Hills: Eildon Mid Hill, Eildon Wester Hill, Eildon Hill North
Date: Sunday 1st June 2014
Company: Just myself
Distance: 7.6km, Ascent: 450m
Time: 2Hrs 15Mins
After two excellent weather days on the Coulter hills and the Moffat hills, I woke up this morning to a blanket of low cloud. I therefore decided to head East from Dumfries and Galloway into the Scottish Borders in the hope of finding some more good weather.
The drive along the A708 from Moffat towards St. Mary's Loch was much better than expected. The last time I drove along this road (March 2014) the road had a shocking number of potholes. Large sections of the road have now been resurfaced. Well done Dumfries and Galloway Council!
Beyond St. Mary's Loch, the low cloud started dissipating and in the distance I could see lots of blue sky
I have been saving the Eildon Hills for a good weather day as from a distance they looked really nice hills. This morning the weather looked ideal so I set my SatNav to take me to Melrose. On arriving in Melrose, I parked on Dingleton Road.
Eildon Hill is a triple-peaked hill. Eildon Hill North is surrounded by 5km of ramparts. At least 300 level platforms have been cut into the rock to provide bases for turf or houses. The hill fort was occupied by 1000BC (Bronze Age). At its peak the population on Eildon Hill may have been as high as 6000. There is some evidence that prehistoric peoples regarded the Eildon Hills as a holy place and scholars believe they may have been a place of ceremonial gatherings. There are several holy springs around the base of the hills, now dedicated to Christian saints, but probably originally sacred to Celtic deities. Eildon Mid Hill is the highest of the three peaks. It is a Marilyn.
After walking a short distance down Dingleton Road, on reaching a sign marked Eildon Hill on the side of a house, I walked down a number of steps to reach the St. Cuthbert's Way path.
St. Cuthbert's Way steps above Dingleton:
The St. Cuthbert's Way is a long-distance trail that runs from Melrose Abbey to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The walk is just over 100km in length and is generally walked over four days. As I walked up the wooden steps I recalled my friend Colin undertaking the St. Cuthbert's Way a few years ago.
As I gained height I got increasingly good views back to Melrose. I have only visited Melrose once previously, circa 20 years ago.
Looking back to Melrose:
Following the track towards Eildon Hill North:
Having spent the two previous days walking over some fairly awful terrain, it was nice to walk today on mostly excellent paths.
Eildon Hill North and Eildon Mid Hill:
Looking down to Melrose and Galashiels:
Following the track towards Eildon Mid Hill:
As I passed a tree I spotted a bird that I thought was just a sparrow. However, on listening to the bird it was far too melodious to be a sparrow. I therefore stopped to take a few photos at full zoom. On looking at the photos I think the bird is a Linnet.
Shortly after seeing the bird, I stopped to chat with a group of walkers who had just set out to walk the St. Cuthbert's Way. The women were from Aberdeen, Nairn and Orkney and one a former member of my mountaineering club. Small world.
St. Cuthbert's Way walkers:
I decided to head for the highest hill first - Eildon Mid Hill.
Looking across to Eildon Hill North from Eildon Mid Hill:
During the ascent, I stopped to take a photo looking down to Melrose Abbey.
Melrose Abbey (zoom):
The final ascent was steep but not difficult.
At the summit of Eildon Mid Hill:
At the summit I could see both Eildon Wester Hill and Eildon Hill North. I decided to head out to the Wester Hill next.
Looking down to Eildon Wester Hill from the summit of Eildon Mid Hill:
I decided to return to the St. Cuthbert's Way junction and then head out to Eildon Wester Hill to make use of the excellent paths.
View from just below the summit of Eildon Mid Hill:
Eildon Hill North from the St. Cuthbert's Way path:
It didn't take long to walk the circa 1km out to Eildon Wester Hill.
Eildon Mid Hill and Eildon Hill North from en-route to Eildon Wester Hill:
At the summit of Eildon Wester Hill I could see what looked like an abseil stake in the ground. I'm not sure if there is any climbing below.
Looking down to Bowdenmoor from top of Eildon Wester Hill:
Newtown St. Boswells from top of Eildon Wester Hill:
From Eildon Wester Hill I again returned to the path junction before now heading out to Eildon Hill North.
Galashiels and Melrose from Eildon Hill North:
Despite Eildon Hill North having previously been a fort, its ascent was gentler than the ascent of its higher neighbour.
At the summit I stopped to take some photos and have a quick drink before returning back to the path junction again.
Black Hill and Leaderfoot viaduct from summit of Eildon Hill North:
Eildon Wester Hill and Eildon Mid Hill from summit of Eildon Hill North:
From the path junction, I returned via the St. Cuthbert's Way path back down to Dingleton.
I have climbed lots of small hills in Scotland. Eildon Hill is up there with the best of them. Definitely worth saving for a good day.