Sunday, 11 May 2014

Peebles, Scotland

Day 2 or possibly 3, depending on how you count them, and we moved ever so slightly east (about 20 miles) to the town of Peebles and Castle Venlaw Hotel. Not a real castle, sadly, but still very handsome in a baronial-manor sort of way, up on a hill above town, with far-reaching views over to the hills; lots of coving and period detail inside. Again, everyone very friendly and welcoming. I remember the first time I came to Scotland, back at the end of the 70s, and folks up here asking me why I would stop in England when everyone was so much nicer up here...

We went looking for a walk to rival our Clyde falls one but that would be very hard to achieve. Ended up instead on the edge of Traquair estate, walking along a fairly quiet road most of the time that followed the wood. For company, we had mountain-bike racers, utterly covered in mud, usually in small groups of 3 or 5, and who were ever so polite, always giving a nod and a smile as they whizzed past.

We were aiming for a tower (remains of) and earthworks, but I have yet to see anything ancient in true life that this particular Ordinance Survey map claims we will see. At any event, our route meant finding a way over a racing stream. I was looking for stepping stones or a narrow-enough spot to jump over, but walking companion said, "Look, a bridge!" after a bit. Oh, perfect! Except, the bridge turned out to be a fallen tree that moss had grown over. Fortunately, it did work as a bridge and got us to the other side - hurrah.

Our return to the car took us through an ancient woodland called Plora Wood, that had been bolstered by beech trees planted for firewood during the Second World War. They were towering, beautiful trees but, because they're not native, a sign at the start of the walk explained that they would be allowed to die and left to rot. I think it will be a long wait.

Things on map but not actually seen when we got to the spot: two forts, one stone circle, one tower and a castle.

Slightly spooky things: bunch of fairly recent roses and a wooden cross on big stones laid out like a grave just inside Plora Wood. (Any explanation on what this was about gratefully received.)

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