115. Kirkcudbright to Gatehouse of Fleet

Another 2 day trip to Scotland as I continue my walk around the Scotland’s coastline. I was looking forward to todays walk, as I will be walking mostly off-road.

I left Shropshire early to catch the 07:05 Stagecoach #502 bus from Gatehouse of Fleet to Kirkcudbright. At a cost of only £2.20, this offered excellent value for money. I get off the bus at the harbour in Kirkcudbright, its cool and overcast – great walking weather. I cross the River Dee by the concrete bridge, which although solid-looking is quite ugly. I walk for a short distance along the A755 before turning down the B727, which at this time of the morning is quite quiet.

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Senwick Graveyard
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Looking down on Ross Bay and Meikle Ross

After a couple of miles I come to Nun Mill Bay where i need to locate the start of a footpath at Mill Hall Glen. It is not obvious where the footpath begins. I ignore the private signs and walk past a number of retirement homes. I make out at the end of the road a footpath sign pointing to a small gap where my footpath begins. This pathway will lead for a couple of miles through Senwick Wood and although slightly overgrown in places is a delight to walk through. The path eventually emerges at the remains of Senwick church and graveyard. I spend sometime exploring the graveyard and the written inscriptions on the headstones. I see that some of the stones are very old, dating from the early 18th century and giving ages of people who would have been alive at the time of the Restoration.

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Looking back along the coast towards Meikle Ross

I emerge alongside a small caravan park at Balmangan, which I pass by heading up towards the brow of a hill. The view from this modest height is excellent with a sweeping panorama across to the hills of the Lakes, across to the Isle of Man and down on Ross Bay with its small promontory of Meikle Ross and the small island of Little Ross with lighthouse. I follow the road around the Bay and find a footpath sign pointing to Meikle Ross. Although only 90m high I divert off the path to ‘bag’ the summit. I complete almost a full circle of Meikle Ross and continue along the coast skirting Mull of Ross, finding a path of skirts, with occasional signs and kissing gates.

I make good time and eventually arrive at Brighouse Bay, where I have the small beach to myself. I follow a path through a wooded plantation running alongside a caravan park and a picturesque golf course. After about 3 miles the path signage begins to disappear and the gates begin less well used. I head inland, getting stuck in some enclosed fields with their barbed-wired fences either side of a stone wall. I eventually pick up the green lane towards Kirkandrews. At Kirkandrews I come across a small kirk, built as a castle!

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Kirkandrews Kirk!
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The “Coo Palace”

The Lych gate has a mock portcullis, as does the entrance porch, there is a mini-turret tower which hides the chimney. The kirk provides services to all denominations and is apparently a favourite wedding venue. As I pass further down the road I pass a farm with more buildings in the same gothic style, barns and milking parlours as castles! Locally called the “Coo Palace”, this is yet another building  of the Manchester industrialist James Brown, who at the turn of the 20th century a number of these rather idiosyncratic, often whimsical follies around the Knockbrex estate. Personally, I think the buildings look ugly, especially as they use a very dark stone , with light mortar. I carry along the road towards Knockbrex, as I see no evidence of any footpath, although the shoreline is only 80m away.

As I reach Carrick, the sun emerges from the clouds and is  now quite fierce now. I decide to take an extended break of 30mins. I sit and take in the glorious views of the Islands of Fleet, in particular Ardwell Island, lying about 400m offshore.

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Mill of Fleet at Gatehouse of Fleet

I carry on towards White Bay at Sandgreen, where I walk along the small beach before turning inland through the caravan site and onto a straight green lane which will take me past Cally Mains. Aft passing the farm at Cally Mains I begin to pick up the roar of traffic from the A75. The lane passes underneath the busy A75 and emerges outside the Cally Mains Palace, now a Hotel, country club and golf course. The golf course is not on my map, so i head down one of the tracks along the fairways, before emerging in Grassie Park in the centre of Gatehouse of Fleet. It had taken me a leisurely 8.5hrs to cover the distance.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=21075

Distance today =  23 miles
Total distance =   1839 miles

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113. Dundrennan to Kirkcudbright

With the MOD firing range off-limits, todays walk was going to be a simple affair with a 6 + mile walk along the A711 and a 3 mile circular walk around St Marys Isle.

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Scene of the Dundrennan air crash – where the Hamilton’s cottage once stood.

I missed breakfast with the intention of getting an early start by driving and parking in Kirkcudbright, then catching the 7:20 #505 bus back to Dundrennan. Well they say “………… the best laid plans of mice and….”. The #505 service is separately served by both MacEwan’s Coaches and DGC Buses. Unfortunately, the service times run by MacEwan’s is notorious for both it’s punctuality and reliability. Anyway, the long and short of it the 7:20 did not turn up at all, the first time I have ever been let down by a bus not turning up. I waited for next bus, 9:05, run by DGC buses which did turn up. .

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Looking ahead to Kirkcudbright Bay from the A711

I was accompanied for most of the walk along the A711 on my left by the MOD firing range. The red flags were raised at all roads onto to the range. The  traffic along the A711 was very light and I made excellent progress towards Mutehill where the road turned north and a public footpath all the way Kirkcudbright started.

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Kirkcudbright Harbour and the River Dee
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Rust coloured people with large bosoms and flat heads in Kirkcudbright

As I reached the outskirts of Kirkcudbright I opted to do the 3 mile circular walk of St Marys Isle. There is a dedicated footpath all around the isle, which offers limited views at this time of the year, with its extensive foliage. I emerged from the exit road from the Isle and turned left down a small suburban road which led past the local football ground towards the marina. At the marina I could see that the tidal was out on the River Dee, revealing its deep muddy banks. A small side street led me to the Harbour car Park when my car was parked. I managed the 10 miles in just 2.5 hours.

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War Memorial with MacLellan’s Castle behind

I must admit I liked Kirkcudbright, it is a charming little market town and it was refreshing to see how clean the town was and devoid of litter.

 

 

 

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20973

Distance today =  10 miles
Total distance =   1793.5 miles

112. Dalbeattie to Dundrennan

It was back to Scotland again for two days of getting from Dalbeattie to Kirkcudbright. The section contained a number of promontories, which jutted out into Rough Firth, Orchardton Bay and Auchencairn Bay,  that I would also try to get around. Because the mileage for this section would be quite high, I  decided I would use Dundrennam as my stop for the night.

This part of Kirkcudbright is dominated by a large MOD firing range which is still regularly used. I called the Range Officer the day before I left home to enquire on the firing times and access. Unfortunately, he told me live firing would continue for the rest of the week, which meant my second days walk would be virtually on all road and quite short.

I set off early from Shropshire and arrived at my B&B in Dundrennan in time to catch the 7:29 #505 bus to Dalbeattie. The bus was about 15 minutes late, which turned out to be par for the course, as I found out the following day. The bus was empty all the way to Dalbeattie, where I alighted at the Maxwells Arms pub (now an Indian restaurant) and began walking out of the town along the A711.

The road was quite busy as I approached the Buitle or Cragnair bridge which spans the Urr water. The next 3 miles was all road walking as I headed south along the A711 towards Palnackie. At Palnackie I headed down a minor road  towards a glassworks. I never did see the glassworks or a Core Path running south from it. Instead I passed to the west of Tornat Wood still looking for any kind of signage. I continued down the lane to South Glen, only distracted by a couple of Jack Russels who wanted to accompany me for some distance. I looked across towards Kippford, which was but a short distance across the muddy Rough Firth. I could have continued to the Glen Isle, but this was only a small promontory. I decided to follow the dry coastline of the merse, due west heading for a track which rounded the next promontory. I found the track ok which contoured around Castle Hill and emerged close to Almorness House. I had read that a previous ‘Coaster’ passing this way had managed to cross Orchardton Bay from Torr Point without major difficulty. I had a look but there was a large amount of vegetation I would have to hack through to see if I could cross this way.. I decided no, and headed north towards the interesting Orchardton Tower.

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Orchardton Tower

Although missing its roof, this fifteenth-century building is the only round tower house in Scotland and was held by the Maxwells for many years. I decided to scale the tower via a very steep and tight spiral staircase. At the top of the tower the views were poor particularly as the foggy haze had not cleared yet. I headed north-west along a minor road where I rejoined the A711, which required another 2 miles of verge-hopping before I came to Rigg of Torr. here I was able to walk west along a lane towards Torr Point. The path was easy to follow, but I decided to climb up onto Torr Hill to get a view, but the hazy fog persisted, however, I could easily look across Auchecairn bay towards Balcary Bay where I was headed next. I now needed a rest and some food. The sun was slowly beginning to break through the fog and was quite fierce when it did so. I headed along a footpath which took me into the village of Auchencairn, where I visited the local store for cold drinks supplies. Although Auchencairn sits on the A711 I was heading down a small cul-de-sac side road towards Balcary Bay.

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The cliffs at Balcary Head

At Balcary Bay I was given a choice of footpaths to Rascarrel, a cliff-top walk around Balcary Point or a short cut across fields. Of course I opted for the coastal route. The sea cliffs around Balcary point where in fact the first significant sea cliffs I encountered since leaving Gretna. The swirling sea fog made for a dramatic effect, rising up the cliff-face and swirling inland. Views where rather limited, but it was nice to get some proper coastal walking in. At Rascarrel Bay, most “Coasters” seem to head inland again towards the main road. I decided to continue along the coast towards  Barlocco Bay.

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“Beach art” ? At Rascarrel Bay

At Rascarrel Bay I met a lady who had tried to walk towards Barlocco Bay, but had turned back due to the rampant vegetation and many Adders on the path. I thought I’d give it a go. The going was not too bad, although I had to revert to climbing a few gates and walking in the fields. Soon after passing through Barlocco Bay, any trace of a coastal path disappeared and I was forced to scale stone walls with barbed wire atop, that was tiring after a couple of fields. I decided to turn inland headed up Cairny Hill, skirting Barlocco farm and onto a minor road.

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Dundrennan

It was late afternoon now nad most of the lingering sea fog had disappeared. A few miles along these side roads I stood atop Rerrick hill with a glorious vista west out across the Kirkcudcbright firing range. I could hear intermittent machine gun fire coming from below. Although I was close to Dundrennan, I could not see it yet. I continued down the minor road and came across a cemetery, which seemed out-of-place, amongst all the agricultural buildings close-by. The graveyard contained many memorials in the usual New Red Sandstone that many houses are built of in this part of Scotland. However, from the cemetery gate, one particular memorial caught my eye. It was the grave of four people,  the Hamilton family of father, mother, daughter and son, all “accidentally killed in Dundrennan” in 1944. I continued along the road and soon arrived at Dundrennan and my B&B for the night. I asked Bev, who owns the wonderful Old School B&B about the grave I saw in Rerrick churchyard. She said it may have been the grave of a family that were all killed in the early hours of 18th July 1944 a Bristol Beaufighter, with two air crew on board, crashed into the Hamilton’s cottage killing the 4 of the occupants and the two air crew. One of the daughters survived and is still alive today. The cottage was not re-built and a garden now stands where this tragedy once occurred. Bev, said this was very coincidental as a recent guest had made a special visit to the B&B to enquire about the air crew. More information on this tragedy can be read here:

http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-post-38569.html

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20971

Distance today =  24 miles
Total distance =   1783.5 miles

110. Sandyhills to Dalbeattie

After yesterdays exertions it was nice to know I would not be walking as far today. Overnight it had rained quite heavily so I knew I would probably be in for a soaking, particularly from wet undergrowth. I made a very early start by driving from Dumfries to Dalbeattie, parking there and then getting the 07:00 bus #372A to Sandyhills. The cost was only £2.15, fantastic value and probably a route that is subsidised.

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Fishing nets near Sandyhills
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On the coast path on Torrs Hill

I arrived at Sandyhills under leaden overcast skies, with a light persistent drizzle that would be with me for most of the walk. There is a well defined and signed coast path from Sandyhills to Rockcliffe, which I found easily by the caravan park. The path climbed steeply up and across Torrs Hill before dropping down to the small hamlet of Portling. My next hill, White Hill, was slightly more substantial, although the path cut over its shoulder. From White Hill I had a final look back towards yesterday walk across Mersehead beach and could also make out the lighthouse at Southerness. Ahead I could see Rockcliffe and Rough Firth. The path kept well to the cliff edge all the way to Barcloy Hill, before making a right turn to head into Rockcliffe along the banks of Urr Water, which twisted and turned all the way to Dalbeattie.

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Looking towards Barcloy Hill

Before I entered Rockcliffe, I seemed to have taken a different footpath which led me around a small campsite. I emerged back on the path and continued past holiday home lets. There was little to Rockcliffe along its shoreline, other than a bus stop and some toilets. I took one of the two main paths that link the village with nearby Kippford or Scaur.

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Rockcliffe

One of the paths is called the Jubilee Path, I took the other which started just next to the public toilets.

 

 

 

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Kippford or Scaur

Kippford or Scaur contain more facilities than Rockcliffe, including an hotel/pub The Anchor, a yachting club, RNLI life-boat station. I remember visiting and staying in Kippford 41 years ago as a student on a Geology field trip, surprisingly it appeared little had changed.

A single road leads out of Kippford or Scaur to the main A710. I followed this road safe in the knowledge that I would only walk about 50 metres along the A710 today! I knew this because at Barnbarroch, a newly constructed/ signed Core Path #20 through the Dalbeattie Forest indicated that Dalbeattie was just 2.5 miles away. Great I thought! I noticed on the information board that regular post markers would indicate your position. I was heading for postmarker 13, which would bring me close to the outskirts of Dalbeattie

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Yeaa right!!

However, at post #17 the forest road made a sharp turn left, but the newly constructed finger post pointed straight ahead up an  hill along a much smaller but well trodden path. I ummed and rrrred. The head was saying follow the finger-post, the heart was saying stay on the main road. The head won and for the next 2 miles I was beating myself up for making the wrong decision. I knew where I wanted to be, but forest roads are notorious in taking you directions you may not necessary want to go in. Anyway, the long and short of it was I probably walked an extra couple of miles more than I should have before I emerged on the outskirts of Dalbeattie. The walk of just 12 miles had taken me 3.75 hours.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20893

Distance today =  12 miles
Total distance =   1748 miles

 

109. Dumfries to Sandyhills

It was back to Scotland again for two more days of my walk around the coast of Scotland. As I managed to get another great room deal I stayed in a B&B in my favourite town in the south of Scotland – Dumfries.

I must admit I was not looking forward to this section because I knew it would contain a fair amount of road-walking, in particular, the A710. Although the road was not especially busy I still had to keep my eyes peeled and be alert for vehicles, some which were travelling at quite a speed.

To minimise the amount of road-walking I seriously considered doing a traverse of Criffle, as it was a hill that I had seen many times before from across the Solway on the Lakeland peaks. However, I had read reports of people who descended to the south-west who reported it was strewn with boulders, holes and deep heather, so it was the road for me!

I had roughly calculated that I would be doing about 21 miles, however, with my deviations and desire to stay close to the coast, I accumulated a whopping 27.5 miles, one of my highest walking distances.

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The road to Kirkconnell House – mind the hedgehogs!

I parked in Dock Park and walked alongside the River Nith to the Kirkpatrick Macmillan bridge and crossed over the Nith. It was 6:40 in the morning  and the weather was dry , dull and overcast. I followed the Nith downstream until the footpath came to a lane which passed some houses and joined the A710. There was a steady stream of early morning commuters coming and going in either directions, which I managed to safely negotiate.

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Beautiful and colourful Broom

At Gillfoot I came to a smaller road, which would eventually take me back to the coast and would be much quieter. This road headed towards Kirkconnel House. I was certainly more relaxed on this road  and able to enjoy the birds, deer and squirrels running before me. I also had a very strong pungent smell of wild garlic, particularly in the shaded areas for most of the day.

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Sweetheart Abbey

At Kirkconnel House I turn left and pick up a signposted path that ran along the shoreline to two large storage tanks at Airds point. The tanks contained effluent and are released into the estuary at certain intervals. A case of effluent from the affluent?

The path passes through woods and fields full of sheep as I head towards New Abbey. I emerge on the A710 and make a small detour to visit the 13th century Sweetheart Abbey built by Lady Devorgilla.The Abbey, surprisingly, is still good condition compared to the ruins of Abbey’s close to where I live. I take a couple of photos from the perimeter fence but are not tempted to pay the £4 for a closer look.

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Mobile Post Office

I retrace my steps and continue down the A710 for 4 or 5 miles until I arrive at the small village of Kirkbean. I turn left and continue a short distance on the road for Carsethorn before  turning right on a smaller road heading onto the Arbigland Estate. I strike up a conversation with a local who advises me that I can get to the shoreline and walk all the way to the Mersehead Nature Reserve. I am pleased about this as I had planned to return to the A710, it also meant I would be doing a number of extra miles.

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Criffle

I pass the cottage of John Paul Jones, reputed to be the founder of the American navy. Again I did not fork out the £4 to visit a few rooms of an 18th century cottage.

 

 

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A nice and considerate gesture

I finally emerge onto the shoreline at Powillimount. I see from the signpost that this is  Core Footpath No. 449. [I later learn about the Core Footpaths in Dumfries and Galloway and will use their site for future visits. The following link is to their Core Footpath route site. A tip to using this site is to zoom right into the area you are interested in and examine the route:]

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3812

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John Paul Jones’s cottage
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Southerness Lighthouse

From the shoreline I can still see the Lake District and its tops, I can make out the familiar shapes of Skiddaw and the Buttermere tops. I head along the beach towards Southerness   and pass its lighthouse, the second oldest in Scotland. As I round Southerness I can see that the tide is well out and I am able to walk along the fairly compacted sand towards the tip of Mersehead. I realise that with these extra miles I will miss my planned bus at 13:46 and have to get the 15:40. I continued all the way to Southwick Water and only a short stretch of water separate me from the A710. Unfortunately, it was not safe or possible to cross this water, which I knew anyway and headed inland to complete a 4 mile detour via Caulkerbush. When I reached the A710 again I had to take special care as the road rose, twisted and turned with blind bends, thankfully the traffic is light.

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Mersehead

I eventually came to Sandyhills and I descended to the beach to save myself any additional road walking. The caravan park shop was still open and I purchased ice cream and chocolate  biscuits while I waited for the #372 bus back to Dumfries. The bus fare was only £3.15 which I thought was pretty good for a journey that would take almost an hour. I managed the 27.5 miles in 8.75 hrs. Not as bad a day as I first thought.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20891

Distance today =  27.5 miles
Total distance =   1736 miles

107. Powfoot to Dumfries

Today was almost entirely walking on road, so it was a case of donning my hi-vis vest and putting trainers on. Having spent a comfortable night in a B&B in Dumfries I opted for an early start, which meant having to forgo breakfast. I drove the short distance to the south of Dock Park to the first upstream bridging point of the River Nith – The Kirkpatrick Macmillan footbridge. Kirkpatrick Macmillan was in fact the inventor of the pedal bicycle and was a blacksmith from just north of Dumfries.

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Dead straight

Having parked my car close to the bridge I then walked the half mile to the bus station close to the weir and caught the 07:00 #79 back to Cummertrees and walked down to Powfoot.

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TSB – Ruthwell local branch

It was 7:40 as I continued to head west. I was pleased to see that although, the sun was up, there was a thin veil of cloud which masked the intensity  I experienced yesterday. After passing through a holiday park and golf course I continued along on Cycleway route #7. I joined a small single track road, which was very quiet and dead straight. The land around was dead flat and reminded me of the Fens. Save for the song of birds and the occasional deer there was little to see. After 4 miles I arrived at the small hamlet of Ruthwell, famous for the location of the first Trustee Savings Bank, started by the Rev. Henry Duncun in 1810. The humble cottage which housed the Bank is now a museum, which was closed unfortunately.

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Brow Well – a bit manky

Half a mile further up the road I joined the more busier B725, which although not the M6, still had traffic passing me at speed. Shortly after joining the road I came to Brow, a small hamlet, which is famous for its well – Brow Well. Robert Burns visited the well in July 1796 while in declining health, he died soon after. The well is currently being ‘done-up’ with a bit of landscaping here and there. The well was also drained, or rather let to run, as I could see just a trickle of water passing along an open gulley pipe.

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Rear view spy glasses – yea cool man

I carried on along similar roads and decided to try out an idea that I had recently had. It involved the necessity to constantly check if a vehicle is coming behind you, particularly on single track roads. Ok I thought, what about those kiddie specs you get with mirrors inbuilt into the glasses themselves? Well £1.99 (incl P&P) later and a delivery from Fleabay, I packed them into my rucksack. Did they work, well yes and no. I usually wear a Tilley hat which slopes at the back, so all I was seeing was the hat. When I removed the hat I could see cars in the rear, although it took abit of practice while walking to focus on the mirror. I’ll pop them in my bag again and give em another whirl.

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Kingholm Quay alongside the River Nith with Criffle in the background

The road eventually arrived at Bankend, which contained a few buildings and nothing much else. I continued down the B725, although the traffic had drastically reduced. I passed through the small hamlet of Shearington and was rewarded with an excellent view of the isolated granite peak of Criffel (569m), a hill I had seen many times while climbing in The Lakes and The Southern Uplands. I continued ahead and could see the ruins of the moated triangular castle of Caerlaverock. I was too tired to pay to walk around ruins, so I continued onto Glencaple meeting the River Nith flowing south from Dumfries.

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Kirkpatrick Macmillan footbridge – Dumfries

I rested at Glencaple and decided to follow the riverside path all the way back to Dumfries. The path was abit sticky in places, but was well marked and had a number of small wooden bridges for the larger streams. I came to Kingholm Quay which had a pub and other old quayside buildings. It also marked the start of the tarmac path into Dumfries, the know, the sort that joggers use? I finished the walk in 5.5hrs for the 19.5 miles.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20826

 

Distance today =  19.5 miles
Total distance =   1690.5 miles

 

 

106. Gretna to Powfoot

Today would be my first steps in walking the coastline of Scotland. I had purposefully ‘leap-frogged’ the section from Chester to Gretna because I wanted to make a start on the Scottish coastline with the chance of having better weather plus having more hours of daylight to complete my walks in. So the emphasis over the summer of 2016 will be to concentrate on Scotland in a series of two or three day trips. Whenever I just fancy a single days walking I will continue walking north from near to Chester which, over the Winter months will become my primary objective.

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The Bridge over the River Sark from the Scottish side
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The Old Toll Bar – first and last house in Scotland

For my first section I intended to start on the English/Scottish border, which is the bridge over the River Sark close to Gretna. Before I could do this I had to drive to and park in the small hamlet of Powfoot further up the coast. I then had to walk half a mile up to the main road, to the B721 from where I was able to catch the 7:30 #79 bus to Gretna. The small red sandstone bridge over the River Sark is quite inconspicuous as the border between Scotland and England. Anyway, photo record completed I set off on a footpath along the River Sark back into Gretna.

I head through Gretna towards the Old Graitney Road which has light traffic on it. After passing over Kirtle Water I can now head for the coast. I turn down a quiet road towards Rigfoot and continue to the farm at Redkirk. Here I follow a green lane to Baurch where I turn towards the coast. I say “coast”, but the tide is out when I arrive at the shoreline. The morning is bathed in glorious sunshine, but with a fresh breeze. The breeze and sun is at my back as I head west. I intend to stay close to the shoreline for as long as possible all the way to Powfoot. The shoreline path is perfectly walkable, but is dotted with thousands of small gullies holding tidal water. Its just a case iof watching where you put your foot.

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The Solway shoreline
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Walking alongside the “Devils Porridge”
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Obsolete warning signs at Devils Porridge

After passing Browhouses I join the perimeter of the huge ex-MOD site at Eastriggs. HM Factory Gretna was a huge industrial complex stretching for 9 miles! Renowned for making the “Devils Porridge” or cordite during World war 1, used as propellent for shells, the site now houses industrial units. The perimeter fence is still intact and in good condition. I follow the fence for awhile. I round Torduff Point and continue along the shoreline. The morning haze has begun to clear and I make out the Cumbrian coastline with Skiddaw prominent and the small hamlets of Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway across the Eden Estuary. I pass the homesteads of Dornockbrow, Battlehill, Whinnyrig before coming to a small man built promontory at Seafield. The raised dyke used to have a railway running along its top, but now just has a large discharge pipe. I pass over the dyke and down onto a large flat area of salt marsh called the Merse. I walk along a small levee towards Waterfoot, which many years ago had a dock and discharged goods under the watchful eye of excise man Robert Burns.

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The Merse looking towards Annan
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Crossing the River Annan

I now had to get over the River Annan which meant following a single track road into Annan and passing under a railway bridge. I now joined up again with National Cycle route No.7 which I would be with for a while. I was able to cross the Annan by an excellent footbridge. As I emerged from the footbridge I got into a long conversation with a chap walking his dog. We must have spoken for about 30 minutes on this and that, after which I met another chap on a bike who had cycled down from Inverness along the No. 7 route, we also spoke awhile.

I eventually got back to walking and set off through Newbie, noting the large boiler works of Cochran. I rejoined the coast at Newbie Mains and could see the small hamlet of Powfoot in the distance.

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Powfoot

There was further evidence of the HM Factory Gretna on the shoreline with large areas of debris scattered about. I noticed some of the bricks were cream and had the name Timmis and Son Stourbridge  stamped on them. I later found out that Stourbridge (West Midlands) was a major source of Fireclay bricks, anyway I salvaged one, even though it weighed a ton, but I only had a short distance to go before I was back at the car. It took exactly 6 hours to cover the 16 miles, but expect 45 minutes of that was spent in chatter along the way.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=20822

Distance today =  16 miles
Total distance =   1671 miles