Plan B turns out all for the best in long run

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s nothing quite like a trip up the Tweed valley in early summer when the weather is fine. I prefer the back road by Elibank, which is quieter and the views are spectacular.

On a recent outing, I simply had to stop to take a picture of the oak woodlands there, which were carpeted in bluebells. I was heading for Peebles and beyond, with the intention of stopping for a while at the Meldons scenic picnic area between Eddleston and Lynne Station. However, on arrival, sheep and lambs were everywhere, so letting Treacle, our cockapoo, out would not have been conducive to relaxing al fresco dining. Plan B then was resorted to, with a trip up the Manor Valley substituted instead.

I knew I had made the right decision when I got out of the car near the head of the valley and the first bird I heard was the cuckoo – my first of the year. It is a lovely tranquil valley with little traffic and a wealth of wildlife.

I couldn’t resist a walk by the crystal-clear burn which had ancient juniper bushes growing along its banks. Water birds abounded, with grey and pied wagtail, common sandpiper, oystercatcher and dipper ticked off within minutes. Overhead circled raven and buzzard, enjoying the thermals created by the midday sun.

Another photo opportunity presented itself as a group of sheep and lambs began to cross the footbridge over the burn.

As well as wildlife, the valley is steeped in history, with many ruins and ancient earthworks giving an indication of what must have been a more populous area in times gone by.

Instead of returning to the main road by the way we came, I decided to take the more scenic route back to Peebles by the single-track road via Cademuir. Here too wildlife was much in evidence.

Firstly, I pulled up to photograph three brown hares in a field quite close to the roadside. Two were sleeping while the other stayed on lookout, taking the opportunity to groom itself.

A little further along, a wet scrape at the edge of a pasture had me stopping and reaching for my binoculars. Several black-headed gulls were nesting and quite a few pairs of lapwings were obviously defending nest sites in the adjacent rough marshland.