Always Take the Camera
Avro Anson MG827 on Criffel.
(Distance covered = 3.5 mile/Ascent =+534m(From Ardwal Mains))
(Distance covered = 7.2 mile/Ascent =+686m(From New Abbey via Waterloo Monument.)

There's usually a Highland Dancing competition in Dumfries every month, some last longer than others, so when I havn't time to go farther afield I go and climb Criffel.

As Criffel is only about 6 miles south of Dumfries it's handy when time is limited. There are two paths I've used to climb Criffel, one starting from New Abbey which goes via Knockendoch and one from Ardwal Mains. Both paths are well made for the first half of the ascent but turn very muddy for the second half.

Criffel viewed from the North.

Blueberry Esmerelda Muffin II parked at Ardwal Mains

I prefer the path up from Ardwal Mains as it meanders up through the woods with a babbling burn for company and the views are much nicer lower down especially across the Solway Firth to the Lake District, the path up from New Abbey spends most of its time in the woods.

The path from Ardwal Mains starts of as a broad grassy lane

There is then a well made gravel path up past the woods

A snow covered Skiddaw across the Solway Firth

Once at the top of the woods there is a fence and a gate, the nice wee gravel path that has made progress to here so easy does not venture through this gate and is replaced by mud!

The end of the nice gravel path

The end of the nice gravel path on a very different day

Through the gate the going becomes much tougher as the path is well churned up, the best time to climb Criffel is when it very cold and the mud has frozen.

On this day the going above the gate was a lot easier due to the mud being frozen

Once the slope starts to steepen onto the final ascent to the summit the condition of the path improves marginally.

View north east from the summit of Criffel

From the summit there are some spectacular views all around, including the Isle of Man and across the Solway Firth to Cumbria and the Lake District. During one of my visits to the top of Criffel on a beautiful sunny day with clear blues skies I was standing on the Summit of Knochendoch having taken the New Abbey route when I noticed two large aircraft flying up the Solway Firth towards Criffel, as they drew closer I could make out it was not one but two Avro Lancasters, they proceeded to fly right below where I was standing and disappeared off to the west.An absolutely brilliant photo opportunity spoilt only by the fact that I did not take my camera on that particular day!

Douglas Cairn and the summit trig point

From the summit its time to leave the well beaten track and head off to the North West to the Anson crash site. The western slopes of Criffel are covered in very deep heather which efficiently conceals deep holes and very uneven ground,( it does a good job of concealing the aircraft wreckage as well) so the last half mile or so to the crash site is very hard on the ankles.

Part of the nose from the Anson and one of it's Cheetah engines.

'That part again', piece of undercarriage mounting that seems to be present at every Anson wrecksite.

Both undercarriage legs

I've visited the anson on Criffel about 10 times now in all types of weather and even during white out conditions when it was covered in about 5ft of snow.

amusing myself by finding the most lethal looking icicles

Although I knew it would be buried, the challenge on this day was just reaching the crashsite of the Anson, good training in case I ever get caught out in the snow!

In case I didn't already know I could have judged wind direction from this.

More selfies, same location different weekends, I definitely look happier in the sunny one.