No matter which way you look at it, Dun Rig GM/SS-052 is quite difficult to get to, even though it isn’t really remote being close to the town of Peebles. The problem is there’s a lot of other stuff in the way and the only road that runs remotely close is private. There are several ways to get to the top of this hill. You can do what I did last time, ignore the private signs and drive on to the Glen Estate (owned by the bloke who owns Mustique in the Caribbean). I bumped into a gardener and having explained what I wanted to do he gave me permission to park in the staff car park. That reduces the walk to about 5kms. Otherwise you can add 3km or so to the distance. You also have to cross lots of heather and bogs. Or you can come from the South from Craig Douglas. That’s a 7.8km trek across private tracks, ideal for biking in, followed by a 2km ascent up some difficult ground to the summit.
Or you can take the long but obvious route, the old drove road. This is the best part of 10km but it’s a recognised right of way. (Less important since the Land Reform changes). The route bimbles along the tops and there’s a bit of up and down. You have the choice of walking out by dropping into the private Glex Sax where walkers are OK but not their cars. Or doing the horseshoe on the tops which involves a bit more down and up and dropping into Glen Sax further up. But which ever way you take, there is some effort needed to collect 4pts. This explains why such a high scoring hill for the SS region in an area easily reached from all the main Central Scotland population areas has only been on the air 7 times and not activated since summer 2007.
I’ve got some new boots as my Meindl’s have started to fail. I’m not best pleased with that as they are only 2.5 years old and have covered about 750km. Despite cleaning and using the recommended leather treatments, there are some nasty splits appearing around the top of the rand. Being a diabetic I have to look after my feet more than most so I found a pair of boots that felt comfortable and had a stiff sole. Asolo something or other, I forget the model. They’re not leather but a glorified techno-trainer with Goretex etc. I gave them a bash round the lanes yesterday with Mrs. FMF and they felt nice after a quick 5miles. So I decided to chance them on a big walk. If I had problems I’d turn back. I’ve done Dun Rig before and it’s only 50minutes drive so it wouldn’t be a big loss. Also after last week where I ran out of legs and had to cancel the second summit I wanted to see how I coped on a fair old walk with a slightly different diet since starting new diabetic medicines.
I had a breakfast of ham and cheese sandwiches rather than cereal, a 10ugm injection of Exanatide and 1gm of Metformin washed down with a quick cup of rosy lea. I made sure I had more than enough cereal bars to eat during the day. A couple of emergency sugar fixes (Mars Bar), a couple of apples and 1.75L of water made up the supplies along with the usual junk. Although I’ve now dumped the 8xAA cells from the 817 and rely solely on the LiPO cells. A few other non-essential items have been dumped and that has reduced the bag weight down by 1.5kg. Bit silly really to lug extra dead weight about when there’s plenty of lard around my belly still. Though I’m down about 7kgs since the injections started.
Parking is easy for this route, there’s space for 10 cars at the end of the road in Peebles. It seems strange starting a walk in a suburb but that’s what you do! The path to the drove road is through Gypsy Glen and it’s well marked. The start is through old mature woodland and cross the Glen Sax burn as it makes its way to the River Tweed. The path is excellent at this point, chippings and gravel and is clearly marked. It climbs quickly and is a lovely walk even if you only follow it for a mile or so. I was quite hot when I got to the 1st gate on the path. Tinto and Culter Fell were in cloud as I came down an Dun Rig is the same size as them. I wasn’t worried as the forecast was for the cloud to lift and be quite sunny with possible showers later. The showers never came but it did cloud up.
The route is trivial to follow, the path is obvious all the way and where you have a choice there are sign posts. It’s not long before you’re enclosed between a pair of drystane dykes which were built to keep the cattle enclosed as they were driven South to England. The heather was flowering and there were vast seas of purple all around. The only downside was the wind which was strong and cold. And blowing head on On my return I was surprised how steep the ground was as I didn’t recall there being much climbing. But this bit contains most of the steeper sections.
Up over UpperNewby, Kailzie Hill and to Kirkhope Law. Here I changed A4 map printout from Anquet and had an apple. This was about 1hr15 into the walk. I felt fine, no low sugar feelings and not tired. The new boots were OK too. I bashed on along the path. The path was essentially nice and dry and was a mixture of eroded soil and stones or grass. Despite the rain in the last few days it was good walking. The col between Kirhope Law and Birkscairn Hill is a bit soft in places. There was one of those nasty bits where the surface is like a skin on a rice pudding. It supported my weight but you could see the surface rippling and could hear water. Not nice! After that is the last big climb up to the top of Birkscairn Hill. The drop and ascent to Stake Law is nothing really but then you finally see the ground for the last section to the top of Dun Rig.
Another reason why Dun Rig isn’t popular is the fact it’s a colossal area of grotty bog and peat hag. Some of the hags where 8-10ft deep. We’ve been having quite a drought, recent rain excepted, the worst bits were not bad. The landowner has given up on the old fence as the ground is so eroded by it and has a built a new fence that doglegs past the worst ground. But following that causes about 50m of height loss and there’s no path, just fresh heather. I plowed straight on following the old fence line and picked my way through the gloop. Luckily even the blackest and wettest bits of peat hag were OK to walk on. The final pull is over very wet grass, a real squelcher that almost pulls your boots off.
And then… a trig point. According to the GPS it took me 3hrs20 from leaving the car to arrival. Anquet said 3hrs12 walking time. My elapsed time included some photos (which have come out rubbish), swapping maps, eating apples and having a comfort break and a drink. I’m quite pleased with that all things considered. I was setting up when a very nice young lady wandered up. She was doing the horseshoe and we chatted about the local hills as she’d only been bagging Grahams and Corbetts (and the odd Munro) as long as I have. After she wandered off I started on the reason for a 3hr20 10km walk, the radio.
I was calling from 12.35BST onwards, 10mins ahead of my alert. 60m seemed long skip only. I called and called and called on SSB and CW. Nothing but I could hear the news reader in JO02 nice and loud. Onto 40m SSB. GB2BP came back to my 1st call. Sadly the station was being operated by a bit of a half wit who took forever to say I’d dropped out in QSB. Must have taken in 3 minutes to say that. I called around 7.120 a few more times for nothing and QSY’d to 7.032 CW. It was the usual comedy situation of my morse and several chasers but I managed 4 on the key before 40m dried up. Back to 60m and Rob G4RQJ/p was finishing up. He left me the frequency and I worked 12 on SSB and 6 on CW. A quick call on 30m resulted in nothing.
Whilst I was operating I ate a selection of cereal bars and had a good drink. With everyone who wanted to work me worked I took some photos and packed up. I considered which route off: down into Glen Sax and a flatish vehicle track back or back the way I came. The WX was still excellent although it had gone from 2/8 cloud cover to 7/8 cover with high level cloud forming. So it was back the way I came. I was surprised how popular the route is. I met 3 fell runners, one who was over 65 at least and 2 dog walkers. In fact the time it took me to walk from Birkscairn Hill back to the car was the time it took one runner to run from there to Dun Rig down to Glenrath Heights, up to Middle Hill, Broom Hill and Hundleshope Heights and down through Glen Sax. As Bill Baily would say “That’s not right maaan!” Or fair even! Oh why did I spend 35 years drinking beer and doing no exercise. Hmmmm.
Anyway, it didn’t rain though the clouds looked nasty. My new boots worked, very comfortable. Thinking about my pancreas, that seemed to work, no excess lactic acid in the muscles, no hypo feelings, no tiredness and inability to go on. The more I think about the failure last week the more I think it might have been heat or dehydration. Anyway, I’ll keep shooting up and playing with the energy bars and breakfasts to find what works best. I had figured all this out over the years, but when your medication changes so drastically you have to learn it all over again. Still the injections make me feel 20 years younger so that’s a good thing. Now the figures…
Distance walked: 20.25km, total ascent: 888m, distance driven: 70 miles
Oooooo, that’s quite a walk. Must be good boots! Audio entertainment there and back provided by Angola’s Nuno Mindelis (a mean SG and Strat player) and Aylesbury’s Larry Miller. Larry plays all songs not at 11 like some, but 13 or 14! Listen to Larry’s album Outlaw Blues and you’ll drive everywhere with the rev counter on the red line.
Right, now to pick something shorter for next week!