A 7:00 am start should have ensured clear roads, but as I was about to pull out into the main road two massive forestry log carrier wagons came past empty, so I thought I would be stuck behind them. Not a problem I couldn't keep up with them.
At 60mph alongside Kielder Water a deer ran out in front of me. I managed to miss it then stopped and got a blurry snap as it ran off. I had also, sadly, seen a massive road-killed badger
These two Marilyns were well into the county of Scottish Borders lying to the west of the A7.
The unnamed valley from near Hermitage NY 507 953 to the A7 is on my top ten list for gobstopping drives. A surprise castle, an elevated unfenced road pearing steeply down into remote valleys and farmsteads, and intriguing streams winding up into into a backdrop of multiple overlapping hills. I had to stop and get out of the car to take it all in not knowing where to look next. I fantasised that perhaps man had never set foot in some of those isolated spots.
Ascents and descents were incredibly steep. Rain persisted most of the time and the tops were intermittently in cloud, but with good views in between. The easier contoured descent from Wisp Hill via the southeast spur was covered in deep bracken and I had no idea if there was a path - they had been more or less absent on the round so far. I opted for a suicidally steep grass decent down the south west slopes of Whin Fell. Without walking poles it would have been decidedly dangerous, and then I remembered bum-sliding. The last time I tried that I lost my car keys from my back pocket. Today it was a godsend and also exhilarating.
An interesting and characterful day making the best of poor conditions.
I had another deer run in front of the car again on the way back.
Hermitage Castle. A Reivers' stronghold - bloodthirsty times. For readers from abroad Google for more info.
The deer I nearly hit.
On the way to the A7 - my magic road discovery.
From Pikethaw ascent. Very steep. No path. My car on other side of A7 at end of farm track.
- Pikethaw summit.
The very steep descent - photo belies steepness.
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