Arriving late ... very late ... meant this trip was pure murder


Some days nothing seems to go right and last Sunday was a perfect example.It was a lovely morning, so I decided to join the Scottish Wildlife Trust on a guided walk round Murder Moss.

This National Nature Reserve is part of the Whitlaw Mosses, which are four marshy areas clustered around Lindean Reservoir near Selkirk, and the opportunity of being shown round by experts was too good a chance to miss.

I decided to get the bus from the foot of my street to Lindean and walk the last mile or so up the hill to the meeting point and beg a lift back to Selkirk afterwards.

After a 15-minute wait at the bus stop, a passing lady stopped to tell me that the bus I was waiting for had been discontinued three weeks ago.

It was such a glorious morning I decided to set out on foot with the outside chance that someone else heading for the walk might stop and give me a lift.

Five miles and an hour and a half later, I arrived at the meeting point, sweating profusely, to discover only a couple of cars in the car park. It was 45 minutes after the rendezvous time, so I presumed that they had all gone ahead in their cars to a parking area nearer Murder Moss.

After a quick slug of energy-enhancing orange juice, I set off to find them on foot.

Foolishly, I didn’t have a map with me and I couldn’t quite remember which of the four mosses in the area was Murder Moss.

You’ve guessed it; I got it wrong, and ended up at the one called Blackpool Moss, which was deserted. Anyway, I had my lunch there and enjoyed the wildlife on offer.

Hares were in adjacent fields, as were lapwings, singing skylarks and buzzards, while in the moss itself I could hear singing sedge and willow warblers, and the calls of water rail and snipe.

By then I was more than two hours behind the party, as I eventually made my way to Murder Moss. I approached quietly and sat on a grassy hillock overlooking the large area of marsh and willow.

From this vantage point I could easily pick out anyone moving around and join them.

As I scanned the area with my binoculars, I saw a heron at an open pool looking for frogs and a roe deer ambled from the trees and began to graze, unaware of my presence. Both of these creatures would not be doing that if there were people about. I had obviously missed them again.

With no hope of a lift back now, I set out across country in a homeward direction.

Absolutely exhausted, I arrived home five hours after setting out, having missed the guided walk but seen lots of wildlife and acquired my first sunburn of the year.

How had I missed the walkers? Simple – on checking the advert again, I discovered that it had taken place the previous day. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was me who put it in the paper! This old age is not to be desired.