Walk completed August 28, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 63, Tuesday, August 2, 2011 – West Linton to Broxburn, 18 miles

Tomorrow will be a rest day in Edinburgh with Dr. George, Lady Ann and their friend, Ann of the Tartan. I had arranged to call Dr. George when I arrived in Broxburn. As the day wore on, I began to wonder whether I would arrive in Broxburn.

It rained hard last night, but by the time I left West Linton, the rain lessened to a light mist. The route out of West Linton heads into the Pentland Hills by starting on quiet lane past a golf course and expensive golf course homes. As the lane rises and gets more remote it changes to a gravel track passing several farms and a reservoir. Eventually the track is reduced to a footpath known as "Thieves Road" because in the 18th and 19th centuries, robbers used to lurk there and pounce on travelers.  I was assured that thievery was no longer a problem.  The footpath continues to ascend to a high ridge known as Cauldstane Slap. Cauldstane Slap is a divide – the watershed to the east fills the River Tweed, while that to the west feeds the River Almond.  

As I climbed higher, the mist grew progressively heavier until I was quite confident that the two rivers would not be drying up anytime soon. Nor would the river flowing down the track I was following. At the top ridge, I was no longer concerned about the rivers, but rather the bogs which were holding all the water for later release.

It’s interesting how slowly one moves while trying to avoid puddles and streams to maintain dry feet. It’s silly, of course, because eventually your feet get wet, and then your speed increases again because you are no longer trying to keep your feet dry. At that point, all you need to focus on are the bogs – you just need to be sure you don’t step in something that’s going to sink you into the muck.

Even the bogs lose their significance when you approach something more formidable. I’m in Scotland now – the home of Highland cattle. These are cute – almost cuddly – little creatures, but they are armed with big horns. Even the cows have horns. Highland cattle are reputed to be docile, but did I mention that they have big horns? An interesting thing about those horns is that they grow longer the closer they are to the trail. And the cows seem less docile when their calves are close to the trail. It’s moments like this that make the peat bogs less formidable, so you leave the trail to the cattle and make a wide circle through whatever is lurking in the heather.

Eventually, of course, you either sink into a bog never to be heard from again, or you make it down to Broxburn where you can call Dr. George to be picked up – wet, muddy feet and all.

© 2011 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. Don on the Mendips.August 4, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    On my JOGLE I walked from Livingston to West Linton. This is only the second time that our walks have coincided. The other time was across the Severn Bridge which you walked on the day that you had walked with me from Avonmouth.