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Walking fest was wet and wonderful

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By Donald Turvill
Moffat
Walking fest was wet and wonderful
BIRDWATCHING . . . walk leader Dave Dick sets off on the birdwatching trail with his walkers

RAMBLERS braved the elements at Moffat’s walking festival last weekend.

Group strolls of varying difficulties and themes around town, up the Moffat Hills and beyond formed the programme of the first-ever Moffat Walking Weekend, organised by Walk Moffat.

And despite the rain, turnout — and spirits —were still high.

Friday saw the acclaimed Mostly Ghostly leading the ‘dark tales of Old Moffat’ tour, which took walkers through historic closes and silent side streets, whilst delving into the gruesome, mysterious and untold tales of the town. On Friday and Saturday night, Moffat’s unique Dark Sky status was capitalised on with a nighttime walk and stargazing experience led by Biosphere Dark Sky ranger, Elizabeth Tindal.

STILL SMILING . . . some wet walkers after taking part in one of the early walks on Saturday morning

Walkers headed up the iconic Devils Beef Tub on Saturday, with trips to Moffat Community Woodlands, St Mary’s Loch, and upstream along the River Annan also on offer. Furthermore, a specialist birdwatching walk was led by local bird conservationist, Dave Dick, around around Gallow Hill, where by autumn you can find great, long-tailed, blue and coal tits; great spotted woodpeckers; jays, ravens, carrion crows, jackdaws and rooks; buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks and, with luck, a passing red kite or goshawk.

On Sunday, the National Trust for Scotland Scottish Borders ranger, Ciaran Hatsell, took walkers on a trek up Grey Mare’s Tale around the upland route following Auchencat Burn to the iron rich spring of Hartfell Spa.

Events on the final day also included a stroll around Moffat, a heights and history tour along part of the Annandale Way, den building on Gallow Hill and a walk along the historical Merlin Trail.

Reflecting on the weekend, Susan Barker, chair of Walk Moffat, said: “It couldn’t have been done without our fantastic group of volunteers and walk leaders. The feedback we’ve received has been uniformly positive, with many wondering if we will organise one next year? We’ll be making a decision on that very, very soon.

“We must pray tribute to the minister of St Andrew’s church The Rev Elsie Macrae for her support, and the wonderful team of volunteers, who provided hot drinks and fabulous home baking all weekend.”

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