Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Spending the Bank Holiday in the Ettrick Hills
Me and Dawn… Dawn and I had a bit of a trundle around the Ministry of Defence ranges at Otterburn the other day. (This is not too risky at the moment as no firing is taking place and members of the hoi-palloi can wander reasonably freely, specially if they stay on the public rights of way.)
Anyway, the point is that it transpired that Dawn was intending to wander off somewhere remote and tussocky to spend the bank holiday and, after some discussion we cooked up a plan to have a static camp somewhere quiet and carry out a few forays into whatever hinterland we could reach from the tents.
And so, Saturday lunchtime, we abandoned the knipemobile in Moffat High Street and followed the Southern Upland Way/ Reivers and Romans route into the forests bordering the Ettrick Hills. It began to rain and Saturday Afternoon Lassitude began to set in, so, after about six miles, we spotted a spot in the little valley holding Birch Sike and put up the tents. The Birch Sike site was well defended by steep and slippery slopes, old, rotten forest brash with new plantings and deep and unfiendly heather and tussocks. Only night-time deer visited us.
We stayed till Tuesday and despite the fact that we were in partial view of the Southern Upland Way and it was a bank holiday, we saw only a small handful of people passing by – maybe five or six in 3 days.
Saturday night dinner was chicken tikka with basmati rice followed by chocolate sponge and custard and quite a bit of Glen Moray. Slept well.
Foray #1 (Sunday) was a walk up to Selcoth Burn where we thought we might have camped but didn’t make it on Saturday. This would have produced a some fine camping spots, specially in the large sheepfold there. Maybe another time… After this, we pressed on to the summit of Loch Fell at 688 metres, and then, it’s outlier, West Knowe, returning via a stupidly steep descent on grass and bilberry for a dinner of corned beef hash with petit pois, onios and cheese and (for me) christmas pudding and custard. Yes, folks, none of this dehydrated stuff for us…. Finished the whisky supply, unfortunately.
Foray #2 (Monday) was the bagging of Ewelairs Hill, a 525 metre heathery lump approached via a stupidly steep path from the ruins of Garrogill, a shepherd’s house which would make a fine bothy if somebody chucked a lot of money at it. This time , we used the Romans and Rievers Route wot nobody has ever heard of, but it seems to go from near the village of Ae to just outside Hawick and links with various other long-distance routes. A blurb about it is here. No other walkers were seen today.
The afternoon was spent snoozing in the warm sunshine they have in Scotland at the moment.
Tonight’s dinner was beef bourguignon and smash (yes, I know..) followed by lumps of cheese cos I was fullup, innit? No after dinner drinks left. Me and LTD shared some cheese.
On Tuesday, we walked back to Moffat where the car was still where we’d left it. On the way home we visited the wooden hut cafe near Tibbie Shiels and met a (?French) walker who’d waved at our tents a couple of days earlier. Small world…..
A fine and relaxing time – just 21 miles covered and 4700 feet of ascent.