Wednesday 18 December 2013

A Canonbie Walk

Our last walk of the year was planned for a 6 mile circuit of Canonbie followed by a bar lunch in the Cross Keys. Last weekend we considered moving the walk to Tuesday to avoid what looked as if would be an awful day on Wednesday. We decided however to stick with Wednesday despite the forecast. This worked out really well as we left the Cross Keys at 10.15am and arrived back at 1.00pm with hardly a drop of rain to be seen.
This is the railway hut near Rowanburn Station where as a young boy I learnt to play cards with the railwaymen.
The old mine wheel at Rowanburn. My father started work in the Rowanburn Pit at the age of 14 but left after 6 months underground to work as Kennel Boy for the Duchess of Gloucester at Holmhead.
 Today's conversation covered a lot to do with the planned coal and gas extraction at Canonbie. We were fortunate that Niall is an expert on mining and he gave us a very good explanation of the proposals and his independent views on the proposed coal and gas extractions. It would do the Canonbie folk a lot of good to listen to his reasoning instead of them listening to people like The Friends of the Earth.
Tom giving his lunch time Apple to his new friend.
John photographed in front of the house where his Granny was brought up. 
The Fairy Loup on the Byreburn 
We were so lucky with the weather and we enjoyed a lovely bar lunch in the Cross Keys in front of a super log fire.
We all wish our blog followers a very happy Christmas from The Last of the Summer Wine walkers.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Tom's Birthday Walk in Gala

Although a week earlier than his birthday Tom with a little help from Martin decided the best place for his birthday walk would be halfway between Edinburgh and Langholm so Galashiels was selected.
A circular 6 mile walk was chosen with the highest point being about 1400 ft and to follow we arranged lunch at Abbotsford House.
The weather was almost perfect and very mild with sunshine during the first hour of the walk.
Setting out from near the swimming pool in Gala. The photograph at the top is the Cairn on Hog Hill about 1200ft up.
On the way to the top of Hog Hill we crossed this spring where the Stannis Burn starts in the middle of a field.
In this area the Eildons are always in view and must be one of the finest views in Scotland. Over the last year we have viewed them from every point of the compass.
From the cairn at the top of Hog Hill this memorial to the KOSB can be seen.
A superb Heather Moor on Neidpath Hill.
From Neidpath Hill we climbed to these three masts at the top of Meigle Hill at a height of just under 1400ft. From here it was a very steep drop downhill into Galashiels.
Near the masts is this huge cairn which shows the way to Wallace's Putting Stone in the wood.. As the wood is so dence we decided not to enter it so I will tell you the stone is an enormous glacial erratic boulder over 1.2m high. The rest will have to be left to your imagination.
The trig point at the top of Meigle Hill.
Back down in Galashiels we walked along this street called Eildon Street and we all agreed that it is one of the nicest streets in the Borders and probably the only place we would live if we were forced to move to Gala.
And this is the reason for Eildon Street being so nice, a superb view of the Eildon Hills with a lovely area of parkland in front of the houses.
We headed to Abbotsford after the walk to have a meal in the Ochiltree. This was a big disappointment  and proved to be overpriced with food not very good. Four of us chose Haddock and Chips only to be told that there was only one piece of fish left so we were forced to make do with the minute steak which turned up on a bread roll and was definately minute. Not good value for money. The visitor centre is however very attractive and well laid out, but everything in the shop is overpriced and not good value for money. None of us bought anything. 
Despite this it was still a superb day in great company and with smashing weather. 
This is the last birthday walk of the year so we will have to do it all over again next year. 

Wednesday 4 December 2013

David's Birthday Walk

After a gap of nearly 2 years David ably assisted by Bowman is back with us and was able to do a 4 mile walk along the Ettrick at Selkirk today. A year ago he could hardly walk 40 yards so has made great progress over the last year and is now delighted to be one of the Last of the Summer Wine gang again, although only for the short, flat walks.
The walk took us to the Salmon Ladder and a new mini Hydro Power Station on the Ettrick. The route back to Selkirk followed an old Mill Lade where the water was used to power the many Textile Mills in Selkirk.
The Ettrick River from the bridge. It's amazing to think that the bridge was washed away on 31st. October 1977 when the Borders was hit by huge floods.
This is the Hydro Power scheme and also incorporates a Salmon Ladder.

The weir which the Salmon have to bypass via the ladder. The sun was facing directly into the camera so the quality of the photographs is not good.
You can probably just make out this Archimedes Screw that is used to create electric power.
This is an old water wheel that once was used to power a mill.
A short distance from the Salmon Ladder is Philiphaugh Estate and this shows the wall behind which is not so much a walled garden but a walled orchard.
The many Apple trees in the orchard where hopefully the Apples come to Langholm for turning into Cider at Waukmill.
The last stage of the walk took us along this old Mill Lade which once upon a time provided power to the many Selkirk textile mills of which sadly there is now only one remaining.
We ended our walk by having a superb lunch at the Philipburn Hotel courtesy of the birthday boy.
A superb day out in great company with plenty of good conversation.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

The Return of Bowman

Forgive me if today's post is mostly related to a dog. Not just any dog but Bowman who has returned to The Last of the Summer Wine Walkers after an 18 month absense due to a knee injury to his master David. It was just like old times with Bowman immediately back to his roll as Walks Leader in the front and occasionally looking back to see we were all following him. I should add it was good to have David back with us as well and we look forward to regular walks with him and especially his Birthday Walk at Selkirk next week.
Bowman looking back to see if the walkers were keeping up with him.
Toffee time from Tom, but unfortunately not for Bowman.
While we were walking in Langholm the rest of the group were taking part in Elizabeth's Birthday Walk by walking the Duchesses Carriage Drive at Bowhill in Selkirk. This is a 7 mile walk round the estate following a route that used to be a popular Carriage Drive for the Duchess of Buccleuch. I had to take Gaye to a Hospital appointment in Dumfries, Tom had back problems and could only manage an easy 4 miles and David has to keep on relatively flat ground to protect his knee so that was the reason we could not make it. Sandria was hit by a flu bug and had to call off as well so we hope she recovers soon and will see her for next weeks short walk along the Ettrick at Selkirk.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Fiona and Leo Celebrate 4 + 0 Party

Fiona and Mario held this party in the Rising Sun Country Park in Newcastle and their friends turned out in force to celebrate Fiona's 40th Birthday and Leo's 4th Birthday.
The kids along with Mums and Dads took part in a Treasure Hunt which had been set by Mario. This took us on a walk through the lovely Country Park with various clues to keep us on our toes. 

Plenty of food for hungry kids after the Treasure Hunt.
Birthday Girl Fiona with Captain Raggiebeard the Children's entertainer. He did a great job and kept the kids amused for almost 2 hours.
Hannah tries not to smile while being tickled with a feather by Captain Raggiebeard. She was eventually forced to smile.

Gaye with Fiona's University friend Helen from Edinburgh. 

The Birthday boy with the Birthday Girl.
The Birthday Cake.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Sunken (and Muddy) Lanes of Cumbria

Having spent some time researching new walks in Cumbria I found what looked to be a hidden gem in a booklet called Solway Coast Rambles. I was unable to get the information I required from the internet so contacted Solway Coast ( area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) office in Silloth and they very kindly sent me the booklet containing 5 walks. The walk planned today was no 5 starting in Burgh by Sands and called the Solway Villages Trail. A lot of the walk was along the Sunken Lanes with high hedges or "Kests". These old lanes are a snap shot in time and are living examples of what highways looked like in Medieval times. We made the fatal mistake of doing this walk in the early part of winter when we should have done it during a dry summer. It was horrendous but it was a mile before we really hit the bad bits and by then it was too late to turn back. It took us almost 2 hours to do 3 miles and at times we thought it was impassable but Peter lead us with great bravery and we managed to make it to the village of Thurstonfield and then made the decision to return to Burgh by Sands along the B roads.
The Statue of Edward 1st in Burgh by Sands (Longshanks). 
John and Peter smiling at the start but they were not smiling for long and my name was mud for most of the walk just like the conditions under foot. 
In the Sunken Lane.
This was the driest part of the Sunken Lane but it was very difficult walking. We were sheltered from any wind but we saw very little of the surrounding countryside due to the very high hedges.
It's getting wetter and muddier. 
This was the worst part with the lane flooded to a depth of about 2 feet and the only way past it was to creep along the newly cut hedgerow with Peter bravely leading the way.
John is not a lover of water especially when it is as muddy as this.
This is Thurstonfield Lough which once upon a time provided water to several corn mills.
From here we decided to return to Burgh by Sands along the easy B road and miss out the final Sunken Lane. This was a good decision and enabled us to have a nice bar lunch in the Drovers Inn. If we had continued along the Sunken Lanes it would probably have taken another 2 hours to do the last 2 miles.
I should add that Tom had decided not to accompany us today as he was unwell but maybe this was an excuse as he knew what we were heading into. Looking back on it after completion it was an adventure but this booklet will remain in a drawer until next summer when we may attempt the other 4 walks in dry conditions, although I doubt if it will ever be that easy.
These photographs were taken on my I phone and uploaded to the blog from my I Pad so the quality is probably not as good as if they had been taken on my camera but I hope they give people the feeling of how hard the walk was.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

A Lochmaben Walk

Today's Wednesday walk took us to Lochmaben for a walk round Castle Loch via Marlake. There was 3 of us this week as John was down from Edinburgh so with good weather forecast we headed off at 9.30 am.
John and Tom overlooking Lochmaben Golf Club where Tom has played many times. He was keen to show us the 15th hole which is a par 5 and is going to be dramatically restructured at a huge cost next year. Both John and Tom were very critical of the existing hole but I as a non golfer could see nothing wrong with it. I am sure the restructuring of it will still make it a difficult hole and if you play it well it will be a good hole but if you play it badly it will be a poor hole. That is the nature of golfers. They are rarely happy.

Burnswark in the distance from the Golf course.
Our next point of interest was the ruins of Lochmaben Castle by the shores of Castle Loch. 
From here the route took us through some very marshy ground but fortunately there were loads of boardwalks in place to help us through the wetland area. 
The board walks provided good access through the marshland area to the bird hide by the shore of the Loch.
Castle Loch from the bird hide.
A swan seen from pathway near the bird hide.

The section of the walk at the south end of Castle Loch was very wet and in some places almost impossible to get through without water going over the top of your boots. In the spring it must be a superb habitat for wild birds but today it was just a boggy marshland.
On the way home Tom insisted we stopped at Crowdieknowe where Langholm poet Hugh MacDiarmid  used to visit an uncle many times and it is mentioned in one of his poems. 
The old cemetery and the new one below.
A lovely walk spoiled only by the very wet marshy area but ending with a lovely plate of soup in the Bakery Cafe in Lochmaben.

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