MY LOCKDOWN walk on day 54, Saturday, May 16, took us downstream to Hagg-on-Esk along the banks of the Esk onto The Hollows, to Claygate and back home along the Tarras Road.
I’ve always enjoyed getting out for walks in our glorious countryside and when the news came that the country was going into lockdown on March 23, we decided to make the most of our “daily exercise” by getting onto the hills and along the river to explore the many paths we had never taken.
We have been blessed with lovely weather which has been our savour through this crisis
We started the walk from home, going through Buccleuch Park and around the Murtholm to Skippers Bridge, Skippers Cottage and into the wood on the left.
Follow the path for a few yards before it takes you down to the riverside where you stay on the path, passing a couple of footbridges, fallen tree trunks and lots of wild garlic.
High in the trees we spotted heron nests and could hear the chicks squawking while waiting for their lunch.
This part of the walk by the river comes to a sandy bay near to Dog Island across the river.
You could continue along to the banking to bring you up onto the old A7 but I would advise against it. There is no path as such and it’s a real scramble among the thorn bushes and rocks.
We came up the hill onto the makeshift lay-by on the A7 just after the Middleholm road end and carried on to the proper layby where we followed the cycle path onto the old A7 towards Irvine House.
Just before Irvine House there is a break in the stone wall which leads to a path taking you along the back of the house and walled garden.
Here you will find beautiful rhododendron bushes and swathes of bluebells. The path leads to an area where there is a bench and a stony bay where we saw mother duck and her six ducklings having a paddle.
They were very shy and tended to stay across the other side of the river.
We stopped briefly for a drink before heading south over a wooden footbridge and scrambled across fallen trees to the path again.
If you are unsure about this, I would say don’t be put off; it looks worse than it is. Just take small steps and it’s only a couple of fallen trees to duck under until you are back on the path.
Further on, the path becomes narrow and someone has kindly tied a rope to help you across and prevent you from slipping down the rocks. Again, this is easier than it sounds.
The path carries on downstream, passing a fisherman’s hut and bench and some lovely views of the Esk downstream.
You will come to a set of steps which lead up to another small bridge and adjoining steps up towards the path.
Follow the path which leads to a field which you cross, keeping to the left. When you come to the gate, turn right and follow the path until you come to the old metal gate on the last bit of the A7 across from Hagg-on-Esk just before the Hollows turn-off.
From here take the cycle path and left towards the Hollows, walking past Nittyholm cottages, Gilnockie Tower and over the Hollows bridge where you will see, hiding behind the overgrowth, the Archimedes screw, owned by Craig Nicholson at Hollows Mill.
We passed the site of Gilnockie Castle where you will find a collection of unique wee statues. No-one seems to know what they refer to or who put them there.
Up the hill towards Gilnockie Station and on to Claygate where we called in to see the folks and have a quick stop and a drink before we set off on the home straight up the Tarras road past The Tail, Mumbie, Tarrasfoot and Glen Tarras.
A really great walk and we hope to repeat it by doing the reverse route.