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Scottish Borders - Hownam Law, Linton & Lamberton Hills

Scottish Borders - Hownam Law, Linton & Lamberton Hills


Postby inca » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:59 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Hownam Law, Lamberton Hill, Linton Hill

Date walked: 21/02/2017

Time taken: 2.75 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 445m

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Map: OS 1:50,000, no. 74
Attendees: Me, Big Dog, Small Dog
Time taken: 2hr 45m

Tree on Elisheugh Hill. Hownam Law in background
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

After a slightly dispiriting trip to Rubers Law, Belling Hill and Law Kneis the previous week, I was keen to get out again. A Tuesday opportunity presented itself. Time-wise, I had a few hours to spare. Weather-wise, the southeast looked promising. I still had these three hills to do and they sat conveniently on the same map. Not quite an aligning of the stars. But good enough to be going on with.

Hownam Law
Distance: 5k. Ascent: 301m. Time: 1hr 30m.

A great little hill, a fine viewpoint and well worth doing.

There. Up front and centre. That's my summary. Perhaps I shouldn't begin with that. However, one of the things I did throughout 2017 was make voice recordings. Usually straight after coming off the hills. I've found them invaluable. This is the first thing I said after Hownam Law. It's as good a place to start as any.

Actually, even the drive from Edinburgh was pleasant. It took me just over an hour and a quarter to reach Town Yetholm. Ten minutes later, I was turning south on to a minor road signed for Belford and St Cuthbert's Way. I pulled over to look at the map. I was following the course of the Bowmont Water. It murmured along to my left. To the right, pasture and moorland rose gently to form a sequence of small tops and ridges. These have no nonsense, short syllable names like Cushat End, Wideopen Hill and Kip Knowe. When I passed Percy Law I wondered if even that effort proved too much. Maybe the locals had just started naming the hills after each other.

Another thing struck me. It's often said that chasing the Scottish mountains and hills takes you to places you wouldn't otherwise visit. That's true. Here was more evidence of it. And yet something niggled. It wasn't names this time. It was landscape. A particular meander in the Bowmont maybe? The outline of a ridge? The shade colouring on a hillside? I'd been here before. I dredged and sifted memories for several minutes. And then it came - Windy Gyle. Of course. I'd climbed the Donald from nearby Cocklawfoot two years earlier. I realised why I hadn't remembered more quickly. It had been pelting down that day. The rain had seeped through a hole in my map cover, turning it to mush. I doubt I'd have seen much beyond the lower slopes here.

I parked in a large lay-by to the northeast of Elisheugh Hill (GR 814219). Despite a pile of stones at one end, it was still big enough for two or three cars. The track opposite ran northwest for ½km or so, passing to the right of a solitary tree before ending at a gated field. I stopped to photograph the tree, an old oak I think. Hownam Law loomed to the west, its high point being the conical end to a long spur.

Parking and start/finish point for Hownam Law
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

View north from track along course of Bowmont Water. Percy Law to centre right of photo
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Gate at end of track. Hownam Law in background
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Once through the open gate, I followed an ATV track diagonally uphill (SSW). I was aiming to reach the opposite corner of the field where I expected to find an unusual 'fence bridge' (at GR 809217). Midway across, I found that it had been moved downhill. By 150m or so. It looked to be a temporary re-siting.

I lifted the dogs over the fence and then crossed the bridge. I've seen things like this once or twice before. On Ministry of Defence land in the Pentlands. It was the same military green in colour.

'Fence bridge'
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

We went through a further two gates directly opposite, before ascending moorland to the left. Two or three sheep tracks assisted progress towards an old wall. A good ATV track ran parallel to it. We followed this westwards on a gradual incline. After a few hundred metres, a pedestrian gate is reached at the junction of the wall and a wire fence. A faint path passes through this gate, still alongside the wall, and continues northwest. The slope steepened and after a short distance we arrived at a second pedestrian gate, this time inset into the wall. We had now skirted north of Hownam Law's highest ground.

First gate
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Second gate
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Turning left through this second gate and leaving the wall behind, a trod was evident through wide banks of heather. This led south to the trig point. It was undemanding terrain. The views from the top were excellent. It was easy to see why a hill fort had been located here centuries before. (Unfortunately, my camera didn't capture these views as it might have done. The skies and background hills merged in a grey blur. I can only assume I'd inadvertently nudged an exposure setting.)

Hownam trig point looking east
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

I varied our return route slightly by staying with the same stone wall we'd used on the way up. It eventually led to a small plantation on top of Elisheugh Hill. We followed the edge of this, first northeast, then east, before climbing a fence and dropping down through the first field we'd encountered on our outward route.

The only thing of note on the descent was an elusive skylark. I heard it singing off to my left, wonderfully chirrupy and melodic. The pitch and tone suggested it was flying behind us, following our course in low swoops. Every time I stopped to try and catch sight of it, the song would stop. When I started walking again, it'd recommence. I tried to get faster on each stop and turn. Still no joy. I then started feigning disinterest, taking overly slow strides in preparation for pirouette. It felt like a vaguely remembered game from childhood. I'd gone from 53 to 12 years old, in almost as many paces. After half a dozen attempts, I gave up. I was getting a crick in my neck anyway. I never did see the skylark. After a time, its song drifted off into inaudibility.

Linton Hill
Distance: 3k. Ascent: 112m. Time: 45m.

I'd opted to approach Linton Hill from the northwest, on a short out and back route. My start/finish point was an unclassified road leading north from the B6436 at Bankhead. It wasn't a long drive to get there; 15 minutes or so. I found verge parking at the entrance to an old quarry (GR 778286).

A gate here was lockfast. I stepped gingerly over an electric fence to its right. The dogs and I followed the muddy track behind to the semi-circular core of the old workings. A path on the right followed the rim of the quarry to its high point. This also marked the edge of a large field containing sheep.

Start /finish point for Linton Hill - dogs looking underwhelmed
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Old quarry
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Linton Hill, with its radio mast top, lay just over 1k to the southeast. The way ahead -crossing four or five fields- was plain. Grassy trods and the positioning of gates pushed me towards the left of the tree line in the following picture. I picked up an ATV track to the left of a wall. This led straight to the summit.

Onward route to Linton Hill
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

It wasn't entirely hassle free. For such a small distance, there were a disproportionate number of gates. Some of these were locked. A curious combination was a latched wooden gate with a single strand of electric fencing directly behind. It was one of those electric fence breaks with a looped hook and a plastic handle at the end of elasticated wire. Disconnecting the hook from the fence opposite broke the circuit. But the wooden gate was so close to it, reattaching the hook almost required the gate to remain open. Hardly a MENSA test. I still needed more than one attempt to get it right.

Linton's summit was small and too congested to warrant much investigation. I hopped over the wall to get a picture of the trig point and then returned the same way I'd come up.

Linton trig point and radio mast
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Linton trig point looking north
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Lamberton Hill
Distance: 3k. Ascent: 32m. Time: 30m.

A longer drive northeast now for Lamberton Hill. I had few hopes or expectations for this one. It lived down to both. Not wholly for the reasons I'd expected.

Turning west of the A1, I drove through the hamlet of Lamberton. A short series of minor roads took me to the high point of Lamberton Moor. My plan had been to travel further northwest and approach the hill alongside a strip of woodland called Greenfield Plantations. However, just after the Mordington junction (GR 953587) I found that the road was closed. A liveried utilities van was parked nearby. Its driver, a pasty-faced man in disheveled uniform, was engaged in heated conversation with another motorist. A local resident as it turned out.

The closure related to roadside drainage works. Local Resident was keen to get to his home in Ayton, some 3k down the road. Problem being Mr. Utility had put on the road closure several hours in advance of not just the work being started, but the vehicles involved arriving. Local Resident wasn't happy. Any diversion he'd undertake would triple his time and distance. No consensus on subject. Good manners were in short supply too. Mr. Utility used the word 'mate' to Local Resident so often it began to sound sarcastic. He also had a tendency to sniff and turn his back on him every few minutes.

Local Resident was a game fellow though. He tried again. Eventually Mr. Utility let loose the beast. 'Health and Safety mate' he said loudly. 'It's the traffic. Nothing I can do.' With that, he made an extra loud sniff and extended an arm dramatically across the moors. I looked up and down the road. Nothing. Not a single vehicle. Aside from our own. Only the whistling of a lonely wind answered him. The three of us stood in silence. Local Resident and I exchanged glances. I saw defeat in his eyes. Health and Safety. The trump card. The turd in the swimming pool. The blunt end of corporate obduracy meeting common sense. There would be only one winner.

Back to the hill. It was close at hand regardless. I reversed my car down the road and parked in a decent sized lay-by opposite the Mordington junction. The wind had suddenly strengthened and it took a decent shove to close the door. I decided to leave my rucksack and camera behind.

Fortunately, Mr. Utility's brief didn't extend to pedestrians. He made no comment as I passed through the road closure with the dogs. I then had the good fortune to meet a shepherd from the farm shown in the photograph below. We chatted for a few minutes and he directed me to a gate on the west side of the road 200-300m away. Going through it, I followed a fence line approximately ½k to the trig point. On route, I passed a radio mast and two caravans. The latter appeared unused. Taking photographs on my 'phone proved difficult due to the wind. The results were blurry. Views were poor in any case.

Start/finish point for Lamberton Hill and farm
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Fence line and caravan on route
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Lamberton trig point looking west
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

Lamberton summit area
ImageUntitled by NDM, on Flickr

The true summit of Lamberton lay 300m to the northwest. 2m higher, it was the site of an ancient hill fort. I wandered across briefly. There wasn't a great deal to see here either. I made my way back to the car the way I'd come up.

So, a short but productive hill day came to a close. Hownam Law had easily been the best of the three. I'd enjoyed the route and haven't seen it described here previously. Linton Hill? An uneventful, easy walk to a nondescript summit. I've since read bagging Lamberton Hill from the east described as 'A drive by tick off the A1'. I'd be hard pushed to disagree.
Last edited by inca on Tue May 08, 2018 7:21 am, edited 6 times in total.
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inca
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Re: Scottish Borders - Hownam Law, Linton & Lamberton Hills

Postby PeteR » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:12 pm

Another three Sub 2000s on my radar inca that I shall be revisiting your WR for in due course :wink: I'm still not convinced Lamberton can be described as a hill though.......looks very much like a field to me :lol:
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Re: Scottish Borders - Hownam Law, Linton & Lamberton Hills

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:16 am

Enjoyed reading that, especially as I was down that way a couple of weeks ago.
I didn't take in Lamberton, that can wait for another day and judging by your description it isn't a hill to savour :lol:

I enjoyed Hownam but like a couple of previous folk approached it from the other side.
Linton Hill can only be described as a tick in the box and if it's any consolation it is muddy on the approach from the other side.
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Re: Scottish Borders - Hownam Law, Linton & Lamberton Hills

Postby inca » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:03 pm

'Another three Sub 2000s on my radar inca that I shall be revisiting your WR for in due course :wink: I'm still not convinced Lamberton can be described as a hill though.......looks very much like a field to me :lol:'

Can't deny it Pete. Lamberton felt like a field too. Reminded me of Cairnpapple in terms of time and effort. It's a blue balloon in waiting for any Borders day you're considering next.

'Enjoyed reading that, especially as I was down that way a couple of weeks ago.
I didn't take in Lamberton, that can wait for another day and judging by your description it isn't a hill to savour :lol:

I enjoyed Hownam but like a couple of previous folk approached it from the other side.
Linton Hill can only be described as a tick in the box and if it's any consolation it is muddy on the approach from the other side.'

Thanks. Did wonder if Linton would have been much different from the other side. You've put my mind at rest now. You say that about Lamberton but maybe the challenge and suspense will push you there next :lol:
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