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Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Simple Desultory Philander in the Borders

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I have disposed of the knipemobile due to it’s habit of wearing out CV joints. I had the Old Girl for ten years and was just learning how to drive it properly , that is to say, putting the least amount of stress on the CV joints when going around bends. I got a new one, after buying a lump of money from Barclays Bank at a remarkably low price – that is to say, the loan, not the new car.

I immediately took the new knipemobile to Alston and Nenthead for a visit and then, it struck me , that a bimble up the A68 where there’s a small group or gang of unbagged Tumps might be Just The Thing, specially in view of the weather forecast which was for warm sunshine. People who travel South on the A68 might recall seeing a line of conical hills hanging on the side of the Border ridge just before the bendy bits at Carter Bar. The side road off the trunk road to the start of this walk turns out to be horribly holed, mud-covered in parts and quite bumpy in places. Knipemobiles have to put up with this sort of thing, so it would be a good introduction. The new car is now filthy.

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I parked the car near Towford – a deep ford with the Kale Water in semi-spate following several rainy days and quite a bit of snow melt.

Hill number one was Heugh Law, a long and grassy sheep pasture overlooking Plenderleith farm, from where there was an excellent view of the pointy hills mentioned above…

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I was quite lucky to find gates where gates were needed and, any cattle were too busy with their hay supplies to bother me and LTD, and only a patch of deep, deep muddy slop , caused by said cows, caused any trouble. This was Up To The Socks. We passed over Knock Hill and avoided some people quarrying stone for a road and were soon on the top of Pointy Hill #1 – Philip Law. This is a fine hill with a cracking view of the snow-clad Cheviots to the East and Ettrick and Manor Hills to the West. So I ate my pie and chocolate-covered ginger cake (dribble..) LTD sunbathed. It was nice and warm out of the breeze.

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Next up was Pointy Hill #2 –Goshen Hill. Goshen is proto-Welsh for “covered in cow muck” , which it was. It seems that the top of this hill is a favourite place for the local bovines to do their toilet. Its not the kind of place to stop and eat a pork pie and some ginger cake being grungy all around. So we didn’t. It had all gone anyway.

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A trundle through the forestry followed and Hill number four eventually came underfoot – Phawhope Rigg from where a fine and easy tramp over a huge grassy plain brought us to our final Tump, Loddan Hill, overlooking Nether Hindhope where, it seems, the post-bus (or at least a large post-office van) was seen to be visiting.

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My utter lack of planning of this jaunt raised a bit of a problem for the return to the knipemobile, which we hoped was still where we left it with the lights off and the wheels on, and this was the crossing of the Kale Water, which was still running high. We descended to a meander which, from above seemed to be a wide spot where, maybe the current would be slacker and maybe the water would be shallower.

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I removed boots and socks at my predicted ford, watched incredulously by LTD who really really hates water. The burn was deep and swift and, it looked a bit risky. I prospected around a bit, chose a spot and paddled across. It was just about knee-deep and not quite as cold as I expected. LTD plunged in , swam a few doggy strokes and scrambled up the bank. He seemed overjoyed by what he’d just done. I praised him and this made him even happier.

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I finished the last easy mile on the road without socks.

My new GPS thingy said I’d covered 118km at an average speed of 48 kph. I should have reset it before setting off…  dhuhh..

On the way around, we met various animals. Firstly, on climbing one of the hills, I noticed that LTD had spotted something and there, just a few yards away was an elderly-looking badger. He didn’t see us till LTD barked and he disappeared undergound before I could get the camera out.

In other places , there were deer. I spotted seven or eight altogether.

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And then there was a lizard. He was moving jerkily towards lTD who clearly wanted to eat him.  If I hadn’t noticed the little fella, LTD would surely have scoffed his first lizard.

And, as a sure sign of spring, skylarks and meadow pipits were all up and singing. Fab stuff.

The walk – made-up as I went along, was just a bit over 9 miles and 2400 feet of up.

philip law


Quinn said...

My vehicle always looks like it's just been driven through a series of deep mudholes. I consider this an effective anti-theft device. Working so far!

Dawn Linney said...

Looks a splendid walk Mike and in good weather too! Not sure how you managed that? Well done and well done to Lucky, he is getting more and more confident.

Anonymous said...

Adders are what I have nightmares about meeting up there.......