Constant rain through the night but not too heavy. Still overcast in
the morning as I packed up but enough wind to take the moisture off
the tent. I'd wheeled my bike across some wet and rushy ground to
reach my camp spot but noticed a track nearby. When the bike was
loaded I wheeled it over and found it took me directly back down to
the road. I could see the pass road winding its way up ahead and
wondered if I'd be able to ride the whole way up. I continued
steadily until the start of the last steep gradient.
Shelter at the pass summit
Lord Eskdaill by the Tenants and Staff of the Bowhill, Eckford,
Eildon, Branxholme and Dalkeith Estates to mark his 21st Birthday on
2nd August 2005
I stopped to have a last look back down the valley and set off
upwards. I was pleasantly surprised to find gears 2 & 1 were fine
for the final climb and I stopped at the summit area to investigate
a substantial stone windbreak. There was an inscribed stone tablet
in it detailing its presence. The map calls the area Witchie Knowe,
a wonderful name. I used my brakes a lot on the descent to keep my
speed down to the buildings of Yarrow and Yarrow Water. I reached
the A708 and turned left into a head wind. I soon reached the steps
up to the war memorial which was interesting as the inscription
tablet had the dates in Roman Numerals and had the end of the war
correct as 1919.
There was a nice flat grassy area around the stone memorial and
checking my phone gave a good signal and 4G, which was a surprise. I
continued west heading upstream along Yarrow Water until I reached
the Gordon Inn.
I stopped briefly and turned right to head up the Glenlude Pass
road. It was fairly quiet and an enjoyable ride as not too steep.
The weather was fine and I had the wind behind me. Over the summit I
had a lovely descent, mostly freewheeling to the outskirts of
Glenlude Pass road
I stopped on the Iron Bridge over the River Tweed and information
plate about its construction. In Innerleithen I called at the Co-op
supermarket to buy some jam doughnuts as I needed something
interesting after 3 days of dehydrated food. I bought some doughnuts
and from a bag of 5 I ate 3 then continued through the town. I
stopped by a stone plaque above a shop commemorating the visit of
Robert Burns was here
I called in a charity shop to speak to an old lady behind the
counter. Many years ago I knew an old lady at Withnell Fold called
Mrs I. McKissack. She had worked as a housekeeper until she retired
and lived with us for a while until a home could be found. She was
from Peebles originally. I asked the lady if McKissack was a local
name, it wasn’t. Mrs McKissack’s first name was Isabell and that was
very common locally. When I got home I checked the deaths records
and found Isabella Riddell McKissack age 90 died 1973.
I left the town by the B709 heading north by the Leithen
Water. I've cycled this route before but then the weather was bad
and raining. Today the sky was mostly clear and I had the wind
behind to help. The road winds through the golf course then heads
north up the valley.
A few miles after leaving the golf course I came to a sign by the
road. It was a measure of feet and metres on a reflective white
backing. The river was adjacent but I can’t see how it could measure
depth. There was another board visible from the other direction.
Road depth, or to judge distance?
I followed the road winding through the valley then started the long
climb of the pass. Eventually I reached the summit and stopped by a
stone on the left marked as the 'Pipers Grave'.
The Piper's Grave lies alongside the B709. Tradition tells us that
this is the last resting place of an itinerant piper who eked out
his meagre living some time early in the 18th century. He was known
to frequent the local hostelries taking wagers that he could play
any tune that a customer could care to name. One evening after a
bout of particulary riotous jollification, he chanced to remark that
he could play non-stop all the way between Traquair House and
Edinburgh Castle, a distance of some thirty miles, without repeating
a tune. Virtually everyone took up his offer of a bet.
Late that night, the motley throng set off, high on ale and
expectation. Almost immediately some lost heart as the magnitude of
their challenge hit them, immediately returning home to the safety
of their turf fires. Others however, of sterner composition were
determined to follow the piper even into the wilds of the Moorfoot
Hills. It was only as the night grew wilder and the terrain more
inhospitable that doubt started to creep in. The piper, obviously at
home in this sort of terrain, showed no signs of flagging and, of
course, he had no need eventually to retrace his steps back to the
The whole situation was now becoming serious and
subterfuge was necessary. Seizing one of the pipers unguarded
moments one of the group made a hole in the windbag of his pipes.
The extra effort now required to play, combined with the steep climb
past Dewar, quickly drained the pipers stamina. On reaching the top
of the pass he sat down exhausted, never to rise again.
was buried along with his pipes.
A long straight
descent followed down in to a wide valley. After Garvald Lodge there
is a branch road to the right but my way was straight on along the
B7007. The road began a long climb into the open hills. Way to my
right I could see windfarms. I crossed an impressive embankment over
a deep ravine followed by a deep cutting into the hill. A flat
section followed then a long straight descent with open views ahead.
It was depressing seeing so much rubbish dumped by the road in this
beautiful area. I reached an area called Whitelaw Cleugh with a
concrete reservoir off to the right. This was my planned camp and I
wheeled my bike through the gate and behind the reservoir. It was
very windy and I made sure the pegs were well in. I got water from
an adjacent stream but it was very peat stained. I made sure I gave
it a good boil. I was on the flightpath for Edinburgh Airport and
planes were flying overhead all afternoon and evening.