At 840m Broad Law is the second highest peak outside of the Highlands beaten by only 3m by The Merrick in Dumfries and Galloway. Previously, I had ventured up Broad Law with my eldest daughter Jenna via the forestry track that leads up from Hearthstanes, which lies to the west. A sore hip was niggling Jenna that day and we didn’t manage to get any further than the summit of Broad Law that day. So it was appropriate that Jenna’s first big trip out, now she is fully fit again, was back up Broad Law. Also in the party were Shadow, our dog, and Tim, a family friend who usually comes out for a walk during his visit for Hogmanay. This time the plan was to try and do a round of hills from Cramalt using an approach from the south. Thanks to Tim for the photos he took.
Cold fronts moving down from the North had dropped temperatures and this was a bit of a worry on the drive down, with the air temperature sensor reading -4 to -5 degrees C and the climb up the steep single-track road to the Meggat Stone ahead. I was right to be concerned, as all was well until we got close to the top of the pass and the road was covered in sheet ice. Fortunately, my snow shovel was in the boot and the grit bins were full but reversing back down to Talla Linnfoots was the outcome.
We geared up and set off for the Meggat Stone but turned off at a gap in the drystane dyke and started up the slopes towards Broad Law. A dusting of snow covered the lower slopes and Shadow, who does not have the longest of legs, struggled a bit but we got up onto the flatter sections to play the classic Tweedsmuir Hills game of ‘Follow the Fenceline’, which we did with aplomb to the summit, complete with the nearby air traffic navigation beacon that gives the impression a UFO has landed close by.
Clear and sunny weather greeted our arrival at the trig but temperatures were well below zero, so the plans for progressing to Cramalt Crag were amended and Talla Cleuch Head, a lower Donald on the way back towards the road, became the target. We had some contouring to gain the broad connecting ridge between Cairn Hill and the summit of Talla Cleuch Head. A new deer fence to protect the recently planted native woodland on Talla Bank that marched up the ridgeline alongside us was giving me some concern but, to our relief, there was a gate at the top. Tracks in the snow from a fellow fell-runner led us to the summit and down the ridgeline of Muckle Side back to the road, which afforded some amazing views of the hills around the Talla Reservoir as we headed back to the car.