Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Monks" Road

As I mentioned a few days ago I prefer to do my hiking in the hills when the sun shines and today was just perfect to venture into the Pentlands. We have equipped ourselves with a variety of walking books and this walk was called The Monks/ Road, starting from Nine Mile Burn so named because it's exactly 9 Scottish miles from Edinburgh (although 11.3/4 English miles!). The first bit uphill went through several fields with cows and as a consequence the going was quite muddy but not too troublesome.
The path went steadily uphill until we eventually reached the top of Cap Law. The views were fantastic. We were walking in the footsteps of the white monks because this walk was part of a well worn track between the monastery at New Hall (we have visited the garden of this house often during open days) and the abbey at Dumfermline.
 And the views were stunning in all directions as you can see.
 Above is looking in the direction of Edinburgh and that is the Quarrel Burn Reservoir.
After a prolonged climbing session we reach the main attraction of this walk, apart from the views, which was the Font Stane as seen below.
No one seems to be quite sure whether "this was a font stone, a wayside shrineor a landmark commanding all the country to the south for the pious friar as he journeyed over the hills. Who can tell but there it remains today, and as we stand and meditate upon it we link ourselves with a visible symbol of the time when the white robed monk was a familiar figure on the Pentland Hills" (W. Grant. The Call of the Pentlands). As you can see there seems to be a habit of throwing coins in it so we did that too. I also touched the stone feeling a physical link with times long gone and previous wanderers who had no doubt done the same.
We slowly made our way in the direction of the next peak West Kip. You can see it on the right above although we didn't have to go up there for this walk  but instead we made our way along it's bottom eventually. On the right I've just caught my shadow.
This is, I think and hope, a capercaillie! My very first sight of one and to capture it I had to use my lens at it's ultimate extension. We only spotted it because of it's distinctive gaggle.
After this the walk briefly descended into chaos as either we lost sight of the right path or the path itself had vanished under bracken and vegetation and the going became extremely tough for awhile till we spotted a drystone dyke and a way sign in the distance and regained the proper path again. There aren't many trees on the hills but this trio attracted my attention together with their long shadows.
That's the disadvantage of walking at this time of the year. The dark sets in early and you need to be off those hills before that happens. We made it just in time. You can just glimpse Nine Mile Burns in the distance there.

3 comments:

Lenna Young Andrews said...

what really fantastic photos of your hilly monk's walk! I love the views and the colors. xo

Jewels said...

wonderful vistas Frieda - love the three trees and their permanent "blowing in the wind" effect....

Linda Kunsman said...

such a beautiful landscape!Love the serenity about those views. I just may have to paint one of these in my art journal:)

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