The walk is described thus;
“At a height of 817 meters Dollar Law is a Donald and a Grade B walk so well within the capabilities of everyone. There are many ways to approach this hill and other routes such as those suggested by the popular websites take in several other hills in the area and would take 6-9 hours. However, given that there are less daylight hours and the possibility of inclement weather a route has been chosen starting from Manor Head. This is a relatively easy circular route with only one fairly steep grassy section taking us to the summit of Dollar Law then Fifescar Knowe, Notman Law, Greenside Law, Foulbrig then follow the path above Bitch Craig back to the start at Manorhead. The walk should take around 4 hours so plenty of time to adjourn to the pub afterwards.”
Firstly the assembled participants; Mary, Jim L who was leading the event, Jim J, Dave, and Chris all met at the Tesco rendezvous. Jenny and Julia had arranged to meet us at the start point, Manorhead.
Secondly the weather. At 8am in Bathgate, the temperature indicator on the car displayed 2 DegC, “Risk of Ice”, ach well at least it’s not raining. As we drove to Manorhead we seemed to be chasing the forecasted “sunny intervals” .
Arriving at the meeting point we met up with Jenny and Julia as scheduled, setting off at 09:30.
Julia had another appointment later in the afternoon, in light of which she announced that she had brought a lesser number of lunches than usual? The significance of this was lost on me but not for long.
So off we trundled, “was that a wee smir of rain I felt there?” Quite possibly however we soon had another thing to occupy our thoughts.
See that “one fairly steep grassy section” mentioned above, well that was about 25 metres into the walk. We reached the sharp turn uphill accompanied by mumbling of grumble, grumble, “no even time to break us in gently and warm up first” grumble, grumble. We “trudged” up from about 350m towards the summit at 817m.
Sure enough the steep grassy bit was steep, was grassy, was mossy and was slippery. I have to admit to being first to slip however I only went down on one knee so that doesn’t count as a full or even a half fall. I didn’t have far to go down either, the slope was that steep my knee was only 5cm from the moss before slipping.
As promised though that was the only fairly steep section of the walk but it managed to string out the field. By the time the ground levelled out we found ourselves in a wee bit of light clag. First up the hill towards the summit of Dollar Law was Dave C. The point he chose to allow the rest of us to catch up was not at the trig point. Whilst waiting for the full complement to arrive the cloud parted slightly to reveal that Dollar Law was a flat topped hill with a few possible tracks in different directions. Not very photogenic.
We pushed on through the mist towards the trig point at the summit, discovering it about 50 metres further on !! It was at this point that Julia voted for a pit stop and I came to realize the significance of the sacrifice she was making by not bringing all her lunches, a sacrifice she herself admitted.
There is very little cover at the trig point so we agreed to pause for the team foties and push on to a more sheltered location for dinner, although Jenny was contemplating her boiled egg and bagel but more of that later. Onwards then towards Fifescar Knowe, the summit of which we skirted by way of the Thief’s Road, well that’s what it is marked as on the map. Jim L pointed out the direction to Pykestone Hill which may have been included in this walk but was excluded before we knew we couldn’t see it through the mist !!
It was still a wee bit chilly in the mist as witnessed by the hares on the hillside sporting their new winter coats.
Past Fifescar Knowe then, through boggy terrain on the way up to Notman Law at 734m.
The mist was patchy with sunny intervals and it was clear at the top of Notman Law but the views weren’t that spectacular so no foties there.
I wasn’t going to mention that Jim L, in the bog from Notman Law to Water Head, plunged a leg into a water trap soaking him up to the knees however, since he admitted positioning himself in such a way that he could photograph any poor soul who tumbled into the bog head first, I have mentioned it. Karma Jim L.
The ground from Notman Law down to Water Head was saturated so we tiptoes carefully through the tall grass and moss, well everybody except Jim L !!!
By this time bellies were rumbling so we sought out a suitable layby just off the Thief’s Road for a wee spot of scran. We chose a hillside location at Greenside Law / Foulbrig and made ourselves comfortable.
It was here we discovered our two biggest surprises of the day, Julia had in fact reduced the weight of her backpack by only bringing 5 lunches and Jenny was to find that she had left her prize bagel behind. Jenny had been salivating about that bagel for some time but all was not lost as she had retained the now famous JH Boiled Egg !!
Jenny wasn’t so much worried about missing out on the bagel more the shericking she would get from her mum if it was found that she’d left it on the kitchen table – fingers crossed it’s in the car. As a true example of pure Christian charity the members had a collection of bits of their packed lunches that they didn’t want and presented them for Jenny to munch on. Reports suggest that the JH Boiled Egg was braw. Such is the disturbing lack of sunshine in the Borders at this time of year it was only natural that in settling down to dinner during a “sunny interval” Jim L removed his trekking jacket in order to sunbathe.
The next leg of the trek took us from Foulbrig, above Bitch Craig to the Manorhead start point, encountering the obligatory WLM club water hazards in the forms or 2 burn crossings and the puddles of indeterminate depth at either end of the footbridge over Manor Water beside the cars.
There was of course still time during this leg for Jim L to do a wee bit of posing !!!
We arrived back at the cars, and Jenny’s bagel, at ten minutes before 2pm.
The weather by this time had turned from low cloud on the hill tops to bright sunshine just the sort of low sun that gets in your eyes as you drive home westwards, but, before that the club ritual. The Bridge Inn at Peebles was suggested as a suitable watering hole and had on offer some lovely looking real ales as well as a lovely looking Malt of the Moment for £3 a nip of 12 YO single malt.
Once served certain of our party mumbled something about really wanting a coffee instead of a beer, but were too feart to ask because it didn’t look like the kind of pub which would serve coffees.
Aye Right !!!
A good end to a good day as we drove back home for tea. Many thanks to all who joined us on the day and to Jim L for organizing the logistics.