Sometimes a quick trip to the hills doesn’t need much planning: it’s just a case of deciding where to go, packing some essentials and taking off. A ‘microadventure’ accurately describes a quick outing like this. It’s just enough to help restore balance, just enough to get a ‘fix’ of the outdoors, and all with the minimum of advance planning.
“At last“, I hear some of you say. “He’s finally stopped all those cycling posts and put his walking boots on again“.
Not quite. The bike’s all ready to go off on another ride, just as soon as I’ve spent some time doing other things for a while. However, I am hoping to gain my Hill and Moorland Leader award over the next six months or so (so I can lead Duke of Edinburgh expeditions rather than merely helping as at present), and so I need to gain some more experience. While I’ve done lots of climbing of mountains, the Hill and Moorland leader qualification suggests a different kind of terrain, and so I need to build up my experience of lower level walks in upland areas.
The Scottish Borders has its fair share of hills and moorland. Lots of sheep, few people and a landscape with lots of character and history. I used to live in the Central Borders and am pretty familiar with most parts. So the walk I chose is actually one I did many years ago, a circular walk from Yarrowford (near Selkirk) up to the Three ‘Brethren’, along the Southern Upland Way for a bit then returning via the Minchmoor Road.
The Three Brethren are a distinctive site. They are three tall cairns representing the meeting point of the three burghs of Selkirk, Yair and Bowhill. Each year riders on horseback from the Selkirk Common Riding visit the bounds of the burgh, and there’s a plaque on the fence just beside the cairns which lists all of the Standard Bearers dating back to 1960 (although the Common Riding itself is over 400 years old). Having experienced the Borders’ Common Ridings – where, incidentally, I met my wife – I can highly recommend them as a really fascinating event unique to the Scottish Borders. You’ll need to be quick though; the 2015 Selkirk Common Riding took place on 12-13 June and the other Border towns will all have had their own common ridings by about the end of June.
It was a lovely warm evening when I drove down to Yarrowford. I decided that I’d camp out overnight to make the walk a little more interesting. The low sun was spreading orangey light over the hills as I set off at 8.30pm, then an hour later clouds were all a-glow as I put up my tent.
There’s a great view eastwards from this spot towards the shapely Eildon Hills, near Melrose. The views extend south to the Cheviots and east to the flat lowlands of Berwickshire.
The clouds rolled in shortly after my tent was up and the light was fading, on what was (almost) the longest day of the year. But by 11pm the rain had started. Next morning was full of blustery showers with patches of sunshine in between. I would have included some photos of the ridgewalk and return to Yarrowford along the Minchmoor but my phone battery ran out.
It’s a shame, since this is an often overlooked and unspoilt part of Scotland and full of character and hidden charms. I’ll just need to find another walk so I can return.