Mark my footsteps

Today’s guest picture comes from my nephew Nick. It shows his dog Doughy having a good time on holiday in Cromer.

I had a good time too today. The weather was perfect for a hill walk, not too hot, not too cold, occasionally sunny, and not very windy. All I needed was a good route and good company, and luckily both were on hand. A keen hill walker, a recent arrival, in the town, and a regular blog reader, Mark had offered to take me on a circular tour of the ridge round the Upper Tarras Valley. He even came and gave me a lift to the walk starting point.

We set off up the steep side of the valley, and it wasn’t long before I needed an excuse to stop for a breather. The view was worth stopping for.

We continued up the hill, until a small cairn told us that we were getting near the ridge.

This was a welcome sight as the walk was front loaded with climbing, and we were gaining height all the time.

Another pile of stones showed that the worst of the ascent was now behind us . . .

. . . and although we had more work to do, we were now on the ridge that would lead round the head of the valley.

I wish that I had the camera and the skills to fully convey the airy feelings and the splendid views that kept coming as we walked on. The going underfoot was tough but the scenery more than made up for that. And when I wasn’t looking up, there was quite a lot to be seen when looking down; bilberry, lichen, butterflies, fungi, moss, bog cotton and cloudberry flowers.

I was very grateful to Mark for introducing me to such a good walk and navigating so securely.

We continued along the ridge, dodging peat hags (where the sharp eyed may spot Harry, who came round the walk with us) . . .

. . . and getting towards the highest section of our walk at 560m (1837ft). We had good views in every direction, and I enjoyed looking down on Tinnis Hill with the Solway Plain in the background.

The estate has put a new access track in here and it was a surprise to come across it rising up from the the depths to the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere . . .

. . . but once it had got to the top of the hill, it went in the direction that we wanted to go for a while, so it was a very welcome respite after some tough walking among the heather, bogs and peat hags.

There were things to look down at here too. We had to make a diversion around a flooded section of the track which turned out to be heaving with tadpoles or possibly toadpoles.

The curious thing looking rather like a bunker on a golf course in the bottom left corner of the panel above, is in fact coir matting placed over exposed the peat to stop it drying out any further. Re-wetting peat which has been exposed when attempts were made to dry out the moor has become a priority, as peat is a very valuable carbon store.

The ridge along the head of the valley gave us access to some more excellent and spacious views . . .

. . . and there is no shortage of hills for keen walkers to explore.

Mark and a friend have walked up many of them.

We could see a large mast to our north . . .

. . . and the familiar sight of the monument on Whita Hill with the Solway Firth behind it to our south.

We were soon round the very head of the valley and heading along the ridge that would lead us back to the car. We paused while I tried and failed to get some convincing pictures of a large flock of wild goats.

New hills came into view all the time on this walk, so it was never boring.

We paused again to eat our lunch just as we left the head of the valley. By pure chance, we happened to find a pair of very handy boulders on which we could sit and enjoy both our food and the view down the ridge ahead.

The food was good and the gentle descent down the ridge back to the valley floor was wonderful, with good going underfoot almost all the way.

We passed a fine show of bog cotton . . .

. . . on our way back to the head waters of the Tarras Water. After the hard work on the hills, it was a delight to be in a green and pleasant, and flat land beside the river.

And I have to admit, that after nearly ten miles of walking on rough ground and quite a bit of climbing, it was very good to see Mark’s car waiting to take us home.

It was an fine day for a walk, and an excellent walk to match the day, and the company was first rate too. Mark was not only a reliable guide, but a very good walking companion, matching his pace to mine most politely, and being a fund of information about the surrounding hills.

We had a cup of tea when we got home, and were joined by our neighbour Liz, a very keen walker herself. Mark was looking for some ground cover for his garden, and as the ajuga which Liz had given to Mrs Tootlepedal last year is covering ground in our garden very well, Mrs Tootlepedal dug up a few plants and Mark went home with them in a bag.

I hope to do another walk with Mark in the not too distant future.

When I looked around the garden, I noticed that while we had been walking, our many philadelphus bushes had all come out in unison.

Other flowers were available too.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a fine dish of mince and tatties to restore my strength for our evening meal, and that rounded off a day =definitely recorded on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I didn’t have much time for flying birds today so a passing jackdaw fills the spot.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Mark my footsteps

  1. The cloud shadows on the hills were as beautiful as the hills themselves, in my opinion.
    Seeing the peat was interesting. There has been an ongoing battle for years here about all the peat being dug out of Canada to use in American gardens. It takes 15 to 25 years for an inch of peat to form so having it dug out by the trainload is what people are up in arms about. I’m glad people are more level headed about it there.
    That was a fine walk that included many wonderous things that I’ve never seen. I’m looking forward to your next one but I’d guess it probably isn’t going to happen tomorrow.

    1. I was pleased to get round as I had been a bit apprehensive about the walk. The excellent guide and the good weather made the outing less arduous than it might have been.

  2. After reading your blog for a year it was a pleasure to finally meet you and Mrs Tootlepedal. We also thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was great to get names of and information about all the flora and fauna we were passing, as an added bonus – thanks for that and also your kind hospitality and the ajuga clippings at the end!
    Best wishes Mark (and Henry!)

  3. Wow! Thank you for taking us on such a wonderful hike over those amazing hills. When does a hill become a mountain…I wonder? Good to have such good companion too sharing knowledge and interest with one another. Good to see your sweet William flowers in bloom.

  4. The views from the Upper Tarras Valley are spectacular, and I think you have done a fine job of conveying the beauty of it all. Even the goats seem to be enjoying the scenery. I remember once hiking in the Grand Canyon, and stopping to watch a ground squirrel sitting upright on a rock overlooking the expanse. He seemed to be taking in and enjoying the view.

  5. ​” . . and there is no shortage of hills for keen walkers to explore.”
    Oh my! Those rolling hills under the stunning clouds. That’s a magnificent shot!
    Complete with wild goats! What a marvelous hike! and guide… (did you mention he was a new arrival?)​

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