Whilst most Golden Eagles are in the mountains of northern Scotland there are a few known to be in the high hills of the Southern Uplands. Until I moved to southern Scotland I never appreciated how wild and rugged parts of the area are. The remote high places of Upper Tweeddale have hills rising over 2,500 feet with Broad Law hitting 840 metres and White Coomb 821. The latter looks down on the spectacular Grey Mare’s Tail a 300 foot waterfall that crashes down into the remotest reach of the gorgeous Yarrow Valley, a place that Wordsworth loved and that Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg both frequented.
Tramping along a wee valley not that far from here with friends and their children a few weeks ago I was keeping my fingers crossed that we might sight a Golden Eagle. I’ve seen one here twice before. “Oh aye, that’ll be Roxy,” said the owner of an estate of wild upland moorland close by, who I know. Well, we never sighted Roxy that day but we followed a burn that tumbled down over the rocks until we’d ascended four hundred feet and were casting around for some sign of a ruined tower that was marked on our map. The tower ruins remained elusive, like Roxy but perhaps it’s better that way? The children knew that William Wallace had hidden out from his English enemies in these hills and I knew that we’d back on another day and perhaps they’d see an eagle then? After all, the joy of seeing an eagle is so great because it is so rare that one does!
Closer to home a week later and ambling along a riverbank no great distance from a road, my partner and I caught our breaths as two kingfishers flashed past. Then driving home two hares, so big they could have been lurcher dogs, (well, maybe I exaggerate?) ran across the road in front of us. Every day we head out for a walk we count our blessings that we’re in such a lovely part of the country.