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Moffat Weekend

The weather forecast for the weekend, plus the incessant rain on the drive down on the Friday evening did not augur for a bright and sunny Corbett-bagging trip at Moffat.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained for the intrepid group of 6 (Anna, Gillie, Alan, Steve, Ruth and Ali) who gathered at our basic accommodation (“it’s a bunkhouse, not a hostel”) at Rivox. Down jackets were de rigueur for the evening chat, but the bunk room itself was more than warm enough for the night.

Although we awoke to the patter of rain on the skylight on Saturday morning, we set off promptly for Hart Fell and White Coomb (why don’t they combine these two in the Corbetts Book?), and placed cars so as to avoid a trudge along the road at the end of the day.

After a steep pull up from the road, and with constant rain and low cloud, it was with many thanks to Ruth’s navigation that we arrived punctually at the summit trig of Hart Fell.

From there, we continued on with views not often exceeding 50 yards or so, determined to make it to White Coomb. The route involved dipping down in to the euphoniously named Rotten Bottom. Luckily, this was not as bad or boggy, as we might have expected.

And we were still happy, if a tad soggy.

As we toiled towards White Coomb, the cloud lifted and we were treated to wonderful extensive views over the local fells.

And so it continued to White Coomb summit.

And views that extended as far eastwards as the Eildon Hills (we think).

After that, it was simply a matter of descending eastwards, crossing the Grey Mare’s Tail Burn, then down the good track to the National Trust car park at the road. Simple enough. The faster three offered to go ahead and shuttle the cars around to fill in the time for us slower three to get all the way down to the car park.

We three (Anna, Gillie and Ali) trolled on behind at our speed, very happy with the proposed arrangement.

However, we had not reckoned on the effects of all the precipitation on the state of the burn. It was uncrossable at the point we met it, so we decided to continue downstream on our bank. The ground got steadily steeper, and we realised that the waterfalls were going to prevent our reaching the road. Just as we stopped to contemplate how to proceed, who did we spot on the other side of the burn, but the Fast Ones. They had detoured upstream to find a crossing point, but the roar of the water prevented our discovering just how far they had had to detour. Communicating by hand signal, we were able to convey our plan to turn south and head over the shoulder of Upper Tarnberry and meet the Fast Ones somewhere on the road.

The plan worked and as we slithered down the steep slope to the road we could see the convoy of 2 cars arriving to gather us up.

Point to note – not always a good idea to split up.

This slight deviation extended the day’s walk somewhat, but it’s fun to have a (safe) adventure, and we still had time to quench our thirsts in Moffat before heading back to the bunkhouse for an expensive shower, followed by a most delicious evening meal prepared for us, and elegantly served, by India, the our landlord’s daughter.

Overall, we concluded we’d had a good day. It may have been just 2 corbetts, but it had involved nearly 1200m of ascent and an awful lot of bog trotting.

Sunday dawned with heavy rain, as forecast. Heavy enough that only 3 of us – Ruth, Steve and Ali – persuaded themselves that it was still a good idea to go for Broad Law. We started from the Megget Stone, which might once have been a marker on the boundary of the royal Ettrick Forest as it was in 1236, and now, apparently, marks the boundary between Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire.

A boggy path took us northwards to the summit of Broad Law and its VOR beacon (the highest in the UK). Wikipedia tells me that VOR means VHF Omni Directional Radio Range, which is a type of short-range radio navigation system for aircraft, enabling aircraft with a receiving unit to determine their position and stay on course by receiving radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed ground radio beacons.

Before we headed back to the car, Ruth took a few minutes to practise some bryology.

Then we retraced our steps back to the car, during which time, lo and behold, the cloud lifted, and the sun even tried to reveal itself. The outing was completed by 11.15am, and we had a cheerful drive home via Dawyck Botanic Gardens café (great coffee, delicious scones).


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