There can be few, if any, more iconic landmarks in the Borders than the Eildon Hills. No matter where you travel in our region, they are almost always visible, dominating the landscape.
Last week, the newly updated booklet, “The Eildon Hills”, published by The Central Borders Group of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, dropped through my letter box, so I thought it was time to visit these magical hills, using the booklet as my guide.
Last Sunday morning, before the sparrow’s first chirp, I set off, with threatening clouds scudding across a leaden sky. Contrary to popular belief there are actually four Eildons, not three, unimaginatively called North, Middle, Wester and Little Hills.
I chose Mid, being the highest, but it is probably the most difficult climb, entailing a bit of a scramble up steep paths covered in loose stones. I was glad I took my walking poles. The other hills offer equally spectacular views and are much more accessible to the not so fit.
I approached from Bowdenmoor Reservoir, which has recently been upgraded as a fishery and is surrounded by an electric fence, gates and warning notices. I wasn’t sure whether it was to keep out predators or keep the anglers in! The water lilies were lovely though!
On the hill itself, the bell heather was at its glorious best and meadow pipits were singing everywhere. The higher I got, the windier it got and by the time I reached the trig point and granite pillar erected in 1927 in memory of Sir Walter Scott, it was blowing a gale.
I only paused briefly for the obligatory photos before going over the summit to find a sheltered spot to have my flask of coffee. Out of the wind it was remarkably quiet and I could even hear the church bells ringing out in both Bowden and Melrose. Far below I could see the network of paths which crisscross the hills and the first of the day’s walkers beginning to appear.
As I sat, I browsed through the booklet and was amazed at the work which had gone into it. It is packed with information about all the wildlife and plants you are likely to encounter on the hills, as well as their history and geology, all illustrated beautifully with dozens of coloured photographs mainly contributed by the Trust’s local members. There is also a comprehensive map showing all the footpaths. Every home in our area should have one and it is an absolute must for all visitors to the Central Borders.
They cost only £4 and are available at the moment in Melrose from Mason’s Bookshop and the Spar, or you can contact Malcolm Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org with your requirements.