2019: Caldercruix to Whitrope: the Southern Uplands

Part 4 continues in mid-late April 2019 from where I left off last year, near Caldercruix.

19th April 2019

I returned to Caldercruix on a warm and sunny spring day - in some ways even too hot for walking.

A typically winding route took me through fields and minor lumps in the landscape. In the early evening I crossed the M8. The next motorway the watershed crosses won't be until the M62, to the north-east of Manchester.

I finished the day close to Shotts. Finding water was slightly tricky, but I managed eventually. The night was pleasant so I didn't need to bother pitching my tent.

20th April 2019

A few awkward bits of forest to negotiate, and a bit of dehydration made this a slightly tougher day than it should have been.

Saw a fox - in the middle of the day, unusually, and several deer, in the woods.

In the afternoon I went through the Black Law wind farm - at one point I stopped and counted 102 visible turbines.

Ended on Leven Seat next to another wind farm.

21st April 2019

Feeling much better today, with sun but a good breeze helping, and with a bit of luck in terms of terrain to cross, I covered a long distance today. I crossed right through the western edge of the Pentlands - without seeing a single other hiker, despite it being Easter Sunday.

The summit of Craigengar marked a significant moment on the route - I moved from the Forth as my lefthand drainage basin to the Tweed - and since this officially flows into the sea in England, at Berwick-upon-Tweed, my first geographical connection with England. To my right, waters continue to drain towards the Clyde for a little while longer.

22nd April 2019

A shortish day took me to the point nearest Biggar. I used the evening to do a side excursion up Tinto, the most prominent hill nearby, and my first ever Donald. I bivvied on the hillside, aiming to resupply in Biggar in the morning before continuing into the Southern Uplands.

24th April 2019

I've been following the Clyde catchment for what seems like ever. (Since Ben Lui, if I recall correctly - several hundred kilometres.) But today another milestone passed - at the appropriately named Clyde Law, I finished with it. Water on my right now flows into the Annan and thence into the Solway Firth. The Tweed drains my left-hand side - I'm writing this about 1km from Tweed's Well, the river's source.

The ground is really dry, which makes for good progress. I had been hoping to end this trip at Mosspaul on the A7, but there's a good chance I'll get further than that - maybe even past Peel Fell.

But first to see what the coming days bring - the first touch of mist this morning, with rain forecast tomorrow and Friday.

The Southern Uplands have so far brought some excellent walking - hopefully more to follow.

25th April 2019

A long day took me to near Ettrick Head, where the route swings back on itself once again. Some rain, some mist, plenty of wind... But I managed to bag a few bonus peaks, and did find a break in the clouds to see the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall.

27th April 2019

A few rainy days delayed my plans a little. Nevertheless I made good distance today through the Craik and Eskdalemuir forests, despite the often horrible tussocky, boggy terrain. A bit further to go tomorrow, and then I'll be back out on the open hill.

28th April 2019

Sitting on Comb Hill, above the Mosspaul Inn which was my initial target. It's been much easier after leaving the forest... Nice to be back on the open hill. A few more hours this evening, and then one day more on this leg.