Thursday 28 June 2018

Langstrath dipping.

Mike and I had visited Langstrath earlier in the year. The valley is mentioned in the Wild Swimming book. Blackmoss Pot is a favourite among many people. Mike had an idea, which comes close to having a plan! Thus it was that on the Wednesday afternoon we booked in to Chapel Farm campsite.
The idea was to leave the tents at the campsite and head up Langstrath on the Thursday taking a bivi sheet and then spend a night high up the valley.
Rain during the night had meant water levels where up a bit.
It was a pleasant day. At one point we were entertained by flocks of Herdwick sheep all heading down toward Black Moss Pot. Probably they had been fed there over the winter months.
The ground was a tad boggy underfoot, however, we found a nice wee spot to set up the bivi.
The rest of the day was spent, meandering, exploring waterfalls, drinking tea and not doing a lot.
Friday was mostly spent in the same sort of mode. Also included were some dipping, little swims and chilling out.
A few people passed lower down but only one or two actually came past us.
It was surprisingly hot as indicated by Mike's mode of dress!
More on the watery theme.
Cool, clear waters and invigorating pools.
A day to be savoured.
Tumbling water shoots.
Clear, blue skies.

Meet the locals
We made our way back to the campsite on the Friday afternoon, to find it fling rapidly. On the Saturday we headed home.

Friday 15 June 2018

Peebles to Selkirk.

Possibly this should read 'how not to end a day of superb walking'! Took the train up to Edinburgh on the Monday and then bus on to Peebles. Fancied something from a chippy before setting out. None to be had, all closed. Went in to a cafe for a cup of coffee and toasted tea cake. Horrors, no toasted tea cake left! Had to settle for a scone. A tad inadequate lunch ! A blustery northerly breeze, but it was dry. Set out around three in the afternoon.  The intention was to follow the Cross Borders Drove road. It was going to be a long haul up to Kailzie Hill. Briefly I considered picking up water before I left town. However, the though of lugging 3 litres of water even a short distance up a steep hill was daunting.
, slowly, with several breaks, I plodded upwards. Yes, the legs were protesting, but otherwise I was holding things together.
Saw a hare on the way otherwise it was surprisingly quiet with little in the way of birdsong. There was a happy grin on my face as I made the cairn. There was still a way to go but I felt the hardest part was behind me.
My one concern was water. The ground was was so dry, all the boggy bits were totally dried out. Mike and I had done this route before, that time we had come from the other direction. We had crossed a good stream by Yellow Mire hill. My hope was that it was still running! At first glance it looked bad. By the track there were pools of slimy green gunge. From higher up though I could hear water actually running. It took a bit of thrashing about but eventually I found a mini waterfall of clean water. Last time we had passed through,  a lovely grassy spot on the edge of the trees had been noted. Unfortunately heather had taken over and I had to drop a little further down the hill to camp.
It was just after seven when I stopped. A good afternoon of walking but I was exhausted. Supper was just a snack and a large mug of tea, all I could manage.
The night had been busy with the calls of a couple of cuckoos, the barking of a dog fox, the scream of the vixen, the churring of nightjars. At one point there had been the distant rumble of thunder.  A steady breeze ensured there was no condensation on the flysheet, always a bonus. Reluctant as I was to get moving, an early breakfast and a couple of mugs of tea and I was packed up and underway around eight thirty.
Plans had been adjusted slightly. Originally I had considered walking over to Hawick. Bad weather had been forecast for Thursday. Thus I now had planned to follow the Minch moor road, part of the Cross Borders Drove road,, camp fairly high and drop down to the A72 and get a bus back to Peebles on the Wednesday.
A steady descent down to The Glen and  then over to Traquair. The Minchmoor road is an ancient road and at one time was the main route through southern Scotland.
 It was uphill all the way and I took it easy and slow, stopping every so often for a breather. Mind, it was steady going and I was shuffling along non too badly!
memorial slates to horses.
A top up of water at the Cheese Well spring. My aim now was Hair Law and on to  Katy Thirsty spring.
An interesting sculptor!
 Despite keeping a close eye on the map, I failed to find the spring. This was not good. Water was not to been found.. Thin, misty cloud drifted over the hills, bringing with it a very fine dampness. Enough to dampen, not enough for waterproofs. The walking was lovely This part of the Minchmoor road was a stagecoach route and it contoured around and down the hill. My problem was that I was pushing on too far. A peruse of the map and I considered the idea of dropping down to the Gruntly burn and finding a spot to camp. This would mean I could make my way back up toward Lucken head in the morning and head out from there. That idea was quickly scuppered. Machinery was at work lower down and what looked like a new road was being  made up the glen.
Now I was in a quandary. Descending down Hangingshaw Brae would mean a very steep descent  and I would have to come back up in the morning. One other idea floated around in my head. Earlier I had met a guy out from Selkirk and he had mentioned Victoria Park,  by the Ettrick Water, where camping and caravans was permitted. He had told me that it was never that busy. That would entail more miles than I intended. It became obvious though as I came in to Yarrowford, that Selkirk appeared the easiest option. It was going to be a tidy step to get there though. It looked to be around five miles.
A navigational error did not help matters.  Coming out on to the main road I turned right instead of left. Fortunately it quickly dawned on me that the river was on the wrong side of the road and was flowing in the wrong direction, duh!
As I came down by General's Bridge and on to the main road, there was a sign for a cafe one mile up the road. With visions of tea and cakes, my footsteps quickened a little. There were people sitting at outside tables when I arrived. A quick fumble in the rucksack for my purse and I hurried in to order a pot of tea and some cake, The lady behind the counter looked at me as I eyed up the delicious cakes. What came next was cruel, 'sorry, we're closed' It was five past four and they closed at four. The till had been totted up and I was not even able to buy a piece of cake. That hurt, worse was to follow. When I got to Selkirk, I was horrified to find that much of Victoria Park had been taken over by a funfair. A caravanner who had just arrived,  threw up his hands in disgust. 'No way'  He drove off in disgust. With quite a degree of trepidation , I mooched about trying to find a quieter corner. As I looked about, a squadron of kids on souped up mini moto bikes, swarmed around the site, engines screaming like a hoard of banshees on a night out.
No way was I even going to even consider camping there. Disgusted, I headed up in to Selkirk. The town is built on a hill and my legs protested strongly as I slowly plodded up. An hour of searching produced nothing. Everything was full or, as at one hotel, the cheapest on offer was ninety five pounds. Aware of a bus service over to Melrose, I decided to head for the campsite there. A bus pulled in as I was checking routes at a bus stop. The driver informed me that the Melrose service had been cut. He advised that I best get on his bus and head on over to Galashiels. Just by the bus station was a B&B sign, with vacancies. The chap who answered the door just gave me a wide grin, 'no,no singles rooms. All I have on offer is probably more than you would be willing to pay!' Alright, I am not looking my best. My clothes may look a little shabby, after all I have been walking all day and by now I was getting a tad shaky. However, my money is as good as the next person's! Some two hours of searching proved fruitless. Coming back to the bus station I saw a bus for Berwick. Much searching there produced nothing either, unless I was prepared to spend loads of money.
About to head for a bivi on the beach, I turned up a side street. A sign, just marked 'accommodation' caught my eye. It was late and the house did not look like the rather typical B&B. With nothing to lose, I gave it a try. A lady stuck her head out from a side entrance asking what I wanted? She did not do B&B as such. It was more of a boarding house for workmen. By now I was rather wobbly, something the lady recognised. Her sister has Parkinson's. A room on the top floor and cash up front, no card or cheque and all sorted.
An interesting couple of days? Not what I intended but I got some grand walking in. A later check of the map indicates that I walked somewhere in the region of fifteen miles to Selkirk, From there I must have added several miles  searching for accomodation.