I climbed Broad Law a few years ago with a friend and deemed it unworthy of a story on my blog. It was a short day, an easy enough climb and had a summit scarred by a variety of installations (including one for Air Traffic Control!). Most of the big walking websites seem to concur, with words such as ‘unremarkable’ and ‘average’ being thrown about quite liberally in regards to this hill located in the Scottish Borders.
Its rounded slopes culminate in a broad, domed summit that is unfortunately marred by an air traffic beacon and a nearby radio tower. – WalkHighlands
I decided to re-walk it due to an upcoming blog post I am working on: ‘A Guide to the Corbetts of the Southern Uplands’ and I simply couldn’t write this post very well if I didn’t at least have some nice photographs of the hill itself. I decided I’d have a look around and see if there was perhaps a more interesting way to bag this hill, something that would make it worth writing about by itself.
The route I found was not only far more interesting but transformed it into one of the most enjoyable walks I’ve had in the south of Scotland!
(If you are interested, the Megget Stone is a small standing stone that marks the boundary between Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire and you can read more about it HERE.)
However THIS 13-mile route on WalkHighlands intrigued me. A circular route which also bags the nearby Donalds of Dollar Law and Cramalt Craig along with Broad Law. They suggest starting the walk at the Megget Stone however I felt it would be much more fun to start the walk at the beautiful Megget Reservoir further down the road, avoiding the tiny parking space (which holds two cars maximum) at the Megget Stone and taking advantage of the large, FREE car parks provided by Scottish Water at the reservoir. The walk was a circuit after all and I’d strongly recommend this change of starting point as it allows you to bag the Donalds first before climbing Broad Law from the west side and then walking the road back to the carpark.
There are two carparks, ‘Megget Cramalt’ at the east end of the reservior and ‘Megget Linghope’ at the west side. I chose Cramalt as it was in a lovely, quieter spot than the larger Linghope and also because it was right at the old Land Rover track that was the starting point of the walk. The reservoir has a ‘point’ here where the road curls around the small bay and this is where the walk begins.
To see a map of my route, click HERE.
Before getting underway, I let my walking buddy out of the car and strolled down to the edge of the reservoir. While he had a wee drink from the beautifully clear water I took in the views and read the signage. It was becoming a warm, sunny day and it was certainly going to be good for pictures.
‘The Cry of the Hunt’ Sign at Megget Cramalt
Once on the single-track road, it was only a brief walk to the start of the track. The road was quiet and the day was just getting brighter and (a bit worringly) warmer.
The Little Point With The Road ‘U-Bending’ Around It
The Start of the Track
The track was fantastic as it slowly snaked through the little glen. I could see the ridge beyond which lay Dollar Law directly ahead of us and, to our left, was the ridge of Cramult Craig. The heat seeemed to by annoying my walking buddy but plenty of rests and quite a few trips down to the little burn that was flowing below us kept him hydrated and we were soon approaching the ridge high above the reservoir.
“Can’t We Just Sit Here?”
I Don’t Think He Was Taking This Seriously
The Lovely Ridge of Cramalt Craig
Looking Back Down The Track
Bagging Dollar Law
Being up on the ridge was quite a relief. There was a mild breeze and I knew that was one of the hardest parts of the day done. Now Came the first summit of the day: Dollar Law.
Dollar Law was the awkward hill of the day as it was away from the other two and, once bagged, would require us to double back and retrace our steps. We set off for Dollar Law and immediately I was taking in the amazing views in all directions, even the wind farms weren’t a slight on the wonderous landscape that sprawled before me.
The Endless Views
Heading Towards Dollar Law
There is a faint track next to the fence that will lead you all the way to the cairn (along with an occasional stone dyke that comes and goes). It’s easy going at this point and the sun and views were making this a very pleasant walk.
The Summit Cairn of Dollar Law
Once at the cairn we stopped for a wee bite to eat and I immediately noticed something I’d never seen before on a summit: wasps! Lots and lots of wasps. They were buzzing about the cairn and, while not a huge nuisance, I was glad to see the back of them once we turned and headed back towards Cramult Craig.
Cramult Craig (in the background, centre left) and Broad Law (To the right)
It was at this point that the length of this walk started to dawn on me: Broad Law looked very distant and we still had the road to walk back once off of these hills. This certainly wasn’t going to be a short, boring day!
The Views North
The Curling Route to Cramult Craig With Broadlaw in the Background
It wasn’t long until we had retraced our steps and were heading towards Cramult Craig, with a curving track up onto the summit that was pleasantly easy going (despite the heat). Most clouds had vanished from the sky and my pace was slow but steady, with plenty of stops of pictures.
Looking Back to Dollar Law
The Summit of Cramult Craig
We arrived at the summit and by this point my walking buddy had gotten well into the routine: he ran to the cairn and immediately waited on a snack of some sort. Due to the length of the walk I brought a few treats which I had planned on giving him at each cairn.
As he tucked into a meat stick, I noticed yet again more wasps flying around the cairn. In the above photo you can actually see them flying above the fence in the blue sky. I hadn’t intended on staying on Cramult Craig for too long and once we had finished our refreshments we made our move towards what would be the hardest part of the day: dropping down from Cramult Craig into the bealach and climbing to the 2,756ft summit of Broad Law.
I’ve also decided to leave the sun streak in these images without Photoshopping them out to give you an idea of how warm it was.
The Final Ascent: Broad Law
Looking Back to Cramult Craig
I don’t mind saying this part of the day was by far the hardest. I was climbing my 3rd hill of the day, in sweltering heat and Broad Law felt much steeper than it ever had before.
My slow but steady progress changed to purely slow. I had to take quite a few stops to cool down and I was frustrated at how easily Messi was able to trot up the hillside like it was nothing.
“Are you ready yet?”
Sheep on the Summit
Finally, and to my relief, I came over the ridge onto the summit of Broad Law and immediately was greeted by some of the locals. The sheep posed for me (which really is becoming a theme on this blog) and we continued on the easy summit, passing a radio tower and heading towards the cairn in the distance.
I’d gotten my breath back and I could see the cairn a little walk away from an odd building on the summit. I’d heard there was some air traffic control equipment on the summit but seeing as I’ve been watching a lot of the X-Files recently I concluded it was clearly some kind of UFO signalling equipment.
Air Traffic Control or UFO Signaller? You Decide
The Final Cairn of the Day
Reaching the cairn was a relief and I knew there was still quite a distance to walk before we’d reach the car so this was the last opportunity for a rest. Thankfully, there were no wasps this time. I’d been secretly carrying two pork pies for Messi (he is very fond of them) and his delight when I unwrapped them both from my lunch bag was hilarious. I took in the magnificent views and had a well earned drink while he devoured his pies.
I couldn’t help but think that I could take that dog to the summit of Kilimanjaro and he’d still be more interested in the lunch.
Views North From The Cairn
This part of the walk was familiar to me, with an easy path descending parallel with a small fence the winds and curves all the way down to the small single-track road below. By this point, it was early evening and the sun was getting a little lower and was casting a beautiful glow across the hills as I slowly lost altitude. It really was a beautiful walk.
The Road Home
Sunset on the Hills
Eventually we reached the road and found the famous Megget Stone, located at a cattle grid next to a tiny layby which is used for bagging Broad Law.
I’ve noticed quite a few people mentioning they have bagged Broad Law and never saw the Megget Stone. It isn’t large: it’s a small, vertical stone directly next to the wooden frame of the cattle grid. You can’t miss it if you know where to look!
The Megget Stone
It was at this point I noticed the length of the walk still to go, with the small road winding through the glen and not a sight of Megget Reservoir.
“3 hills bagged, pork pies eaten, wasps avoided, sun endured and UFO buildings encountered…”
Now look, I’m pretty fit and distance walking is something I enjoy but I’d had a wonderful day out and was rather looking forward to the car. 3 hills bagged, pork pies eaten, wasps avoided, sun endured and UFO buildings encountered and it was now quite clear we had a few miles still to go!
The Quiet Road (With the first glimpse of the reservoir….way off in the distance!)
We strolled back along the road, barely seeing a car and soaking up the ambiance. Sheep were pottering around the fields and the silence, broken only by the burn flowing to my right, was delightful.
Before I knew it we had passed some small farm buildings and were at the south end of Megget Reservoir. It was a beautiful evening sight.
Megget Reservoir at Night
I took the above photo after a few miles of walking. My feet were burning a bit in my boots due to the road walking and I was looking forward to reaching the car for a rest but by this point I wasn’t caring: I’d had a great day and the views of the reservoir were gorgeous and the whole setting was so relaxing I couldn’t complain.
We strolled beyond Megget Linghope carpark, where there were a few camper vans (with deck chairs outside) who were clearly bedding down for the night in this stunning area.
Thankfully, it was only around a mile and a half to reach Megget Cramalt where I had set off so many hours earlier. When we reached the car Messi collapsed in the grass as I opened the boot and began untying my boots.
As he lay there my thoughts turned to the day we’d had. My FitBit said I’d done 15 miles (a little more than what Walkhighlands had said but I take a lot of pictures and deviate from the route a little at times) and his Pitpat said he’d done a staggering 25 miles! No wonder he was tired.
We’d bagged a Corbett and two Donalds, we’d walked for hours, we’d enjoyed stunning views on a beautiful sunny day with a gorgeous dusk walk home. So many sites state that Broad Law is an ‘unremarkable hill’, an ‘ugly summit’ and treat it as a Corbett that is simply to be bagged in three hours, tick it off and head home.
Broad Law is none of these things. It’s the 2nd highest peak in the south of Scotland with sweeping views in all directions and, if walked the way I’d done it, makes for a tremendous day out in the hills in a secluded spot of the Scottish Borders.
Don’t miss out!
Route Length: 13 miles (potentially more depending on route)