and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out, and you always have a signal. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows

Three walks combined here :
1. With Maureen and Gordon. 
As we drove down it began to drizzle, but we braved the elements. After an hour and a half of drizzle from above, and a considerable amount of long wet grass etc from blelow, we were pretty wet.  There are lots of wilds flowers, we saw a few damselflies, and heard plenty of birds, but some of the time we just plodded on.
Just as we found a convenient bench for a break, the rain stopped and we could feel the sun's warmth. 
When we reached our parking place, I changed soggy boots and socks for dry footwear, and we continued to Stanwick Lakes Visitor Centre for lunch.
We covered six miles, on very flat ground, some of it along the rain-dimpled Nene. A gentle stroll, really.

2. With Marta from Irthlingborough town centre car park near the church.

We followed the Nene Way down to Station Road, then walked south west along the old railway track 
(towards Wellingborough). At the first junction of two hard surfaced tracks we turned left and then turned right along a grassy track just before a bridge crosses the river Nene. We followed this round almost as far as the sewage farm, then turned right , eventually reaching the main surfaced track again.
When we reached the crossing with the other track, we turned left heading back and slightly uphill towards Irthlingborough, and back to the car park. 
A fine warm day, much pleasanter - only just over 4 miles.

3. With Gordon.
We started from Stanwick Lakes car park (2.50 per day if it's not school holidays or a weekend).
This time we followed more or less the route from walk 2, but didn't go up to Irthlingborough. The walk ended up as 5.5 miles, since the distance from the Visitor Centre to Staion Road is approx 1 mile each way.

Lots of damselflies, blue iridescent ones, and the ones with black spots on their wings.
We stopped for a break and saw a kingfisher flying along the river. Magic.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Ring of the Loch

Wednesday  8 June 2016

A seven mile circular walk on level ground around St Mary's Loch, with three optional extras, making over ten miles in all.  We started at half past eleven, as the mist was lifting, and ended up walking in hot sunshine. We took the walk at a steady pace and had leisurely coffee and lunch breaks, returning to the car at about six o'clock.
The route is well signed, and easy to follow. 

We walked in an anticlockwise direction starting from the Glen Cafe near the James Hogg monument.
There'll be more info about 'the Ettrick Shepherd' on my other blog.  The weather was dull and the cloud was low when we arrived.

After a coffee and flapjack, and a brief nod to James Hogg we were ready.

We crossed the road bridge and turned left by Tibbie Shiel's Inn. She was a well known landlady in the time of Hogg and Walter Scott. The tale goes that you could party on a Saturday night, but had to attend the family service on a Sunday.

We followed the path past the sailing club and along the shoreline. There's grassland and woodland, and some modern sculptures.

This refers to the ribbons from Tibbie Shiels's wedding bonnet. She gave them to two of her sons as bible bookmarks when they emigrated to Canada. Their own brides wore them, and eventually one was returned to Scotland, and is still used today.

When we reached the car park at the eastern end of the loch, we opted for the diversion to see Dryhope Tower, a fortified house from the 1500s, when armies from England and Scotland were often rampaging through, along with the reivers, (robber barons and cattle stealers). The tower was the birthplace of one of Walter Scott's ancestors, Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow.
This is the marriage stone of her parents, Philip and Mary, set into the wall of Dryhope Tower.

We climbed the recently installed metal spiral staircase to the top, and had lunch in the warm sun, enjoying the fine views.

We returned to the road, retracing our steps, and followed it until we saw the waymarked sign which indicated an old drove road, a little way above the modern road.
After a mile or so there were signs to St Mary's Kirkyard, uphill  of course, though we could see no sign of it from where we were. But needs must, and we headed upwards.
This kirk (and incidentally the Auld Kirk in Selkirk as well) claims to be the Kirk in the Forest, where William Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland. All that remains of the twelfth century church is the kirkyard. Every July, an outdoor service called the Blanket Preaching is held here to commemorate the outlawed Covenanters, who would hold services in secret places in the seventeenth century.

Downhill now, and back to the drove road. The path crosses the modern road and soon we arrived at the junction to Megget, where we took another diversion to visit the supposed grave of Piers Cockburn, a reiver of the 1500s who was executed by King James in 1530.
 Legend says he was hanged on his own doorstep, though records say this happened in Edinburgh. The story forms the basis of Walter Scott's "Border Widow's Lament". A tragic and violent tale, but now this spot is peaceful.

We returned to the main path and followed the route alongside the loch - as always the last couple of miles seemed the longest.
An excellent walk, which we took at a leisurely pace, in beautiful weather.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Short ride up the Ettrick Valley

Monday 06 June 2016

A lovely ride on a quiet road. Apart from four timber lorries and a mobile library van, we saw maybe two cars. 

Ettrick Water is a delightful river, much like a mini-Tweed, clear, fast flowing with a rocky or pebbly bed.
The road from Ettrick village is not a through road, and from the cottage to the end of the surfaced road at Potburn climbs very gently. 

Harry rode further along the track  from here, while I sauntered back taking snaps.

The weather started sunny and warm, though we did have a heavy shower before we got back.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Scottish Borders - Ettrick

More than delighted to have done a short (5.6 miles), and strenuous (around 1300 feet of ascent) walk, much of it on tussocky ground which would no doubt include bog after a spell of wet weather.

This was from Elspinhope Cottage, on Cossarshill Farm, along the valley on a track parallel to the road, until we were level with Brockhoperig Farm. 

On the way we saw and heard oystercatchers and lots of skylarks, and heard a cuckoo. There were plenty of wild flowers too.

Common Butterwort

We turned right and headed for the ridge, which we met at Herman Law (614 m) via Cossars Hill and Standtrae Knowe. 

Fabulous views into the Yarrow Valley, with the Loch of the Lowes and St Mary's Loch.

Then down hill over more very rough ground following Cossarshill Burn back to the farmhouse.

Wonderful sunny weather.