Friday, 8 January 2016

Eildon Hills. Black Hill. Bemersyde Hill. Scott's View. Leaderfoot Viaduct. Scottish Borders.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
A view of the Eildon Hills. An attractive and isolated group of three distinctive hills in the Scottish Borders near Melrose. Although only 422 metes, (1385 feet) high this eroded whinstone escarpment stands proud and alone above a rolling softer landscape as it resisted glaciers and ice sheets better. A beautiful range of little hills and a fine day walk in itself on the remains of this ancient volcanic cluster.                    Interesting info here.
Alex was after another prize however as we had already climbed the Eildon Hills in the blog and it was the nearby Black Hill, 314 metres, he was after. A perfect day as usual for our visit, almost a month ago now.
A zoom of the highest summit on the Eildons. Black Hill was hard to climb as it was incredibly slippy up and down due to weeks of heavy rainfall, a problem all the UK's hills are facing at the moment with severe erosion and tracks getting damaged or washed away.
A view of Earlston from Black Hill.
This part of the borders is rich and lovely with rolling attractive summits sitting above the curves of the mighty River Tweed. After bagging the hill we did a few tourist things like visiting Scott's View, wandering around the grounds of Dryburgh Abbey and visiting the Leaderfoot Viaduct. All are available within a short distance of each other and worth a visit.
A lovely and very scenic viaduct across the Tweed, which is a real coincidence given that a new eight part drama has just started called "Jericho" about the building of a Victorian viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales. I watched the first episode last night in fact. A link above to a classic book written by a man who worked as a navvy on these " building projects" and knew the life first hand.
We also found time to go up Bemersyde Hill, 228 metres, above Scott's View. Panoramas over a huge area from all these hills.
Smailholm Tower, one of the watch towers along the River Tweed valley guarding this fertile and profitable land from intruders in past centuries. Certain parts of the borders have rich farmlands, flocks of plump sheep, and a thriving rural economy, especially in the past when that was more important to a network of separate kingdoms before full international trade and increasing competition took over and diminished any profits in the wool trade.
Many grand houses, country estates and castles dot the landscape in this area.
Ornate metalwork on an old estate archway.
A distant view of the Eildon Hills.
Stow and its old graveyard.
The surprisingly large and grand town hall for such a small community. A beautiful building.
Stow gets ready for its New Year bonfire. Well prepared for a celebration here.
A hilltop folly near the abbey.
The sculpture inside. A nice outing with a lot of variety. My kind of trip. Alex also managed another hill above Stow at 423 metres on the road to Lauder but I stayed in the car for that one and started reading "The Memoirs of Cleopatra." by Margaret George. At 1138 pages it should last me until spring : o)

Years ago Alex, myself and others in the climbing club we were in at that time always fancied a trip to Lundy, a remote and beautiful island in the Bristol Channel and a special looking route in "Classic Rock" called The Devil's Slide. We did get down to Cornwall and Devon climbing and ticking off many rock routes but Lundy, for various reasons, always evaded us. This excellent HD video is the next best thing to actually being there in person as I doubt we will get there now. We never did finish them all as they were scattered all over the UK  and we didn't have that many holidays... or time... or money...but it was great fun trying. A list too far which competed for many years with bagging the Scottish Munros...bothy tours and other interests.    This list brings back some memories as we did manage a good chunk of them with not that many left as we climbed many other rock climbs as well in every area not on the list. Happy days of youth.

Worth watching full screen even if you don't rock climb for the fantastic scenery. I've been to Ilfracombe and Bideford with "Sarah"" a few times over the years as well before I knew this route even existed or I took up climbing. At least I could have bagged Lundy- the island. So near yet so far. Wah!!!

An added extra song written as a tribute about the workers that built the power stations, motorways, tunnels, canals and hydro dams of the UK.


Linda W. said...

You told me you're learning about place in the US from my blog, well I'm learning lots about Scotland from yours! :) And it's making me want to visit your lovely country.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
Scotland is beautiful in fine weather and a great country to visit as is the rest of the UK but the seasons can be very unpredictable with rainfall most months of the year. Best time for mountain areas- usually mid April, May and early June.We have just had two of the wettest months on record recently for November and December and massive floods in many areas.

Carol said...

Richard and I went to Melrose for a night once and fancied the Eildons but we were so frozen by the morning and the weather was so awful we just drove off. We'd stayed in a ridiculously expensive hotel as everywhere else was full and their heating was off! The Eildons were my mother's favourite hills though so I must have a do at them sometime.

Just going to watch the Devil's Slide vid - that looks positively unreal in the photo! What an odd-looking natural feature!

Carol said...

BTW - I haven't watched the 'Jericho' thing about the Ribblehead Viaduct but I think they must be getting it completely wrong with women being on the navvy camp - they'd have to be mad! I'm sure there weren't any at the Blackwater Dam navvy site and wouldn't have thought there'd have been any at Jericho either as it was just as rough and lawless!

The Glebe Blog said...

Great post as always Bob, you must know the borders like the back of your hand now.
I love the viaduct.
I'm old enough to remember the golden age of steam, it's so sad that we didn't have the politicians with gumption to save our rail network. We gave the world technology then gave it all away. My heart bleeds for what they've done to our ways of life.

Kay G. said...

Loved this post with all the photos!
I hope we will get that series about the building of the viaduct, "Jericho".
It can sometimes take years though, so I will just have to look out for it!!

Kay G. said...

I couldn't see the video just now, my computer won't let me!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
You're question got me thinking so I looked it up. As the men after work had to eat the families followed them and cooked meals. It was also the only way dependents would see any money as men on their own would probably just drink and squander it all and would not have time to shop and cook food for themselves anyway after a long day. I know some coal miners in the UK at that time often worked 12 to 14 hour shifts 6 days a week and walked 3 to 4 miles to the pit each day. I've added a good link about the viaduct that describes the Yorkshire shanty towns of the period.
Reminds me strongly of another series I enjoyed. Hell on Wheels from the USA. Countries around the world often borrow successful plots from each other and make their own version.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
I just remember getting the occasional train ride on a steam train when I was young from Glasgow to the Clyde Coast and the thrill of seeing the sea for the first time. Surprising the number of old railway lines and cottages you come across on walks in the middle of nowhere lying abandoned and forgotten, as you know.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
It's early days yet for that one as to its quality but I did like "The Last Kingdom."
a lively series just ended about the Vikings settling in Britain, the formation of Daneland in Northumberland and Yorkshire and the attempts to drive them out by the local kingdoms in the south east(Wessex) based on real historical events. Different century- same old story of mass migration of people and a clash of religions.
You might have a security lock on your computer of some kind but there is nothing offensive about the video as far as I know.

Carol said...

Ah well, I'm possibly right about the Blackwater Dam navvies then as they did get horribly drunk all the time and squander all their money (not sure if they were single or not but probably they weren't all). They used to try to wander off across the moor to get to the Kingshouse for the hard stuff and many died on the way there and back (I'm sure you already know all that though).

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I'm willing to bet the women there didn't look like Jessica Raine but if you didn't have pretty actors and actresses in it no one would watch it :o) The black viaduct boss is also accurate seemingly for that time in the UK as I had my own doubts about that. Very hard to make something long lasting yet keep the quality up so I hope it's good.
Alex had or still has "Children of the Dead End" by Patrick Mac Gill, an Irish writer who worked as a navvy on the Blackwater Dam and describes the life there and on various farms around Scotland after his character leaves Ireland at 12 to avoid starvation and poverty in the hope of a better life. It's a classic book.
As you know, The Kingshouse was the nearest pub across the moor with no roads or tracks between dam and pub just deep bog. Many of the navvies were Irish there and spent their life going from one construction project to another all over the UK so women and families would have had a hard time trying to keep up or find lodgings. Conditions were often brutal and extreme and many died before they were 40 from that way of life so finding a pub was their only comfort in many cases.
A large percentage of the infrastructure we take for granted today, roads, dams,canals, viaducts etc came from the hands of Irish navvies. Also a good song by
The Dubliners I've had for years in my collection. I've put a link in for that as well. This is turning into an epic!

Lux G. said...

Such intricate details on the metal ornate. Everything looks so royal.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Lux G,
Yes, the country was gripped with "Scottish Fever" during Queen Victoria's reign and all the big sporting estates took their inspiration from the Royal family when they built Balmoral. A bit like the American first nation peoples,as after they had wiped out the original clan system, which was admittedly dangerous and warlike, and made the highlands safe to visit for tourists they turned it into their own romanticized version of the much wilder original. A nice heritage though and great artwork.

Ian Johnston said...

Great variety in this post Bob - and all the kind of stuff I like! Really must do more in the borderlands; perhaps a belated New Year resolution for me :o)

Best wishes

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
Yes, it was the sort of walk I like with plenty of interest. The lower hill ranges in the Borders are really scenic and enjoyable like The Pentlands,The hills around Peebles and the Upper Clyde Valley region, and isolated biggies like Cairn Table,The Lowther group and Tinto are all highly enjoyable in good conditions.