Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Walk to the Covenantor's Grave in the Pentlands

Dunsyre Hill

The doglet and I ended our holiday with a hill walk that I've been wanting to do for a while. The walk takes you from Dunsyre up to the Covenanter's grave at the south end of the Pentlands. From there we walked back via Mid Hill and lastly Dunsyre Hill which dominates the valley we live in. In all it was a 8.5 mile circuit, the longest walk I've done in a while but it was so good to be back in the hills again. Walking over the heather, bogs and tracks with only the sound of the grouse, the breeze and my heavy breathing, ha ha, reminding me how hill walking unfit I've got over the last couple of years. Life has just been so busy and I've been really enjoying doing other things, but I do miss the hills too. The views were great from the tops and we were both exhausted and sore at the end but I know Bracken will recover long before I will.

West Water

My walked started in the tiny village of Dunsyre where I parked my car next to the old railway line. From there I walked along the road heading east following the public foot path signs towards Garvald. Eventually the tarmac road turns into a track before ending at a ford. Here I turned left and crossed over the bridge and up to the sign post at the top of the banking. This is where we left the path and headed over the moorland towards Black Law and the coventanter's grave. The first part of this section takes you along the side of West Water before climbing up onto the open moor.

A different view of Dunsyre Hill

Bracken enjoying the view

It's a gradual climb up to Cairn Knowe over rushes and mosses which Bracken just skips over. Several years ago I tried to find the Covenantors grave from the north but the signage wasn't as good as it is from this direction. The signs are tall posts and most of the time you can see the next one from the last, helping keep us in the right direction without referring to the map. Eventually we reached a track and another sign post. I like how this one leaned at the same angle as the hill behind it!

A weathered and leaning sign post keeping us right

From here it's a short walk up Black Law following a quad bike path, it was a bit slippy after recent rain, but 4 paw power on the end of a lead helped me up. The grave stone is on the west side of the hill just below the top. Such a lonely beautiful place for a burial and a reminder of a violent and turbulent time in Scottish history.

The Covenantor's Grave

The grave marks the resting place of an injured covenantor who had fled into the hills after escaping the battle of Bullion Green in Penicuik in 1666. He was trying to return to Ayrshire but only made it as far a the house of a shepherd, Adam Sanderson. You can still see the ruins of the house just south of the bridge over the Medwyn Water. The covenantor knew he was fatally wounded and asked Sanderson to bury him within sight of the Ayrshire hills. Finding him dead the next morning Sanderson did as he'd been asked, at great risk to himself. From the grave on the west side of Black Law you can see the hills of Ayrshire on a clear day.

Looking East from Bleak Law

After catching our breath and enjoying the views Bracken and I headed back down to the track and sign post and turned west. I planned to do a circular route, my favourite kind of walk, to make the most of our afternoon in the hills. I struck lucky as the track continued in the direction I had planned, although it is not marked on the map, so it meant our walk was easier and quicker for a time. We followed it headed up between Bleak Law and Mid Hill. From here there were great views west over South Lanarkshire and I could see the clouds gradually building forming the rain that was forecast for late afternoon. Here we took another rougher track that took us around the west side of Mid Hill.

Looking north from Bleak Law

Tinto in the distance and some unwelcome cloud, but a great atmospheric photograph

South Lanarkshire from Mid Hill

Reflections of reeds in B&W

Dunsyre Hill from Mid Hill

From the top of Mid Hill we could see our final hill Dunsyre Hill, thankfully as we were getting a bit weary. We walked down towards the fence line over the deep springy heather. Poor Bracken was a bit overwhelmed with his wee legs and was glad when we reached the shorter grass. After negotiating a couple of fences and a short climb we reached the cairn on the top of Dunsyre Hill. It was pretty breezy and Bracken's ears were flapping in the wind. We had great views in every direction, including White Hill across the valley that we walked up last week. We didn't linger as it was starting to get chilly with a few spots of rain.

Looking east from Dunsyre Hill

Bracken says, right that's the last hill, time to go home Mum

Looking west, home is over there somewhere

White Hill to the left, last weeks walk and Blackmount to the right which we climbed last year

You can read about our walk up Blackmount here and White Hill here. From the top of Dunsyre Hill we headed down the west side, avoiding the craggy side and coming down over a field to the farm track along side a plantation of trees. It was an easy walk from there past some cows which thankfully were very well behaved, down through the farm and onto the main road. Five minutes later we were back at the car just as the rain got heavier.

Dunsyre Kirk

Part of the old railway line


Late afternoon sky





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