Please note that throughout the text I have used Ordnance Survey nomenclature. There are regional yet officially unadopted variants by which some of the topographical features are appelled, noteworthy examples being "Timpen" for Mid Hill (Grid Ref. NY344854: Langholm Heights) and "Elephant Hill" for Steygail (Grid Ref. NS888084: Lowther Hills). It is not my intention to court controversy by entering into the rights and wrongs of what would be, in my view, a futile debate. As an incomer to the area, I am content to rely upon the excellent, but by no means infallible, cartography which is still regarded with envy by most other coumtries and, at the same time, recognise that local wisdom can enhance what would otherwise be mere slavery to the map and compass, vital as they are.
I have not graded these walks according to levels of difficulty. All routes have their hazards: what may be arduous to one person may not pose problems for others, and vice-versa. Although none will involve advanced mountaineering techniques, I do not recommend venturing into the Lowther, Manor and Tweedsmuir massifs when arctic conditions prevail. Ask those residing at Wanlockhead to recall the grim winter of 1995/6! From personal experience, the Lowther summit ridge, despite the N.A.T.S. Road linking Green Lowther with Lowther Hill, is not the ideal location during a Force 8 blizzard from the NNW - and that was in April 1999. It would be reasonable and safe to assume that a good standard of fitness is needed in order to enjoy these walks.
(A personal note. Firstly, if I have given the impression of being a hardened mesomorph, then I am guilty of attributing to myself the qualities of Greek mythological masculinity in all its purported splendour. In truth, I am a cider-swilling reprobate: a non-conformist with delusions of adequacy. By rights, the first hill encountered on a walk should be my last... Secondly, it is sheer bloody-mindedness which forces me to blunder and stumble towards completion of a ten to twenty mile walk. However, the topographical delights provide ample mitigation: paradoxically, excruciating pain can be enjoyable.)
Copyright 23rd August 1999 and 19th September 1999:
RICHARD M. STANBROOK,
18 Drove Road,
Langholm, Dumfriesshire DG13 OJW.