Sunny weekends in November in Scotland are a bit like hens’ teeth and I thought that I was pretty lucky to have such good weather on my last outing to the hills in Wester Ross. I didn’t expect to have another this month. Storms Abigail and Barney suggested that the usual November weather pattern had been established. But, last weekend, in between dreich days, we had a bit of snow and sunshine and I had a wee trip out to the Borders Hills.
We had planned to stay in Edinburgh this weekend but the women in the family were making wedding arrangements, with men thankfully unwelcome. So I took the opportunity of a day out to meet some Corriemulzie pals who were staying at Stanhope bothy, near Broughton in the Borders.
There was fresh snow overnight and the early morning drive from Edinburgh took a bit longer than intended but I arrived just as folks were emerging from the bothy. The plan was for a round of the hills above Stanhope Glen – Taberon Law, Middle Hill, Dollar Law (the highest at 817m), Dun Law and Cramalt Crag.
It was cold! Although the sky was clear, there wasn’t any warmth in the sun and we were wrapped up, even for the walk up the first hill, Taberon Law. Like other Border’s hills, this isn’t dramatic but you can get high quite quickly then stay high for the rest of the day. Ideal, when daylight is short and, if you’re like me, too lazy to get out of bed to set off in the dark.
There had been a few cms of snow overnight, which had drifted in places to be quite substantial. Frost crystals made a remarkable fringe to a hill fence.
We stopped for lunch out of the wind on Thieves Road – an old drove road which I guess got its name from the Border reivers using it in their cattle rustling. Then, to the top of Dollar Law for a summit group picture in the sunshine.
Some folks decided to head back then but the rest of us carried on as the afternoon shadows lengthened. As always, we were an incoherent group making our way individually across the plateau. This is something I really like – everyone makes their own pace with no need to keep up or slow down for others.
The last hill of the day (for me at least) was Cranalt Crag, which we got to about 2.40. The sun was starting to go down but there were great all round views. Cheviot was obvious but some wondered about about seeing the Arran hills and (more likely I think) Skiddaw and the Lake District hills in the distance.
There was talk of going on to Broad Law but only Scott, intrepid as ever, went on. The rest of us decided that flogging down a heathery, snowy hillside in the dark was something we’d all experienced but never particularly enjoyed and had no great wish to repeat it.
We arrived back just as it got dark, after another great day on the hill. I headed back to Edinburgh, sadly missing a convivial evening in the bothy.
Today, it’s raining again and the snow is disappearing. But lucking out twice with the weather on November hill days has been absolutely fantastic.
All photos taken with my (newish) Canon Powershot G7. All taken on auto as it was too cold to try and operate the camera without gloves.