Monday, 6 May 2019

The last weekend in April saw the Biggar Ramblers hold their walkaway at Gilsland near Hadrian's Wall.  Twenty members enjoyed a number of walks; the first setting out from the hotel on the Friday afternoon.  This was the Gilsland Stepping Stones which led from the hotel drive descending to the River Irthing.  There the crossing of the river was over 18 stepping stones where a group photo was taken.  The route then went uphill past Wardrew House and into the Irthing Gorge woodlands and onto the 'Popping Stone' where it is claimed Walter Scott proposed to Charlotte Carpenter in 1797.
The Saturday walk was a single walk (with varying lengths) at Housesteads Roman fort.  Being a circular walk of 8 miles there were 2 opportunities to leave the route and cross to the return route thereby shortening the walk to either 4 or 5 miles.  Eighteen of the group set out westwards and with no-one taking the 4 mile cut-out the group moved onto Hotbank Farm  to have their first break.  After leaving the farm 7 of the group took the 5 mile option and took the path leading to the return route only a quarter of a mile away. 
Those that took the shorter option crossed the farmland and came to where the route passes through a wood and although it was boggy managed to find a dry spot for lunch.  When they rejoined the wall to return to Housesteads they helped a family that had bitten off a bit too much of the wall and found themselves with too far to walk.  A lift back from Housesteads to their car another 3 miles away was appreciated.
The remaining 11 continued along the wall keeping to the undulating terrain adjacent to the wall which had several short steep sections.  Reaching the iconic Sycamore Gap the group had to wait their turn to get a photograph under the tree.  Shortly after this a lunch break was called sitting inside Milecastle 39 where plenty of stones provided seats and other  walkers could walk past without interference.  At the last section of the wall section coming off Steel Rigg the steepest part was experienced and negotiated with care.  After this the group turned to the return section and a more gentle walk across farmland until the Pennine Way was reached.  This took the group back to the wall and the more leisurely grass track was taken back to the visitor centre.
On the Sunday there were 2 walks; 9 walked on an 8 mile circuit from Coanwood and crossed the River South Tyne under the 100 foot high 17 arch Lambley Viaduct.  Climbing the steps the route took them into the village of Lambley and passing the various cottages reached the open moorland of Lambley Common where several lapwings, curlew and snipe were seen as well as a lapwing chick hiding in plain view on the path.  Before crossing the Glendue Burn an adder was spotted sliding away into the long grass near the path.  Then it was onto Burnstones which was the turning point and a suitable place for lunch.  The return route was along the South Tyne Trail which used to be the railway line between Haltwhistle and Alston.  On reaching the Lambley Viaduct the route took the group downwards below the viaduct and then up the steps on the other side to reach to top of the viaduct and enjoy the views.  Shortly after the viaduct the start at Coanwood was reached.


The Threipmuir Round

The sun shone, the lark was ascendant and it felt as though spring had well and truly sprung for Biggar Ramblers on their walk in the Pentlands last week. Starting from the car park at Harlaw, near Balerno the walk got off to an easy and pleasant start alongside Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs. This was followed by a gradual ascent on good paths to Red Gate before leaving the main path to arrive on the top of Hare Hill.  A good point to stop for lunch as the 360° views took in the Pentland skyline to the south and the Forth bridges to the north. Duly refreshed, the party of 11 descended, steeply for a short while, to Green Cleugh. Here, some opted to follow a lower path above Threipmuir which returned them easily to the Harlaw visitor centre and time to spend in the delightful wildlife garden.  The remainder ascended the heather-clad slopes of Black Hill. More stunning views of Edinburgh and its surrounds were the reward. The path dropped gradually towards Dens Cleugh until the walk leader decided it would be a good idea to “cut out 2 sides of the triangle” and opted for a more, ahem, ‘direct’ descent to the glen path. A decision which proved more difficult in the implementation and for which he will take some time to be forgiven! Nevertheless, all safely reached the return path which crossed Threipmuir by way of a small dam and return to the cars. A walk that will live long in the memory for many reasons!