Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Peebles. Border Beauty Captured. Bothy X weekend.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN

"Like leaves changing colour then falling from trees over a span of autumn days, you only see the ones in front of you that make the most impression; either in vibrancy of colour, special mood you were in, or the magical place in which they fell. Taken as a whole they blur together and this often holds true for memory. Our club over the years had many trips together, some good, some indifferent, some bad. The ones in this book are selected highlights, that for one reason or another, stand out vividly and neither time nor old age will erase them from my soul. " Extract from The Borderers. A.

                                                          Two views taken in Peebles.

An invitation to go to a very special bothy in a beautiful area was not one to be turned down. So it was that a group of us, led by custodian Mike and his friend Paul, agreed to visit what is easily my favourite part of the Scottish Borders. The wide lands between Dalself then the river gorge to Lanark... The Pentlands down through Black Barony... Cairn Table... Tinto... Peebles down to Melrose- take in some of the finest rolling landscapes in Britain but it is often not that easy to capture this area's unique and varied charm. The light, the shifting air, and the shadows over the mountains continually change and sometimes it's pure luck if you capture it properly. This time I hope I have done the landscape here justice.
When it came to writing a full chapter about it in a book- describing a border October and walking into a bothy in full autumn colours  it was a challenge I really enjoyed to see if I could project vivid pictures from my own memory into someone's else's imagination. This time the photographs will have to take the place of descriptive writing however.
Scenery near Peebles. John Buchan Way.
On the way down to bothy X on the Saturday morning Alex had his usual hill tick planned. Even he admitted this might be a boring one for me to tag along so he offered to drop me off near Peebles instead where I could walk a section of the John Buchan Way from The Glack and the Black Dwarf's Cottage then over Cademuir Hill and round to Manor Sware where I could pick up the riverside path along the River Tweed back into Peebles. This walk, although modest, has magnificent views and you are following in the footsteps of Richard Hanney, Buchan's most recognised spy story to the general public. "The 39 Steps" Much of the book is set in the landscape Buchan was very familiar with and he spent many childhood holidays in Broughton, another lovely village. OS Land Ranger maps. Sheet 72 and 73.
The John Buchan Way was created in 2003 and is a modest example of its genre as it can be done in a day and it is only 13 miles long from Peebles to Broughton. Although short it does pack in some magnificent scenery throughout its length. It is no coincidence that the border chapter to the secret bothy in my own book is chapter 13 as I have packed it full to the gunnels with oblique references to well known art, famous novels, music, and loads of other stuff that people will never get, even if they bother to read it. There's a reason it took two long years to write :o)
This is an area I have loved since my first visit here in my teens and it is one of the few places which seems to remain timeless, although this is obviously not the case. Fisherman on the River Tweed, above.
The view from Cademuir Hill. Horses and cyclists. It is also one of the great areas for landscape cycling although many seem content these days, even in good weather, to hide themselves away in the twisting stygian depths of Glentress Forest. I've cycled there once. Nice meals in the café. Found the actual "cycling" along hairpin fixed trails with zero views of the surroundings very puzzling. An ambulance arrived while we were there to take someone who had missed a steep turn and crashed into a tree to hospital. Similar to the graded runs you get in downhill skiing. Different strokes for different folks.
I prefer to see around me and admire the wide open views when I take to the bike. Glen Tress is like an outdoor gym to me and I just don't see the point of it although it always seems to pack them in as it's fashionable at the moment to cycle deep within forestry plantations. Rain or shine. Glad they have found a use for them at last. Given the number of crashes I have had on smooth wide tarmac I would need full body armour just to reach the finish line in one peice. Cyclists going over Cademuir hill.
A view looking down in the other direction.
The stunning beauty of the borders landscape in these next photographs. I doubt I will take better ones than these of this area.
Love the soft pastel colours and the way the hills recede one after another into a distant milky haze.
A special area. My favourite photo of the pack. The pick of the litter.
The walk along the River Tweed is also scenic and just round this bend the outline of Neidpath Castle dominates the valley.
Peebles was soon reached again after a memorable few hours and Alex arrived from his hill a short time later.
The walk into the bothy, which isn't too far away, was also one of enjoyment. This is a private one run by the BBA for youth and community groups and shall remain nameless. There's far too much information already on bothy locations on the net and this information never goes away. If you know where it is keep it to yourself :o) Hush hush., need to know basis protocol involved.
Inside the bothy. Joining us were Radek and Gordon, who had cycled in all the way from Edinburgh, John, nearest fire, and Scott, another keen cyclist. Gavin, Mike, Paul and Alex are also present, just not in this picture. I'm surprised Scott didn't cycle there and back from Glasgow as 100 miles in an outing is small beans to him these days :o) Check out that fluffy white carpet. A different class of bothy experience altogether.
Getting ready to leave the bothy the next day.
Secret procedure for locking up that is so undercover the participant has to remain blindfolded while securing the door in case he accidently sees the code.
What we got up to on the Sunday is also covered under the official secrets act and cannot be divulged either. Many thanks to Mike for a great and unusual weekend.
         The River Tweed. Scottish Borders. The number 13 is significant here in other ways.


Kay G. said...

You know the one that you say is the pick of the litter? That one could almost be a painting, it is really beautiful.

blueskyscotland said...

Yes, I was very lucky just catching the light that weekend. I always like pastel scenery and this part of the Borders landscape really suits it.
Not that far away, landscape wise, from your own beautiful Appalachians which I believe were connected at some point in the distant past to both Scotland and Scandinavia in one vast mountain chain called the Caledonian Range before they were separated as the continent's pulled apart and divided. Rock Remembers!

The Glebe Blog said...

I agree with Kay. Bob, that is a cracker.
Rock Remembers is a good phrase, Ballantrae was once part of the sea floor and it remembers.
Some great pictures from my paternal ancestral homeland.
"Like leaves changing colour then falling from trees over a span of autumn days, you only see the ones in front of you that make the most impression", beautiful words too Bob.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Jim,
A quote from my borders chapter.