Duncolm - 401m
Friday 29th March 2013
Weather/Conditions: A chilly wintry morning - the skies and light was flat and raw, a ceiling of cloud draining colour from the land. Loch Humphrey was a little frozen around the edges. Sun breaking out on the northern horizon - Highlands looked good.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.2km / 430m / 2h 50m
Anyway, I left for Duncolm early and parked up below the great junction by the Erskine bridge. There is some parking then a long track leading off up the hill.
It was a cold, grey morning. The high cloud gave the world a cold, steely look, and I gained height somewhat rapidly. This was a side of the Kilpatrick Hills I knew nothing of. It was quite odd to leave the sight of the Clydeside towns of Old Kilpatrick, Bowling and Dumbarton, and suddenly find myself on a frozen upland with views expanding all the time. Past Loch Humphrey, Duncolm was a steady tramp across the moorland to a trig point. In the north, the Highlands shone brilliant white and pink in the sun - oh, to be on that far horizon... One particular Highland mountain stood out as a pink pyramid, and I embodied that sight with a kind of paradise, later identified as Ben Starav.
The first few months of 2013 was an odd time for me, for I completely changed the way I went up hills. It was almost as though I'd entirely lost my entire appetite for climbing mountains, kind of as if I was storing up energy and momentum to be unleashed come May. Instead of jetting off to the Highlands, I'd make do with Duncolm. I'd get to the end of each month and realise I've barely climbed anything. This pattern persisted beyond my Munro round as well, and I can truly say that the summer of 2013 sucked in everything around about it for around a year on either side. An effort of that magnitude doesn't come out of nowhere and a huge amount of mental effort was put in beforehand, with an equally enormous "fallout" period afterward. It can be seen on my mountain log, and it was a while before I picked back up again to normal.
But Duncolm saw me well, and it was nice to visit this side of the Kilpatricks. I realised how close Auchineden was and knew that it would be nice one day to walk from one end of these hills to the other. I would say they are a place you'll solitude, but the Kilpatricks don't strike me as "wild" in any sense. They are an upland intensively managed, with plantations, reservoirs, access roads and marching rows of pylons to go. In one sense I find this a little sad and sorry, but such is perhaps to be expected for somewhere so close to civilisation. I'm grateful we have the Campsies by Glasgow, which give a far more interesting hill experience.
Anyway - descent of Duncolm was by my route of ascent up the long track, and I was back at the car at 8:30am, an amazingly early time to get off any hill. It had been an early one and I could rest easy too, with that month's new top finally picked off...
(0.00) 5.40am Layby, Old Kilpatrick
(1.35) 7.15am Duncolm
(2.50) c. 8.30am Layby, Old Kilpatrick