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Drumelzier - Another Old Track Obliterated

Drumelzier - Another Old Track Obliterated

Postby thedonalds » Tue Mar 24, 2020 4:15 pm

Date walked: 21/03/2020

Time taken: 2.5 hours

Distance: 11 km

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I wasn’t sure whether to post this in the Walking forum or General Discussion as its a combination of walk report and a moan about hill tracks so went for the former.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Last Sunday being sunny for once I decided to get and about before anymore movement restrictions were announced and being (well, most of the time……) fairly sensible looked for a walk that avoided close proximity to houses, farms and other folk while at the same time avoiding big hills so I tuned in to what used to be a really nice walk along the Tweed near Drumelzier to Hopecarton and then up the Hopecarton Burn valley for while before returning by the same route. This was a walk I had done number of times over the years and it follows what was a lovely old, largely grass track that winds along above the east bank of the Tweed to Hopecarton and then onwards to Stanhope, Patervan and Polmood.
I parked at Merlindale Bridge then headed up to the minor road that leads past the Drumelzier Place road end where it becomes a track. About 200m before the track dives into the Tweed the old track to Hopecarton branches off to the left and reaching there I was confronted by a sign “Caution - Forestry Operations” and the former green track was now a 3m wide stoned and gravelled forestry access track. This was something of a surprise to me as there’s no forestry at that part of the Tweed so I first wondered if they were about to cut down the old stand of Scots Pines at the other end of the field but on reaching there is was clear that was not what was happening as I could see the new ‘improved’ track stretching out before me along the Tweed. It was of course very disappointing to see the old track had been completely obliterated apart from one very short section which shows on the photos.

Hopecarton Track 1A.jpg

View North showing part of the original track to the left; new to the right

Hopecarton Track 2A.jpg

View South

Hopecarton Track 3A.jpg

View South towards Hopecarton - new track

03-12 Hopecarton 2A.jpg

View South towards Hopecarton - old track (bottom left and centre left)

Not a great photo but other similar ones can be viewed at https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2872565 (by Jim Barton) and https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3212466 (by Richard Webb).

The new bulldozed track is there to support a new area of forestry being planted on the southwest slopes of Drumelzier Law (the north bank of the Hopecarton Burn). The map below shows the extent. There is a new 2m+ high deer fence all around the plantation area, which goes up to around the 450m contour but I couldn’t see any gates in the top section so anyone descending the south side of Drumelzier Law in future will have to circuit around the plantation to get down to the Hopecarton Burn. Currently the new ‘improved’ track up the Hopecarton Burn has not been stoned so its somewhat churned up which meant my walk up the burn was cut short so I retreated mumbling and moaning to myself as I worked my way back to Merlindale Bridge. A quick drive down to Dawyck Bridge and a walk down the Tweed from there brightened my mood up a bit after that........


Plan of Forestry Development

I fully understand the need for land owners to develop their ground but the sad thing here is the new visually very obtrusive track could have been avoided if the developers had applied some design thought and agreed a joint access plan with the owners of the existing forestry track that serves the established woodland on the other side of the Hopecarton Burn. If this route had been followed all that would have been required was a new small bridge over the Hopecarton Burn and a relatively short section of track so avoiding having to bulldoze 2km of heritage track along the Tweed and vehicular access could then have been direct from the A701 and not the smaller B712 from Drumelzier.

Tracks such as these do not require full planning permission but instead are dealt with under scheme called ‘Prior Notification’ where the applicant provides advance details of the work to be undertaken. However, the principle of the proposal cannot be questioned by the planning authority, though matters regarding design, manner of construction, materials and route must be considered.

Part of the planning report states that “The track ……….. will not require any quarrying”. I guess this isn’t quarrying then?
Hopecarton Track 4A.jpg
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Re: Drumelzier - Another Old Track Obliterated

Postby iangpark » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:04 pm

That's really a shame to see - I'm glad they have at least kept it very low level, but hope they don't go too far up the hill with the forestry; it's a truly lovely spot. The plantation on Taberon Law is intrusive enough. There's never a decommissioning/restoration process for these tracks either, just plant the forest, harvest it a whole rotation later and don't come back.
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