Monday, 3 September 2018

On a warm, sunny Saturday 25th August, 7 ramblers, including a visitor from Australia, set off from Selcoth, near Moffat, for a trip into the high, beautiful Moffat Hills. Following the Selcoth Burn, the party had to traverse a narrow path through a dark and fearsome ravine before successfully reaching the Southern Upland Way at the top of the glen, overlooked by the sharp, vertical escarpment of Craigmichen Scar. A narrow and undulating path led the party beneath the bulk of Capel Fell to the saddle at Ettrick Head. Here, the path became a forestry track leading eventually to the bothy at Over Phawhope. The party continued to Potburn Farm and then commenced a fairly steep but easy climb up Potburn Rig. Then, as they descended beside the Bodesbeck Burn, a magnificent panorama opened up of the hills across the Moffat Water - Saddle Yoke, Hart Fell, Swatte Fell, surrounding the deep chasm of Black Hope and looking magnificent in the afternoon sun. After reaching Bodesbeck Farm, the party returned to Selcoth by a pleasant easy route through fields. Over this section they had to ford several burns, but were rewarded with the sight of a buzzard flying slowly around the woods at Sailfoot.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

They got soaked- On Wednesday evening, 1st August, sixteen Biggar Ramblers met up at Candybank for a 'bring a dish' meal. This was to be preceded by a short walk up the nearby Broomy Law first visiting the recently refurbished 'cattle creep' under the A702. Twelve hardy souls 'volunteered' for the walk despite the rain teeming down!
They walked from Candybank up the road to Edmunston House. James Whitson had given permission for them to access the 'cattle creep' from his grounds. They looked briefly at the ruins of the old castle that was original fortified residence before the present 'big house' was built in 1815. Once they had accessed the fields of Brownsbank Farm they made their way to the farm access road abandoning the Broomy Law target and headed back past the 'writer's cottage' ( Hugh MacDiarmid's former residence). The cottage looks in rather a sorry state at the moment. The call of a lovely buffet meal was getting stronger as the walkers were all getting wetter!
Once back the splendid food and convivial atmosphere didn't disappoint. Thanks are due to everyone for their gastronomic contributions. A lovely meal tastes even better after a good soaking.
John Hart
On Saturday 29th July a small group of Biggar ramblers set off from Glasgow Central Station to explore the murals of Glasgow with Lynn Weir. The route took them initially past the "Hip Hop Marionettes" and onto Strathclyde University buildings where they saw several murals including a seven storey high lecture hall complete with students, an equatorial telescope and a Land-Ship, which was a mock-up navigation bridge once used to teach at the School of Navigation. A short detour up the High Street brought them to one of the favourites of a man with a robin on his hand. Heading for Candleriggs and the Merchant City was a huge mural called "Fellow Glasgow Residents" depicting the varied wildlife of Glasgow parks. The detail was astonishing, right down to the landscapes reflecting in the eyes of the animals. Another detour along the Trongate brought them to the first of three murals of the Big Yin (Billy Connolly). before retracing their steps, past the Panopticon Music Hall where Stan Laurel had performed, to see the second one featuring Billy near Osborne Street. After this it was down to the River Clyde to admire the various personalities and local history on the walls of the Clutha Bar with the new mural above it celebrating Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 150th birthday. A pleasant stroll along the Clyde Walkway brought them to one of the original murals - the "Glasgow Tiger Mural" - which has now been re-done and up onto Dixon Street to view the third Billy Connolly mural - opinion was divided as to which was the most liked! It was then back into the city centre to see the "World's Most Economical Taxi", "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" , "Wind Power", which was very cleverly depicted  using a dandelion clock and wind turbines, and then another early mural - "Glasgow's Panda". The second half of the walk had less murals to see but nevertheless was felt to be worthwhile doing. It took them along Argyle Street, away from the buzz of the city centre, to where a derelict block on the corner of York Street had been ingeniously adapted into an events noticeboard, complete with, among other things, an octopus and a Glaswegian Mona Lisa. Down onto the Broomielaw they passed the memorial to the Cheapside Fire Disaster of 1960 and under the Kingston Bridge the huge "Swimmer" mural created as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was best seen by crossing the road! From here they headed to Charing Cross to view a pelican and crocodile before aiming for the underpasses to Cowcaddens Subway Station where one is decorated with insects, the other with hand shadow puppets - it was fun watching the group trying to recreate the shapes and it brought back many childhood memories and the question of whether todays children would still know how to make hand shadow puppets.
Apart from the murals it was interesting to see how ornate many of the buildings were when you stopped to look up and everyone agreed that it had been a very different kind of Ramblers walk to what they were used to but worthwhile in exploring areas of Glasgow that they would never have visited, just whizzed past in a car or would have been too busy looking at shop windows to notice architecture all around them!
The walk on Thursday 19th led by Isobel MacDonald was altered slightly due to the longer journey time by train caused by the re-routing for work being done on the low level line. This meant the arrival at Milngavie was more than an hour later than intended and giving the small group of walkers time for a welcome coffee before the start meant that part of the West Highland Way along Craigallian Loch past the Carbeth Huts was omitted. However the rest of the walk was successfully done still using the start of the WHW and a different route into Mugdock Park. This afforded a stop at the ruins of 14thc Mugdock Castle, a strong hold of the Grahams before continuing past what remains of 10thc Craigend castle once home to Smith of bookshop fame, Outram the newspaper owner and Yarrow shipbuilder and the site of the Zoo owned by Mr. Wilson the most famous animal being Charlie the elephant who followed his mahout to a pub in Milngavie where he became stuck in the door. In the former stables the walkers took the opportunity of lunch in the very busy café before continuing though the park, around Mugdock Loch. There was no evidence of the blue/green algae posted with warnings on the notice boards but many water lilies and two swans. Using the exit at the South Lodge gate the walk headed down to the reservoirs. On the bridge between the two reservoirs the numerous ducks rolling and diving were quite a spectacle. The walk continued down away from the reservoirs and along the private residential road back to the view point above the town and the Allander Water with a final 40 minute walk to a welcome coffee before facing the disrupted journey back to Chatelherault.
Biggar Ramblers 11th July 2018          Yarrowford and Minchmoor Road

As they followed in the footsteps of history, near perfect conditions gave Biggar Ramblers an excellent walk on Wednesday. Venturing slightly further afield, the group began their walk in Yarrowford, near Selkirk and quickly joined the Cross Borders Drove Road known as Minchmoor Road. This old byway is one of the oldest east-west routes in Scotland, the Yarrowford variant recorded on maps dating to 1752 although believed to be much older. The Earl of Montrose is believed to have retreated along the track to Peebles after his defeat to the Covenanters at Philiphaugh in 1645. It provided a delightful means of ascent to where the drove road intersects the Southern Upland Way. Here the group turned east to complete the ascent of Brown Knowe (523m) crossing another historical feature - Wallace's Trench - in the process. The effort was rewarded by a spectacular views across the Tweed valley, the Borders and towards Galloway.
A delightful stroll along the Way followed, the Eildon hills always in view, until a path heading south began the descent towards Broadmeadow, the first Scottish YHA created in 1931 ( but now a private house). The path continued in dappled shade alongside the burn as it descended gently to the road and back to the village.
On June 21st a very small group of the Biggar Ramblers met at Rosslyn Chapel to complete a circular walk of 7 miles via Polton. The path goes past Rosslyn Chapel and turns left past Slatebarns caravan site allowing spectacular views of Roslin Glen, it continued through pleasant woods and along a new path recently restored by a group of volunteers and the Midlothian Rangers, until recently this path has been too dangerous to attempt due to a huge landslide. The path came out at a clearing which has no sign post but they took the left hand path which led through Hewan Bog and brings walkers to the Maiden Castle  where there were information boards pointing out various wildlife and flowers. There is a pleasant walk along the river here and a Weir, evidence of an earlier landslide can be seen.
The track then went up the Hewan Bank via some steps and they arrived at the Bilston Woods, here they turned right toward Polton. The correct path is a bit faint at first but then widens out, it also has a narrow section with a steep drop on both sides fortunately very short! They continued through the woods and down some steps where the path comes very suddenly out to a narrow road fortunately there is a gate here. The group then continued over the bridge and into the grounds of Springfield House. There are several paths, some of which lead beside the River Esk. They sat on a convenient bench to have lunch under the trees as the day was now very sunny and warm. A track past Springfield House and up past farms and stables brought the walkers to Rosewell and finally onto the Penicuik to Dalkieth cycle path, a short walk along here to Rosslyn Castle Station, down the road to Rosslyn Country Park and finally a steep climb stopping for a look at Rosslyn Castle and the walk was finished. This walk would also be spectacular in the autumn.
Walk leader L. Glidden

Sunday, 17 June 2018

On Sunday June 10th a group of 13 Ramblers, led by Bernard Airlie, enjoyed a pleasant 7 mile walk in lovely weather at New Lanark. The Group followed the Clyde Walkway downstream to Kirkfieldbank, crossed the old bridge and then headed upstream towards Falls of Clyde. Many trees have been felled along this stretch and this has opened up views which have been hidden for 30 years or more. After the prolonged period of dry weather the Falls of Clyde were little more than a dribble. The Group crossed the dam at Bonnington Linn and returned downstream to New Lanark where they enjoyed ice cream and cups of tea.
The Ramblers walk on 6th June was classed as strenuous and took in the summits of saddle Yoke and Cape Law near the Grey Mare's Tail. Led by Brian Henry the group of 4 started from near Capplegill and ascended the first summit of Saddle Yoke. The ascent was from a height of 500 feet (150m) to 2,400 feet (735m) in 13/4  miles. A coffee break was taken where the group levelled off between the steep sections. When the summit of Saddle Yoke was reached there was a photo opportunity before the steep descent and ascent to Under Saddle Yoke and the lunch overlooking the Black Hope valley and onto the crags and the summit of Swatte Fell. After leaving the Saddles the terrain became typical Borders hills with a 2 mile walk over moorland to reach Cape Law. From here the summits of Tinto, Culter Fell, Broad Law, Dollar Law and many more could be clearly seen. From the Saddles the hills of Dumfries and Galloway as well of the Solway Firth could be seen. From Cape Law it was downhill all the way across open moor and to the start of Whirly Gill. This descent of 600 feet (190m) in less than a mile was slow and deliberate to reach the path leading to the walk out. During the 3 mile walk out along the Black Hope Valley the group encountered over 50 feral goats who watched their progress and this was followed  by a low level fly past by a buzzard seeking its next meal. The group agreed that this 9 mile walk on a glorious sunny June day was strenuous but enjoyed because of the achievement in negotiating the steep bits.
Thursday May 24th was a glorious warm sunny day, perfect for a gentle stroll combined with flower spotting along the River Tweed from Peebles. 13 ramblers walked from the Kingsmeadow car park, along the north side of the river. The group enjoyed a coffee break in the sun listening to blackcaps and willow warblers and watching the gently flowing water. More than 30 species of wild flowers were identified, most of which were in flower
Sunday 20th May was the day planned on the Ramblers programme for a big walk. 11 miles taking in 2 Donalds ( hills over 2,000 feet south of the Highland line) plus 4 other named tops and nearly 3,000 feet ascent. Starting from Afton Reservoir the 5 walkers led by Brian Henry set off onto the Core Path which led through the Afton Wind Farm which was under construction. It was here that a calamity happened when one walker had a boot failure and the sole came free of the boot. Unable to continue the walker and a driver returned to the cars and drove home. The remaining 3 continued onto the hillside to reach Windy Standard. A strong southerly wind was blowing which affected the walking speed. After Windy Standard the group moved onto Alhang, the 2nd Donald. Continuing the circuit around Afton Reservoir and passing the source of the River Afton the next hill was Alwat followed by Meikledodd Hill; both are over 2,000 feet but not included in the Donald list. Then it was over to south side of Blacklorg Hill and contour round to Cannock Hill. The last summit was the top of Craigbraneoch Rig which afforded views down the Afton valley and then drop down to the reservoir for the return home.
There was very little wildlife seen throughout the walk, some meadow pipits, skylarks rising in song, a few ravens and one curlew; but then we were near wind farms and wildlife is notoriously absent

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Mull Weekend:
Day 1- 27th April 2018.
The first walk of the Biggar Ramblers spring holiday to the Isle of Mull was an afternoon forest walk at Craignure. This three mile walk in Scallastle forest was accessible from our base in the Isle of Mull hotel.
With a cuckoo calling and sunny conditions between short showers the tone was set for three lovely days.


Day 2- 28th April 2018.

 The day started well with 8 walkers led by Brian setting out from Dhiseig on the south side of Loch na Keal. Ben More with snow remaining on the north-east side was in sight and looked a challenge with its dark top. Shortly after ascending about 400 feet the group stopped to look over the loch and golden eagle flew past giving a display of gliding with the little wind. After crossing Abhainn Dhiseig the ascent steepened and the party spread out. But it was around 1;30 that the first 4 reached the summit followed by another 2. The 6 who made it enjoyed view all around the island. Distant locations that were identified included the Cuillins of Skye and Rum, the Etive hills, Paps of Jura as well as the local islands of Staffa, and the Treshnish Isles. The return was by the same route.

The rest of the group enjoyed 2 nice walks in the vicinity of Tobermory. In the morning, in lovely sunshine, the party headed along the coastal path to Aros Park, with excellent views over the colourful town and harbour. The walk circled Lochan a Ghurrabain before descending to the pier, an excellent viewpoint for photographers. After lunch at Tobermory, the party walked to the lighthouse, with stunning views across the water. Rhum and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula could be seen amongst other places.

Day 3- 29th April 2018
We set off in sunny weather, but with a slight threat of rain, from Lochbuie old post office. Actually it hasn't been a post office for some time- however in 2012 it reopened as a small shop with an honesty system for payment. However it was decided that we should start walking as soon as possible, so no coffees to start ( though our leader, Jason, managed to snaffle a shortbread while no one was looking). The start of the walk took us along a track along the coast, and very shortly the first sight of the trip was St. Kilda's church. All fourteen of us crammed into the church to look around - an early Christian cross can be seen in the porch. After this, we continued along the track which eventually became a well-worn path taking us to Moy Castle - built in the 15th century by the Macleans, this is a ruin, and the internal structure is closed to the public for obvious reasons. At this point we rejoined the track again which took us around the headland with the only ( very slight) incline in the whole walk. A couple of SUVs passed us at his point, on the way to a picnic. We took the time to look at some of the coastal plants, birds ( a great northern diver in the sea, a song thrush in the tree above our heads). From a wildlife point of view the best sighting was that of a slow worm. No adders were seen, despite the warnings back at the old post office. The wind picked up a little at this point as we dropped towards the beach, and we watched the picnickers take a very troublesome goat into another field where it wouldn't endanger their lunch. Soon after this we found ourselves being followed by a braying orphan lamb; one of our party passed this on to the farmer. We were now at the mausoleum for the Lochbuie Macleans. After a quick look around the museum we decided this was a good time for lunch, and the grounds of the museum provided a good vantage point to view Loch Buie itself and the impending rainclouds.
We decided to walk back via the beach since it was slightly shorter, but also simply to vary the route, and we caught some light showers. At the castle, this time we followed a second track inland. This took us through the grounds of Lochbuie house, past some holiday cottages, and a nice stream where we stopped to watch a grey wagtail. We ended up on the small single track road that we'd driven on earlier. The reason for this detour was to see the stone circle. The guide book describes the route to the circle as " quite boggy", which , when we arrived at the gate, transpired to be an understatement. Some planks and aluminium boardwalks had been placed on the route, but many of these had sunk, or were now islands in the quagmire. Inevitably, all of us got a bit muddy, a few got very muddy, and those decided to go back and follow the tarmac to the car park. The other half of us persevered through the peat. The stone circle is in a deer-fenced field. While not exactly Stonehenge, it was an impressive group of originally nine stones, some around 2 metres high. We retraced our steps back to the road, and got even more muddy, one of our party ( who shall be nameless) getting stuck and having to be dug out - however this all adds to the fun ( sometimes at others expense!). We stamped off all the mud on the road back to the old post office, where we all had coffee and cake. The old PO does a roaring trade.

On a fine warm sunny 21st April, a Biggar Ramblers party assembled at the Daer Reservoir dam ready to explore the hills above the Daer Water before they are covered with wind turbines like so many other hills in the area. Following the Southern Upland Way, the party trotted briskly across the dam and then commenced a steep ascent over Sweetshaw Brae and up to the woods beyond Hods Hill. Beautiful views opened up over the Lowther and Dalveen Hills but it was impossible to ignore the mass of wind turbines looming over the hills to the north. After a mile or two, the path plunged steeply down into the forest, leading eventually to the isolated Brattleburn bothy where a number of other walkers and cyclists were encountered, and the group paused for lunch. After a well earned rest, a long slow ascent in hot sun brought them back to the edge of the woods at Ferry Crag with wonderful views across the Daer Reservoir to the hills beyond, some still sporting patches of snow in spite of the hot weather. A rough tussocky descent brought the party down to the reservoir and then an easy amble along the track back to the dam.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The weather for Biggar Ramblers walk on Wednesday 24th February couldn't have been more different from the previous one on 11th February. Then it was " a touch of the Arctic" today it was like a spring day. They started the walk at West Linton Golf Club where the sun was shining, there was not a breath of wind and the woodpeckers were busy in the trees. As they passed through the woods snowdrops could be seen.
The walk followed the old road to Carlops over the bridge at Lynedale with the river far below and up the hill past the pigs and stables then past the road to Stonypath, the path was good and not as muddy as they expected. They saw in the fields some depressions which are called 'Sillar' holes where silver had once been mined.
The views now opened out and they saw the Pentland hills ahead where snow patches could be seen here and there. They now saw many Icelandic ponies of all colours and sizes, some were being ridden others were enjoying the sun out in the fields.
They continued on to the village of Carlops where they were welcomed to the excellent soup lunch in the church.
They then returned by the same route although the views looked different as they now saw Mendick in the distance.
A very pleasant walk of 6miles with good food and good company.
The next walk is a circular walk at the Falls of Clyde on Saturday 3rd. February.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

A touch of the Arctic: four Biggar Ramblers tackled the southern end of the Pentlands ridge on Sunday 11th February. A fresh fall of snow overnight and an icy wind made the going quite hard. Drifting snow covered the Monk's Rig track that leads from Nine Mile Burn to the Foot of West Kip. The shortened route took in the three tops of West Kip, East Kip and Scald Law, the Pentlands highest point. Some stunning views but the uncertain terrain and driving wind meant heads down for much of the time! The return route was past Eastfield Farm onto the Braid law track. A total of seven miles.
Walk Leader :John Hart
The walk on Thursday 8th February, with seven lady members, was on the Clyde Walkway from Crossford to Garrion- a distance of approx. 7 miles. Due to the recent wet weather followed by snow it was rather muddy in places but no different from other recent walks. From the bridge at Crossford the way follows the river closely by boardwalk and gravel path and then climbs above it before dropping down via the sturdy wood steps to river level again and the path alongside the wire fenced fields. The sheep were once more out in the fields and in many places snowdrops were beginning to show. There was a short stop for a drink before reaching the private road leading to the large white house. From there follows two fairly steep inclines and drops on either side of a Carluke access road before a final drop to come alongside the river once more and into the Mauldslie estate and the fields opposite the Popinjay Hotel. Continuing under the Mauldslie Bridge and the short climb up to the woods for lunch above the river before the final section along the river and burn to meet the road. A short section on the grass verge tied to Horslea Brae then left down to Garrion Bridge. Once the bridge roundabout was negotiated there was the final short stretch on the pavement to the bus stop at Dalserf in time to catch the bus back to the cars at Crossford. There followed by a welcome coffee and cake at Silverbirch garden centre to round off the day
A short walk with lunch at the end was on the Biggar Ramblers programme at the beginning of February. Brian Henry led the group starting at Eddleston with the first stop being the Polish Map of Scotland. Being a day when light snow fell before and during the walk 'Scotland ' was under a blanket of snow. The group found shelter for a coffee break before joining the Old Post Road to walk northwards over open countryside of Black Barony and farm track. Return to Eddleston was past Darnhall Mains and stopping for lunch in the Scots Pine where the log fire was welcome.

Monday, 5 February 2018

On Thursday 25th January nine Biggar Ramblers met in the afternoon to do a short circular walk from Biggar to Hillridge Farm. They were lucky with the weather as it had been very wet, sunny conditions prevailed. The result of the previous rain and the recently melted snow was some very muddy terrain! Anyway the end of the walk was through the Burn Braes which gave a good opportunity for a boot clean in the ford.
This marked the last walk in the current programme but a new series of outings starts in February. The programme is downloaded from the Biggar Ramblers website. It is always good to see new faces. If you spot a walk you fancy come along, we meet before each walk outside the Corn Exchange.
Walk leader: John Hart

Thursday, 4 January 2018

On a cold and damp morning 7 members of Biggar Ramblers set out from Flotterstone car park heading towards Glencourse Reservoir via the old filter beds. Progress was slow due to water lying on top of solid ice, but at least the forecasted heavy rain failed to materialise. Half way along the reservoir the group headed up to Knightfield Rig and on to Phantom's Cleugh and Bonaly Reservoir. A short climb then followed behind Capelaw Hill where there were good views of the Hermiston area of Edinburgh (on a better day the view would have been right across to the Queensferry Crossing). The walk then continued across Howden Burn and on to the main path down to Castlelaw. There was a brief break in the clouds while passing behind Fala Knowe which gave good views across to Berwick Law and the Bass Rock. From Castle Law it was a simple decent back to the Glencourse Reservoir road leading back to the car park at Flotterstone - the end of a bracing 6.5 mile walk.
Sat. 9th December. The Biggar Ramblers were lucky again with the weather for a winter walk on Shaw Hill, near Coulter. A group of eight walked from the old Culter Kirk through woodland to emerge in glorious sunshine onto the circular path around the hill top. The view up to Culter Fell was worth the woodland climb on its own but further round there was a tremendous panorama over Biggar and beyond to the Pentland Hills. This is only newly opened up due to recent forestry operations. Their adventurous descent was via a 'mountain bike track'!
A short walk but spectacular in the wintery sunlight.
The walk in the Biggar Ramblers programme for 13 December was described as A Winter Hill Walk. The description lived up to its name being in the middle of a Yellow weather warning for snow and ice. The group of only 3 walkers including leader Brian Henry set out from Romanno Bridge along the Old Drove Road heading for Peebles. When the shoulder to Green Knowe was reached the trio turned left to ascend the hill and continue over Hag Law and onto Wether Law. Heading into cloud the rain started which turned to sleet and then snow which prevailed all the way to the trig point on the aptly named, for the day, Wether Law. With little visibility on the top the group posed for the photographic record and then headed west to descend towards the tree plantation. After negotiating a route through recently harvested trees the forest track was reached and then a relatively calm walk downhill to Halmyre Mains and back to Romanno Bridge.
Despite the heavy rain and strong wind earlier in the day the weather cleared to allow ten members to participate in this short walk from the hotel via the boardwalk with, on the right, the strong current in the river to Corra Linn Falls ,which, due to the recent rain were in full flood. A spectacular sight. From there it was up the steps to the hall of mirrors and the surge tank and across the field behind where two white horses were grazing, put there to keep the grass short and encourage the spread of wild flowers. Taking a left turn to the pond - very overgrown at present - to follow the path up and through the trees to meet the road above the river and the badger watch area to the junction leading back to the village. A woodpecker was seen by some of the group on this stretch. It was now becoming darker so the shorter left road was taken giving time to visit the village shop and then the tearoom for a quick tea or coffee before the guests returned to their hotel accommodation and others returned home in preparation for the 7:00pm dinner and carols. 
On a cold, bracing St Andrew's Day 10 members of Biggar Ramblers enjoyed a morning walk in the Pentland Hills. Beginning from Nine Mile Burn they ascended Cap Law following what is believed to be the old monks' route from Newhall to South Queensferry. Pausing briefly at the top - it was very cold!- to admire the stunning views over the Firth of Forth and the Queensferry bridge they descended to the col below West Kip. Here the monks' route continues towards Balerno. Their path, however, returned by way of Quarrel Burn and reservoir where a dozen Whooper swans were spotted, perhaps taking a short breather on their way south. It had been a rewarding 4 mile walk.
Nigel Bamford