The walk up to Darden Lough starts from a small parking area on the Rothbury to Elsdon Road in the Grasslees Valley. It’s been a permissive route for years but more recently has been made into public footpaths as well as being on open access land. The path now weaves up through an area that has been transformed from an old conifer block back into heather moorland, the recovery is impressive though the path is somewhat hard to follow on this section.
There had been an overnight frost meaning that the route was icy in places with frost lingering out of the sun. Unfortunately it was not icy enough to make the ground solid underfoot, there were still a few deep muddy holes to negotiate. Darden lough itself was partially frozen with some interesting patterns having formed on the ice. The views from the cairn at the summit of the walk were of a frosty mist hanging in the valleys around Elsdon and to the more distant south.
The path drops back off the hill and skirts an area which has had a deer fence put around it to keep deer as well as the roaming sheep out. A stark contrast exists between the open hill and the thriving birch woodland that is developing in the protected zone. Neither side is natural, the birch woodland would naturally be checked by some grazing animals but the open hill is entirely shaped by the hungry mouths that feed upon it.