I was glad I was starting from Britain’s highest village, but there were still some long climbs today that would take me over the highest point on the walk on a day that was almost 25 miles long. Thankfully it was cool and cloudy as I started out from Wanlockhead, really good walking weather, though it was not to last with some early rain and then heavier showers in the afternoon.
The first objective was to make it to the ‘Golf Ball’ radar station at the top of Lowther Hill (the highest point on the walk at 725 metres), but as I made my way over the first ridge it was nowhere to be seen, shrouded in low cloud which was clinging to the tops of the hills on the route ahead.
It was thinking about the 7.5 miles to do today that got me through yesterday’s mammoth 28 mile stage, though even after a good rest overnight my legs probably never actually stopped moving as I slept. My wish for a late breakfast almost backfired by a power cut, though it came back just in time as I tucked into the large bowl of porridge I had been given to keep me occupied.
After a quick trip to the ruins of Sanquhar Castle (unfortunately surrounded by a high fence with signs warning of dangerous building, though it hardly seemed fair to cage it in) and Britain’s oldest Post Office (which is still operational), it was just after 11am before I really got going and headed out of town.
I knew it was going to be a long day of walking, but perhaps I had not appreciated just how long it would be crossing the range of hills that stretched out ahead of me today. It was Sunday and while everyone else seemed to be having a lazy start to the day I wanted to be up and out as soon as possible – though 9 o’clock drifted by before I was heading uphill out of the village.
Whereas yesterday was long it was dominated by long stretches of tarmac or forest roads – today those easy walking sections were few and far between, and moorland was the order of the day.
As I sat and ate breakfast the first shower of rain started – and while I knew I had over 25 miles to cover the prompt start I had tried to plan the previous evening was being fritted away as I faffed around getting ready…
Due to previous forestry operations the official route headed south out of the village for quite a way before following the Water of Trool river towards the loch. With the rain descending I decided to head north to follow the road to the Glentrool visitor centre (hoping the café would be open – it was not, I was too early) before heading down to the Water of Trool and picking up the official route.
After a little while, with glimpses of the river, I was close to the Martyr’s Tomb and rested a while in the shelter of the trees. The tomb is in memory of 6 martyrs who suffered at this spot for their attachment to the covenanted cause in Scotland in 1685.
The weather was cool and clear, and the sun was trying its best to shine through the cloud, as I left the B&B and headed back towards the Southern Upland Way. The windfarm that was on the horizon yesterday was starting to get closer.
Heading down to the harbour after a good Scottish breakfast I felt ready for the challenge of the Southern Upland Way – all 212 miles of it, to be completed in 11 days!
It was only very recently that heard about the Southern Upland Way, and intrigued I ordered up the guidebook – and found to my delight it looked a most interesting walk. Fingers crossed that it lives up to expectations as I am already heading north with my walking stick et al…
With friends visiting for the weekend it was great the weather was far better than anyone’s expectations. Saturday was spent walking over Ashdown Forest and visiting Pooh Sticks Bridge, and Sunday we headed to the South Downs and walked from Firle to Alfriston.
Páramo make some excellent kit to protect you against the elements, and all that the weather can throw at you. They are exceedingly comfortable and thankfully don’t rustle when you wear them.
It being nearly midsummer in the UK I am looking out my waterproof jacket and trousers for a weekend of walking in Sussex – the forecast is lousy again.
I have an Alta II Jacket and Cascada Trousers. They both make use of Nikwax Analogy Waterproof technology, with a liner that is said to mimic the action of animal fur – pushing liquid water outwards to protect you from rain.