Cauldcleuch Head (619m)
It was grey and misty, with cloud enveloping the highest summits, as I started the climb up Cauldcleuch Head at 11.10 am. The car was parked on the road to Hermitage Castle, by the track to Twislehope Farm. I started by entering the field on the opposite side of the road, and going through two more gates before I reached open country. Views soon opened up behind to Dun Fell, a cloud covered Roan Fell, and Geordie's Fell. I could also see down the valley of the Hermitage Water to Blackwood Hill, and to my left to Cauldcleuch Head's subsidiary top of Tudhope Hill which was wreathed in mist. The climb to the top of Cauldcleuch Head led over a number of lower tops, including Stob Fell and the strangely named Muckle Land Knowe. Between these two tops there were brief views to the Moffat Hills but such far views were shortlived. There were also views to Greatmoor Hill, which looked impressive and seemed to tower above. The ground was quite waterlogged, as all the snow which had fallen earlier in the month had melted and left only isolated patches. From Muckle Land Knowe there were views to a snow dappled, misty Cauldcleuch Head. I reached the unmarked summit of my first objective at 12.40 pm,a total of an hour and a half after setting out from the car. The mist came and went and gave fleeting views to the surrounding hills. During gaps in the mist I could see Muckle Land Knowe and Greatmoor Hill and both looked higher than Cauldcleuch Head, although this was an optical illusion.
Greatmoor Hill (599m)
After a quarter of an hour on the top of Cauldcleuch Head, waiting for the mist to clear, I made my way towards Greatmoor Hill. This involved following the fence over the plateau and then descending fairly steeply down Windy Edge. It was here that I met the forestry plantation which covers the northern partof these hills. After passing over the insignificant top of Swire Knowe I sheltered in the forest away from the wind and ate a quick lunch. After lunch I ascended Starcleuch Edge to the summit of Greatmoor Hill. There were a number of peaty hollows which were full of soft snow and I frequently went through up to my knees. The trig was reached at 2.20 pm and I stayed 10 minutes to admire the view and take some photos. From this angle Cauldcleuch Head was clearly higher and looked quite attractive with its snoe dappled slopes. There were misty views of the Eildon Hills and Rubers Law to the north, Blackwood Hill to the east and Roan fell to the south. I descended back down Starcleuch Edge to the area where I had had lunch and then followed a track that descended towards Winterlair Hill. It was rather faint and I went wrong and ended up descending the narrow valley created by the Crib Burn. The steep slopes falling to the burn forced me to ford the burn a number of times before I was compelled to climb back up the hillside a little. The forlorn ruined farmahouse of Braidliehope was reached, after which there was a clear bulldozed track to follow. There were views back to both Cauldcleuch Head and Greatmoor Hill, but the rain fell heavily and made for unpleasant conditions. Nearer the road there were views down the valley of the Hermitage Water, and I reached the road near Braidlie farm. A half hour walk along the road followed, which was brightened up by the groups of snowdrops on the verges. The car came into view at 4.50 pm and the return journey home was started 10 minutes later.
Rubers Law and the Shankend Viaduct