Pete and Fiona’s Grey Sky Scotland

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.


30 responses

  1. It still looked a Grand Day Out, Pete, despite the lack of blue sky. Fine views and no rain – always a reasonable combination – and maybe the house will turn into an exciting next chapter?
    I’m sure that Dougal will continue progressing in leaps and bounds in his woolie training. Having turned 3 and now being all grown up, Tilly is suddenly about 95% reliable at even walking straight through a flock whilst off the lead. I never would have believed it actually…
    Wish I’d known about the Herdwick tup/shock treatment training when Dixie was a pup though.

  2. Ooooohhhh, a possible move to Durisdeer, very very nice Mr Edwards. I will keep an ear out for developments with interest.

    With regards to electric central heating, this may come in very handy when the inevitable 500ft turbine is erected just outside the village. You should be able to connect up directly with a bit of extension cable……………………….

    Talking of dogs, Reuben is the lucky boy today. I was donated a slightly stinky steak and although veggie I kindly cooked it for him. House bloody stinks now and Corrina less than happy.

    And Yes, Well hill is rather steep, buggers up the knees going down!

    • I reckon we’ve looked at every wee hoose in parts remote throughout Scotland by now, Jim-Bob; will this be the one? You will of course be kept up with developments. There’s easily room for a couple of 150-metre turbines out back – should be able to run my Wurlitzer organ of them…
      Now was the steak donated to you by a misguided individual or was it always intended for Reuben’s tum? You could have kept Corrina happy by cooking it outside on your camping stove, lad!
      If we do make the move, I will of course run up Well Hill every day with Dogal to keep us fit…

      • T’was a doggy donation as it was a couple of days past its best. It did not convince me to become a meat eater I can tell you. Reuben however loves me even more and is happily farting away next to the wood burner roaring away in the lounge. Nearly like being in a bothy but may watch a spot of telly later……………………..

  3. Looks like a grand little cottage Pete (you could go with oil-fired central heating) – I’m all up for you buying it. I need somewhere to stay when I get round to some Southern Upland bagging 🙂

    Looks like a pretty decent day out mate, always a bit frustrating when you know it’s big-blue elsewhere but looks like you stayed dry and were out the cloud – it is Scotland after all.

    BTW – waiting with baited breath for your Rum guide – might be heading there at Easter as the Jura trip is on hold as a few of the boys can’t make it. I have unfinished business on Rum. Last time I was there we were near the top and my mate dislodged a sizeable boulder which bust his hand intro pieces and nearly hit me on the head. He then fell on me and nearly took us both to our doom. Had to get a rescue chopper off the island

  4. Ouch! The top of Askival? Don’t mention the rescue helicopter to Chrissie or she’ll want a scale die-cast model. Sorry to hear your Jura trip has been scuppered, though I think you should try to get there when you can – it’s an absolutely unsurpassable region of pristine wilderness…
    Rum’s good too, though! Guidebook isn’t out until June, but I’ve plenty of useful stuff for you; let you have it end of Feb.
    Oil-fired. Good thinking, though fecking expensive these days.

    • Yep! Askival ascending from Dibidil Bothy via Beinn nan Stac. We were only a couple of hundred feet from the summit. My mate had to down-climb with a bloodied and bust hand, get back to the bothy, pack up and walk halfway back to get a pick up.Might do a retrospective blog about it one day

      We may yet still do Jura both of the next two Easter’s we are all mad keen to go. I’ve had a picture in my mind of a camp by the beach at Shian Bay with a roaring fire. Sorry – off topic a bit here

  5. Ah, dull and grey that’s what we like to see 😀

    And “borrowing” fuel!

    And borrowing (and mangling) Alex and Bob’s blog title!

    Now that’s how to tackle a day out! 😀

  6. Tis I Pete ,Half of the rightful owner of Any blue sky floating around Scotland.How can fellow hill walkers manage to miss it so often …Tis a compete mystery to me……Are their Souls still their own I wonder.Tis the only explanation!
    Durisdeer is Indeed a lovely little place…bearing in mind its either Thornhill,New Cummock or Crawfordjohn for a racy night out.Personally I,d rather stare out the ribcage of a wicker man…which ,come to think of it, is a real possiblity for visitors to New Cummnock of an evening.
    Oh, before I forget.Sainbury,s have a good offer at present .Buy £15 or over of goods or messages (but not petrol) get a rail token valid til 31st march 2012.Go anywhere in Scotland station to station for £19 pound.

    • Staring out the ribcage of a wicker man makes for an unusual and imaginative way to compare your feelings about a Big Night Out at the Crawfordjohn disco, Bob. Happily for me, my disco-going days are long gone and I’m content spending my evenings at home with a dram and a game of Scrabble in front of the fire (poor TLF). I’m hardly out going bananas in the West End of Glasgow every weekend…
      Thornhill is only five miles distant, has two good butchers a bakers and a candlestick makers, so that’ll do me

  7. Hello David

    We’re cogitating furiously on the mechanics of the house business… we’ll see. How have you managed without BSS until now? Truly one of the bestest blogs out there. Alex and Bob have produced a huge archive of posts about their many and various adventures and it’s really worth mining for a few gems. Here’s a link to one of my faves:

    Have a cracking 2012, David.

  8. A lovely looking place indeed! I can just see the novelist at work in one corner, the travel writer in the other, Dougal curled up in the middle with a pipe and slippers. And when do you think you’ll be open for visitors? I’ll gladly ferry you tea or malt or whatever the working tipple might be in exchange for a cot in an unused corner…

  9. Tea in the evening and Caol Ila for breakfast, if you please, Mr Hoffman. Visitors welcome at all times, but I suppose we’d need to 1) decide whether we do indeed want to buy this house, and 2) buy it, before we extend our hospitality too enthusiastically. I’m sure you and Dougal would get along just fine, curled up together, snoring endearingly on a rug in front of the fire with your pipes and slippers…

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