The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Rubers Law and Ellson Fell

There were no hills yesterday. Waking up to find Bertie taking a battering from the wind, it wasn't a hard decision to extend our stay on Melrose campsite and to do a bit of culture, in the shape of Melrose Abbey. This morning was much calmer, so off we headed for our next hill:

Rubers Law (NT580155, 424m)
The popular way to do this one seems to be a quick raid from West Lees to the east of the hill. It seemed an unnecessary detour for us to get there, so we started from a residential street in the village of Denholm instead (to the NNW). I figured that the worst case would be having to walk around the hill to the West Lees side, but I also thought, based on the 1:25k map, that we should be able to get up semi-directly from Denholm.

Plan A didn't go entirely well. I'd hoped to follow the track I've marked in purple on the snippet below, followed by the track I've marked in blue.

The purple bit went fine, but either the blue one doesn't exist anymore, or the start of it is so overgrown that we just couldn't find it. We didn't resort to backtracking all the way to the Border Abbey Way (the green diamonds), but rather implemented Plan C, which saw us cut through the woods, stumble upon this...

The wooden hut behind the metal roof structure houses a composting toilet on one side and a sink on the other
...and find a gate, at the location marked with a flag on the map snippet above.

We foundered again after cutting across the field we had just entered, but mainly because we got distracted by a vehicle track we hoped might be heading our way (it dead-ended at another of those metal roof/composting toilet structures). Another tiny backtrack had us onto my originally intended course, from where things went incredibly smoothly, as we picked up a trodden line leading the whole way to the top of this prominent hill fort.

onto open ground, following a good trod

another fine summit

We made less of a meal of getting back down to Bertie, knocking half a mile off our outward route, bringing the whole outing in at 5.4 miles with around 340m of ascent.

Ellson Fell (NY410985, 537m)
The wind was forecast to pick up again this afternoon, but I thought that my chosen route for Ellson Fell would be sheltered, so off we tootled to park in the layby opposite the Mosspaul Hotel (or, by appearances, ex-hotel).

Glancing up at the way I had chosen to go, I uttered an 'urgh', as it looked like it was going to be awfully rough and hard going. A few moments later Mick declared his intention of choosing his book (he's on the third of the Aubrey-Maturin tales now, Conrad) over the walk.

I can fully understand why he chooses not to join me on the Marilyns which look unduly rough or uninteresting, but on this occasion the initial impression was very deceptive and it proved not only to be very straightforward (if a touch steep on the final pull to the top), but also one of the best hills of the trip so far.

Sheep trods along the crystal clear Mosspaul Burn took me very gently upwards, and my expectation was that I would have to go out of my way to go around the end of the forest before heading back towards my objective. I was, of course, keeping my eye out for a break in the forest, even though the 1.25k map didn't show any in the right place, and I was rewarded. As the burn split, the branch that headed directly up through the forest was accompanied by a break so wide and straight that I could clearly see that it went the whole way to the top of the trees.

it was obviously the day for finding unexpected structures in forests

It was steep, and slippery in places, but it did the job nicely, and with far less effort than expected I was on the top of the fell within 50 minutes of setting out.

It was a fine place to be. In fact, as I took this panoramic shot just before I reached the top (taking advantage of still being out of the wind at that point)...

... I marvelled that all I could see was lumps and bumps spreading out around me. The only manmade features within my sights were the forest and a cairn atop Carlin Tooth.

A splendid place to be! On a less windy day I would have fancied walking the whole ridge.

Retracing my steps, I got back to Bertie having covered 2.8 miles with something like 320m of ascent.

Even with the wind whipping up the road, I was tempted to take advantage of the fine skies and go straight back out for the two Marilyns on the other side of the road. There probably was enough daylight remaining, but the end I decided against, knowing that if the weather is as forecast tomorrow (i.e. wet and windy) then it'll either be a miserable outing, or they'll get left for another trip.

1 comment:

  1. That one has the atmosphere of the Northumberland ones I did in 2014 based at Bellingham with the caravan. I enjoyed those hills more than any others anywhere I think. They had that rarely visited feeling, often with no obvious line of ascent, and often over challenging terrain, but the wide open spaces, peace and quiet on the tops had a very special ambience. I felt I had gained some sort of secret.