Scottish Borders Walks
Dun Rig Horseshoe
Date: 14th August 2012
Distance: 15 miles
Ascent: 3608 feet
Time: 7 hours 30 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NT260392
A long but hugely enjoyable horseshoe walk above the valley of Glensax visiting four Donalds including Dun Rig and Stob Law.
Route Summary: Glen Road - Craig Head - Kailzie Hill - Kirkhope Law - Birkscairn Hill - Dun Rig - Glenrath Heights - Stob Law - Hundleshope Heights - Preston Law - Newby Kipps - Lady Blair Plantation - Newby - Haystoun - Glen Road
1. Looking down at Peebles from the start of the climb
2. The Dun Rig Horseshoe from Craig Head
3. Looking back at Craig Head
4. By the cairn on Kailzie Hill
5. Birkscairn Hill from Kirkhope Law
6. On the top of Birkscairn Hill just as the sun breaks through
7. A glimpse of Glensax on the climb up on to Dun Rig
8. The trig point on Dun Rig - the highest top of the day
9. Glenrath Heights
10. Dun Rig from Glenrath Heights
11. Pykestone Hill with Tinto on the right horizon
12. Stob Law
13. Looking towards the Pentlands from Stob Law
14. Hundles Hope
15. The trig point on Hundleshope Heights with the Moorfoots in the distance
16. Approaching Newby Kipps, the final top of the day
17. On the rocky crest of Newby Kipps
18. Peebles from the descent of Newby Kipps
19. The grassy path through Lady Blair Plantation
Walk Detail: As I get closer to completing both the Wainwrights and the English 2,000fters I've begun to think about other hill lists that I'd like to try and tackle. One list that appeals to me is the Donalds, a list of 2,000ft tops in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. This walk has the distinction then of being my first Donald bagging expedition.
The forecast was for sunshine and showers with the emphasis on sunshine in the afternoon and I figured that as this would be a full day of walking the chances were that I'd get some good weather at some point. In fact as I left the car at the end of Glen Road in Peebles and began the walk the sun was already shining.
From the starting point I initially followed the route of an old drove road which provided a very nice track underfoot all the way to Yellow Mire, the col between Kirkhope Law and Birkscairn Hill. Along the way I left the road only briefly, first of all to visit Craig Head, the first top of the day and later a shorter diversion to visit the large cairn on Kailzie Hill.
From Craig Head I could see almost the rest of my route laid out in front of me as well as good views of the Moorfoot Hill to the north-east. However, as I continued the skies began to get quite ominously dark and cloudy. By the time I reached Yellow Mire the cloud was beginning to lower over the tops and it began to rain quite heavily. As I reached the top of Birkscairn Hill I thought this was typical, my first 2,000ft top for almost three months and I couldn't see a thing.
It was then when I had one of those wonderful moments when the rain suddenly stops and the cloud begins to blow over to reveal a sudden panorama, in this case almost all the hills of the Scottish Borders - and there are a lot of them! By the time I'd moved off Birkscairn Hill and begun the climb up on to Dun Rig it had turned into a beautiful day and it stayed like that for the rest of the walk.
At 744m high Dun Rig was the highest point of the walk so it made an obvious place to sit and eat my lunch. Although it is a fairly broad top the long distance views were outstanding. The list of hill groups I could see included the Cheviots, the Eildons, the Moorfoots, the Moffat hills and the hills of Ettrick Forest. To the north I could also see the line of the Pentlands and, to my delight, also clearly make out Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crag in Edinburgh.
After lunch I had a mainly pathless climb up on to the next top, Glenrath Heights, a large bulky hill with a tiny summit cairn and covered in short cropped grass which made walking across it an absolute joy. At this point I made a 'there and back again' detour to bag another Donald, Stob Law, to the west. This involved a steep descent and climb up from Door Hass and then back again. It was completely worth it though as this excursion afforded me views of some of the neighbouring side valleys including Hundles Hope and Glenrath Hope. It was on Stob Law that I also realised that the large solitary hill I could see in the distance to the west must be Tinto.
Having climbed back up on to the Broom Hill part of Glenrath Heights I headed north on rougher ground to reach the trig point on Hundleshope Heights which featured a great view of the Moorfoot Hills. Continuing on over Preston Law to my final ascent of the day on to Newby Kipps. At 503m high Newby Kipps was one of the lowest tops of the day but its rocky summit crest made it one of the most memorable.
From Newby Kipps the return involved a walk through Lady Blair Plantation and for guidance at this point I was thankful to my copy of Nick Williams 'Southern Uplands' that I'd based most of the route on. Once out of the plantation and down to the valley road in Glensax it was then an easy walk back along the valley into Peebles. This was a long but hugely enjoyable walk and from Birkscairn Hill I was blessed with some beautiful weather and incredible views. Definitely a day to remember!