Wednesday 24 April 2013

A Gala Walk (At Last)

After a break last week due to bad weather we were due to head for West Cumbria this morning to do an 8 mile circular at Cleator Moor but on looking at the weather forecast at 7.00am this morning we decided to head East to do this Galashiels walk postponed last week. It was a good decision as when we reached Gala the sun peeked out for a wee while. We did have about 30 minutes rain but it was not very heavy and soon cleared. For many years we have avoided Gala for no particular reason except that to all Borderers Gala is the common enemy or the rugby team everybody loves to beat. It is a great source of humour especially in Hawick where the love/hate relationship is at it stongest. They say they would rather be a lampost in Hawick than the provost of Gala. Any way we had a lovely walk and decided that we will soon be back as there are a few more walks in the portfolio of this nice Border town. It was good to have Niall back with us after a 3 month absence in Western Australia. He has had to get used to a 20C reduction in the temperature but will soon get used to it. The photograph above is on the Southern Uplands Way route out of Gala.

This is taken from the Old Tweed Bridge looking west up the River Tweed to Yair.Tom was on good form today but his boots are in a delicate state and it's doubtful if they will last much longer. Having done a remarkable repair job Tom is keen to get every ounce of usage out of them.

Abbotsford House in the foreground with the familiar Eildon Hills in the background.

Another view of the River Tweed
This white sheep has 4 black lambs

Lunch on the Tweed

A closer view of Abbotsford with the Visitor Centre now open but the House wont open until July.

Sunday 14 April 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Saturday we had perfect weather for my River Esk Walk with Kirsteen but after a nights rain this is what the river Esk was like this morning.

Saturday 13 April 2013

A Walk with Kirsteen

Several weeks ago Kirsteen Davies asked me to show her the proposed route of the River Esk Walk so a week ago we selected this Saturday morning hoping the weather would improve. It was indeed an excellent choice as we had lovely sunny and fairly warm weather for the walk. Langholm Walks Group are planning to turn this riverside path into a waymarked walk and I am delighted to say that as of yesterday the money should soon be in place to fulfill this plan. There now begins the period of informing Land Owners and Farmers on the route of our plans. We work on the theory that it is better to work with them rather than against them, although due to the Scottish Land Reform Bill there should not be a problem with access . This photograph of Kirsteen is at my favourite part of the walk near Irving House

Friday 12 April 2013

A Visit to Kirkley Hall

While over at Newcastle this week we took Hannah to Kirkley Hall which has a small Zoo and also a Walled Garden. It was still very cold so we did not spend a long time in the gardens but they are superb despite the fact that their thousands of daffodils were just still in bud and not one single flower was showing. This time last year they had been in flower for almost a month. This Beech hedge bordered part of the garden and I just love these kind of hedges.

Kirkley Hall

In the Walled Garden there are these Apple trees growing up the wall. They will be superb when the blossom eventually comes on them.

Hannah got the chance to handle this Mexican Snake. She declined to hold it but did stroke it.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Clarilaw and Boonraw Walk

Every week Tom joins us for a walk he wears his favourite walking coat and is greeted with comments from the rest of us about the state of it. We counted at least 3 tears in it this week. We have now threatened not to walk with him unless he gets a new jacket especially when we are walking in the posh south of England on the Cotswolds Trail in July. He is of course his own man and will pay little or no attention to our comments.
This weeks walk started at the Teviotdale Leisure Centre in Hawick and was a 7 mile circuit to the north of Hawick. The weather was still cold and the visibility much poorer than the last few walks but at least it was dry right up until the last few hundred yards.  

On the way out of Hawick along Mansfield road is this mill owned and run by Johnsons of Elgin. It is now probably the busiest mill in Hawick and has recently opened a Visitor Centre which has been given a 5 star rating by Visit Scotland so well worth a visit.

At the end of the walk as we dropped back down into Hawick we passed this building which used to be St.Andrews Convent and is now a Care Home.

On the River Teviot section of this walk there is a very impressive new pathway built recently to avoid part of the river bank that is eroding due to flooding. Tom of course insisted on going on the original pathway.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Cademuir Hill Forts and the Tweed

Todays Wednesday Walk was again up the Borders and in the Tweed Valley starting at Peebles. The weather this morning was very cold but at least it was sunny and the cold east wind was a lot less fierce. Unfortunately Tom had to call off as he was suffering from a bad cold so Peter and I set of to meet Martin & John for the 8 mile Cademuir Hill Forts and Tweed walk. From Peebles it was a long climb following the John Buchan Way for the first part of the walk up to a height of about 1350ft. As we got higher up the hills the snow got deeper but only in patches so it was not so bad but at times a wee bit dangerous. Looking back the town of Peebles lay in the valley looking a bit like Langholm.

On the ridge the snow was deep in places but this was not a problem until we headed down the ridge where it was slippy and quite dangerous.

Down in the valley only the dikes still had snow but it made the fields look quite interesting.

Peter, Martin, and John at the highest point of the walk where there are a few remains of an iron age settlement now appearing as grassy bumps and rocks.
The superb ridge walk

Near the settlements there were these boulders sticking out of the ground and Martin informed us they were called Cheveaux Traps to stop the advancement of horses towards the settlement.

Looking back at this snowy part of the downhill section you can see our footsteps clearly and it was quite slippy and fairly deep in places. The snow was no longer powdery but in places had melted slightly and then frozen again.  

Once back into the Tweed Valley we followed the river for a couple of miles and then went onto the old Symington, Biggar, and Broughton Railway Line towards the Neidpath Tunnel. This is approx 600 yards long and after the first 150 yards it curves so you no longer have any light. None of us had a torch so we had to form a line with Peter in front touching the side of the tunnel with a walking pole while we each followed holding on to the person in front at an agonising slow rate. It seemed to take an age and was quite scary as it was pitch dark. We eventually turned a wee bend in the tunnel and saw daylight again and were very relieved to reach the exit shown above. The tunnel was opened in 1860 and closed in 1954. It is alleged that during the 2nd World War the Royal Train hid there while the King & Queen were visiting the Blitz damage in Clydebank. We were soon back in Peebles after a superb walk and ended the day with Soup and Bread at the Kailzie Gardens Osprey Watch Centre. The food was excellent and served by a very attractive young lady with a lovely smile and a personality to go with it. It makes such a difference to be welcomed into these places and really looked after and all of us will certainly be back.

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