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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Burnswark, Warbla’ and Potholm

an unconcerend heron and some ducks

I have this list y’see , of the hills I’d like to bag in 2012. And to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. And yesterday it was time to go a-bagging in the Borders.

Bag 1 was a little way up the M74 from Carlisle quite near to Ecclefechan. This was to be the ancient oppidum or Head Office of the Selgovae, a British tribe local to Annandale and the Solway Firth before, during and after the Roman period. Burnswark hillfort is remarkable in that it has two Roman camps or forts attached to it’s slopes and on the Southern slopes, there are three ballista platforms from which various missiles could be launched at targets on the hill above. The theory is that this was, in fact, a Roman training camp for teaching troops how to use artillery.

ballista platforms

There’s a small parking area in the forest on the South side, occupied today by a lad with a tractor, mending the road. I asked him if I could park and he said “nae problem” and went on to say what a nice day it was….

So we parked (we being me and the dog) and climbed the few contours between the car and the top. there’s a fine view of the Solway Firth and Cumbria from the top and a long view Northwards towards the Highlands. Its a very distinctive flat-topped hill. If you were looking for it, you’d see it easily from the motorway, just before you run into the back of that truck…

langholm from warbla

Ten miles to the East (much too far to walk there and back, so I drove..) is the little town of Langholm. Langholm truly nestles in the hills and has a lovely free car park next to the River Esk which today was occupied by a few cars, a lot of ducks, some oyster catchers, some people with their doggies, and a heron. And some noisy gulls.  The heron refused to move when approached by doggies and when I went to get a picture, it eventually lifted off and landed a few seconds later on the other side of the river. Very little effort was involved. The ducks laughed, like they do.

warb law tussocks

The first hill to attract the attention of the Knipe boots and paws was Warblaw, affectionately and locally “Warbla’” (a bit lazy, that – they just missed off a letter. In other places, they’d call it Warlie or something…) Warblaw has a wireless mast on it and so it has a road going almost to the top. The actual summit is defended by a few acres of soggy tussocks. There’s a cracking view of Langholm form the top and the surrounding hills, including Burnswark….

galloways

itchy back (mouting!) 

We descended. The weather threatened a bit. The car’s alarm wasn’t going off and the heron was still ignoring doggies, so we passed through the policies of the Buccleuch eastate and climbed the long ridge of Potholm Hill. This was occupied by a small herd of Galloways, more intent on their hay supply than any dog-chasing frenzy.  Potholm is a beautiful Howgill-ish long and grassy ridge. You could have lots of hillwalking fun up here given more time as it links to a huge wild area just to the North.  You could spend days wandering happily up in those hills with your little akto and some dehydrated curry….

playground ahead

As for us, we completed the ridge and descended to the woodlands, lodges, and estate buildings of Buccleuch. It seems that they’re unconcerned about people wandering through and, indeed there are benches to rest on and waymarker posts and  cheerfully friendly people in camouflage who say what a nice day it was this morning but it’s spoiled itself now. Posh English sporting estates could learn a thing or two about manners here…

We went home. We’d done 8 miles with a magnificent 2500 feet of upness. The heron is still there, apparently.

 

12 comments:

John J said...

Langholm has the best pies in the world....well in the UK.

But you probably knew that, you being the Pieman an' all that.

In case you didn't, check out the butchers in the high street.

JJ

Oldmortality said...

That "tame" heron has been there for years. I shudder when i see kids trying to pet it because if you call the SSPCA to an injured "wild" heron, they wont go near it without lots of protective clothing and a big net.

Greg said...

Wow Langholm. As I sit at my computer there is a photo on the shelf of me aged 6 and my mam and Aunty Kath in Langholm main street.
For reasons unknown to me there was a womens institute bus trip there every year on the day they ride the bounds. Must go there again, as every time i drive up the motorway I think it would be good to explore those hills.

Alan R said...

Your certainly putting the miles in Mike. Pics look quite spring like, like.

Dawn said...

Nice one Mike, looks as if you had good weather too.Am impressed.

chrissiedixie said...

Hope you like home-made double chocolate chip cookies...

Mike Knipe said...

John J - nobody told me about the pies. I'll know next time (National Pie week is this week, remember....)
Tame heron OM? It looked a bit grumpy to me. Unusual, even so..
Greg - Nostalgia eh? (not what it was...) The surrounding hills are nice and empty. I'm thinking of having a few days backpacking..
Alan - It were warm in the morning and perishing in the afternoon. Not quite spring - more link Spr.
Dawn - See above - two hours from Durham... cracking countryside for a wander..
Chrissie - dribble... nuff said.... don't spoil me tea, though I have a nosh booked at The Snake

Dawn said...

A few days sometime Mike?

Mike Knipe said...

I think so, Dawn... cracking area...

Jules said...

A bit of a revelation, this. Looks like my sort of place - thanks for spreading the news.

P said...

Just discovered your Blog....great writing and photos, so I am enjoying my ramble through it.

Mike Knipe said...

Thanks P. I'm constantly surprised that people like this rubbish. Takes all sorts, I suppose....