Treading new ground

Today’s guest picture come from my South African correspondent Tom Elliot who dropped in here the other day. Before going home, he has visited Arran and sent me these pictures. Those readers who know that as well as being Tootlepedal, I sometimes masquerade as Tom Hutton will see why he sent them.

(You can find out about Hutton’s unconformity here: )

We had a rather uncertain forecast for today, with the BBC predicting rain, and the Met office saying that it should stay dry. Both talked of strong winds. As I was going for a walk in the hills with Mark and David, I packed a good lunch and a rain jacket into my backpack. The whole walk was about 14 miles, and I thought that that might be a bit much for me, so I got Mrs Tootlepedal to give me a lift up to the bird hide, cutting nearly three miles off the trip, and I met Mark and David there.

The sun was shining as I waited at the bird hide, and if I looked carefully, I could just see the top of Tinnis Hill, our primary destination, poking above the far horizon. It seemed a long way away.

Nearer at hand, a tree showed just how vigorous the wind was.

Mark and David arrived on time, and we walked along the road to Cronksbank, before striking off across rough country towards a big area of timber planting. It had suffered badly in Storm Arwen, and we stopped for a moment to look at the damage.

We were walking in knee deep grass and rushes with no track or path to help us, and it was heavy going. It didn’t get much better as we followed the fence along the side of the plantation up the hill.

It was a case of keep the head down and look where you were going, or fall over. It was a fairly long pull up beside the forest but we came to the open hill at last, and then we could see the summit of Tinnis Hill in front of us.

The ground was still rough and occasionally quite soggy but we got across it well, and soon found ourselves climbing up to the summit of the hill.

Mark took this picture of David and me as we made our way up the hill.

This last section was quite steep but the going underfoot was much better. We weren’t the first to the summit . . .

. . . but the dogs patiently waited for us.

We were up at 1302 feet on an isolated hilltop and there should have been great views. Unfortunately, the clouds caught up with us at this point and distant views disappeared . . .

. . . so I looked at closer subjects.

Rain was drifting across the hillside towards us and the wind was howling, so we didn’t linger on the top but headed down the other side towards the road that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had cycled along on Sunday.

If the climb up had been steep, the climb down was steeper, and as Mark’s picture shows, we had had to put our rain jackets on.

I really needed my walking poles as we went down . . .

. . . but even they were not much help when we reached some appallingly tussocky ground at the bottom of the hill. The section from there to the road must be some of the worst walking conditions in the area. However, it was not far, and we made it safely to the tarmac. We enjoyed walking on an even keel for the first time for four miles or so.

The rain eased off as we walked back towards Langholm along the road, but it was still windy so we were pleased to find a sheltered spot below the road beside the Black Grain for our lunch break.

It was a quiet moment in a noisy day, although we were serenaded by the sound of a small waterfall . . .

. . . as we relaxed and ate our lunch.

I turned my camera on some bracken, while Henry correctly assumed that if he sat and looked at Mark for long enough, he would get a treat.

We heaved ourselves back onto the road and walked down to Tarras Lodge and then up the hill towards the White Yett. On our way we saw two lots of goats . . .

. . . to the great delight of David. He had not previously seen any goats since he came to live in Langholm.

We made our way back to the town from the White Yett across the face of Whita and down the Kirk Wynd, following the track that the Cornet and his followers had ridden up on Friday. They had done very little damage to the track at all, showing just how dry it has been lately.

I ended up doing eleven miles, the furthest that I have walked for some years. I haven’t been to the top of Tinnis since I forced my unfortunate son Alistair to cross that terrible ground from the road more than thirty years ago. Looking back, I am amazed that we did it, as he was very young. It was cruelty to children. Mark and David were doing the walk today as part of their preparations for a monster 25 mile walk in one day at the end of this month.

I got back to find Mrs Tootlepedal very busy re-organising the garage. She had done great work. She broke off to make me a cup of tea which was very welcome.

After this bit of refreshment, I had a walk round the garden. The little red rose had fresh flowers on it, and white lilies had come out to join the pink Stargazers.

There was plenty to look at, with dahlias, hostas, salvia and phlox all phlourishing.

The small sunflowers, some with insects attached, are coming out all over the garden and they have been joined by the Lemon Queen helianthus.

I filled the feeder and went in to have a shower and to take the opportunity to have a look at the birds. A goldfinch and greenfinch were the first to arrive . . .

. . . but sparrows soon turned up and one made a dastardly attack on a greenfinch.

After my shower, there was time for a Wordle before meeting my sisters and brothers over a Zoom connection. My brother is in Norfolk, and he is suffering from high temperatures there. This was quite a contrast to our wet and windy day on Tinnis.

Thinking that I might need to keep my strength up, Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a meal of roast chicken and three vegetables for our evening meal. I felt pretty strong when I had eaten two helpings.

The flying bird of the day is an angry greenfinch.

Footnote: I would like to thank Mark for sending me the pictures from the hilly part of the walk. I was too busy trying not to fall over to take many pictures myself.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

25 thoughts on “Treading new ground

  1. That unconformity took me right back to the Geology module I did 15 years ago, my first and only venture into the Open University.
    That was a really strenuous walk. I amazed that you had the energy even to go round the garden on your return.

  2. I commend you for completing the walk. If you’ll forgive me, I would say that it looked more like an exercise in determination than anything akin to the pleasures of your usual walks. Between the rough ground, rain, steepness, and everything else hidden beneath the tussocks, you more than earned your supper!

    1. Surprisingly, the walk itself, even the rough part of it, was very enjoyable. The worst part was not getting any good views to photograph after the climb. All the same, it was very satisfying to be on top of the world for a brief moment.

  3. That was quite a hike. I can’t say that I’m sorry I couldn’t join in. Tussocks and tall grass can wear on you.
    The views were great though, even in clouds, so it was well worth the climb.
    The big, fragrant Oriental lilies are beautiful.

    1. Luckily most of the walk was on good roads so the rough ground was not too hard to bear. I wouldn’t like to have done much more of it though as my knees are not what they were.

  4. It not only seemed a long way, it was a long way ! Too bad about the rain and the wind that didn’t make it possible to stay a little longer on the top. The view in good weather must be beautiful.
    Such a thing would not have been possible for me yesterday…. here it was 32°C and a steel blue sky. I refreshed myself by taking a quiet trip by bike, opting for a trail with as much shade as possible.

  5. Well done on completing such a demanding walk – your narrative is gripping and the photographs very interesting.

  6. What a magnificent walk and climb. Congratulations! Enjoyed seeing your pictures. The views from the top of the hill looked good despite the weather.
    Thanks for the link to Hutton’ s Unconformity, fascinating for those interested in geology.

  7. I’m full of admiration and envy in equal measure – and walking round the garden afterwards was just showing off. Of all the excellent photographs of the trek I like the dogs at the summit best

  8. What an amazing trek. Congratulations on your ability to manage it – I am overwhelmed. You had me hanging on every twist and turn. A fortifying meal after all that would have knocked me right out.

  9. That’s a terrific walk in not the best conditions.
    Non regular walkers may not appreciate how much harder the conditions underfoot can make walking.
    A great effort,well done.

    1. It really was a trackless waste. Apart from my two companions who had been up there not long ago and hadn’t left much trace, there was no sign that anyone had walked that way for a long time. There is a lot of growth at this time of year which made the walking hard work at times.

  10. (Belately) You are very welcome to the pictures Tom, I was glad that they turned out to be useful.

    In turn thanks indeed for yours (and David’s) company on another very memorable day out. I think I felt that the weather made it all the more atmospheric up there, in that very bleak inhospitable place, with the winds surging across the long grass (a slight distraction from battling through it!)… and of course it didn’t rain (very much!).
    As always fascinating to hear what you have to say about the area, the flora & fauna, right down to the rare multicoloured lichens on the few rocks we saw – and thanks again for finding another idyllic lunch spot, with comfortable if low laying seating, as well as a natural water feature…

    And finally, as others have observed, a lovely picture of Lucy and Henry waiting for us up at the summit (I’d love to get an original, as I’m sure would David, if you wouldn’t mind sending one!)

    Here’s to the next one!

  11. Those sweeping vistas, even in storm light, are something to behold, always invoking an “I wish I were there and walking these hills” response from this reader. Stargazing flowers, brightly colored blooms and commentary on the birds were a nice finish.

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