First off, apologies to Alex and Bob, the bluesky boys, for the cheeky re-rendering of the name of their fine blog site in the post title. Their site is called Alex and Bob’s Blue Sky Scotland as they endeavour to avoid rain and clag on their expeditions into the big world of Scotland’s outdoors; on the whole they’re remarkably successful.
When myself, TLF and Dougal rattled down the M74 to the Southern Uplands yesterday there was no blue to be seen. No rain either, just a solid, impenetrable grey lid clamped firmly over the hills. My second apology is due to you, dear readers, as we went back to Durisdeer yet again; ‘But you went their last weekend’, I hear both of you chorus, ‘can’t you go somewhere else?’ Indeed we should, when there really are so many places to go walking within an hour of Glasgow; so, we have no excuses, but we do have a reason. We were going to look at a wee house that’s for sale in the village – we spotted it when we were there on Monday. What do you think?
Anyway, we very nearly didn’t make it to Durisdeer at all as, having set off from Glasgow with less than a quarter tank, we both realised we didn’t have any money with us as we pulled into Abington services. We explained our situation at the service station and asked if we could phone the bank to make a transfer. No we couldn’t, said unhelpful Shona as Welcome Break had a policy against this kind of thing. If on the other hand we’d bowled up, filled our tank and then said ‘we don’t have any money’, they would have been obliged to help. It’s a topsy-turvy world sometimes, eh folks? We decided to make a dash for the Dalwhat Garage in Moniaive, which isn’t a couldn’t-give-a-toss franchise and where they recognise us. The fuel light came on shortly after Abington and it was a tense 18 miles or so down through the Dalveen Pass and on to Moniaive…
…We made it and the lad at the garage said ‘no bother, put a cheque in the post’. Welcome Break can heretofor get stuffed.
Anyway, back up the road to Durisdeer. We had a look at the house, we like it, we’re thinking about it, we’ll let you know. Time for a walk. Dougal was especially glad to get out of the motor having seen so much lovely hill country whizzing past the windows as we drove hither and thither. Up the Wald Path once again to the head of the glen and the pass between Well Hill and Durisdeer Hill.
From here we launched directly up the ever so steep flank of Well Hill – it’s a stiff old climb eh, James?
From the top we were rewarded with the customary expansive views, to the south we could see beyond the grey lid covering southern Scotland to the gleaming golden light bathing the fells of England’s far north. ‘What’s that hill there?’ enquired TLF, pointing to the most prominent summit on the far horizon. I had not a clue. ‘Could it be Mount Everest?’ Enquired TLF, ‘ it is very big after all’.
After munching our sarnies atop Well Hill, we trundled along the obvious route south-west then west, following the fence and dry stane dyke, keeping an eye out for woolies all the while. Dougal has made good progress in his I-must-not-even-think-about-chasing-sheep training; I find that showing him a picture of a herdwick tup and applying electric shocks is very effective. However, he’s not yet to be trusted more than about 49% in the vicinity of woolies, which means the leash. Happily, the only sheep we encountered all day were on the other side of the fence.
Across Stonycleuch Rig, along the flank of Turn Hill, down to Glenbo Hass and then up to the summit of Black Hill. A middle-aged couple and their early-twenties daughter stood at the summit trig point, consulting a map. Their labrador, name of Archie, took instant and committed dislike to Dougal and told him so in no uncertain terms. Dougal, however, knows that it’s only a matter of perseverance and even the most snarly of dogs will soon become his friends…
The folk were very friendly and the chap with the map said that the summit in the far distance was in fact Skiddaw. I was impressed. They asked where we’d come from and then they gamely set off in that direction.
Descending Black Hill, shafts of sunlight were beginning to arrow through the grey lid.
By the time we reached the foot of Whether Hill, there were even patches of blue.
As we drove back up the Dalveen Pass on our way home, the sun burst out from beneath the grey lid with such dramatic effect that the only suitable accompaniment would have been the organ intro from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. No picture, sorry, camera was in the boot.