Today turned out to be the day of 3 lochs.
It started with very pleasant riverside walking following the ‘River Cree’ (with it’s slate black waters), the ‘Water of Minnoch’ (where I found our 3rd piece of treasure) and finally the ‘Water of Trool’. We followed the latter to the western end of our first Loch, ‘Loch Trool’.
On paper Loch Troll was the most scenic, we followed a narrow gravel path high on it’s southern flank. It stretches well over a mile in length but only about 400m wide at its widest part so amongst the trees it feels quite intimate as you catch glimpses of it’s majestic beauty.
As we left Loch Troll behind the track widened to full road width, it climbed more steeply now into the Galloway Hills. We crested the brow of the climb, at about 250m, to a breathtaking view of ‘Loch Dee’ (my favourite view of the whole walk so far, and Photo of the Day). It’s vast expanse surrounded by an amphitheatre of rugged hillsides.
We spent most of the afternoon circumnavigating it’s southern banks before descending into the Forestry trees with the ‘Black Water of Dee’ for company all the way to Clatteringshaws Loch and the designated ‘pick-up point’ at Craigenbay
At the pickup point in the hot sunshine we fantasised about the cold beverages we’d order when we got to the pub’s beer garden.
Dinner was Cajun Chicken skewers & chips, Adele had Hot & Spicy Pizza
Stats: Total mileage: 62.5 Pint count: 8
Waking to clear blue skies was very welcome today as we had a long day on the trail ahead of us. Accommodation, settlements & even main roads are quite sparse along this part of the walk. So it’s necessary to cover large distances with all the food & water you’ll need along the way. Adding rain to this already stiff challenge I think you’d start to enter ‘ordeal’ territory.
So after breakfast we slathered on the sun cream and ventured out onto the road, retracing our steps for the first mile to where we’d left the trail yesterday. A quick detour was taken shortly after we met the new path to take in the wonders of a small waterfall on the ‘Cross Water of Luce’, not really worth it as we struggled over the stone stile in the wall, risked life & limb on the oldest wooden bridge in the world & on closer inspection our photos, taken into the direct sunlight, are all rubbish.
The way north from here took us ever closer to a new ‘live’ construction site of some of the massive wind turbines being put up on Quarter Fell. The morning from here would be filled with these wonders of our techno-industrial world some whirring away, some static in the zephyr breeze.
Do these things need to use power to get going in light winds? (Seems counter-productive)
Walking along the fire break in the forestry pine plantation we got wet feet, as you always seem to do walking in forestry lands. We entered a clearing where the first ‘bothy’ on the trail can be found ‘Beehive Bothy’ (free accommodation to those brave/drunk enough to tolerate the probable rats). Here I came across a pleasant rhyme left by a recent climber to these parts:
“The lure of the road before me, The open sky above, The weight of the pack Upon my back – These are the things I love.” – Jock Nimlin (Climber)
Next were the standing stones of ‘Laggangarn’, 4,000 year old plinths thought to have once been part of a circle of 13 stones, the ‘Wells of the Rees’, Craig Airie Fell trig (320m) & Loch Derry.
After all that the never ending road to ‘Knowe’, tarmac underfoot gives you brisk progress but sore feet & boredom neither very good on a two week trek.
From Knowe there was just 5 miles to go, we stopped for a bite to eat as I could tell Adele was feeling tired. Our final destination was just an up and over Ochiltree Hill with brilliant white painted trig (184m) and a final energy sapping trudge across rough pasture to the A714 and Bargrennan. Arriving sometime after 6ish
Sleep well all, we will x
Stats: Total mileage: 44.3 Pint count: 6
As today was just a short amble Adele & I decided to have a bit of a ‘Monday morning lie in’ having ordered breakfast for 9am.
We were on the trail by 10am. First up was a gentle climb out of the valley and onto a deforested plantation/moorland section across ‘Glenwhan Moor’, this bit felt quite remote as we encountered only 1 fellow walker on the path, going the other way. This section is also quite exposed to the elements so we were thankful the high winds of yesterday afternoon had dropped to a stiff breeze, and the forecast rain had not yet made an appearance.
As we approached the railway line towards the end of the moorland section our quest for today’s hidden treasure ended when we found ‘Kist’ No.2… however, we were disappointed to find the coins inside were very badly rusted 🙁
We then dropped out of the forest and crossed the main railway line, the ‘Water of Luce’ river and the road to New Luce. Rather than take the direct route to New Luce from here, we kept to the SUW path and ventured over Kilhern Moss moor towards the ‘ruins of Kilhern’ (definitely worth the visit). We stopped for a while to eat our packed lunches, somehow the lady at the B&B had mistaken my request for Ham & Cheese sandwiches, with 1 Ham sandwich with a bit of lettuce & 1 Cheese sandwich, nevermind 😕
All that was left was a short jaunt northwest to the road, (we’ll retrace our steps back to here tomorrow morning) and a mile back to the sleepy/comatosed village of New Luce and the Kenmuir Arms pub.
Early morning sea mist and showers meant we started our walk north along the coast path in our waterproofs. Ascending and descending to several small coves & beaches kept us warm in the cool breeze coming off the sea and although it was so gloomy and overcast we really enjoyed the walk along the coast to Killantringan Lighthouse.
From here the Southern Upland Way (SUW) turns inland and onto lanes, seldom used by traffic, now heading towards Knock & Maize farm (breeders of Red Deer). The wind was now beginning to stiffen and we could make out Broad Moor wind farm in the gloom, it’s massive blades slicing through the atmosphere with a subtle but distinctly industrial sound. Upon reaching the summit cairn (156m) our quest for treasure began….
Along the route of the SUW there are 13 ‘kists’, hiding places, that house coins called ’13ths’. If all 13 coins are collected along the way, you have collected yourself a ‘hoard’.
Now, I’m not allowed to give you the exact location but somewhere on Broad Moor we found our first 13th, Woohoo!
The route then passes along a ridge above Stranraer, with views down to Loch Ryan and the railway station we had arrived at yesterday after our 7 1/2 hour journey north and into the borderlands, from here it was country lanes all the way until we entered the woodland section south of ‘Big Plantation’.
All that was left were the grounds of ‘Castle Kennedy’ and it’s seemingly never ending driveway adorned with colourful trees & vibrant specimens of shrub, very much how you’d expect a stately house to greet you.
We stopped for a quick sandwich in the wonderful grounds then pressed on to Chlenry Farmhouse B&B, our final destination of the day.
At the front door we wearily undid our boots and had time for a steaming hot bath before dinner was served in the ‘picture room red’ dining room…
Parsnip soup to start, followed by homemade lasagna with peas
See you all tomorrow xx