The Castlelaw caper

Last night I enjoyed a climb to the top of my favourite “easy” hill in The Pentlands, Castlelaw. It marks the first time I’ve been to the top of the hill since my New Year’s Day hike with my houseguest and was a long-overdue climb that was delayed because I’ve been (mostly) isolating at home these past four months.

I enjoyed the climb with an adventure partner, for whom this was the first ascent. With his love for hillforts, I had hoped that we would be able to visit the hillfort’s souterrain on the way to the summit. However, it hasn’t opened yet, as I thought it would. Darn those COVID19 closures! (But I get it, really). Instead, we just looked around the outer ditches a bit before making the climb.

A quick video tour of the souterrain from December 2018

We made it to the summit in a decent time but didn’t linger too long at the top because the winds were far too strong. The views were certainly worth fighting the gusts though, as always! Of course, we weren’t about to enjoy our sandwiches in the winds, so we began our descent after a few minutes.

The path doesn’t lend itself to relaxing rest stops (there really should be a couple of benches!) so we decided to return to the hillfort to eat. That way we could shelter in the doorway of the souterrain before exploring the outside of the fort a bit more.

It was after that stop that the night turned from enjoyable to exciting!

As we circled towards the front of the fort, we noticed several police cars arriving. We stood and watched for a while trying to see if we could figure out what was going on, but there wasn’t much activity. However, as we made our way to the gates, two of the police officers stopped us to ask some questions.

It seems that a man went missing several days earlier and they had an indication that he might be in the area. As it happens, we had passed someone on our way down! We had thought he looked out of place when we passed him, but he didn’t appear to need assistance or anything, so we just exchanged the typical “hello; nice evening” greetings in response to his.

We were able to share the details of our encounter with the police, for which they were grateful. And because I was clocking the walk on the Garmin, and we saw him just as it was beeping to alert me of a mile marker, I was able to share fairly exact details of the time and location when we passed him – something that was greatly appreciated!

By the time we got back to the estate (a mile from where we met the police), there was a helicopter above the area that we saw him. It was only flying for about 15 minutes, so we were hoping that was a positive sign.

When I woke up this morning, I was pleased to see that the man had in fact been found safe within an hour of our talk with the police. I don’t know if the information we provided really made a difference, but it is nice to think that maybe we were of assistance. More importantly, of course, is that the man is safe, and his family can stop worrying!

Anyhow, for all the climbs I’ve made to the top of Castlelaw, this was by far the most exciting. After all, I do love a happy ending!

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