If my ambition was to *sleep* in a bothy, I'm not sure I can say I achieved it - it was a bit of a disturbed night, with wind and rain howling round, and it rained well into the morning, so that I was in no great hurry to get going. Outside the burn looked about twice as big as it had been the night before, and although it may have been just within fordable limits, with the way it was boiling down I wasn't trying it.
The new plan was to leave Broad Law and friends for the trip that would take in the two hills I'd missed the night before, and head along the road to go straight over Dollar Law into the Manor valley - it wasn't necessarily shorter, but it would be easier ground.
I had a better look round the bothy in the morning, with its patent (possibly-not-)mouseproof shelf - it was well supplied with information and useful things and even a pack of cards. I forgot to write in the book, though, so have broken the rules.
The instructions in the bothy told me that if I couldn't cross the burn I should follow it until I met a wall, and then head uphill to a gate and follow a tiny sheep track out to the road. So I did, but it was more sloping group and a really tiny path, high up on the steep hillside, and it was quite frustrating when I could see the good track on the other side and no way to it!
As I came closer to the main valley a car came along the road, which quite surprised me - it was getting on for 24 hours since I'd seen a road or a car, and I'd been so settled at walking pace over rough ground that I'd kind of forgotten such things existed. The path did eventually begin to descend, and the ground flattened out, and the rain stopped, and coming out onto a nice smooth road wasn't really too bad.
I was turning my back on Talla and heading up over the watershed into the Megget valley, over a nice bridge and along past the hills I should have been on top of. The hills on both sides had lovely names - Dead for Cauld, Porridge Cairn, Craigdilly.
I knew that the Megget stone wasn't very imposing, but I still might have missed it if I hadn't known it was right at the cattle grid, because coming from the west it's tucked in right behind the gate.
Reservoir valleys are always kind of interesting because you try to work out how it used to be - a bit of old road branching off came rising up from the water again at the other side according to the map, and must have run right across the valley once.
The bit of tower at Cramalt, too, is just a replica of one now under the water, although it was interesting to look at all the same.
After a slow start and a slow trudge up the road it was nearly 3, and I was swithering about just going on to Craigierig and straight into the Manor valley, but I decided that if there was a decent path leading up from Cramalt I'd take it, and it turned out to be a good track.
I was glad I had, because it turned out to be a really beautiful summer valley, all green and growing, and the sun shone most of the way up. I found it a long trudge, all the same, even before it started to climb properly, and I was counting steps most of the way up to feel like I was getting somewhere - so many and then a drink, and every so often a proper break.
There were three problems with the day, really - I'd known it would be a long one ever since I'd known I'd have to walk out to Peebles (when I first planned it a few years ago there was still a Sunday night bus up the Tweedsmuir road) but I hadn't counted it properly when I'd been replanning that morning (partly because of the way it jumped from map to map), I always forget how much slower I am with a heavier bag, and I could have done with having more food with me - I had enough, probably, but more to munch on would have been nice.
The map showed the track running straight ahead towards Dollar Law, so when I finally came up onto the flatter ground i followed it as it faded away, but nothing looked quite right - there was more of a drop in front of me than there should have been, before the ground rose to a summit that was too far away, and most wrong of all there was a kind of pylon away ahead of me that I was sure shouldn't have been there. A least I realised that things had gone wrong (I'm pretty good at this most of the time, but occasionally....), so I got myself turned round and worked out what the track had done, and set out back along the other way.
Dollar Law was the most distinct summit of the weekend, and should have been a wonderful viewpoint, I think - I was hoping for the Cheviot, and according to the panorama might have got Skiddaw - but although it had been so sunny earlier everything was getting very hazy around the edges now. It still had a lovely feeling of hills on all sides.
I probably made the wrong decision here - I was intending to pick up the Thief's Road and come down to Old Kirkhope, but as it was supposedly the continuation of the track that had misled me I wasn't convinced there would be any path, and decided to follow the path that I could see, running between a fence and wall, down to the end of the road instead.
It wasn't really better ground, though, and got mixed up in the edge of a wood and finished with another very steep descent, which I find really frustrating, as well as leaving me further down the valley than I should have been.
The head of the valley was very pretty - I was just a long way from Peebles, and I knew I probably wasn't going to manage to walk out. I set out anyway, to get as much of it as I could, along as it widened out and up past Macbeth's Castle.
Around Castlehill it was starting to look familiar, as this was where I ended up when I lost the John Buchan Way last spring, and it was also getting to the point where I needed to do something about getting home. All I really knew was what I had written down, that there had been a bus after 7 and would be one just after 9, but since it was Sunday it seemed very likely that that was the last one. So (after my phone took a hissy fit and wouldn't let me phone directory enquiries, and a man from a house kindly gave me a taxi number), I finished my walk sitting on the grit bin at The Glack, looking at the hills and waiting to be picked up.
In Peebles I had maybe 10 minutes left to wait for the bus, and I was really hungry by now, but there didn't seem to be anywhere open to buy a snack, and I just had to wait. So getting back to Edinburgh after 10 the real finish of my day out in the wilds was sitting on a bench on the Meadows eating kebab - a bit incongruous, but then it had been a bit of a muddle of a day all along. Not really a bad day, though, in spite of the troubles - I love the emptiness of it all and way the distances spread out - I suppose I just wish civilisation was slightly closer on the Peebles side, or that I didn't have to get home on Sunday night!
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