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.