Day 80 – West Linton to Oakbank

I started the day by completing the two miles up to West Linton, where I stopped for a cup of tea. It is a lovely place, with pretty houses and friendly locals. I had a nice chat with the grandfather of a little girl just off to her first day of school, and then headed up to the end of the village to follow a very old road called The Loan which leads up to Cauldstane Slap.
The walk up to Cauldstane Slap was great – a long gentle climb up through farms and past a couple of reservoirs to reach the pass. It helped that the weather was sunny and breezy, as I can imagine it’s probably not such an enjoyable walk in cold wet weather. Once again, as so often on this trip, there was nobody around – I met one man as I came over the pass, but otherwise had the entire landscape to myself for the day. I did meet a herd of Highland cattle on the way up, but despite their fearsome appearance they turned round and ambled away from me in a very docile manner.
At Cauldstane Slap there’s a nice sign explaining how the route was used by the Victorians “who must have been very fit”. The countryside opens up and you can see Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh on the horizon. All the way down to the road there was a lovely but bizarre smell of yeast, as if someone was baking bread nearby – I’m assuming there must be a brewery around but it smelt almost exactly like a newly-baked loaf every time the breeze blew!
I climbed across the moorland to reach the summit of the hill, then rested sitting on a rock and admired the view.
On the way down to Morton Road I got lost, as none of the identifying features (fences and stone marker posts) described in the strip maps were even vaguely visible. After having to walk round a sheep field to find the gate, I came out on the road and headed north. The last few miles were on the road and without shade; Arran (after getting a bit lost) eventually picked me up in the carpark at Oakbank, the entrance to the Almondell and Calderwood country park.
Highlights: heather and sheep coming over the pass; the views from the hill; rabbits nibbling the turf near me while I sat and rested at Oakbank.

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