/ Worst ground for walking in the UK

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Flinticus - on 10 Jul 2017
Was in Galloway at the weekend. I've now walked in most parts of Scotland (barring the North East) and, after several trips over the years to Galloway, I can't think of rougher, more ankle straining ground, frequently wet / boggy between tussocks of thigh high grass and higher ferns.

I hate it and, given the relative unpopularity, paths are often non-existent or barely more than suggestions.

Any where worse?
toad - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

In the uplands, it's scree every time. Each step a potential ankle snapper.

However, there are big bits of north sea coast where it's walking on horrible, strength sapping shingle. Even the dog gets depressed
Welsh Kate - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:
Waun Lysiog, between Cwm Llysiog and Nant Ddu in the Brecon Beacons. It's that tussock grass again, though ours aren't quite as bit as those in the Galloways. In a blizzard, at night, searching for missing walkers. Ankle-breaking ground full of holes, going thigh deep in freezing cold water, constantly having to adjust pace and direction to try to find ground you can make progress on.
Post edited at 12:37
petegunn on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Easier because its smaller, but still hard going are the hills around Cross Fell in Cumbria, high tussocks and peat bogs.
mysterion on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

The way south of Arenig Fawr to the road is like that, drop from the ridge into an untracked basin of gigantic bog vegetation
purplemonkeyelephant - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

I can't remember the exact location, but I remember walking off path in mid Wales across moor-like terrain. The grass/bracken was knee height and every now and then I came across these 1-2 foot wide streams that had eroded through the soft soil deep into the ground, some deep enough that a shorter person could disappear. They were made all the more sinister as the grass and soil would often grow across and make them invisible until you were right on top of them. Pretty much the Welsh version of a crevasse.

keith-ratcliffe on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:
Tussocks to you mate!
felt - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Any clear-fell site. Snags, snargs, divots, dimooks, brash, brush, oil, &c, the lot.
JJ Krammerhead III - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to felt:

you're right, of all the horrid walking surfaces!....
JJ Krammerhead III - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

The worst culprit for tussocks, purple moor grass is pretty vile to walk through by late summer. descending nice steep bracken full of ticks after a long hot day... mmmmm
Toerag - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Can't you lot use a path like a normal person?
Moley on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

I could take you to plenty of horrors through mid Wales, as already mentioned, tussocks, bogs and underground streams leaving invisible leg breaking pot holes.
Add midges and horseflies for additional fun.
Dave Williams - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

The Rhinogydd's Three Amigos of heather, bilberry bushes and hidden ankle snapping boulders (with added head-high tick-infested bracken when in season) must come somewhere in the all-time Top Ten.
Dave Hewitt - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Lady Isle off Troon isn't very big or high but has some very laborious stuff underfoot - lush thick grass (fed by seabird droppings) plus hard-to-see holes plus dead seabirds. Another place that springs to mind is getting to (or trying to get to - we gave up) the top of Hutton Roof Crags from the high road between it and Farleton Fell. It's about a mile on the map, with only 300ft of ascent, but it's all limestone clints with the gaps full of gorse.
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wee jamie on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

A few months ago, I attempted to get to an elusive lochan hidden in the trees near Callop, Glenfinnan (Lochan Dubh). Every way I took, I came across bottomless bog/quicksand. I took my boots and socks off a few times to try to wade through some of it, but had to turn back as I had visions of sinking up to my armpits. Other routes I took were just as bad but also involved fallen trees and muddy creeks.
I was considering taking snowshoes, but on my third attempt more recently, I followed several fire breaks which although very boggy and painfully slow going, eventually led to the lochan. Nice to make it, but not the idyl I was hoping for!
I have since found out that there was a rescue there a few years ago when a party got lost in the forest bogs.

The roughest ground I have experienced in the UK is An Garbh Choire at the Southern end of the Cuillin - slow going over big angular and very rough gabbro boulders that seem to go for ever. A walk in the park compared to the boulder fields I encountered on Mount Anne in Tasmania last year. Probably two hours to cover 1 mile through huge tilted boulders the size of trucks with big holes in between.
malky_c - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:
In terms of upland terrain, I'm pretty sure you're right. More specifically, the worst area I crossed was coming down from Craignarget (to the north of Cairnsmore of Fleet) to the road at Dunkitterick Cottage near Clatteringshaws Loch. Never again!

There are certainly some contenders in Cowal, the Black Mountains in South Wales (the heather is much deeper and more luxuriant down there - up to your armpits), the Rhinogs, and perhaps on the Western Isles below about 300m (serious heather), but that couple of hours extracting myself from Cairnsmore of Fleet is the one that always springs to mind.

On the Black Mountains, the roughness might go unnoticed as there are paths going most places, but if you decide to leave them....

Anyone who says Torridon, Knoydart or Ardgour are rough needs to try some of the above.
Post edited at 15:30
Cheese Monkey - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to

Worst first

Tussocks, shingle, bog, large loose scree
Heike - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Hahaha, I read your thread title, thought Galloway and clicked on it... and what did you say? Galloway. I have done a few mountain marathons there and this is frankly the worst ground I have come across on all the MMs I have done. Yuk!
Tussocks everywhere!
Flinticus - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Moley:
> I could take you to plenty of horrors through mid Wales, as already mentioned, tussocks, bogs and underground streams leaving invisible leg breaking pot holes.

> Add midges and horseflies for additional fun.

Sounds very much like Galloway! I stopped on my walk to take a GPS reading. Took one step and my foot disappeared into a hole hidden in the long grass - and this was on the moderately good terrain!

Once in Galloway my last dog, Flint, disappeared: I found him down a hole standing on a large boulder with further cavaties below. This was on a path! Where? Galloway. I had to lie on the ground and pull him up by the harness. Thank God he was wearing one with a handle on his back.
Post edited at 16:49
pasbury on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Bracken over a boulder field, specifically the ground between Eskdale YHA and Hare Crag in late August. It took me forty minutes to cover about 200 yards, often resorting to a sort of crowdsurf move to flatten the bloody bracken while attempting to keep limbs out of any gaps between boulders!
tony on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Toerag:
> Can't you lot use a path like a normal person?

I tried following what should have been a path in the Lake District. At least, it was marked on the map as a path. On the ground, there was nothing resembling a path, and the only way to identify the start was by the stile at a junction. The descent from the stile was straight into a sea of chest-high bracken, which continued for what felt like forever, but when I checked my map, was only about half a mile. I don't think I've ever made such so slow progress. Although slogging through fire breaks on Ben Vane came a close second.
Post edited at 16:42
Lankyman - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Heike:

> Hahaha, I read your thread title, thought Galloway and clicked on it... and what did you say? Galloway. I have done a few mountain marathons there and this is frankly the worst ground I have come across on all the MMs I have done. Yuk!

> Tussocks everywhere!

Hardly. I spent a week walking in Galloway a few years ago and (true), tussocks did take their toll at times. Our first walk was onto Millfore via its northern outlier of Cairngarroch. Going up the side was a pain but once on top it was a joy to walk on short turf with granite boulders. How could you not love a hill like Curleywee http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/408944 ? The Merrick was similarly straightforward, even coming down off the east side down to Loch Enoch - just a bit boggy around the Gairland Burn path. Corserine you could do in slippers - it's possibly the smoothest turf I've walked on, makes the Howgills look like Galloway. The only place I felt like slashing my wrists was descending off Cairnsmore of Fleet via the Big Gairy but that was all down to the brash from forestry clear-felling close to the burn around Dunkitterick Cottage.
Pursued by a bear - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

That's a good call. Last time I was there the midges added an extra layer of wonderfulness to it too.

As a second best, very many years ago a school chum and I attempted to walk the Pennine Way. Day one, Kinder and Bleaklow, was fine, if misty. Day two, the stretch between the top of Black Hill and Standedge, especially the bit crossing Black Moss and White Moss, was a horror. The summer has been the usual rain and shine, so the peaty ground was that distinctive passive-aggressive condition where everything looked much the same and the only way to discover whether the ground would take your weight was to stand on it. Sometimes, it was fine; sometimes, you'd sink down to your thighs in the stuff and would need a hand to get out. It took forever and we were both filthy long before we'd crossed it.

We didn't do it that year; my mate twisted his ankle and we hitched home. I believe that section is essentially paved these days.

T.
Flinticus - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to malky_c:

Reports of the walk to Millfore (just north of where you describe) have so far put me off going there!

Most of my route off Lamachan Hill was fine bar the last 100m descent before picking up the forest road but, in some cruel joke I was faced with three fences, two of them deer fences, over the last 40 ft or so. At this point the tussocks and other folliage was chest high!

Deleted bagger - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

The approach to Glengarrisdale bothy on Jura from the east is an absolute nightmare. The old fields on the level ground near the bothy have turned into knee high tussocks. It tock me and a pal ages to reach the bothy with several days worth of food and fuel in Jan last year.
malky_c - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Millfore didn't seem too bad to me, but only in comparison to what I had just come down! There are traces of path on it; it's rough but not the worst that Galloway has to offer by a long shot.

I'd forgotten about Jura. Not so bad higher up (except for the obvious scree), but full of holes and tussocks lower down. Arran is quite similar away from the high hills as well. The likes of Sail Chalmadale have a very Galloway-like feel to them actually - just adds to the 'Scotland in Miniature' tag, I suppose.
Tom V - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Tried the Karrimor up there once.
Retired on second day.
Tim Sparrow on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:
Galloway is indeed soul destroying country, having desperate tussock, bog and rock infestedness. Rhinogau similarly bad but rock and heather, and drier.
However, large areas of the Elan Valley wilderness must come tops due to some of the most desperate tussocks. I have been reduced to 1km / hr trying to run (?) through them. Waist to chest deep, with deep rank water in the pits between. I have been reduced to wondering if I would ever get out and pondering gollum like hands dragging me down. Or the existence of gin traps left from a bygone age. I once waded in a lake as it was far quicker progress.
South and west of the Claerwen, off the unbeaten tracks if you feel masochistic enough.
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Heike - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Lankyman:

Ah yes, I am not talking walking the main paths going up the Merrick or Corrine - but going cross country between hills and general hillwalking away from the main honeypots ...which I supposed the OP was asking. IMHO Galloway is the worst (as many others were pointing out). I stand corrected if you find a worse place ;-)

Solaris - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Don't know Galloway; clearly I should. Until I do, my votes go to Rhinogydd (Welsh speakers, I hope I've got that (?irregular) one right) and, most delicious of all, the Welsh Empty Quarter, both already referred to by Tim Sparrow.
abbeywall - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:
I met an elderly man on the summit of the Merrick a few years ago (82). I am from Newton Stewart he said as he looked across the Galloway landscape. I have all his on my doorstep. I looked back on the horrendous ground I had stumbled across for the Grahams Craignaw and Mullwharcher and thought you are welcome to it. I will stick to the Pentlands. I am now doing Donalds and am dismayed at the number of further visits to Galloway that are needed.
Post edited at 22:47
Deleted bagger - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

A couple of weeks back I walked the southern part of the western coast of Lismore. Really hard going after Achinduin Castle along what is a raised beach covered large angler limestone boulders. These are covered in vegetation and slippy. Took 2 hours to cover mile and a half. I bet there's no more than a dozen people do that route a year.
davidalcock - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

I'll stick a vote in for the northern Rhinogydd too. Perversely, over the decades I've often found it easier to go barefoot there - especially amongst the tussocks.
Mal Grey - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to Deleted bagger:

Yes, inland Jura has a strong case to be included here, crossing from near Lealt to the west coast a couple of miles south of Glengarrisdale was a tussocky nightmare, the things were massive, but wobbly, and everything between them was just deep liquid bog. For what seemed like miles...


Once dropped straight down NNE from the hill fort on Tre'r Ceiri in the Eifl hills of the Lleyn peninsular, and discovered thick, shoulder-high, heather on a steep slope. That was fun, stumbling around in the stuff utterly unable to see what your feet were standing on.
Moley on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Tim Sparrow:

> Galloway is indeed soul destroying country, having desperate tussock, bog and rock infestedness. Rhinogau similarly bad but rock and heather, and drier.

> However, large areas of the Elan Valley wilderness must come tops due to some of the most desperate tussocks. I have been reduced to 1km / hr trying to run (?) through them. Waist to chest deep, with deep rank water in the pits between.

That's a good speed through some of that hell
My wife has been reduced to sitting down and crying and another time she stepped into an invisible (to her) bottomless boggy patch and went straight down waist deep, luckily she was wearing waterproof trousers (raining as usual), the air in them acted like a balloon and she popped back up like a cork from a bottle, I grabbed her.

Oh what fun we have all had over the years exploring the Élan valleys.
Flinticus - on 11 Jul 2017
Well, this is turning out to be interesting.

I might make a rough list / map of the most mentioned 'worst' areas and, if i can't avoid them, at least plan for the time it takes to cross them, warn my wife I may be some time and prepare my Will.

To think, when I first started hill walking, on the well-trodden munros, I thought that difficulty was all about height. How ignorant!

lone - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Welsh Kate:

I've had plenty of fun out on Waun Lysiog Kate, a lovely, quiet, spacious and interesting moorland along with the rivers and streams. Also Waun Wen and Cefn Car are interesting areas too. Yes I agree the ground is really hard going up above Cwm Lysiog, in fact, many areas of the moorland are hard going aren’t they.

Ground in Cwm Cadlan is tough going South of Cefn Sychbant, and also south of Mynydd y Glog is hells teeth in places. I think the toughest I've come across in the Beacons is the area behind Penwyllt, sandwiched between Pant Mawr and Penwyllt, a great many fissures in between the tussocks and rocks leading the caves below, but such a brilliant area, you really feel like your exploring an unknown area.

Jason
lone - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Moley:

Banc y Llyn near to Llyn Gynon, never again !
Moley on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Excellent thread, us walkers equivalent of, "Think that was hard, when I was a lad we were lucky to have a scrap of stale bread and....etc.etc."

You could plan to walk in all suggested places, assess, grade them and then report back - if we ever hear from you again
Moley on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to lone:

Llyn Gynon is worth a visit for the fishing, we once (never repeated) camped and fished at Gynon then hiked to the top of Claerwen. Know what you mean!
Snoweider - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

Galloway is dire, Jura awful, but the stuff of my nightmares is Glen Iorsa, Arran. 12km of bastard grass, babies heads, water, adders, clegs and ticks.

Kevin Woods - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

One holiday I once went and bagged the 30m prominence tops on the Isle of Bute - just something to do; there's 27 or 28 of them. How easy I thought that would be - it turned into so many miles of head-height bracken, forestry commission crawling/bashing and thick pot-holed heather. It's got to be up there but I haven't walked too much in Galloway!
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Bob Kemp - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Solaris:

"Don't know Galloway; clearly I should."
I was just thinking, "remind me to avoid at all costs"!
Lankyman - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> "Don't know Galloway; clearly I should."

> I was just thinking, "remind me to avoid at all costs"!

Cannot comprehend all the 'dire' Galloway comments on here - really enjoyed my week up there (PS I'm no masochist and DO walk 'off the beaten track'). Here's a list of what we did:
Cairngarroch & Millfore,
Cairnsmore of Fleet/Craignelder
Merrick via Benyellary & Loch Enoch
Corserine to Meikle Millyea
Cambret Hill/Cairnharrow
coastal walk round Burrow Head
coastal walk round Balcary Point and Rascarrel Bay
Enjoyed 'em all.
Dave Hewitt (re Hutton Roof Crag from the high road) - there is a dead easy way (a path) almost direct to the summit. It's one of my local hills so I do know it very well and it is, admittedly, one of the hills where the OS map is nigh on useless.

Welsh Kate - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Moley:

Thumbs up (or down?) for Llyn Gynon / Claerwen area as hellish terrain, it gets *very* sloppy around the llyn especially. and one of my fellow backpackers went in thigh deep on a trip over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend. Inevitably for mid Wales it ended in a very wet second night and a walk off in thumping rain.
Tim Sparrow on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Moley:

> Llyn Gynon is worth a visit for the fishing, we once (never repeated) camped and fished at Gynon then hiked to the top of Claerwen. Know what you mean!

That is indeed where I took to running in the lake as it was quicker!
bouldery bits - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to Flinticus:

London

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