(1) The Borders hills are deceptively gentle. Despite the voluptuous curvature which is ubiquitous to these uplands - the Howgill Fells notwithstanding - and the virtual absence of significent outcropping, a ten mile walk can be a formidable undertaking. Negotiating knee-deep heather, peat-hags and mile upon mile of tussock-grass quickly drains energy levels: inclement weather exacerbates matters to the point of extreme danger, especially from hypothermia. Do not underestimate the severity of this terrain.
(2) Always carry waterproof outer clothing and an extra pullover, irrespective of weather conditions, plus enough food and drink to maintain adequate nourishment for forty-eight hours.
(3) Stone walls and boundary fences are very useful navigation aids, especially when visibility is poor. Nevertheless, you must not be lulled into a false sense of security: always carry the relevant maps and compass - AND KNOW HOW TO USE THEM!
(4) Give details of your intended route and estimated time of return to a neighbour/friend. Do not forget to inform him/her upon completion of walk.
(5) It is courteous to seek permission from the farmer/landowner before entering what is, to all intents and purposes, a working environment. A knock on the door does not, as far as I am aware, incur an admission charge. Be prepared to give details of the intended route and seek advice on livestock hazards - for example, during the lambing season. "The right to roam" is not sacrosanct.
(6) In my experience, the most significant threat is posed by the presence of cattle. ON NO ACCOUNT should they be approached! Please bear in mind that a cow with her offspring in attendance is, potentially, far more dangerous than a bull despite the latter's formidable reputation for aggression.
(7) Fido/Bonzo may well be a loyal, obedient and affectionate companion. However, "man's best friend" can be, all too often, the hill-farmer's nightmare. If you must take your dog, please ensure it is kept on a lead at all times.
(8) "Take only photographs, leave only footprints and kill only time."
Copyright 23rd August 1999 and 19th September 1999:
RICHARD M. STANBROOK,
18 Drove Road,
Langholm, Dumfriesshire DG13 OJW.