A Rainy Bank Holiday

After yesterday’s trip into the hills, there wasn’t much of a plan for this day, to be honest. Caledonian Cachefest had organized an event up in the woods to the west of Moffat, but that wasn’t going to last all day. I’d toyed with Moffat Dale too, as there looked to be some interesting spots up there. In any case, plans for a Bank Holiday Monday in May in the south of Scotland are very much dependent on the weather.

It’s in the Trees

The morning event was held in the privately owned Brattleburn estate. The form was a scavenger hunt, but not for geocaches. The first task was to get up to the place. The site was supposedly accessible in a “normal” car, but I’ve learned over time that my current car isn’t normal. Not in that sense, anyway. It’s low to the ground and long, so it doesn’t do well off the tarmac. And this place was well off the tarmac. Thankfully, with Pesh still around I was able to cadge a lift up there. He has a 4×4, so he made relatively light work of it.

Not many people turned up, so we decided to split just into two teams. The sketch was to score points by collecting as much information as possible from the items they’d laid out within a fixed time. The further from the start point, the more points. It was quite hilly terrain although there were gravel tracks to walk on. It was a bit of a laugh, but neither team was particularly successful in finding things. The only aid was a printed map, so we had to go “old skool” to navigate around. My team lost a huge amount of time at one point where there were supposedly two things to find. We got one quickly and then spent ages crawling around some trees looking for the second. We didn’t find it.

After the event, I thought I might go for a walk along the Southern Upland Way but ultimately decided against it because the weather looked a bit suspect.

Heaving it Down

So after the event we all decided to head back down to Moffat. As we were descending it started raining. It started raining a lot. So at that point, I was quite glad I wasn’t on top of a hill five miles from the nearest village.

We decided to head back to the campsite where Pesh and the Minions were staying to see if the rain passed away. It was lunchtime anyway. I’d grabbed some things to eat earlier from a cafe on the High Street, so I had that with me. And so we sat in Pesh’s caravan enjoying (cough) a proverbial wet Bank Holiday. It was coming down like stair rods and didn’t exactly look encouraging for the afternoon.

Moffat Dale

After quite a long lunch break we decided to head off up Moffat Dale to see what we could find. On the way out of town, we did a lab cache point that I’d done on Saturday morning but didn’t go back to in the afternoon. And then we started up the main road along Moffat Dale. There was a set of lab caches running up the valley as far as Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall. Most were in little car parks and some had traditional caches at the same place. In one of those small car parks, I think we may have accidentally disturbed a young couple who were, erm, enjoying the Bank Holiday in what they probably assumed would be a peaceful spot. Well, we weren’t there for long, so hopefully we didn’t dampen their passion for too long.

At Grey Mare’s Tail, we pulled off into a slightly bigger car park (that had a few other cars in it). Again there were a couple of other caches here too. It’s a lovely spot, but the top was a bit of a hike that we weren’t really in the mood for. To be fair, the hills around the waterfall are big. The biggest, White Coomb, would be in the top 10% by height if it was a Wainwright. So walking up it on a wet day when it was already well into the afternoon was out of the question. Anyway, we’d already had lunch and I didn’t have any more food or drinks with me.

St Mary’s Loch

Just up the valley from Grey Mare’s Tail we found an absolute gem of a place. Just over a watershed in Moffat Dale lies St Mary’s Loch. It’s the largest lake in the Scottish Borders. On the south side is a smaller one called Loch of the Lowes. It’s obviously popular with tourists as there was a huge car park. There wasn’t a lot else where we parked though. A cafe that was shut, maybe. The main reason was, however, to find geocaches. The Caledonian Cachefest crew had set a series that went around the east side of the lake. Not all the way round though. if they had been, I’d have been tempted to come up here for the whole day. Permission issues, apparently. But we were able to get the canines out of the car and find 5-6 caches quickly by walking across the narrow strip of land between the two lochs. Which was nice…..

Puzzling

The Caledonian Cachefest crew had released a few puzzles near to town in the week before the event. These were generally on a theme of simple encryption techniques. I found some harder than others, and in face I didn’t have one of the solutions until the night before I left home. Anyway, these caches were actually to be found around a small loop of narrow roads to the south of Moffat. We took a guess that it would be quiet enough at 5pm on a Bank Holiday evening to go round in the car rather than walking, and so it proved to be. All were found with a minimum of fuss.

At the very western end of that series was a possible walk through to a few on the other side of the M74, but when we got there it didn’t look suitable for leaving a car, so instead we finished the puzzles and drove around to the other side of the motorway to park in a proper layby. That got us a further four finds and took us past the point of wanting to continue.

A Quiet Evening

Pesh dropped me off in town and as we were all leaving the following day, that was enough. I just had a quiet meal on my own in the hotel and then a whisky or two at the bar and then headed upstairs. The following day I needed to get all the way home again.