Day 166 Into The Solway Firth

Friday 18 September 2015 (Happy Birthday Mum)

Dalbeattie to Southerness 

7 miles

Parkdean Tourist Park

The couple parked near to me in their campervan (I was jealous) kindly offered me tea and toast this morning. I sat in their van chatting for a bit before I had to hurry to get the bus down the main road to Kippford. Bill and Ann have had a campervan for 20 years and travelled all over the UK. Such a lovely gesture to make me breakfast reminded me of Jackie and Dave from Essex.   

The pier at Kippford, looking up the River Urr
 Kippford seemed like a nice small town on the bank of the Rough Firth. From here I walked my second Jubilee Walk in as many days (there was also one in Dundrennan) that wound up through the woods and back down to Rockcliffe.  

A woodpecker on the Jubilee Walk
 I took a short diversion to climb the Mote of Mark, a small hill named after the King of Dumnonia (I have not made that up!),that seems to have been an important (and tiny) settlement. It was occupied in the 5th-6th Century, when it was part of the BritishKingdom of Rheged, and was destroyed, probably by the Northumbrian Angles, in the 7th Century. Amazingly, artefacts from France and Germany have been found here.  

Looking South to Castlehill Point from the top of Mote of Mark
  
Rough Island and Rough Firth from the Mote of Mark
  
Looking back up Rough Firth from Mote of Mark to the mountains beyond
 Rockcliffe had some large and good looking properties overlooking the estuary.  

the Rockcliffe shoreline
 The tide was out and there was a causeway to Rough Island across the mud flats that extend a long way out. A small all-terrain vehicle was towing a trailer across the flats to the Island- I’ve no idea what for.  

An ATV driving across the mud flats
 There is a wonderful coastal path all the way around the cliffs at Castlehill Point and along to Sandyhills Bay. This was my first proper coastal path, up and down the cliffs, since Fife. I was lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day to enjoy it.  

The mouth of the 3 joined Bays: Auchencairn, Orchardton and Rough Firth
 The views along the coastline were outstanding.  

A beautiful coastal walk
 With a low tide so much sand/mud is exposed in the Solway Firth that it looked like I could almost walk across it. I could also see the faint outline of the Lake District mountains the other side of the Solway Firth and the huge wind farm.  

The hazy view across the Solway Firth (windfarm in sight)
 I passed through Portling; another village with magnificent houses. Then it was around the headland and into Sandyhills Bay.  

Looking back to Barcloy Hill
 
Port o’ Warren and Mersehead Sands with the tide out
  The area by the Saltpan Rocks was littered with cockle shells and you must need some sort of licence to harvest them. 

Not me Guv’
  Sandyhills Bay itself was not particularly spectacular and the only place to get a cup of tea was at the caravan park’s shop. This place needs a cafe!  

Sandyhills Bay on the left and the coast to Southerness
 I was intending to walk the next 7 miles to Southerness but it was all on road and there was a bus due in 20 minutes. I had slipped over earlier in the day and my neck was a bit sore so I decided to call it quits and see if I could do some laundry and maybe watch England start their Rugby World Cup campaign.  

It’s a long way to the sea from the beach
  
An old RAF bombing target on Mersehead Sands
 
Southerness is a place made up of 2 huge tourist parks full mostly of static caravans. It was reminiscent of the East Coast of England. One of the parks accepted tents, albeit at an expensive rate. It’s not my favourite kind of place but it’s showing the Rugby World Cup opening England match so I’m not complaining.  

A memorial to the schooner Elbe that sank in 1867, what a great view

Day 165 Kircudbright Range

Thursday 17 September 2015

Kirkudbright to Dalbeattie

14 miles

Islecroft Caravan and Camping Park

Autumn is on its way. My tent and everything around was covered in a heavy dew this morning. I had not been cold overnight but my sleeping bag was worryingly damp and I had to pack it away in this state. My tent was also packed away quite wet, but at least it wasn’t heavy.  

The view across Manxman’s Lake to Kirkudbright Bay
 I got away just after 8am and stopped at Tescos for breakfast of a banana and pain au chocolat. The sun was coming up as I left Kirkudbright and for the 2nd day in a row I applied sun cream. Yesterday I had to find it languishing at the bottom of my bag where it had been since Lossiemouth.  

A lifeboat station hidden down a wooded track
 I headed to Mutehill, a small hamlet made up of some rather nice, large houses overlooking the estuary. The tide was out and the waders were in residence; there were quite a few lapwings making a good racket.  

Little Ross in Kirkudbright Bay
 From Mutehill I was then off the main road and walking on paths or tracks along the side of Manxman’s Lake and Kirkudbright Bay as far as Torr’s Point. Here I left the shade of the woody path and turned inland and onto the Army training area. The sun was beating down but I was making good time walking on well-marked roads.  

Looking back across the Bay
 There weren’t too many views of the sea but it was a peaceful walk.  

Heading into the Army Range Area
 And then my curse struck again…the path signs disappeared at a 4-way junction. The OS map does not show all the army’s tracks and the map I had to get from Tourist Information was next to useless. Brilliant.  

Can anyone navigate using this map?
 I guessed at where I was from the topography and had an idea of where I was headed so had to go off-piste to try and get there. I followed cow tracks and climbed fences until I reached an enclosed area for controlled explosions; I didn’t cross that. I was getting rather exasperated so when I hit a road I followed it out. I met some tree cutters who kindly verified my location and I walked along roads until I got out of the training area.  

A great view back across the Army Training Area
 I had lost a bit of time and realised my plan of walking to Balcary Point, overlooking Auchencairn Bay, needed reviewing. A 20 mile walk was not on so I scaled back and headed to Dundrennan where I could get the bus to Dalbeattie (always in my plan) a few stops earlier. I need to ease myself back in to constant walking.  

 The bus came as dark clouds were getting closer. It was raining when I disembarked in Dalbeattie so I headed for Tourist Information to find a campsite and a cafe. I found both. After an hour sheltering in a really nice cafe the rain has stopped and I walked up the road to the campsite and pitched my tent. It was quite wet but didn’t take long to dry out with a bit of mopping up. Fortunately my damp sleeping bag seemed ok. Time for a bit of planning and dinner in the Kings Arms.