and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Ring of the Loch

Wednesday  8 June 2016

A seven mile circular walk on level ground around St Mary's Loch, with three optional extras, making over ten miles in all.  We started at half past eleven, as the mist was lifting, and ended up walking in hot sunshine. We took the walk at a steady pace and had leisurely coffee and lunch breaks, returning to the car at about six o'clock.
The route is well signed, and easy to follow. 

We walked in an anticlockwise direction starting from the Glen Cafe near the James Hogg monument.
There'll be more info about 'the Ettrick Shepherd' on my other blog.  The weather was dull and the cloud was low when we arrived.

After a coffee and flapjack, and a brief nod to James Hogg we were ready.

We crossed the road bridge and turned left by Tibbie Shiel's Inn. She was a well known landlady in the time of Hogg and Walter Scott. The tale goes that you could party on a Saturday night, but had to attend the family service on a Sunday.

We followed the path past the sailing club and along the shoreline. There's grassland and woodland, and some modern sculptures.

This refers to the ribbons from Tibbie Shiels's wedding bonnet. She gave them to two of her sons as bible bookmarks when they emigrated to Canada. Their own brides wore them, and eventually one was returned to Scotland, and is still used today.

When we reached the car park at the eastern end of the loch, we opted for the diversion to see Dryhope Tower, a fortified house from the 1500s, when armies from England and Scotland were often rampaging through, along with the reivers, (robber barons and cattle stealers). The tower was the birthplace of one of Walter Scott's ancestors, Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow.
This is the marriage stone of her parents, Philip and Mary, set into the wall of Dryhope Tower.

We climbed the recently installed metal spiral staircase to the top, and had lunch in the warm sun, enjoying the fine views.

We returned to the road, retracing our steps, and followed it until we saw the waymarked sign which indicated an old drove road, a little way above the modern road.
After a mile or so there were signs to St Mary's Kirkyard, uphill  of course, though we could see no sign of it from where we were. But needs must, and we headed upwards.
This kirk (and incidentally the Auld Kirk in Selkirk as well) claims to be the Kirk in the Forest, where William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland. All that remains of the twelfth century church is the kirkyard. Every July, an outdoor service called the Blanket Preaching is held here to commemorate the outlawed Covenanters, who would hold services in secret places in the seventeenth century.

Downhill now, and back to the drove road. The path crosses the modern road and soon we arrived at the junction to Megget, where we took another diversion to visit the supposed grave of Piers Cockburn, a reiver of the 1500s who was executed by King James in 1530.
 Legend says he was hanged on his own doorstep, though records say this happened in Edinburgh. The story forms the basis of Walter Scott's "Border Widow's Lament". A tragic and violent tale, but now this spot is peaceful.

We returned to the main path and followed the route alongside the loch - as always the last couple of miles seemed the longest.
An excellent walk, which we took at a leisurely pace, in beautiful weather.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Short ride up the Ettrick Valley

Monday 06 June 2016

A lovely ride on a quiet road. Apart from four timber lorries and a mobile library van, we saw maybe two cars. 

Ettrick Water is a delightful river, much like a mini-Tweed, clear, fast flowing with a rocky or pebbly bed.
The road from Ettrick village is not a through road, and from the cottage to the end of the surfaced road at Potburn climbs very gently. 

Harry rode further along the track  from here, while I sauntered back taking snaps.

The weather started sunny and warm, though we did have a heavy shower before we got back.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Scottish Borders - Ettrick

More than delighted to have done a short (5.6 miles), and strenuous (around 1300 feet of ascent) walk, much of it on tussocky ground which would no doubt include bog after a spell of wet weather.

This was from Elspinhope Cottage, on Cossarshill Farm, along the valley on a track parallel to the road, until we were level with Brockhoperig Farm. 

On the way we saw and heard oystercatchers and lots of skylarks, and heard a cuckoo. There were plenty of wild flowers too.

Common Butterwort

We turned right and headed for the ridge, which we met at Herman Law (614 m) via Cossars Hill and Standtrae Knowe. 

Fabulous views into the Yarrow Valley, with the Loch of the Lowes and St Mary's Loch.

Then down hill over more very rough ground following Cossarshill Burn back to the farmhouse.

Wonderful sunny weather. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Irthlingborough Lakes and meadows

10.15 on Thursday 24 March.  A walk of just over 7 miles with Maureen. An exploratory walk from the Irthlingborough end of Stanwick Lakes. Dry, still not warm, and some drizzle toward the end.

This was basically a walk following our noses and the maps on site, with the help of phone apps to orientate ourselves. We parked near the old football ground, along with several other cars.  Our walking route went more or less south west (turning right at the old railway track, away from Stanwick Lakes and towards  Northampton. Irthlingborough was on our right, Higham Ferrers on our left, across the A45.

 The Nene was looking grey and uninviting.
 This is a footbridge carrying the Nene Way over the river.  The noisy A45 is close by as well.
 A couple of examples of stone "wildlife".
 We had a break, balancing on a log, and then found a bench a hundred yards further on.
Irthlingborough with its distinctive church.

There were quite a few grebes, swans, coots being noisy, Canada geese and some little birds in the trees.

We decided to add a couple of miles on at the end and called at the Visitor Centre for coffee and teacakes.

It began to drizzle, but no serious rain, though I had to use the screen wipers as we drove home.

Now I just need to decide on a route for the Gretton group.

Map and details

Pitsford Water anti-clockwise

A gentle wander round the reservoir, with Marta, on a pleasant dry day. (March 22nd)

We were quite close to a great crested grebe, but with only the little camera I kept just missing  it.  Here are the results:
It was there, really

(I blame the tools! )

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stoke Albany, Ashley,Brampton Ash,Desborough

9.33 am, Monday 21 March 2016. Led by Tommy, with me, Maureen, Gordon, Marian, Chris, Terry. Dry, but not sunny. fields are drying out. 9.5 miles, and around 660 feet of climbing, though none of the hills were very long, and the views were good, in spite of some mist.

We parked at the village hall, near the church in Stoke Albany, and took the footpath heading north west by the church. it turns more or less north, past Lower Lodge farm, and under a row of pylons, joins a path from Wilbarston and heads north west again.  
A hardy band walks along the corridor in the fields
  On the outskirts of Ashley, we take a path east, cross a minor road and climb steadily up across field paths to the finger post where six paths join.
Six ways finger post to Stoke Albany (x2), Brampton Ash, Sutton Bassett, (hidden away at the back), Weston by Welland and Ashley
 We join the Midshires and Macmillan Way and follow the footpath towards Brampton Ash. We have a break - fairly high up, but sheltered between two rows of trees.
Renewed enthusiasm after a break - and we found a spot out of the wind.
 We cross the Harborough Road, and walk across a field near Brampton Ash church to reach Hermitage Road. A turn to the right and a short section on the road takes us to another footpath, on our left,leading to Red Hovel, and then alongside Brampton Wood. This is on our left.
Brampton Ash church, and lots of new lambs.

More new life
 Our route takes us through an industrial estate on the outskirts of Desborough, and along a public footpath over a locked gate, then across a field with a few horses, before following the other side of the wood - it is now on our left again as we walk north. We skirt Stoke Wood, and reach the minor road between Desborough and Stoke Albany. A mile or so and we arrive back at the church, and the cars. 
Back to Stoke Albany church
Map and details

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fineshade Top Lodge

With Marta. No photos today, so this is just for the record - a six-mile walk around the still bleak woods - along paths where much tree-felling has taken place. We saw catkins and primroses, but the wind was still chill. A few kites and a couple of kestrels spotted, but this was very much a walk-for-walk's-sake, followed by a surprisingly decent lunch of beetroot and mint soup.