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Sax solo: Dun Rig half-horseshoe from Peebles

Sax solo: Dun Rig half-horseshoe from Peebles

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:39 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Dun Rig

Donalds included on this walk: Birkscairn Hill, Dun Rig

Date walked: 02/02/2014

Time taken: 7.1 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 890m

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Because of on-call commitments, plus an unexpected but very welcome invite to a friend's daughter's wedding in Jaipur :D , the first weekend in February was my only available walking slot for this month, and the weather forecast initially looked dire :( . However, on closer inspection it was only the Saturday 1st February that was truly dire: the Sunday 2nd didn't look too bad, at least in the south-east. I was off on my own again, and I was looking for a walk in the Borders area that would be do-able solo on a potentially dodgy winter's day, but would still feel like a proper day's outing. Dun Rig, a Graham near Peebles, seemed to fit the bill - it looked to be a fairly rounded beast with good access paths, but it sits a long way back from the road, in upper Glensax, so it wouldn't be entirely un-challenging on a short winter day in the snow. The plan was to do half of the horseshoe route featured on the website, taking in the Donald of Birkscairn Hill en route, but cutting down into upper Glensax thereafter rather than continuing round to the two Donalds on the west side of Glensax, so that I wouldn't risk having to use my torch :? ...

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The biggest navigational challenge with this route proved to be locating the starting point :shock: : Glensax isn't signed at all from the centre of Peebles and it took a bit of driving round before I found it. You take the B7062 to cross the bridge to the south bank of the Tweed, then drive along Springhill Road until it becomes Glen Road (a clue in the name there :lol: ), and then park in a small lay-by on the left at the very end of the public road, a few hundred metres past the end of Glen Crescent, but before the sharp right-hand turn into the private Haystoun Estate road up Glensax. I think you can just see the parking bay in the distance in this photo.
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At the point where the Haystoun Estate road turns right from the end of the public road, a good waymarked path (with signage from the Scottish Rights of Way Society, no less) continues straight ahead - I think it is signed "Drover's Road to Gypsy Glen" or something like that - it sounds very picturesque, and indeed it is. Usefully, it also provides a good route up onto the ridge of hills to the east of Glensax.
First, however, the Glensax Burn has to be crossed. It was in spate after all last week's rain, and although there's a good footbridge over it, getting to the base of the bridge involved a fair bit of squelching :( !
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Thankfully, the route quickly became drier as it gained height, and the scenery started to open up.
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It wasn't too much further before I started to encounter the first of the White Stuff.
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The weather was a game of two halves: sunshine to the north, with fine views over Peebles and lower Glensax, but a lot of cloud - and snow, by the looks of it - over the higher hills at the head of the glen. At this stage, it really wasn't looking too promising for summit views :( ... however, fingers crossed it might improve as the day went on.
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This first cairned rise was Kirkhope Law, I think. Anyway, I plodded away undeterred uphill, and thankfully the Clag did the decent thing and gradually started to lift :D .
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From here, it wasn't too much further to Birkscairn Hill - a Donald, no less, and as its name would suggest, it does indeed sport an impressive cairn (although no sign of any birks anywhere :? ).
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There were some fine cloudscapes over to the south-east.
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Amazingly enough, Dun Rig summit was completely cloud-free now, and it didn't look too much further... However, there was a good bit of soft snow underfoot, and it proved to be a bit of a Snow Plod.
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At the bealach between Birkscairn Hill and Stake Law, just as I was starting to feel all intrepid in the midst of this snowy wasteland, I came across this very fine but rather suburban-looking signpost which kind of spoiled my wee Wilderness Moment... ah well, at least it confirmed that I was in the right place for once :lol: .
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The ongoing route doesn't in fact cross the fence to follow the sign towards "Yarrow Valley", but continues uphill on the right side of the fence to Stake Law, with Dun Rig rising behind it to the south-west. A cheeky wee bit of peat-hag terrain at the bealach between Stake Law and Dun Rig looked as though it could prove to be, um, "entertaining" - and indeed it did. Probably best tackled on a day like today when well frozen, in fact.
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The two Donalds on the west side of the glen, Glenrath Heights and Hundleshope Heights, were looking deceptively close from here - but on balance I felt that discretion was the better part of valour, on a short winter's day in the snow.
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There was a fine view back down to Birkscairn Hill and lower Glensax.
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Around this point, I was overtaken by a couple of guys who were walking the Full Bhoona of the Glensax Horseshoe, planning to bag the Graham and all three Donalds - impressive stuff at this time of year.
It wasn't much further from here to the summit of Dun Rig, with its chilly Trig Point. Not a place to linger on a breezy day like today.
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Yet another fine cloudscape over to the south-east...
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In fact, however, Dun Rig's trig point isn't quite at the true summit. There is a wee marker post thingey about fifty metres south-west of the trig point, but I don't think this was quite the true summit either. Anyway, I had a bit of a wander about, and I'm fairly confident that I bagged it OK.
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In summer conditions it would be fairly straightforward to cut directly down the steep slopes north-west from Dun Rig's summit into upper Glensax. However, at this time of year there was some fairly hard snow on these steep north-facing slopes, and I didn't much fancy the prospect of an unscheduled Downhill Slalom :shock: , so I plodded on south-west towards the bealach with the unnamed Point 713, then curved down northwards from there on tussocky but much less precipitous slopes, to cut down into the gully of the uppermost stretches of the Glensax Burn. It was fairly hard work cutting down off the ridge in all that soft snow, but once I was in the stream gully the going improved immediately, so I stopped for a bite of lunch and got my breath back while I enjoyed the views.
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A bit lower down, some sheep were eyeing me with deep suspicion: very sensible of them, no doubt.
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I made my way down the side of the Glensax Burn, constantly crossing and re-crossing the burn to avoid steep bits. Before too long, traces of a path appeared, and then an ATV track, aiding progress considerably. Unfortunately however, the ATV track also insisted in constantly crossing and re-crossing the burn, presumably just for a laugh as there weren't really any steep bits to avoid by now :? . As the burn was in spate, there was no alternative but just to wade across, so I soon had very wet feet :( . However, by the time the track got down to the picturesque ruined farmstead marked on the OS map as "Glensax", it reluctantly calmed down a bit and agreed to stay mainly on the west bank of the burn.
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It was a straightforward plod back down Glensax from here, although it proved to be longer than it initially looked. Time for a last fond look up the glen to Dun Rig and its pals:
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Despite a fairly unpromising weather forecast, this turned out to be a fine day's walking after all :) . I might even go back sometime now to bag the other two Donalds.
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Re: Sax solo: Dun Rig half-horseshoe from Peebles

Postby McLEOD » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:46 pm

Enjoyable write up with good info mate, might do this one this weekend :D
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