Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Upper Clyde Valley. Bothy Trip. Dollar Law.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
The Upper Clyde Valley map, Landranger Sheet 72 must contain some of the loveliest and most varied scenery in the Southern Uplands/Scottish Borders region. A large area south and east of Glasgow starting from the edge of Wishaw and including the upper reaches of the River Clyde running towards and then past the market town of Lanark, where it cuts a deep gorge into the surrounding rolling countryside.

 This map also includes the western portion of the Pentland Hills, seen above, furthest from the city of Edinburgh, and surprisingly empty of walkers yet still scenic and attractive. A group of us had booked a cottage with the BBA who have a number of locked bothies in this area. The one we had picked for our trip requires a key sent in the post and as I'm still in two minds about the effects of internet publicity on quiet unspoiled areas I'll not name it here. It does lie between two prominent hills- Tinto, 711 metres or 2,333 feet high and Dollar Law, 817 metres, 2680 feet.
The drive down, as ever, was delightful. This is great driving, cycling, and motorbike country on a nice day using the network of empty minor roads. In this district even the main roads are not plagued with excessive traffic which makes it all the more enjoyable in this increasingly busy world we all live in. Biggar, West Linton and then Edinburgh reached via the A702 is a delight to drive as is the winding A72 past Lanark to Symington then Broughton.
Our plan on this trip was to climb Dollar Law, seen on the approach here and we had a fair number out in force on a trip organized by Alex. Eight of us in total.
Although dry and clear the final slopes onto Dollar Law saw us encountering a bitter raw wind as these large hog back summits have little in the way of protection or shelter available. This is a summit photo and the wind chill factor must have been around minus -10 degrees up here, maybe lower. It certainly felt more like winter than autumn all weekend and snow fell over the high tops on the second day of our trip.
This fenced off portion of woodland shows how these glens could look if not grazed bare by hungry sheep and deer although the upper slopes and summits would still be clear of any trees. We can but dream... maybe someday more parts of Scotland will have deciduous mixed woodlands outside the urban areas- similar to the Lake District and parts of Wales. :o)
One from Dollar Law looking west in the direction of Tinto.
This is us arriving at the bothy and a good one it is. A scattering of trees around it give it an oasis feel in an otherwise bare area. Although I enjoy the wide open summits of this district it would look very different at low level with some of the natural woodlands restored and it would support far more wildlife than at present in an age when species numbers across the board are falling rapidly.
The bothy.
Night arrived and we entertained ourselves in the usual fashion with candles, wood burning stove, evening meal then drink.
A mixed conifer forest on the trip down.
Biggar High Street with it's distinctive curving poles. A lovely little town for a visit at any time of year, given good weather. Peebles and Moffat also have enough in them for an excellent day trip with shops, local walks and places of interest. Decent sized car parks can be found in all three. Christmas lights going up here.
An autumnal view looking across the local park in Biggar.
Scenery encountered on the drive to the bothy.
A range of different landscapes from small attractive woodlands ...
to wide 'open range' style rolling grasslands.
This could be England's South Downs near the chalk laden Sussex coast or even parts of rural America. A chameleon landscape unfolds round every new corner.
Higher hills and scattered upland farms.
The UK as a whole is famed for its range of diverse and contrasting landscapes within a small area and this region is no different.
A buzzard hunting for dinner near Tinto. A great weekend and good company in one of my favourite areas.

This video seems to fit the landscape above somehow. Tinto even sounds like a wild west name. A great modern western but filmed and directed like an old style one. Really enjoyed this when I first watched it years ago and still underrated somewhat. Fantastic landscapes, great action, an epic feel and good history about the last days of the free livestock grazers in America before the open ranges and water supplies were fenced off by growing townships and large ranchers. Worth a watch if it comes on TV or on Netflix. Well filmed, acted and directed.


Neil said...

The BBA have some great bothies- a step up from the more basic MBA ones. The one you stayed in is in a great location, been there a couple of times.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Lovely part of the world. I'm ashamed to say I've driven through it often, but never stopped, always having to be somewhere ("Everybody's gotta be somewhere..."). I think your view of the South Downs might be a little less crowded than the reality often is!

Carol said...

We really liked Biggar when we stayed overnight to do Tinto - Moffat is pretty nice too :-)

Linda W. said...

Wonderful countryside. Love those wide open views! So different from the dense forests here in the Pacific NW.

Anabel Marsh said...

Totally agree - a lovely area. Of the small towns you mention I'm particularly fond of Moffat.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
Yes, I've been impressed by the ones I've stayed in so far.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
It's over 30 years since I last walked on the South Downs but it did remind me of certain parts, albeit without the people... or the sea :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yep, it's a good area for tourist type scenic market towns. Move slightly north, up towards Shotts or Forth, or west, across the M74 towards Ayrshire, and it's mainly coal or other mining villages with a more industrial feel.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda W,
The wide open aspect is great in fine weather not so good in wind and driving rain and we get a lot of that here.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Yes, Moffat is special with that lovely little park placed between two streams that define it's perimeter.

Linda said...

What a magnificent and beautiful place! Lovely and captivating views.

Ian Johnston said...

Another part of the country I really should pay more attention to much exploring to do and so little time! Thanks for posting this, it looke d a great weekend :o)