Expedition from the Backdoor Diary Entries 4: Droves Road Section 19th to 21st April 2017


4 Drove Road Map 3
Drovers Route through Pentland Hills

Wednesday 19th April. Evening

Now in my ‘Fir Tree Bivi’ on the Droves road that goes over the Border (over the Pentland Hills). Had a clear sky when got to Cloich Hills Forest to bivi, so thought I might be in for a cold night, but cloud cover has built.

Sent a picture home to help Andy with the Facebook posts. Feels wrong. He messaged me that there’s to be a general election in June, but don’t want to think about all that now. My strength seems to be growing, and not so much pain in hip – but don’t want to jinx it.

Drovers Road foot
Low impact damage on foot

Learning that doing things the bushcraft way you have to take it really slowly. Like lighting a fire and organising kit – as well as stopping to deal with the small things that might turn into big things. It’s the antithesis of contemporary life, especially the sports I’ve been involved with. Even in Alpinism speed is key to safety – getting off the mountain by early afternoon. I’m having to pace myself and stop trying to outrun the rain clouds – just make sure everything is protected for when they let rip. In fact, when I’m on the hills I don’t much mind about keeping to plan – like 16m/day come hell or high water. Only at night get bothered. It’s a very long way with almost 20kg over series of steep hills, especially in bad weather, so what can I do except just make the best plans?

Feeling much happier than yesterday. Beginning to rely on evening ration of cooked pemmy – very nourishing. Everywhere around the bivi site is sodden, because I’m in a clearing with only a few saplings, except under this bigger (but rather cute) fir, which is bone dry. I’m doing without the tarp/basha since foliage cover is dense. WE SHALL SEE!

My cute little fir tree under which I slept  for fir tree bivy
Fir Tree Bivy
A cold night in fir tree bivy, everything on, booties, gaiters, down jacket and hat

Just thinking about today and recalling coming across main roads to Glasgow and Edinburgh in Pebbles. Gave me a thrill! BUT bloody nav in towns got me again – still hopeless.

Thursday 20th am

Was a very still night – only occasionally the very slightest wisp of coldness across the face. First mozzies, first use of mozzi repellent. 4.40 am now and plane just gone across – Edinburgh? Been awake for a long time thinking about route plans. Had DREAMS in night. Woke up laughing in middle of night. Not had that for years and years. Dream that was training for boxing but didn’t want hernias in my arms?? Two other dreams that I was desperate to remember but now they’ve gone – so must have been important! Wonder whether some delirium is setting in ? Fasting visions?

Very comfortable night. A lot of T-Witting from a solitary owl, eventually got a T-woo from a distance then left. Also something came to visit early am but didn’t see what it was.


Have hiked over to West Linton. Was wondering on the way, through the forested hillside, why I do this. Asking myself the question like an interview. I thought, and he probably doesn’t know and wouldn’t approve (from concern) that my father in law (and my husband Andy) are big inspiration – the Primroses, hailing from around here. Then there’s my mother and her grandfather, the MacIntoshes, Hailing from the Highlands. Made me ponder, Highland/Lowland, West and East, Yin and Yang. I like the thought of all this just coming from feeling touched by history.

Drovers route Pentland

After silent forest walk and hillsides and burns the last stretch to West Linton was 1.5 miles on the road. NOT NICE. I noticed, after several incidents of the same, how when girls and women all past me they smell overpoweringly of perfume. It makes me wonder what makes them think they smell so bad that they have to do this – put on chemicals. Not exactly a rhetorical question! It makes me think, with all this pemmican on me and in me that I must smell, like the wife in ‘A Whole Life’ by Seethaler, vaguely ‘meaty’. Dog’s delight!

Having a long stop here before heading out over the Pentlands. Unusual place. Refuge of the last Covenanters apparently. Thinking I’ll probably have to camp out on the hillside tonight coz a long, woodless tract on the Droves road and Thieves road. Started this am at 7 and stopped now at 10.40. That’s long enough for a decent break.

Drovers Route woodless
Woodless tract on Drivers Road


Loved the Pentlands. Pooped now though due to interminable path around bogs coming down. Had my eye on a forest the other side of a sheep field just below A70 but wanted to stop now, so have just set up bivi on sheltered side of field wall leading up to the road. Been v.v. Windy. Couldn’t easily manage my body temp and felt a bit sick. Was thrilled when the Forth bridges came into view – feels like a milestone. Bivi is in a lush field with muck spread all over it. Quite dry though and not smelling – I think! Used one of plastic gloves in med kit to clear the area. Can hear gulls!

Muck Spreaders Bivy
Muck Spreaders Bivy

Friday 21st April. am.

6am now. Red sunrise! Got virtually no sleep. Wondering about physical health and whether another two weeks on rations is possible – esp with blood in urine. But it IS though, isn’t it? What about Shackleton crew? Although I don’t have the luxury of penguins to eat! Rain and wind ALL night, but sheltered from effects if not sounds. Quite warm. Tarp performed superbly – better than poncho used to. Having to remind myself to be meticulous about sanitising hands in this field – don’t want e-coli from the grass. ‘Mucky Night Bivi’! Dry mouth ALL the time – I think mainly from breathing through mouth.

Sunrise Mucky night Bivy
Sunrise after rain in Mucky Night Bivy

Will have to pack everything up in very confined quarters today – luxury of space is over – so as to stay dry. In the night had to cool myself down rapidly due to feeling sick. Far too many coverings in this warm wet weather. Wonder how walking will be now. I had wished for rain along the canals to keep everyone off them. May rue the thought!

Muck Spreaders Bivy 2
A change in the weather

Odd noises overnight were very strange – industrial, whining and deep, inhuman kind of gearing sort of sounds. I’m right by the A70, Forth Bridges, wind turbines, flight paths – so whether one or other or all responsible don’t know.

Leaving at 7.30. Rain has stopped and some sunshine, but dark clouds too.

Drovers Route feature


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