Time to visit the Eildon Hills to combine two of my passions, hill walking and folklore. We started in Melrose, walked up Gallows Brae (B6359) and took the first left where signposted for Eildon Walk & St. Cuthbert's Way, up the wooden steps to begin the ascent:
20170107_104811 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_104932 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
On the left, Black Hill summit makes an early appearance, looking a fine shape. We were going to climb this too, inspired by the recent walk report by McMole (nice one, thanks for the pre-walk warm-up read) but instead opted to just enjoy the Eildon's and not be in a rush, a wise choice considering some of us were out of practice and forgot to pack spare shoes and spare socks...
20170107_105401 DSCF8468 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
You'll quickly reach a fence/gate/track junction, keep heading up towards Eildon Hill North, ensuring that you read aloud the Ballad of True Thomas the Rhymer on the way....
True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank,
A ferlie he spied wi' his eye
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by Eildon Tree.
20170107_110100 DSCF8472 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_110801 DSCF8476 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Her shirt was o the grass-green silk,
Her mantle o the velvet fyne
At ilka tett of her horse's mane
Hang fifty siller bells and nine.
20170107_110900 DSCF8477 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
True Thomas, he pulld aff his cap,
And louted low down to his knee
"All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see."
20170107_111701 DSCF8479 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_112200 DSCF8480 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"O no, O no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belang to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
That am hither come to visit thee."
20170107_112429 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"Harp and carp, Thomas," she said,
"Harp and carp along wi' me,
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your bodie I will be."
20170107_113851 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunton me;"
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree.
20170107_114100 DSCF8493 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"Now, ye maun go wi me," she said,
"True Thomas, ye maun go wi me,
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro weal or woe, as may chance to be."
20170107_114701 DSCF8497 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
She mounted on her milk-white steed,
She's taen True Thomas up behind,
And aye wheneer her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
20170107_114900 DSCF8499 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
O they rade on, and farther on--
The steed gaed swifter than the wind--
Untill they reached a desart wide,
And living land was left behind.
20170107_115030 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"Light down, light down, now, True Thomas,
And lean your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will shew you ferlies three."
20170107_115427 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_115501 DSCF8507 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"O see ye not that narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
Tho after it but few enquires.
20170107_115600 DSCF8508 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_115700 DSCF8511 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"And see not ye that braid braid road,
That lies across that lily leven?
That is the path to wickedness,
Tho some call it the road to heaven.
20170107_115704 DSCF8515 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"And see not ye that bonny road,
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
20170107_120501 DSCF8522 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever ye may hear or see,
For, if you speak word in Elflyn land,
Ye'll neer get back to your ain countrie."
20170107_115803 DSCF8520 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
O they rade on, and farther on,
And they waded thro rivers aboon the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But they heard the roaring of the sea.
20170107_122324 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_122524 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
It was mirk mirk night, and there was nae stern light,
And they waded thro red blude to the knee;
For a' the blude that's shed on earth
Rins thro the springs o that countrie.
20170107_122551 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_123101 DSCF8540 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Syne they came on to a garden green,
And she pu'd an apple frae the tree:
"Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,
It will give the tongue that can never lie."
20170107_123102 DSCF8541 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_123300 DSCF8545 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"My tongue is mine ain," True Thomas said;
"A gudely gift ye was gie to me!
I neither dought to buy nor sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be.
20170107_123407 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_123724 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
"I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
Nor ask of grace from fair ladye:"
"Now hold thy peace," the lady said,
"For as I say, so must it be."
20170107_125743 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
20170107_130146 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were gane and past
True Thomas on earth was never seen.
20170108_105900 DSCF8607 by Chris Mac, on Flickr
Unlike a hike up Arthur's Seat a few years back, this time we were not glamoured (that we are aware of) by the wee folk and enjoyed a quick, easy and enjoyable (not via the boggy path/thistle route we took at the start though) walk up a cracking set of hills with a lot of history.
The view is brilliant with the hills being isolated from the Moorfoot Hills to the north and you can see all around for miles. We went to Melrose Abbey the next day and it is also well worth a visit (especially for the goblin carvings, all of which face the Eildons) and the next time i'm in the area I will definitely come after dark to see if the auld wizard Michael Scot is still floating around at 'tween time...
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