F and I are looking for a walking group to join, and decided to go out with HF Edinburgh, a “very friendly and sociable group” affiliated to the holiday company HF Holidays, of which F has considerable and generally very positive experience. The scheduled walk for the day in question was Leadhills 1 – Priests Pool, around 8.5 miles and involving some 550m of ascent. This was classed as a “B” walk by the group, so less strenuous than the “A” rated walks, which certainly suited me since we haven’t done as much walking over the summer as we would normally have done.
The walk was extremely enjoyable for a number of reasons. Our small group of six was, indeed, “friendly and sociable”, and proved easy and companionable throughout the day. Leadhills is the second highest village in Scotland, at an average hight of 450m above sea level. Neighbouring Wanlockhead is it seems, the highest. As it’s name suggests it came into being as accommodation for miners, with some authorities suggesting that silver and lead mining there dates back to Roman times. During the late 15th century gold was discovered there, of such purity that the general area became known as “God’s Treasure House in Scotland”. Sadly but perhaps inevitably there has been no commercial mining for many years, although tourists can still try their hand at panning for gold.
The “Priests Pool” part of the walk referred to an area where, according to local legend, Jock of Snar drowned a priest whom he caught attempting to make love to his wife. Not a very priestly thing to do, although hardly meriting such draconian punishment. The fate of the wife is unrecorded.
An interesting feature of the walk was the number of small animal traps that had been set around the estate. These are, it seems, designed to allow for census and other wildlife monitoring purposes. Unfortunately, as we discovered from a chance encounter with a local gamekeeper, the traps had been destroyed only the previous week, and much effort had gone into restoring them.
For most of the walk our little group seemed to be the only people on earth, and the dry and mostly sunny weather allowed for great views from horizon to horizon. All in all a great day out that encouraged us to join the group formally and enjoy more walks with them in the future.
- NS885150 ↩