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.