Sunday, 7 November 2021

 Despite heavy rain overnight 6 ramblers met at Dunsyre on the morning of October 27th to walk to the Covenanter's grave. Before the walk started they heard some of the history of the Covenanters. The drawing up of the national Covenant in 1638 which led to violent unrest for most of the 17th century, Dunsyre was a great covenanting area. They started the walk near the cultivation terraces on the road to Easton Farm and followed the farm track crossing two very deep and fast flowing fords to the base of Black law. Before climbing the hill they heard of a Covenanter fleeing from the Battle of Rullion Green near Penicuik. He was badly wounded but managed to make his way to the Dunsyre hills. he was found by a shepherd called Adam Sanderson. Knowing he was dying he asked the shepherd to bury him in sight of the Ayrshire hills. Sanderson carried out the covenanter's wish and erected a stone which is now in Blackmount Church. The present stone was erected in 1841.

Until now the weather had been very pleasant and they were rewarded with fantastic views although the moor and the hills around were very bleak, as they started climbing the hill the wind and rain set in. They had a brief visit to the stone, the area is very atmospheric in all weathers but they did not see the Ayrshire hills. They decided to head down the hill and found several grouse butts which made nice shelters for a short lunch by which time the rain had passed. They returned to the cars by the same track and managed to finish the walk before the rain set in in earnest. An enjoyable walk of about 8 miles.

 On 10th October Biggar Ramblers undertook one of Ramblers UK routes. This took in the hills of Hundleshope Heights, Preston Law and Newby Kipps. Starting at the entrance to Haystoun the 5 walkers walked through the estate on the route to Hundleshope Heights. Passing 2 old settlements ( coffee break in at the second) the route was on a well-defined track over Dead Side to a lunch spot before reaching the summit. The chosen lunch spot was inside  a grouse butt sheltered from the chilling strong wind. Then it was onto the summit of Hundleshope Heights and good views to the surrounding hills despite the low cloud. The route was then northwards over the Preston Law to pick up another track leading to Newby Kipps overlooking Peebles. The descent was quite steep to walk through to the farm and back out through Haystoun.

On 6th October, 13 Biggar Ramblers left the orchard District of Crossford and headed for Braidwood via the road known locally as Hilly Braes - it certainly lived up to it's name, providing a steep up hill to start off the walk. From there it was along Woodall Road with a detour to look at, and find out a bit more about, the Braidwood telescope, which now languishes in a field on the way to Fiddler's Gill. It was thought to have been made in the 19th century and spent most of it's life in a private observatory in Lanark, before being moved to it's current site when the house in Lanark was sold. Going down into Fiddler's Gill they heard about the possible site of the original St. Oswalds Chapel and how it was likely to have been built originally about the same time as the nearby Tower of Hallbar, although there is no longer any signs of the chapel visible. The legend of Samson's Slingstane was also mentioned although the group didn't observe it on this walk.A brief history of the Carfin Estate followed with a lunch stop on the banks of the River Clyde before returning along the Clyde Walkway to complete a very enjoyable 5 mile ramble on a bright, sunny October day.

 10am on Sunday at Lockerbie on what was forecast as a showery day was a bit of a risk for an autumn nature walk, but 11 intrepid ramblers walked off into the rain to see what they could find. Eskrigg is a small 7 acre independently run reserve with a mixed woodland, scrub and small loch. It proved to be an easy walk of 3 miles mostly over good paths. They started the walk with a brief introduction to local fossils and the geology under foot. Along the walk they were all impressed with the variety and number of fungi to be seen including Jelly Ear, Common Puffball, False Chanterelles, Turkey Tails and Coral Fungus to name but a few. However, they are happy not to find any Destroying Angles, Witches Butter or Dead Man's fingers! Towards the end of the short walk the ramblers spied several bird feeders that had a multitude of coal tits, chaffinches and several nuthatches. Eskrigg is also well know for red squirrels, but no matter how hard they looked unfortunately none are seen that day.

 Biggar Ramblers had an excellent day recently on their Map & Compass workshop.

Brian Henry, a long term member of the group, first taught members how to read an O.S. map and calculate their grid reference. They then worked out their 'magic number'. The walk rambled through the John Buchan. At the next step they were shown how to calculate compass bearings before walking on to a welcome lunch stop at Stobo Hope in beautiful scenery, heather hills abounding. Brian then showed the intrepid team how to triangulate their position, then they were on their own to find their way up Hammer Head using their new skills. The top attained, there only remained a photo call and a very welcome downhill walk to complete the circuit and a cracking, and very informative day.

 On Sunday 12th September members of Biggar Ramblers met in the village of Leadhills which is situated high in the Southern Uplands. The ramblers were led by the walk leader from the village to take a moderately steep stony track up towards Broad Law where the ground evens out, giving them time to catch their breath and start to enjoy the tremendous views of hills all around. The path then twists and turns like a burn flowing off into the distance before disappearing around Meadow Wood where the track becomes steeper and very stony as it goes down off the hillside, eventually reaching the old disused Victorian railway line, which in its time brought the Lead and Minerals down from the mines in Leadhills and Wanlockhead to be shipped out all over the world. The weather had been perfect for walking, but this is Scotland and as they found the perfect spot to settle down for lunch, disaster struck, the dreaded Midge attacked in their hundreds, no more needed to be said, except perfect weather for them too. The 7 walkers quickly packed up their rucksacks and got on their way, now heading back towards Leadhills, but just before entering the village they crossed the road through a gate onto another rack which passed the Hass, the Game Keepers Lodge and on to traverse around the side of Shiel Gair Rig passing an old shepherds cottage sitting low down in a very picturesque valley. Here they left the track and headed uphill onto a narrow grassy sheep path, where they had to manoeuvre their way through some tricky gullies back towards Leadhills village.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

 A group of 7 walkers recently left Nine Mile Burn on an 8 mile walk across the Southern Pentlands. On a cool morning with grey skies they passed Spittal Farm to reach North Esk reservoir. Continuing alongside the reservoir the route took them to the Bore Stane which marks the col of a pass on an old route. Turning right and following the  stone boundary wall the route crossed Kitchen Moss, an area of upland bog. Reaching the Red Gate the group turned south to reach the base of West Kip and make another turn over Cap law. Rising up to the summit of cap law the group were suddenly presented with the impressive panorama of the border hills. Dundriech above Eddlestone continuing around past Peebles and Manor hills to Culter Fell and the distant Lowther hills. From there it was over Monks Rig passing the Font Stone and back to Nine Mile Burn.

Monday, 26 July 2021

 weather conditions were perfect for Biggar Ramblers 8 mile walk around Baronshaugh RSPB and Cambusnethan Priory. After a beautiful woodland walk through Baronshaugh they walked along the banks of the Clyde where a Kingfisher and lots of sand martins were spotted as well as dragonflies. Lunch was taken at the Priory, they saw miniature wild orchids on the route back to Baronshaugh where they visited an ancient graveyard and saw the Covenanter's oak amongst other historical points of interest.

 On Sunday 4th July six walkers made their way out of the Leadhills village as mist began to spread across the hills. The route took them over one hill to Wanlock Dodd. The rain then eased off as the grey clouds cleared and they all got the views they wanted. They followed a rough slightly eroded path up to Sowen Dod, stopping to take in an all-round view of the hills, Green Lowther ridge was next and then to the large Golf Ball a landmark in this area for all walkers. They could see the SUW path makes its way up the gully between Glengaber Hill and Highmill Knows. They sat for lunch halfway down on the slope of Sowen Doss, but cut sort by heavy rain, so it was a very quick pack up and down off the hills, the heavy rain continued as they walked back to Wanlockhead missing out on the chance to look at some of the interesting historical sites of the lead mining village. Once through the village it was a case of following the narrow-gauge railway back to Leadhills.

 A small group of Ramblers met at Cardrona Forest near Peebles for a woodland walk. This forest is a wee gem in a corner of the Tweed Valley Forest park with a babbling brook. flowers and trees filled with birds and the possibility of seeing red squirrels and deer. They reached the top of Cardrona Hill where the path entered a darker part of the forest which leads to Castle Knowe and the remains of an Iron Age Fort which is surprisingly big and seems to be well maintained. They passed caldron Tower on the descent.

 On Wednesday 2nd June Biggar Ramblers explored the beautiful scenery of one of Scotland's oldest thoroughfares, the Minchmoor Road. The path was originally used over 800 years ago by monks from Kelso visiting their lands in Lanarkshire. The walk started from Traquair Village hall progressing steadily through woodlands up to Cheesewell, where traveller's left gifts for the fairies to ensure safe passage. Panoramic views were enjoyed at the summit of Minchmoor Hill.

 On Saturday Leadhills was the destination for Biggar Ramblers members. Set in the Lowther hills it is designated an ancient monument because of its history as a major lead mining centre. The walkers climbed the two highest tops on the range, Green Lowther and Lowther Hill. They left the village past Britain's highest golf course and up to the reservoir, which was the source of water for the mines in the area. The weather was warm and sunny but when they reached the top the walkers were hit by battering hosts of cold winds. The superb views rank amongst the most extensive in Southern Scotland. They then climbed up to Lowther Hill with its Radar Station a giant Golf Ball sitting slower at 725m. The group then followed the Southern Upland War path which took them down to the old narrow gauge railway kine where a pair of Kites fly just above their heads.

Correction:- on the last walk report from Douglas, it was reported that the walkers had a coffee stop at the site of the polish PoW camp.  That information was wrong. The camp housed Polish people escaping persecution. The Polish people were NOT PoWs and fought alongside the British people to protect Britain. Biggar Ramblers apologise for any unintended offence and would like to thank all of those who protected our homeland so bravely at our time of need.

 Oh what a difference the weather makes! Biggar Ramblers enjoyed a 5-mile ramble is Douglas Estate on 19th May. A swan with seven cygnets was an attraction as they passed the lake, as were many geese and ducks with their offspring. A photographic opportunity was taken at Castle dangerous, with a coffee stop at the Polish prisoner-of-war camp, where 3000 soldiers were homed from 1940. From there, the walkers climbed uphill and returned to walk round the other side of the lake where lunch was taken. Everyone agreed it was lovely to be out walking on beautiful surroundings

Monday, 24 May 2021

 On 15th May 7 members of Biggar Ramblers started out from Eddleston to climb Dundriech. The climb went up through Portmore estate with views overlooking the house and gardens. Entering the woodland the group took the track to Northshield Rings which none of the walkers visited before. After a coffee break overlooking the Pentlands to the north and Peebles hills to the south they continued to Portmore Loch to start the ascent of Dundriech. It was on this part of the walk that a locked gate was found and each had to climb over; a stile would have overcome this difficulty. Lunch was called just before the summit to avoid cooling too much on the exposed top; it also kept the summit clear should other walkers happen by. At the summit there was time to take in the views picking out the Lomond Hills and Tinto, Broad Law and other Border hills. The ascent was straightforward passing Boreland, Skiprig and Grove Bank.

 On Wednesday, 12th May eleven walkers took part in a circular walk from the Lower Green in West Linton to Dolphinton. The walkers headed up Medwyn Road towards Baddingsgill and on to a newish road which took them out opposite the pond at North Slipperfield. This road has spectacular views of the village and Golf Course. The party then headed on the Drove Road to Ferniehaugh and Garvald with a picturesque coffee stop on the way with birds and wildlife in abundance. Lunchstop  was in a shelter in the woods near Garvald. The walkers continued their walk to Dolphinton, skirting Karecole Stables and on to the Drove Road passing Ingraston Farm, bottom of Mendick Hill and South Slipperfield before crossing the Roman Bridge and walking alongside a small forest to the Golf Club where some of the party enjoyed a well earned refreshment and treat. Following a rest the walkers headed back down Medwyn Road and into the village. Apart from a few showers the weather was kind on this c.10 mile walk.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

 Biggar Ramblers members had a very enjoyable walk in the spring sunshine on Wednesday the 28th of April.

Included in the 14 participants, the Ramblers were happy to welcome back members from the Borders now that Covid19 regulations allow.This was a 2 part walk, the main walk being 5 1/2 mile circuit from Garrion Bridge to the ruin of Cambunesthan Priory. The first part of the walk took the group past woodlands which abounded with bluebells.Whilst admiring these a pair of deer were spotted grazing not far from the path. On reaching the Priory they were given some historical background information before examining the remains of the WW2 Nisan Hut which is quite well hidden nearby.

A tea break beside the ruin allowed time to appreciate the old building, then the walkers proceeded through farmland, down towards the Clyde for the return path back to Garrion Bridges garden centre for refreshments.

The second part of the walk was a short but challenging climb up from Sandiholms garden centre to the Threepwood caves. The stone excavated from the caves are reputed to have been used to build Hamilton Palace. Five Ramblers scrambled and climbed over and under the many fallen trees to visit the caves which all agreed were well worth it.

 On Saturday 24th April Broughton Coomb and the Glenlood hills were the destination for nine members of the Biggar ramblers. They started at the end of Glenholm.

Release from lockdown and glorious weather made this a most memorable walk reminding all those present of the splendours of the Southern Uplands. Although at first sight barren they were rewarded with several sightings of newly returned migrant Wheatears, an abundance of Meadow pipits and occasional Skylarks.

The highlights though were Common Lizards sighted on three separate occasions sunning themselves in the heather! Who would have thought such an abundance of wildlife was supported by our ' barren landscape'.

Encroaching wind farms detracted from the stunning views and an extensive planting of Spruce is also planned in this remote valley.

 Biggar Ramblers walk on 8th April was Coulter Mast Circular, an easy track of 5 miles. The start from the metal bridge at Coulter follows a gradual slope up to the Mast with good views over Tinto. It then heads downhill via Unthank Farm to the main road, where it goes along to Nether Hangingshaw. From there the route is level along estate tracks towards Coulter Mains, following good grass tracks along the back estate of the  fields towards Coulter. These tracks are lined with trees, old and new. Some only remain as stumps next to new planting. At the end of the tracks the route meets the old road along the back of Coulter village and comes out at Coulter Mill. Fortunately, the weather forecast for 'strong winds and rain' turned out to be less severe than expected! Ramblers completed the circle via the Mill Lade path, offering a gentle meander along Coulter Water back to the cars.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

 On 25th March, Biggar Ramblers set out on a short walk up and over Shaw Hill, a hill climb to 370 metres. The route up started from the Nisbet side with grand views over to Cardon Hill and Coulter Fell. Over the top of Shaw Hill there are views towards Tinto and Biggar. To reach the look-out point for the coffee break the route doubled back through a tree tunnel for views up the valleys to Cardon and Coulter Fell. Much refreshed, but braced by the winds, the group took a steep path down through the trees to join a track through the woodlands to the Church. 

The marks of bike paths crossing this track from the uphill side indicate the challenging descents that the cyclists have developed. Most visitors start from this woodland side of the hill, where, helpfully, there are two signs: the first says ‘Walkers! Please be aware of incoming cyclists. Thank You’ and the second ‘Cyclists! Please give way to passing walkers and dogs. Thank You’. Very wise! 

After reaching the Church, the group passed the Commonwealth War Graves and headed along the road to Keepers Cottage to take the ‘Chinese Walk’ for a pleasant meander along Coulter Water back to the cars.  

The gloomy weather and strong winds discouraged lingering, but the good mix of open views and sheltered paths through the trees made for an enjoyable walk. 

 Due to the recent announcement by the Scottish Government that outdoor sporting activities involving up to 15 people can resume, Biggar Ramblers wasted no time in arranging their first outing since this last period of lockdown began.
On Saturday, 20th March members of the group enjoyed some spring sunshine on a circular eight mile walk through the Carmichael estate. 
This was a low level, varied walk, taking in beautiful woodland, open fields, some agricultural vistas and the two impressive ruins of Eastend and Carmichael House. Passing through the village of Carmichael a well earned lunch stop was taken in the grounds of the villages church and the ancient graveyard.
Along the route the Ramblers saw a herd of deer which are farmed on the Estate and the first of the lambs of the year were also spotted as well as an abundance of snowdrops, a sure sign of better days ahead.
This was an enjoyable walk and COVID-19 guidelines were adhered to throughout.