Northumbria and the Scottish Borders – Day Seven

Another overcast morning and it looks like we’ve had some overnight rain. Today, we have planned a walk up out into the countryside and so gather our things. Two years ago, we stopped off at Moffat overnight on our way back from another motorhome holiday in North Scotland. We had liked it so much that we had promised ourselves a return visit out check it out properly. We go back to the High Street and stop off at a cafe for bacon and egg rolls and a latte. Hits the spot. We waddle down a side street lined with shops and then steadily climbing into a residential road. The street morphs into a stony track and we find the footpath we need.  It’s a steady pull up the hill, following a wooded path between two sheep fields, with splendid views of Moffat behind. We pause at a junction of paths to admire the view and take photos, before taking another path leading up through the trees.  The trees give way to an open area, where logging has taken place and it’s regenerating. There is the odd picnic table dotted here and there in the vegetation, which is lovely as there’s now 360 degree views to be had. It’s rather pleasant though we can see rain showers everywhere we look.

The weather is very changeable. We walk down the other side of the hill and into a mown haymeadow. We cross this and pick up a gravelled track. A little further, we branch off and begin another pull up a hill.  It’s here that a rain shower clips us and we get a bit damp. When we summit this hill, there’s another, even higher hill beyond, which is quite tempting, but The Dog isn’t looking very lively today. Maybe she’s missing her beaches, but she definitely hasn’t been very enthusiastic on this walk so far. So we make our way down towards a farm track, through a field of skittish sheep and follow the “Moffat Way” signposts. As we pass a white bungalow, we spot a sign marked “Moffat Well” and go an investigate. It drops through a little grassy field and in the corner is a small building, open at one end. Propped up against it, is an information board. We enter the well and promptly come straight out again. It stinks – an awful foul stench. It’s actually not that special – a hole with railings around it. Next to the well, is a steep ravine with a surging river running through.  It’s a very pretty spot.  If the smell is sorted out, it would be a lovely place to picnic.

We retrace our steps back to the road and following the “Moffat Walk” signs, walk through fields and follow the river back to the edge of town. A delightful road of smart bungalows and beautiful large detached Victorian houses. One houses had a long line of painted pebbles outside in response to the current Covid situation. We slowed down to admire them. Towards the end of the road, the local town planners had allowed some pebble dashed carbuncles to be built, sticking out like a sore thumb and a limited attempt to blend them in. Oh for a stick of dynamite.

We found ourselves back on the little side road we had started from and peered into the shop windows.  We bought some lunch from a little deli and popped back onto the High Street. We spotted an icecream parlour, bought two icecreams and sat on the War Memorial benches, situated on the island in the middle of the road, studying the names on the Memorial. We then decide to walk to the river and cross the road which is a bit fraught.  Moffat has this central area down the middle of its High Street for parking and War Memorials with traffic on either side. We had assumed they had a one way system, but no, cars travel both ways on either side, so you think its safe to cross and look the other way, to find a van bearing down on you. At the end of this central area, cars can criss cross over and we watch as motorists negotiate this potential mayhem with orderly calm. It just looked complicated.

Satisfied, we took a side road lined with terraced cottages which are so typical of Scotland. They looked lovely and cosy, painted in different colours. They give way to larger bungalows set back in lawned gardens. At the bottom, the river gurgled. The Dog bounded into the water, looking pleased with herself, but after a couple of throws of the ball, she lost interest and wandered off. The riverbed was very pebbly with greeny grey stones which gave the river a beautiful colour – the water was absolutely clear. It was a very attractive stretch of water.

We saunter back to the campsite, picking up cakes and other goodies for tea. The entrance to the site has a long queue of motorhomes and caravans waiting to get in. We sit outside to eat lunch, despite the very cool weather, but as we finish it starts to rain. Then the sun comes out and it warms up and we’re back out again. We spend the afternoon in our chairs watching people set up and fiddle with their caravans.  A couple settle in next door to us and spend hours nesting. Suddenly our dog goes beserk and barks madly at the chap. He’s trying to strap a long pole with a tv aerial on top to the side of his van and our dog hates anything like that, due to her traumatic puppyhood (she’s a rescue). We apologise profusely to the rather alarmed man and try and calm our pooch.

Once again, Moffat provides us with the characters of the camping world (we came here two years ago, just for night and it warranted a return visit). There’s Mr and Mrs Labrador who have a puppy and an older Lab who stop every time they pass to chat, while our Dog grumbles at them. We watch Mr and Mrs Two Tables, who spend an inordinate amount of time nesting, their Ford Focus more like Mary Poppin’s carpet bag, the amount of stuff they drag out of it. They set up two tables and keep moving them in and out of the awning, trying to find the perfect position and in between this, there’s fussy owners washing caravan roofs with brooms, checking water levels and generally farting around.  It’s a fascinating social study of the British living outdoors, with our island mentality of being quite territorial, chairs and windbreaks marking perceived perimeter and never fails to get us chuckling over our wine glasses.

The Sun is in and out of the clouds all afternoon, the temperature up and down like a proverbial yo-yo. The Dog has discovered there are rabbits and rooks in the campsite and keeps an beady eye on them. We have a lazy afternoon and after finishing our last bottle of wine of the holiday, have a wander around, discussing the pros and cons of the various motorhomes we see with the view of perhaps getting one ourselves. As we walk, we hear a horrendous crash of crockery hitting the ground and not bouncing. Some poor person dropped her washing up and is bent picking up the pieces. Feel for her.

We head back to our own Van for our last night. And The Dog is officially knackered.

Author: apathtosomewhere

Come with me and my dog on my meanderings around northern England and further afield, encountering all walks of life and everything in between!

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