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An Ettrick Hills ridge walk

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:41 pm
by iainR
I'd never been on any of the Ettrick Hills and after looking over various different routes for several different groups of these hills i decided on the Herman Law to Bodesbeck Law ridge as it looked the most interesting and i could access it from the A708 Moffat road saving me a much longer drive into Ettrick village in the neighbouring valley.
The only downside i could see to my plan was the fact that there wasn't any practical way off the end of the ridge which did'nt involve a long walk back over a narrow and sometimes busy road therefore i'd have to retrace my steps, a workout indeed but the weather looked great and a Graham and some Donalds were on offer so bring it on !
I parked in a small lay-by near Birkhill Farm and started up the hillside from behind a mobile phone mast located in the trees next to the farm. Following the fence line up Herman Law was brutally steep and gradually improved to very steep but having the fence nearby was a great walking aid more often than not !

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The advantage as always with steep hillsides is that height is gained relatively quickly and i was soon at the fence junction on the summit of Herman Law. A couple of photos later i was off along the ridge following a fence with faint tracks on either side of it. I spotted a couple of large cairns in the distance which turned out to be marker cairns for 2 of the non classified tops, Trowgrain Middle and Mid Rig.
Looking down to Birkhill__.jpg
Looking down to Birkhill Farm

Summit of Herman Law__.jpg
Summit of Herman Law

Towards Trowgrain Middle__.jpg
Towards Trowgrain Middle

Cairn on Trowgrain Middle__.jpg
Cairn on Trowgrain Middle

With the intially overcast skies rapidly clearing i gained the highest point on the ridge, the summit of Andrewhinney Hill
and the views of White Coomb and the Grey Mair's Tail to the west.
It was on the path down from the 3rd Donald of the day, Bell Craig, that the views of the Saddle Yokes really opened up and brought a smile to my face as those hills were the subject of my first WH post back in 2015.
Cairn on Mid Rig__.jpg
Cairn on Mid Rig

Summit of Andrewhinney Hill__.jpg
Summit of Andrewhinney Hill

Loch Skeen and Grey Mare's Tail__.jpg
Loch Skeen and the Grey Mair's Tail

Towards Bell Craig__.jpg
Towards Bell Craig

By now the sun was really beating down but the cold wind blowing over the ridge kept the jacket on and eventually after a long pull up steeper slopes and exactly 2 hours 45 minutes since i left the car i found myself on the summit of the final Donald of the day, Bodesbeck Law.
With the camera work finished and some food in my belly i could concentrate on the task at hand, getting back over that ridge !
The Saddle Yokes__.jpg
The Saddle Yokes

Towards Bodesbeck Law__.jpg
Towards Bodesbeck Law

I reached Herman Law quicker than i thought i would but the old knees took a battering going down the steep slopes back to the phone mast.
Summit of Bodesbeck Law__.jpg
Summit of Bodesbeck Law

Despite retracing my steps it was still a very worthwhile and straightforward ridge walk in the Borders hill country.

Re: An Ettrick Hills ridge walk

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:10 pm
by iangpark
Thanks for this - loved that photo of the GMT and Loch Skeen above. Doing this with a friend later this year; will be nice to give these hills some extra attention.

Re: An Ettrick Hills ridge walk

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 9:35 pm
by Fife Flyer
Enjoyed reading that and an interesting route choice.
When I was in the Ettricks I picked off the southern 6 in a oner, which was a tough day, then another trip the 3 to the north.
The beauty of tackling the Donalds is seeing how everyone opts for different routes and linking hills together, I tried to minimise the travelling by linking as many hills in each visit - always looks easy on a map, but in reality I failed a few times.

Re: An Ettrick Hills ridge walk

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 10:26 pm
by iainR
Thanks for the comments, i will return to the Ettricks maybe later this year in order to bag the most southern Donalds around Ettrick Head but as you suggest Fife the area is quite extensive.

Re: An Ettrick Hills ridge walk

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 11:26 pm
by rockhopper
Nice wander and a good day for it - so many options to mix and match hills down here. :thumbup:
Think I took the easy option though :wink: left the car at Birkhill and cycled down to Selcoth farm and fishery where I hid the bike in undergrowth - cheers :)