After a bit too long a gap I'm back to my project of a) trying to climb 10 little Marilyns before the end of March and b) trying to tidy up some routes which I've planned in the past but never walked.
Rubers Law has been lurking about for a while, since it looms over part of the Borders Abbeys Way and I didn't find time for the detour then, but the route between the hills dates back two years to when I was trying to find a bit of gentle distance to practice on when recovering from a month-long bug - I missed the train that would get me on a bus to Denholm that day and ended up walking from Galashiels to Earlston instead, via Meigle Hill, which was lovely, but I've always been aware of these two waiting for their turn.
This time round I decided to reverse the route and get the one-bus-a-day bit of road out of the way at the beginning, rather than having it as a deadline at the end - an early train, time for some breakfast at Galashiels, and a bus to Jedburgh to get the cross-border bus as far as Camptown - it's very tempting to have a bigger adventure from that bus, but I haven't figured out anywhere in particular that I want to go!
I got a row from the bus driver for not telling her that I wanted off at Mervinslaw so she could have let me off at the road end - the timetable only listed Camptown - but from where I got off by the bridge over the Jed Water I could take a shortcut up by an access track and a field edge to the road leading towards Chesters, heading uphill and round a corner to see the start of the trees containing my first objective ahead of me.
This stretch isn't marked on the map as a roman road, but it's a dead straight line pointing from a place called Camptown at one end to a place called Chesters at the other.
Towards the south all the trees were down below the level of the road and the views opened out - for once not the Borders staple of the Cheviot, but the little bumpy hills east of Carter Bar and a low sweep to Carter Fell.
According to my old map there was a path leading into the woods somewhere along here, but I already knew there really wasn't - there might have been a way through a firebreak somewhere, but even if that seemed like a good idea, there were timber lorries at work further along the edge.
Where the next path is marked on the map there was almost a trace of one, between old trees and newer trees, but I didn't trust it to carry on, and kept to the road along to the track at Falside, where there were some more decorative trees beside the road to make a change.
I knew you could head up by the track, because I'd read previous reports using that route, but almost as soon as I'd turned on to it I found a sign blocking it off because of harvesting works - which I knew were really going on somewhere.
As I turned back down towards the road I discovered a narrow path leading off into the trees just above the start of the track - I had no idea where it was going, but it looked more interesting than the road. And I knew it had to be going somewhere, because there were hoofprints on it as well as footprints, and I knew that there was a path from somewhere to the summit, so these things might well combine.
Before long it had opened out from a little line through the trees to a heathery path across an open place.
Higher up, below a solid band of trees, a broad open space led off left and right, but although heading right would take me towards the summit, it was blocked again with a sign banning access.
So I turned left, between two planted areas - I knew from the google maps aerial images that there was or had been some kind of open strip running up to the summit from the corner of the open field ahead, and if it was gone or impassable I could still try to get round the 'back' of the plantation and along to the summit from the outside.
The field duly turned up, a bit surprisingly in among all the trees.
The way from the corner was much better than I expected - a broad heathery track, rather than a trampled path, and before long the wall which marks the summit area came in view.
I quite like walking in among trees for a while, as long as they're not actually trying to stop me - there's not a lot to see, but it smells lovely.
In case I had any doubts about where I was, the little cairn Fife Flyer built on the wall is still there, more or less.
The true summit is a heathery mound somewhere, probably the one marked with an almost hidden cairn.
Another path led up to it through the trees, which you can presumably meet if you can turn right at the broad ride and left from it, a quicker way if it's open.
I turned back along the track to the corner of the open field - I could have crossed it to the road anywhere, but since a path led on along the top I followed it and came down at the other side.
The road led downhill towards the houses of Chesters - Rubers Law, and even Bonchester Hill, were still hiding round the corner, but there was a lovely view of the little hill above Southdean.
It was far too early for lunch at Chesters, although I was quite hungry, but the village hall had benches where I sat for a while just resting and enjoying the sunshine.
From the crossroads there I had two choices - it might have been slightly shorter to go round by Bonchester Bridge, but the back roads would be quieter and keep me from being led astray by pubs or hillforts, as well as taking me past places called Abbotrule and Gatehousecote and other wonderful things.
From further up the road I got my first real view of Rubers Law, still in the distance.
It was a lovely day - almost too nice for February, but with warmth in the sun and that feeling of things *living* all around that marks the change to spring, and it was pretty to look at all around - not very exciting, but just nice.
I had quite a bit of road still to cover, and after a while I seemed to be going down and down and down - the valley of the Rule Water was quite a long way below, which meant that Rubers Law on the other side was a long way up again. I was starting to keep an eye on the time, as well - I wanted to make the 3.30 bus from Denholm, and I really wanted to have time to eat cake before that!
I briefly joined a bigger road to cross the river on a surprisingly substantial bridge, and then turned off again towards Hallrule, where a track was marked heading up the hillside - I didn't have much idea about good routes, but it seemed like that would give me a start at least.
This was another place being used to store piles of logs, slightly oddly as there weren't an awful lot of trees around. But the only red signs were telling me not to climb on the stacks, which I didn't particularly want to do anyway, so I headed on up. It's a surprisingly craggy looking hill from this side, not a smooth lowland lump.
Further up the track jiggles round a tiny plantation, and then leads through a gate into a huge sheep field. I thought I would be heading up before the little crags, but the traces of path led over towards them, so I headed over that way.
Further up it was hard to tell which paths had been made by people and which by sheep, although there were plenty to choose from - none seemed to be turning up to the crest of the hill, so after a while I ignored them all and turned up a tiny grassy rake.
From along the top a bit the main summit came in view on the other side of a stone wall, with a path leading towards it through the heather - maybe if I'd stuck to another path I'd have come to an official crossing point, but as it was I just got over the wall as best I could and bounced down to the path to climb on.
It's a real king of the castle summit, a little rocky place with a trig point.
There's a view indicator too, but it wasn't much use to me as the haze had come in all around - I just about had a view of Eildon, but nothing much further away.
It had been forecast to be very windy until about 3 o'clock when the wind would drop, but instead it was almost completely calm until about 2, when it suddenly got quite windy. I sat down behind the trig point out of the wind and finally got round to eating some lunch - I'd made better time than I thought I might, and it was about quarter past 2.
I thought I would head down to where another track led up onto the hillside above Denholmhill and along the road from there, unless something better offered - a good path led off the summit and curled round its north end to head westish, but it fizzled out around the first fence and left me at the top of empty fields.
Still, there was no particular trouble about getting down - it was just a case of picking my line, except that towards the bottom I got a bit tangled up in a kind of little dry valley at the wrong side of a ploughed field.
But I found my way out again and over to go through a patch of woodland to the track, and hurried down the road towards Denholm, arriving at the little cafe at about 10 past 3 with just time to eat a large slice of cake before the bus arrived - I forgot to take a photo of it, but it definitely made up for my disappointments at the Big Red Barn!
The way home was via Hawick, where I only had about 10 minutes to wait for a Galashiels bus, and then back to Edinburgh by dinner time. A nice wander across the borders, and two pleasant hills, in spite of detours.
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