After discussion with the mounted police, I decided to trailer across the m8 for safety reasons (and aesthetic ones). They warned me of the likelihood of missiles being thrown at us in some of the less salubrious areas, as well as the more obvious traffic hazards...north of the motorway has a better network of off-road paths and tracks than the south.
This meant our first sojourn was from Lasswade (great hospitality from Pauline and Chris - thanks for everything including the shower. Practically the first thing all my hosts have said is,"You'll be wanting a shower"...well yes, I'm just sorry it's so obvious!)
The most notable feature of crossing over was - no clegs!! Either they're much more God-fearing people there, or just possibly the weather had cooled down.
It was fun to ride across the Pentlands with some company, for a change (although Ladybird didn't think so - she has become so fiercely attached to Doogs and is VERY possessive. She was in rather a funny mood all day actually- bolshy and a bit of a madam - perhaps the presence of the others, or perhaps wandering the hills has turned her into a misanthropist.)
Lovely riding across the hills - good tracks, well marked with some splendid views - well until nearly the end when we suddenly came across some very unfriendly stiles. Nothing more dispiriting to the rider (or pony) than having to go back UP the hill you've just come DOWN, especially when (naturally) it's by now peeing with rain!
I then rode on alone to West Linton, down an old Roman road (the Romans, as well as Dr Beeching, have contributed lots of riding routes for my pleasure, on this trip ). Bless 'em.
We stayed overnight with well-known Highland pony breeders John and Kate Dykes (Mendick Highland Ponies) in their lovely home. I was so glad to see them for lots of reasons but one of the principal ones was that today was the day I finally discovered that it IS possible to get wetter than wet!! Ponies delighted to be knee-deep in grass (only ankle deep by the morning though).WELL,A GUY'S GOT TO KEEP HIS STRENGTH UP - DOOGS
Time in the morning for one of life's great pleasures, looking round other people's ponies (cracking young gelding for sale if anyone's looking) before bidding farewell to the landmark of Mendick Hill and setting off Peebleswards! As someone said recently, it's amazing how far you can get if you just keep walking...