out across the hills of The Cheviots and Scottish Borders are impressive. It was a lovely finish to the evening and turning dusk by the time we had ventured around on the open summit we decided finally its time to head off to Moffat.
Streetmap Links:-
Deadwater Fell:-
Deadwater Fell - Streetmap Link

Deadwater Fell - Airwave structuresThe Airwave towers
Deadwater Fell - OS-Trig point 569 metresSummit trig point
Deadwater Fell - MOD StructuresThe radar station

After travelling from the Kielder Forest area and returning back to the small village of Bonchester Bridge, we then went cross country to the town of Hawick. The A7 is the quickest road from here to Selkirk where from Selkirk through to Moffat is the winding minor road of the A708 via St Mary’s Loch. No views available now as it was pitch dark, except for my car headlights of course.
We arrived at our bed and breakfast in pretty little Moffat, Heathers at 21.30 hours and where welcomed as usual with the lovely home baking and coffees. I have stayed at Heathers many times over many years for both work and pleasure. One thing is the service here is always to a great standard.

Day – 2 A day on the great Galloway summit of Corserine:-

18th SEPTEMBER-2009
Meikle Millyea, The Rhinns of Kells and Corserine.
Our main aim for the long weekend was to knock off some more of the big and isolated summits of the remote Galloway Forest. These plans where to do the summits known as Meikle Millyea at 749 metres and Corserine at 814 metres. These two great summits are connected by the great snaking ridge known as the Rhinns of Kells. Corserine is a fine and beautiful summit. It is a registered Scottish Corbett and is one of the most remote Galloway summits you could ever visit. The views from its summit trig point are highly rewarding in that The Merrick is in full glory dominating to the west when to the east is the smaller but still just as remote summit known as the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. To the south the full Rhinns of Kells ridge with its craggy cliffs snakes away to the adjoining summit of Meikle Millyea. In the background of Meikle Millyea are the other two Cairnsmore summits. These being the Cairnsmore’s of both the Fleet and Dee in the distance.
Corserine - Streetmap Link
Meikle Millyea:-
Meikle Millyea - Streetmap Link
Rhinns of Kells (Millfire):-
Rhinns of Kells (Millfire) - Streetmap Link

Some pictures of the beautiful Corserine summit

Corserine from KnockreochCorserine seen from the Polharrow Bridge to Forrest Lodge road

Corserine from MillfireCorserine and its large round summit from the Rhinns of Kells ridge at Millfire

The ridge walk.
This was truly a great ridge walk and now has to register as one of my favourites. Sadly the weather at the start of the day was overcast and slight drizzle so there where no views available from the summit trig point on Meikle Millyea. As we walked along the Rhinns of Kells the cloud level rose and the summit of Corserine came out in full glory ahead of us. We hoped this window of weather would stay and lucky for us it did. No sunshine but the views across to the other summits where certainly worth the walk.

After taking pictures of us both standing at the summit trig point of Corserine 814 metres AOD we headed back to the Forrest Lodge car park descending via the steep ridge of North Gairy that takes you off the eastern side of the summit and back into the lonely forest tracks. After spending an hour on our way back taking photos of a lake with near perfect reflections, we then arrived back at the car. It total that days trek was 13.5 miles and when we got ourselves sorted out at the car we made our return journey for the bed and breakfast in Moffat.

Rhinns of Kell and CorserineThe ridge and Corserine
Corserine summit trig pointSummit trig point
Loch Dungeon from MillfireLoch Dungeon from Millfire

Day’s – 3 and 4 Rapids, waterfalls, wellingtons and waders:-

Well this is the real part of the trip report…! And it is in this part where the waders came into use.

Day – 3
19th SEPTEMBER-2009
Why on earth were we using waders in and around the mountains of Moffat. As mentioned it was not for fishing or working in deep sewers.
The reason for this was due to some new tricks I had learnt with my cameras. There is a setting known as BKT and by taking a multiple of shots at different exposure rates then embedded through a specific software pack gives you what is known as HDR photography. Again you may wonder why waders…?

Well one of my favourite natural features of the countryside has to be the great waterfalls. There are many different rivers or known locally here as burns and waters whose sources start high on the surrounding mountains. Well so as to investigate these waters and burns in a bit more detail both of us decided to put some chest waders on and go climbing within there rapids and waterfalls. I took a heavy duty steal tripod so as to get the stability required for the multiple 3 and 5 shots and long exposure shots. This was stood deep within the water and jammed between the rocks. Whilst standing in the freezing cold water using a remote cable for the camera again so as to have the stability I took various shots of the rapids and waterfalls so as to try out this software. Believe me the water was cold, very cold. You could feel it pressing tight against the waders and the cold against your legs.

The first section of water that we investigated was the Tweedsmuir rapids on the young waters of the great River Tweed. Here I only had my Wellingtons on as the rocks here are easy to climb around on and the river here is very deep, too deep for even chest waders. These have to be the first real set of rapids on the River Tweed and are very impressive especially when the river is in full flow.

On using my new Olympus SLR E-420 camera the pictures I took where multiple 5 manual exposure shots. One at a -2 exposure then -1, 0 then +1 and +2. These 5 images are the ones to then embed into the software pack. The result was very impressive. Chocolate coloured water with the rocks and the white waters in amazing detail.
Tweedsmuir Rapids:-
Tweedsmuir Rapids - Streetmap Link

My first attempt at a 5 exposure image

Chocolate and Cream rapids - TweedsmuirChocolate and cream coloured rapids on the River Tweed at Tweedsmuir

The second set of pictures where taken in the rapids and waterfalls of Talla Water. This is a very impressive and fast flowing stretch of water that drops in a series of beautiful waterfalls from the northern reaches of Lochcraig Head to the vast Victorian reservoir of Talla. These waterfalls and rapids fall in series over 100 metres and the views from them out across to the shapely top of Garalet Hill is lovely. I saw the perfect framed shot when standing in the rapids looking down the valley towards Garalet Hill and decided to do a manual 5 exposure as explained previously. The picture had the water and rocks framed just right. The clouds and colours in the mountains where spot on. I was again after processing this image totally amazed.
Talla Waterfalls and Rapids:-
Talla Water, waterfalls - Streetmap Link

A 3 exposure landscape image

Garalet Hill and Talla ReservoirGaralet Hill and Talla Reservoir from the cliffs of Talla Waters waterfalls

Some multi exposure images taken within the waterfalls, rocks and rapids of Talla Water

Talla Water - DownstreamTalla Water downstream
Talla Water rapids and rocksTalla Water rapids
Talla Water downstreamTalla Water downstream

Talla water DownstreamTalla Water downstream
Nick and I with wadersNick and I in waders
Talla Water main waterfallsTalla Water waterfalls

From Talla Water we then ventured up a small stretch of water known as Linghope Burn. This is a small burn that runs of the south-western reaches of Broad Law and feeds into the vast 1960’s reservoir of Megget. I knew that there where waterfalls up this stretch of water but did not know what height they where. Getting up there to this series of falls is not easy. Wading through deep splash pools and walking across slippery rocks but the waterfall that was presented to us was stunning. It was well hidden in a secret little gorge and dropping a height of around 60 feet. When we arrived there was even a small dipper bird feeding in and around the top of the falls. This waterfall does not have a name so to me I will call it Linghope Falls.
Linghope Burn:-
Linghope Burn - Streetmap Link

A 3 exposure waterfall image

Linghope Burns main waterfallsThe main 60 feet waterfall on the waters of Linghope Burn

Some multi exposure images taken within the waterfalls, rocks and rapids of Linghope Burn

Linghope Burn downstreamLinghope Burn downstream
Nick and I waders in Linghope BurnWaders in Linghope Burn
Linghope Burn upstream rapidsLinghope Burn upstream

Linghope Burn upstream rapidsLinghope Burn upstream
Nick and I in the waterfallsStanding in waterfalls
Linghope Burns waterfallLinghope Burn waterfall

After this series of waterfalls time was running out and the famous notorious Moffat Midges where starting to attack. These are nasty little peaces of work. Small biting insects that fly in there millions round the vast reservoirs here in the early evening hours, believe me if you get caught in a swarm of them it is nasty. Lucky when heading back to the car for the waders and waterproof jackets as it meant the only places they could go for was the hands, wrists, face and neck. We got back to the car and decided to jump straight in as the midges where swarming on the windscreen. I then drove us both to my favourite little Glen Café along side the natural lake of St Mary’s Loch. We both where not bothered about taking our waders off so decided to go in and have a cappuccino each to warm our inner parts up from the freezing waters we had left behind. Some people in there gave some really odd looks especially the motor bikers but so what. We only live once so it did not bother me at all and as I know the proprietor of the café and told him our tales of what we had done that day he kindly let us have our drinks for free. After the Glen Café we then drove back along the winding road of the A708 through Moffat Dale and into Moffat back to our bed and breakfast.

Day - 4
20th SEPTEMBER-2009
Day four was a very similar day to day three in that yet again we went looking at these same waterfalls but as the weather was a lot better with sunshine and no rain the photography was made a lot easier.
No wind meant very little spray on the camera lenses and no rain meant any nasty splodges of water also landing on the lens and wrecking the pictures. So to be honest most of the pictures of waterfalls within this trip report where taken on day 4’s rapids, waterfalls, wellingtons and waders. The only difference was on day 4 we got some lovely pictures in the morning of the Victorian reservoirs control tower at Talla Reservoir.
Talla Reservoir:-
Talla Reservoir - Streetmap Link
Talla Reservoir s control TowerThe Victorian control tower at Talla Reservoir

After visiting the waters of Talla’s rapids and waterfalls followed again by the waterfalls and rapids of Linghope Burns we headed back via the Glen Café. After another set of warm drinks we set off to what must be one of Scotland’s most beautiful and most impressive waterfalls. This is the waterfall of the Grey Mares Tail. Just writing this part makes me think about being there, standing by the splash pool and hearing the sound of that roaring water falling over 200 feet in its hanging valley.

It was not easy getting pictures of this one as the spray from it kept smearing on the lens so it took many attempts here to get a good shot. I also took a number of pictures of myself standing on the rocks at the bottom of falls. The light started to disappear and as to be safe I headed back climbing down the rocky path that heads to the visitors centre and car park. On arriving back at the car I took my Black Hunter wellington boots off put my trainers back on and drove back to the bed and breakfast in Moffat.
Grey Mares Tail and Tail Burn:-
Grey Mares Tail - Streetmap Link

Some pictures of the Grey Mares Tail waterfall in Moffat Dale

Grey Mares Tail splashpoolGrey Mares Tail splash pool
Me dwarfed by the Grey Mares TailDwarfed by them
The Grey Mares Tail in full gloryThe waterfall in full glory

The above centre picture is of me standing on the rocks at the base of the Grey Mares Tail waterfall feeling totally dwarfed by its 200 feet drop. I am there with my black pair of Hunter rubber wellingtons on which where once made up here in Scotland in the town of Dumfries only 25 miles away. Sadly the Hunter boot company went into financial difficulty and they are now no longer made here in the UK.

That night at the bed and breakfast my time was spent mainly playing and embedding the many different photos I had taken that day into the software. This was quite a tedious job but the results I found when playing with them to be quite good. Just imagine the amount of memory cards I used. I took 5 photos / image so 300 pictures for 60 images on the manual 5 settings. When using the BKT setting on the camera it only takes three different exposure shots but that’s still 3 photos / image.

Day - 3's wellington boot pictures (Yellow Hunter's)

Yellow Hunter wellingtons MoffatAt the Moffat Ram
My Yellow Hunter wellingtonsMy Yellow Hunters
Me in my yellow Hunter wellingtons at Tweedsmuir RapidsAt the Tweedsmuir Rapids

Day - 3's chest waders pictures

Waders in Talla WaterfallsAt Talla Water
Waders in Splash pools and rapids Linghope BurnAt Linghope Burn
Splash pools and rapids Linghope BurnAt Linghope Burn

Day - 4's wellington boot pictures (Black Hunter's)

Me in my Black Hunter wellingtons at Fruid ReservoirAt Fruid Dam
My Black Hunter wellingtons at Tail BurnMy Black Hunters
Me in my Black Hunters at the Grey Mares TailAt Tail Burn waterfalls

Day - 4's chest waders pictures

Waders at Linghope Burns rapidsLinghope Burns rapids
Waders at the waterfall of Linghope BurnAt Linghope Burn waterfall
Waders in the rapids of Talla WaterAt Talla Water rapids

Some albums of me in my welly's and waders embedded from a dedicated wellington and wader membership website

Some wader pictures

Find more photos like this on WWW Waders and Wellies netWork

Some wellington pictures Yellow Hunters

Find more photos like this on WWW Waders and Wellies netWork

Some wellington pictures Black Hunters

Find more photos like this on WWW Waders and Wellies netWork

Day – 5 My return journey home to Kent on a broken drive shaft:-

21st SEPTEMBER-2009
That morning Nick and I had our traditional Scottish breakfast consisting of bacon, sausages, eggs then of course all the proper stuff such as black pudding, fruity pudding, haggis and tatty scones. Such a lovely combination to fill me up for a long drive home and oh dear.
I mean a long drive home...!

This was why…!
We left the bed and breakfast at 11.00 then set off via the A74(M) towards Carlisle. As soon as I reached the motorway I accelerated away and oh my god did the car judder when we reached 55 mph. It scared me to be honest as when I took my foot off the accelerator and let it roll free there was no problem. I let the car cruise along at about 50-55 mph as every time I accelerated the car juddered. I took the journey very easy to Nicks house in Harrogate via the A74(M) and M6 motorways with a stop at Penrith Mcdonalds before taking the trans Pennine road of the A66 across to Scotch Corner. We then took the A1 and A1(M) respectively to Nicks. I said my goodbyes and then headed back for the A1 and A1(M) for home. That car juddered even more now and as I was now on my own it started to scare me. It felt like something was going to fall off. I stopped at the next junction down and phoned up my car centre where I get my services and repairs done. I described the situation to him where he said. Oh dear that sounds like your drive shaft has gone…! I asked him about calling my recovery out or was the car still safe to drive. I was told as long as you drive the car sensible, 50-55 mph and try to keep it at a steady rate changing gear as little as possible it should be ok.

I have never drove a car and felt so scared. There where other drivers out there who would not let me out to pass the lorries or would stick up my backside till I pulled back in on the slow lane. And whilst all of this was going on testing my concentration to the max, there is my car juddering like hell and shaking. In fact it was like being in one of them body toner kits shaking all my muscles in me into total spasm. LOL.

Well forgetting the scary side of things I did not get home till 22.30 that night. I was quite shaken up by the matter and the stress had been that much on me that it triggered one of epileptic seizures that night. The luck is I only get my seizures when I am asleep being a nocturnal form of epilepsy but the results from the convulsions can be quite serious. My partner Jay had to stop me from falling out of the bed and he said I arched and shook for about 30 seconds. I of course don’t remember any of this.

The next day from home my car went in for its repair. Yep a new drive shaft was certainly required and upon completion of the work that on top the holiday away on the mountains with rapids, waterfalls, wellingtons and waders cost me an extra £148.00. OUCH…! Maybe I should not have took the car up them forest tracks but there is no evidence that this was ever any connection to the drive shaft going...?
My Car at 560 metres AOD on Deadwater FellMy car parked at 560 metres AOD near the summit of Deadwater Fell


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