Happy New Year!!
For those who don’t already know, the best news is that Mr RR and I have become Nanna and Papa RR whilst we’ve been away! A gorgeous little boy, born between Christmas and New Year and doing very well on his journey to becoming the Littlest RR.
Littlest RR has, of course, become my favourite subject of conversation but…..on to the walking – of which there has been very little in the last couple of months. Here I am though, determined to get fit (again) and starting over with the rambles. I’m not promising any great milage this year – there’s a lot of work to do on our new house and any walking will have to be fitted in around that – but hopefully I’ll be able to inspire you with a few ramblings around The Scottish Borders and Northumberland and later in the year we might be able to go further afield and see more of Scotland.
The not so good news, as you will already know is that this area has suffered badly from the recent rain and storms. We’ve been lucky ourselves but others nearby not so lucky; rivers continue to run very high with continuous warnings from the Met Office about flood risk.
And…it’s been raining here today! Lots of it, constant and heavy this morning. Undaunted, we decided to venture out to The Hirsel Country Park, which is just on the edge of Coldstream, about 20 minutes in the car from home. Weather forecast information was that the incessant rain would ease and the sun might shine later on. Alas, it was not to be and it rained continuously whilst we rambled around The Hirsel – never mind – we’re getting used to it slowly. More difficult to cope with is the almost constant darkness and dreary daylight which can be quite depressing – best to just get out there and hope for some rays while you can!
The Hirsel Estate – Lake Walk and Dunglass Walk (3 miles)
The Hirsel Estate, the home of the Home Family since 1611 is 3000 acres of woodland, farmland and grassland. Several people told us we should visit The Hirsel, that there was good walking – and a lovely cafe – which of course is the whole thing about a good walk -it always ends with a lovely cafe. And they were right. This is the third time we’ve visited and, although it’s rained every time, it is worth it. The walks aren’t long but they are interesting and the promise of lunch or tea in the cafe at the end keeps you going despite the wet!
So, well protected from the weather, in hats, coats and waterproof trousers, we make our way first of all around the lake, past the bird hide and along the muddy and wooded pathway catching glimpses of the lake as we go.
View to the bird hide across the lake.
The lake on The Hirsel Estate is, so an information leaflet tells us, home to a wide variety of birdlife. At this time of year goosander, water rails and whooper swans can be seen, although it’s so murky today that little can be seen apart a family of Mute Swans preening themselves on the lakeside accompanied by a pair of mallards:
As we trot along we notice to our left that there are bird’s nests built into the hedging lining the field. We’ve seen lots of these around here, little nests built low down and completely exposed at the moment. What impresses us today, is the variety of materials used in the building of these nests. One is carefully blanketed in moss, whilst others are just twigs interwoven with the branches and twigs.
Here’s a mossy one…..
And here’s a twiggy one…..very low down this one, we could almost see right into the top of it.
I have no idea which belongs to which bird – and why do they build them so low down? Obviously when they are occupied all the leaves and branches of the hedgerow would camouflage them – but even so…..
Leaving the lake behind we make our way along to the Dunglass Path following the red markers. We shortly passed the ‘Cow Arch’ suitably labelled – so that the cows would know that they must not trespass on the private land but must pass through the arch to reach the grazing on the other side! A pedigree herd of Highland Cows is kept here (they show their breeding by demonstrating command of the English language).
We are taking the right hand track now which descends through mud and ankle deep fallen leaves and brings us alongside the Leet Water, a tributary of the River Tweed. A stone bridge, built in 1829 and rebuilt following a devastating flood in 1948 takes us across the water before we turn right onto a tree lined path.
The Leet Water – much higher than the last time we visited..
We turn right after the bridge and walk alongside the water on a very muddy track. Several streams cross the track and at one point we are walking along a river floor as the track becomes a stream, the tumbling waters following the path of least resistance and heading downhill to meet the murky water.
Along the way we notice some unusual fungi sprouting from an old tree trunk:
The willow is a dazzling colour – like a firestorm in the dreary daylight:
At the far end of the path we pass through a gate with a warning sign advising us to watch out for golf balls. The Estate is home to a golf course – and all along the river bank these implements strategically placed:
For grabbing your golf ball from the river if your aim is a little off!
It has to be said though that a pristine green with its little white flag is perilously close to the raging river and you can see why these might be necessary! The golf course is free of golfers today though and we cross safely to the gate, over Dunglass Bridge and make our way back towards Hirsel Cottage Tea Rooms for hot chocolate and bacon rolls.