Friday 5 May 2017

Ettrick Hills

This was one of those last minute put together trips! Mike and I were out for a walk on the Otterburn ranges on Thursday. Talk turned to the coming bank holiday weekend. A few ideas shuffled back and forward. Some quick perusing of maps and a few e mails and it was agreed we would head for Moffat. Our aim was the Ettrick hills. Moffat was busy and it took a few circuits around the town square before securing a parking spot. Heading out, we joined up with the Southern Upland Way. Initially we had a place in mind to camp. However, we were carrying heavy packs and, spotting a likely place to camp, we made our way down to it. It was a steep descent off the forestry track down through thick heather, tangled brash and loose rock.
A bit of shuffling around and we had camp set up. This was our home for the next few nights. At least, anyone wanting to check out the tents would find it a daunting prospect!
On the Sunday we continued on up the Upland Way. There is a splendid camping spot by the sheepfold near to Selcoth burn. It was tempting to head back and bring the tents up there. The downside would be that steep climb out of the wee valley we were in. Splendid views all around.

 A spot of lunch near Park's Well. Leaving the Upland Way we headed up to the trig point at East Knowe and then carried on over West Knowe.

 The drop off back down to March Well was leg wobbly steep. A slip could have meant a very rapid descent!

After a wee break to take in the scenery! Well, it was a fine day! it was a quiet daunder back to the tents and a well deserved brew.
Monday was a quiet day. Following the forestry road up to Garrogill and the ruins of a shepherds cottage. It would make a fine bothy. A place with potential, needs, a complete update, as the estate agent would say?
The way on could be seen snaking its way high up the hillside. It was steep, awfully so in places and it was just as well there was plenty of views to admire! Getting to the bealach, I was feeling shaky and let Mike and Lucky carry on to Ewelairs Hills while I sorted myself out.
This was an out and back walk, thus we were back at the tents by early afternoon. The rest of the day was spent sitting in the sunshine, drinking tea, snoozing and reading.
Tuesday morning saw us heading out. Getting back up to the forestry road with full packs was horrendous. Fighting my way through thick, tangled brash, falling in to hidden holes and clinging to clumps of heather, I eventually hauled myself on to level ground. Lungs heaving, gasping for breath, legs painful, I lay back for a few moments to try and recover some composure. Looking around, I saw no sign  of Mike. It seems he fared little better the me?
It was mainly downhill back to Moffat and we made good time. The bank holiday rush was largely avoided. We saw all of three people. A pleasant bank holiday interlude.


  1. I remember how steep that area is but it's fantastic. I like that area and the peace and quiet.

  2. It is indeed a fantastic area Alan.

  3. I was just going to comment on what a lovely area that is, but I see I've been beaten to it, so I'll just add my agreement.

  4. Few folk seem to go that way Gayle. A nice area away from the hoards.

  5. "The rest of the day was spent sitting in the sunshine, drinking tea, snoozing and reading" - the joy of a high quality wild camp site. Great photos and a fine trip in lonely country.

  6. It was indeed a great wee trip.