Saturday morning, myself, The Lovely Fiona and the Hideous Mutt set off for a daunder around the Ettrick Hills accompanied by Young Finlay and Graeme Devo. Graeme is a whippet more usually known simply as Devo. ‘A non-usual name for a whippet’ I hear you chorus and can only agree. Graeme suits his moniker though and was so named, as many of you will already have twigged, in honour of the song ‘Whip It’ by the eponymous lampshade-wearing American punk wierdos. Young Finlay is Devo’s homey.
That’s the introductions dispensed with.
So we parked up at the south-eastern end of the Talla Reservoir and set off up Games Hope, following the old drove road alongside the fast-moving burn.
There was a lot of water thundering down the glen for obvious reasons given the recent weather and we were unable to cross over to the lovely bothy, which is a mile or so up the glen. I’m sure there was a bridge over the Gameshope Burn here the last time we passed by, but there wasn’t one any longer.
We squelched our way along the left bank of the burn sure that we’d be able to cross higher upstream. The plan was to make for Gameshope Loch then climb Din Law before taking in Cape Law, Hartfell Rig and Hart Fell. However, the burn was a frothing tumult and opportunities for crossing weren’t presenting themselves.
We were soon presented with the minor challenge of crossing a burn feeding into Gameshope. We weren’t going to get across with dry feet so I gave TLF a piggy back across the calf-deep burn and Young Finlay carried the water-shy Devo across. If only I’d taken some pictures!
The dogs had been leashed because of the woolies around, but we came to a sheep free stretch and let them off for a wee while. Joy was unconfined as they tore up and down and back and forth. Dougal is never, ever going to catch Devo, but attempting to do so on a regular basis has made him without doubt the fastest Labrador in Scotland!
We schlepped across the wet and springy morass of the appositely named Crunklie Moss until we were opposite Loch Burn, flowing down from Gameshope Loch. We looked for a crossing point, but the burn was just too deep, too wide and too fast flowing. The bed of the burn also seemed full of awkward boulders and pebbles. We weren’t getting across so we did what we had to do: change of plan.
We decided to launch ourselves up the steep and tussocky flank of Great Hill, a good old fashioned slog if ever there was one!
At the summit (774m), Finlay decided to demonstrate his prowess at canine rodeo:
The weather looked rather brooding over to the south-east, so we didn’t feel so bad at having to change our route.
We continued on our way, skirting around Donald’s Cleuch Head then perching on the collapsed remnants of the dry-stane dyke along the ridge for a spot of lunch. The dogs tried everything from abject pitifulness to cold-eyed menace in an attempt to win some scraps, but we weren’t having any of that nonsense.
Off we set again along the ridge, taking in Firthybrig Head before descending precipitously into Talla Nick then climbing steeply up the other side to Lochcraig Head (810m).
The view over Loch Skeen from the summit is rather fine.
We dropped back into Talla Nick before continuing on a rising traverse around to Moll’s Cleuch Dod (785m). This is the view into the glen of Talla Water from Talla Nick:
As we climbed toward Moll’s Cleuch Dod, the sun put in a welcome appearance from behind high, scudding clouds.
Once on the ridge, we continued along in the lee of the dry-stane dyke towards the top of Carlavin Hill (736m).
The view back up the Gameshope glen with the burn and loch lit by the afternoon sun:
It was an easy and very pleasant walk out along the ridge in the sparkling afternoon light and soon enough we found ourselves beginning to descend along the dyke as the Talla Reservoir came back into view.
We were fast running out of hill yet still had 300 metres to descend, this could mean only one thing: we were going to have a very, very steep drop down into the glen. Sure enough, we were soon looking down a very steep hillside indeed.
We teetered down alongside the tumbling March Sike burn and all made it down without mishap. Other than the descent and the failure to cross the Gameshope Burn, this had been a remarkably uncontroversial day out on the hills.
The drive back through the rolling Southern Uplands was rather lovely and we were all feeling rather relaxed – especially Dougal who had a very comfy cushion for the journey home.