LEJOG Southern Scotland

Eildon Hills

Day 52 To Melrose

As I leave Jedburgh on the Border Abbeys Way there is a heron flying along Jed Water. After a short spell on Dere Street it’s St Cuthbert’s Way for a while. I am told that St Cuthberts Way is the popular walk of the moment. The Lilliards Stone marks the spot where in the 14’th century representatives of the English and Scottish Crowns met to resolve disputes. There are great views of the Eildon hills from here, rising from low lying land they have a prominence that exceeds their modest height. Near St Boswell’s I meet Bill who tells me about his own LEJOG walk and some of the challenges ahead, especially the last 100 miles. After Jedburgh, Melrose is very different, there’s a vibrancy to it.

18 miles today, 744 miles total. Overcast in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, the cold NE wind has departed at last.

The Three Brethren

Day 53 To Innerleithen.

A leisurely start along the banks of the Tweed, it’s cold, clear skies overnight have left a frost and there’s a sharp crispness to the morning. Near Waverly Castle Hotel we are joined by the Southern Upland Way which I follow for almost all of the rest of the day. At a short length of industrial railway, I am struck by the neatness, no rubbish, no litter, no graffiti, no weeds. Looking back from Gala Hill the Eildon Hills still dominate, but ahead new hills of interest come into view. Shortly after Vair Bridge I start the second ascent of the day, long and gentle I soon gain height. I am pleasantly surprised, the conifers are of mixed species and there is an openness which retains the views, the air is rich with the sound of birdsong and I see my first butterfly of the year. I soon meet Rob who is doing the Southern Upland Way as a warm up before the Pacific Crest Trail. At the Three Brethren there are impressive views in all directions. The next few miles over to Hare Law and Minch Moor are the best since day 46. Eventually the route is joined by the Cross Borders Drove Road. Some great distant views. I must move the Donalds higher up my to do list. I am reminded of the words of Eifion Wyn, which roughly translates, Why Lord did you make Cwm Pennant so beautiful and a shepherds life so short.

20 miles today,  764 miles total. Sunny all day, rather hazy in the afternoon, little wind.

Cattle grazing in meadows in the upper Tweed

Day 54 To Peobles

Another crisp frosty morning. Heading further up the Tweed it continues to improve as the landscape gradually gets remoter. It’s largely cattle country, cows set against green grass, clear rivers and hills for the backdrop. It’s easy going on a cycleway facilitated by a new suspension bridge.

Just 6 miles today, 770 miles total. Bright sun with little wind.

Along the Finland Burn

Day 55 To West Baddingsgill

After a break for an important family birthday, am back on the trail. The route out of Peebles starts off gentle and soon steepens, as I gain height it’s into the mist. The Cross Borders Drove Road provides a good track again, firm underfoot. From Romano House it’s mostly road work to West Linton. As the weather is clearing I put in a few extra miles to Baddingsgill.

14 miles today, 784 miles total. Light rain in the morning, cleared early afternoon.

On the Thieves Road

Day 56 To Philpstoun.

I was a little apprehensive about today when I planned it in Dec. Many Lejogers go to Edinburgh from West Linton. The ascent on Thieves Road was easier than expected, though it was bleak on Cauldstane Slap in the light rain. This section of The Border Drovers Road is a path often on peaty ground, it’s much easier underfoot. Of course having got to lower ground it stopped raining. Took some back lanes to the Union Canal, good views to the Ochils it’s all lovely in the late afternoon sun.

20 miles today, 804 miles total. Wet morning, sunny afternoon.

Falkirk Wheel

Day 57 To Kilsyth

It’s a little damp this morning though not enough to need a coat. The canal is a little less interesting without the sun on it, though it’s busy around Linlithgow. After the tunnel I take a break at the Falkirk Wheel, it’s scale is difficult to take in. Navigation is easy, just keep the water on your left, though when the canal is wide and straight it seems endless.

22 miles today, 826 miles total. Dull and overcast.

Campsie Fells

Day 58 To Killearn

Took the direct route to Milton of Campsie then the John Muir Way, eventually joined by the West Highland Way, to Killearn. After not having seen another walker since day 52 suddenly there were lots of them, all shapes, sizes and nationalities, lots of mountain bikers too. The weather improved just as I neared the Campsite Fells.

18 miles today, 844 miles total. Wet start, muggy afternoon.

Loch Lomond

Day 59 To Rowardenan.

Back on the disused railway for a few more miles to Gartness  then a little bit of road work to get to Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. It’s good to see that the planting is mixed and spacious. Ahead Conic Hill dominates the view and after leaving the forest for some moor I am soon ascending the Northern slopes of the hill. It’s been surprisingly quiet on this section, just three other walkers. Descending from Conic Hill there are dozens of other walkers, it’s clearly a popular walk from Balmaha. The path to Rowardenan is very busy, it’s mostly on good tracks with just a few short sections of road. Cuckoo’s in song all day.

18 miles today, 862 miles total. Warm and sunny.

View North along Loch Lomond

Day 60 To Ardleish

Leaving Rowardenan on a private gravel track it immediately feels more remote. The open woodland is rich in wildflowers and butterflies along the shore. The path is constantly weaving its way through, over and around small rocks and boulders. Again it’s busy, I meet and talk to both new people and some of the same people from yesterday. So many different accents from so many different countries. At Inversnaid the next section of path is slow going, it’s never difficult, just requires attention.

12 miles today, 874 miles total. Warm and sunny.

View North from Cnap Mor

Day 61 To Tyndrum

Started the walk in gentle rain but this soon turned to a downpour. Even so the views in both directions from near Cnap Mor were stunning. As I progressed up Glen Falloch the river became more swollen and some of the burns were now in spate, it happened quite quickly. Cuckoo’s sang throughout. Crossing the A82 three times before Tyndrum.

14 miles today, 888 miles total. Very wet day indeed.

Day 62 To Bridge of Orchy

A short day, the views on this stretch were again stunning. A gentle climb out of Tyndrum on the Wade Military Road and all the time the views open up. Beinn Odhar, Beinn a’ Chaisteil and Beinn Dorain amongst others, compete for attention. It’s amazing how much river levels have fallen overnight but remain much higher than before.

7 miles today, 895 miles total. Heavy showers and bright spells with good visibility.

Buachile Etive Mor

Day 63 To Kinlochleven

An early start to keep options open. The forecast is for changeable conditions. The first climb is bigger than I expected, I should check the map more carefully! After the short road section near Loch Tulla things change quickly as I climb on the Wade Road, very quickly it feels comfortably remote. It’s amazing to think that this road was built mid 18th century but still no potholes. Over the Black Mount, even in this weather the views are amazing. And when Buchahile Etive Mor comes in to view, wow!. Lots of time spent taking photos including the obligatory one with BlackRock Cottage. This whole section has felt remoter than it is. Descending and crossing the A82 then running parallel to it there are such stunning views that I am oblivious to the road. The ascent of Devils Staircase is very straightforward, the highest point at 548m is only 290m or so of ascent. Unfortunately once over the crest the weather changed and it was a misty descent to Kinlochleven.

21 miles today, 916 miles total. Showery for most of the day, misty later.


Day 64 To Fort William

The climb to Mam Mor and Mam Behag was the hardest part of the whole WHW. The weather was not kind today, it was a climb into the mist. Such a shame as I remember from walking this section previously with Thomas that the views from this hanging valley are stunning.

15 miles today, 931 miles total. Misty start, then wet and windy.