Altitude: 526m to 1462m. Gain: 991m. Loss: 1280m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
A reasonable but sometimes scrubby route connects Ashton Hut to Eyre Creek via the Windley,
From Ashton Hut, sidle down to meet the main Ashton Creek. The first 500m requires sidling the south face of the valley across slips / scree until you reach the start of beech forest on the valley floor. From here you can cross the creek and head up the north (true right) bank in initially open beech forest. The beech changes to increasingly dense pole beech as you progress but it makes for reasonable travel to the first main forks, above which the riverbed open enough to permit good travel on the banks.
Follow the river banks and later valley flats upstream. There are patches of scrub but they can be avoided by good route selection.
The third side-creek above the major forks, a stream dropping from due east down a series of waterfalls, is the creek to the Ashton/Windley saddle. A good ramp on the true right of the creek provides access to the valley above the falls. The valley is a steep 'V' with tall tussock and slow going until about 1250m above which it opens to a good head basin with an easy, stead climb due east to the obvious low-point at the saddle.
Brief scree takes you into the head of the middle branch of Windley Creek. The map shows an area of scrub, but this is mainly on the valleysides and the valley floor around the creek is reasonably clear except for the last 100m to the bushedge. Good deer trails on the north bank provided a route into the beech.
The 1km descent to the main Windley is steep, gorged and choked with windfall. It was slow and not enjoyable, but possible. One scramble down a waterfall/logjam was required. If repeating the trip I;d aim to sidle onto the southern spur and follow that down to the main Windley Creek, rather than descending the creekbed as shown. The 1km took me 1 hour.
Once in the main riverbed travel was good on mossy river flats. Frequent good campspots exist beside the river (there were none further up the valley to the pass). The river was shin to knee deep and 3-4m across and easy goin in normal flows. In flood the route could be tricky as crossing were required. The last kilometer or so is taped and roughly cut.
The creek emerges from the bush at the ford on the 4WD track running up the Eyre valley. Dog Box Biv and Shepherds Creek Hut are 2km upriver / 3km downriver respectively. Good campspots also exist in the beech at the forks.