Monday, May 25, 2015


At the east end of Talla Reservoir near Tweedsmuir is a little track which heads south, following the course of the Games Hope burn.

I had a perfect day for my walk, but this old rail is the remains of a bridge, and is a reminder that, in flood, the burn can be particularly powerful.

Not too far in is Gameshope bothy, and I could see that work was being done there early on Saturday morning, so keeping my feet dry I continued up the glen, with the intention of visiting the bothy later in the day.

If you like waterfalls, then the Gameshope has them in abundance.

Even in a dry spell, the burn was carrying a weight of water, draining the surrounding hills - Great Hill, Cape Law, Din Law and Garlet Dod.

Looking back down the glen.

Looking ahead over Crunklie Moss.

Peat bogs are wonderful places, but you would not want to be wandering around here in poor light! The photo doesn't really show how deep this hole is!

My first destination was Gameshope Loch.

One has to admire the wall builders of yesteryear. This one past its best now. My route was to follow the line of the wall to near the top of Garelet Dod, at 698 metres, my second target for the day.

I was rewarded with this view. Yes, wind farms in the distance, and a weather front moving in from the west.

Big sky country.

On one of my many stops on my way down, I found these smiling faces. No sheep anymore (see below), so hopefully more in the way of natural flora and fauna in the future.

On the map hereabouts is a feature marked as 'Skull Heads'. Well, with a bit of imagination .... !

It was a welcome sight to see the bothy, on the left of the storage shed.

What a wonderful wee bothy, maintained by the MBA, see here.

It's just the one room, and was spotless on my visit. Full marks to Mike, the MO, whom I had seen earlier in the day.

And the bothy is a splendid memorial to Andrew Jensen.

What a setting it has!

For me, it was a great day, with no blocks of conifers in view, and the windfarms still far off in the distance. The good news is that the Gameshope estate was purchased recently by the Borders Forest Trust, see here, and the future of the area is assured. Let's hope so.

The bothy has a wonderful feature ... its own 'moat'! There's no bridge across the burn, just a ford. Whichever way you look at it, it was going to be wet feet. However, with a pair of dry socks in my pack, it was a comfortable walk out!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wamphray's Pyramids

Here's a First Transpennine Express EMU from Manchester Airport passing through Wamphray as it heads north on the West Coast Main Line.

Network Rail has been working on the line hereabouts. I thought I should 'inspect' the work that's been done!

At this point, the line goes through a shallow cutting. The recent work has involved putting in drains to ensure the stability of the embankment on the eastern side of the tracks.

And a very good job has been done too.

Crossing the railway by the bridge I found that the gorse was spectacularly in bloom last week.

On the west side of the cutting is a reminder of when the line was built by the Caledonian Railway in the mid 1840s. (Wamphray Station was opened on September 10, 1847.)

The cutting was excavated with pick and shovel by the navvies building the line. They piled up the spoil in mounds on the western side of the line. JAM Carlyle's 'Parish History of Wamphray', written in 1964 and found here, describes these as a 'series of bings', and calls them 'barrow pits'.

I've always thought of them as 'Wamphray's pyramids'!

Although much overgrown, they remain as a monument to those who built the railway.

Wild flowers on a spring day!

Such beautiful things, and such a contrast to the horror that happened a 100 years ago, some miles south of Wamphray. I wrote a little about Britain's worst railway accident at Quintinshill a year ago (here) and wondered then why this dreadful accident was not particularly well remembered. This has changed. There will be a number of commemoration events, including one attended by the Princess Royal, and even a television programme on BBC Two Scotland at 21.00 tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20). This is to be repeated on Thursday, May 21, at 21.00 on BBC Four.

How the accident happened can be found here, here, and here, and the book by Jack Richards and Adrian Searle (here) has all the details and is a compelling read. I had wondered what happened to the survivors, and my questions were answered in this book by Peter Sain Ley Berry.

One hundred years on, at 06.50 on Friday, I know what I'll be thinking about.

Photos © Skip Cottage