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 1 May 2019

Sunday 28 April - Cauldcleuch Head (NT456006; 619m) and Greatmoor Hill (599m)

Ignore the red line - that was Friday's route. The starting point for today's (blue) route was Hermitage Castle, just outside of this screenshot. 

This being the only multi-hill walk I have planned for this trip, I was keen for Mick to join me. With Sunday forecast to be dry (there were even bits of blue sky at times), Mick was equally keen to come along, and thus we set out together along the road from the Hermitage Castle to the track to Braidlie.

It was approaching the far end of that track that the old house (now falling into ruin) at Braidliehope came into view and it looked very familiar.

I'll come back to the subject of this semi-ruin in my next post.

An ATV track took us up to the top of Queen's Mire. More ATV tracks continued from there, but with the ground being waterlogged, the ease of the lack of tussocks along the tyre lines had to be weighed up with the inconvenience of the bog that had congregated there.

The going became better when we reached the dip between Swire Knowe and Cauldcleuch Head, from where a trod was followed up the steep hillside, before we levelled out, still some distance from the summit. That distance was the hardest of the day, with the rain of the last couple of days having drenched terrain that was probably a lot more hospitable last week. We duly picked our way across it, and found the patch of ground that's just very slightly higher than its surroundings:

As this hill had been an out-and-back from our circuit, the same terrain had to be tackled again in reverse, before we dropped back down towards Swire Knowe on an incline that, to me, seemed much steeper in descent.

By the top of Swire Knowe we had to conclude that we weren't going to stumble upon a bench or indeed any pleasant place to sit until the summit of Greatmoor Hill and my need for elevenses was more urgent than that. We thus plonked ourselves down on a not-so-waterlogged part of the ATV track we were following and rolled elevenses into lunch to save the need to stop again.

The top of Greatmoor Hill was much more pleasing than most of the summits I've visited so far this trip and it also gave Mick a phone signal for the first time in 7 days (I've had a signal on various tops in that time).

Mick does his best catalogue pose at the trig point 

The plan had been to drop back down to Braidliehope, but as we started descending it became appealing to make this into a circuit by heading down over Hermitage Hill. It would be shorter* that way, but also much harder going. In terms of being fit and ready for the TGO Challenge, we decided 'harder' was of more benefit than 'longer'.

We didn't quite hit the footbridge to take us back over the river to the road, but we weren't far away, and a few minutes later we were back at Bertie, gasping for a cup of tea.

The stats were 12.1* miles walked with around 720m ascent.

Hermitage Castle, from where we set out, and which we visited in the afternoon. It was interesting enough, but not the best value such cultural tourist attraction we've ever stumbled across.

^^(*I'd only roughly measured the intended lollipop-shaped route and I advertised it to Mick as being 11.3 miles. You may notice that with the 'short cut' it came in at 12.1 miles. When I upload the route onto my laptop when we get home I may find that the reality was somewhere between those numbers.)


  1. Your balance on top of that fence is impressive. Mick needs to work on his pose, but he's getting there.

    1. I hadn't noticed the fence-balancing thing, but now you've said it I can't see the photo any other way.