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4 Moorfoot Donalds, and a flypast over a bog walk

4 Moorfoot Donalds, and a flypast over a bog walk

Postby ExpatEddie » Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:10 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Blackhope Scar

Donalds included on this walk: Blackhope Scar, Bowbeat Hill, Dundreich, Whitehope Law

Date walked: 23/07/2014

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 725m

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I had my eye on this walk for a couple of years but I knew there was a massive bog problem and I needed to get my transport sorted. This summer has dried up a lot of hillsides and today was an absolute stunner for being out on hills. (People will remember it as the day the Commonwealth Games opened in Glasgow)

Track_4 Moorfoot Donalds.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Transport to the start was provided by my good lady who waved me goodbye at the entrance to Whitehope Farm on the B709 north of Innerleithen. Setting off up the track I continually looked to the right to see if there was a way onto Windside Hill which would be my lead onto the first Donald. I had to continue up through the farm across the Whitehope Burn and continue past the sheep pens and through 2 gates. I knew from NXJM's report I could go further up the valley and cut back but I decided to head up through the field to a gate which led onto the open hill.

The road up from the B709 to Whitehope Farm

Crossing through the farmyard

Looking back to the start with peak of Lee Pen

From the top of Windside Hill the first Donald - Whitehope Law - was clearly visible and the route straight forward although there ain't no path. And this was to be the common thread throughout this walk until I hit the windfarm, but that is later.

Whitehope Law Panorama-2.jpg
Whitehope Law from Windside Hill

Top of Whiteside Law achieved

From Whitehope Law setting out to the next 'top' was straightforward and reaching the highest point of Middle Hill was the next high point. But the lack of a path over continually changing terrain made the traverse slow. Middle Hill with its single grouse butt, a change in direction of fencing and a little clump of earth at its highest point could easily be missed. Yet this point is only 10 feet short of being a Donald!

The pink grass was in abundance especially on tracks

Middle Hill Panorama-2.jpg
'Summit' of Middle Hill

Bowbeat n Blackhope Panorama-2.jpg
Looking from Middle Hill to Bowbeat on the left and Blackhope Scar on the right

My next section was 2½ miles over pretty level terrain but I knew this was going to be the main boggy section. I anticipated about 30 minutes to get me to my first change of direction. Owing to the peat hags which were sometimes nearly 6 feet in places together with many places where detours were required my pace was much slower than I bargained for. I found it better to change direction earlier and take a hit on partial descents and ascents to keep some form of time. I was in this section I saw a weird erection ahead of me and tried to figure it out with the binos. Nothing doing. It wasn't until I got closer that I realised it was a shovel on and aluminium pole with rusting chains attached to the underside of the shovel. Any suggestions as to it's use?

What is this for? ? ? ? ? found at NT325478

It was near here that I found an empty Foster's can so I crushed it and put in my pack for disposal later. Must have come out a light aircraft as no walker would carry a full can that distance, let alone dump it in the wild.

Still negotiating the bogs which to my delight were drier than I thought. In many places all that was needed was a longer stride to clear any wet areas. However there were many ups and down which slowed progress. It was in one of these boggy bits that I stopped to photo some flowers and I had 1 shot left. Should I change card now or wait until after the last shot. I waited - then heard the noise of an aircraft and I saw it coming towards me with headlights on. I waited until it was close to photograph it but now that I have seen the final picture I need not have bothered. Did see the Qatar Airways Dreamliner make a turn to approach Edinburgh.

One of the many peat hags - this one did have some water

Some lovely yellow flowers - does anyone know which ones please.

Exactly - why did I bother

Then it was up to Blackhope Scar where I could stop for lunch. Settled in the shade of the trig point and felt I didn't want to move again. But from here on there was a semblance of a path following the fence and then right at a junction of fences to head straight for Bowbeat windfarm. This is the first time I have been at a windfarm and I have no wish to encounter another. The first turbine I passed that was turning (No. 17) was cutting through the air and the sound was very distinct and I thought the speed was increasing. As I passed underneath the sound changed quite dramatically that I couldn't describe. I looked up and the tips and each blade had extended and turned at right angle casing a drag and making the blades slow down. The process was successful as the turbine slowed right down and eventually stopped. Ok a couple of photos and moved on to Bowbeat where I wasn't having my picture taken at a wind farm (even though this was my 50th Donald). Anyway the summit is quite indistinct without markers unless you count a cable drum. I did appreciate the shade at the control room and the seat made out of breeze blocks.

The approach to Blackhope Scar

The customary 'I was there' shot on Blackhope

Yep - they're big

This is the one with the extended blade tip

Only Dundreich left and again over the peat hags but not as many as before and there was a quad bike path which became a single use path that led to the top of Dundreich. Here there is a small cairn near the trig point so I set up my camera only to find wasps had nested in the cairn. A quick photie then move on but I felt I had to photo the large number of wasps that were gathering under the top stone of the cairn. This was not the nest so what were they doing.

'I was there' on Dundreich

Wasps congregating under the top stone on the Dundreich cairn

Looking over to Portmore Loch and the Pentlands from the descent off Dundreich

Moving due south there is a two wheel track and also in that direction is the start of a tract leading off the hill - except that wheeled track goes slightly west and the hill track is missed requiring a deviation but once on the track it quickly leads downhill. It comes onto the track leading to Borland farm and from there it is a relatively simple route to get down into Eddleston. Then a little hanging about for the X62 bus to take me back home.

This is a route I enjoyed for the achievement it gave me but I would not recommend it to anyone, especially if those bogs were wet and all mushy, soggy and whatever. Also if the clag is down navigating will be difficult due to the slow progress through the hags.
Posts: 418
Munros:72   Corbetts:11
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
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Joined: Aug 10, 2012
Location: Scottish Borders

Re: 4 Moorfoot Donalds, and a flypast over a bog walk

Postby rohan » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:56 am

Plant is bog asphodel. No idea about the spade though. I'm planning to do these but will definitely wait until its either very much colder or/and drier. I remember well the long,hot July of 2014 as I did a long distance walk the first 2 weeks.
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