Loch of the Lowes and Riskinhope

“Oft had he viewed, as morning rose, the bosom of the lonely Lowes”.  So began the Borders poet James Hogg when writing of the Loch of the Lowes in his poem The Queen’s Wake.  The busy road passing by may have rendered it significantly less lonely than in Hogg’s day, but a short walk into the Ettrick hills provides an opportunity to capture the sense of solitude of a bygone age.

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Bewick Moor

The moors of north Northumberland may lack the picturesque fame of their Yorkshire cousins, but a little effort reveals a fine walk through history, from prehistoric cairns and Iron Age fortresses, to a medieval tower and a 19th century farmhouse.  Though there are no steep climbs, the pervasive thick heather across the open moorland makes progress slow and much of the route can be difficult to discern at times.

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Loch Skeen and White Coomb

Eagles scream from isle to shore;
Down all the rocks the torrents roar;
O’er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven.
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away it’s hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.

The eagles may be gone now, but Sir Walter Scott’s poem still captures the dramatic beauty of his “Loch-skene”.  This weekend I decided to pay it a visit.

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