Day 214 Fireworks at Caernarfon Castle

Thursday 5 November 2015

Menai Bridge to Caernarfon

8 miles walked

Tegfan Guest House

I left late this morning as I was still trying to update my blog and dry out my boots, which have been constantly wet since last Friday. Still, time wasn’t an issue as I had booked accommodation in Caernarfon, a mere 9 miles walk away.

Studying my map I convinced myself that I could see a footpath across the Britannia Bridge so I thought I’d walk over that one. I walked along the main road to Llanfair P.G. and enjoyed the same views of the bridges as yesterday. One small problem when I got to the bridge: no footpath to be found. There was nothing for it but to retrace my steps back to Menai Bridge. This time, however, I did at least follow the coast path along the shoreline. I might have been cursing my misfortune (or poor map interpretation) but for the lovely views and discovering the large limestone lions That decorate the bridge and are not visible from the road (only from the railway). Also in my favour was that, in spite of the weather forecast, it was not yet raining.  

One of 4 lions guarding Britannia Bridge
 After completing my 3 mile round-trip I crossed the Menai Bridge and said hywl fawr to Anglesey.  

Last photo of Menai Bridge
 Back on the mainland the path followed the shore for a bit and passed Treborth Botanic Garden. It was here that I met an old couple walking their cat. They kept calling to it as they walked so I asked them, and yes, they were taking him for a walk. I’ve never seen that before! The old man asked me about my walk, was impressed I was doing the whole of Britain and, after asking my age, told me to enjoy the memories because in 10 years time my body will fall apart. Now there’s a happy thought to be going on with! 

I walked past this mausoleum in a wet and rainy wood on my own; creepy!
 Fortunately I was distracted from suicidal thoughts by a section of Stephenson’s original tubular bridge. The present Britannia Bridge was rebuilt in the 1970s after a fire. Stephenson’s original bridge was a wrought iron tubular bridge to carry the train line; the 1970s build incorporated the A55. (Note: maybe I am an engineer at heart?) 

A piece of Stephenson’s original tubular bridge on display in the wood
 At 11.45 am the forecast heavy rain arrived…in bucket-loads. It was too muggy to wear my waterproof trousers so I donned my gaiters to try and stop the water from running down my legs into my boots. At this point I was walking through the Glan Faenol National Trust woodland but I was soon pushed out onto the road. The rest of the way to Caernarfon was along a cycle route that followed the main road so I decided to get a bus.   

Caernarfon town square – all shop fronts painted
 I arrived in Caernarfon at lunchtime, soggy and cooling down. Time for a cafe lunch to warm up. I walked into the main square and picked a lovely caffi. After lunch I found my guesthouse, dumped my rucksack, and headed off to the Castle.  
Caernarfon Castle
 Caernarfon Castle was built in 1283 by Edward I and was the seat of power of the Welsh Princes, indeed it was the site of the investiture of the two most recent Princes of Wales. The outer walls of the castle have been well-preserved and would be great for a game of hide and seek.  

Caernarfon Castle
 I really enjoyed spending a couple of hours looking around. The history of Welsh rule was slowly starting to make some sense to me. Of the 4 main Welsh ‘principalities’, Gwynedd seems to have been the strongest. The original Princes of Wales were North Walians; in 1267 King Henry III granted the title to the Prince of Gwynedd, only for it to be taken away when Edward I invaded. One of the reasons Caernarfon Castle looks so spectacular is that Edward I possibly modelled it on Roman buildings, hence its bands of coloured stone.  

Looking out of the Castle at the Menai Straits
 Legend has it that the Roman Emperor, Macsen Wledig ruled from Caernarfon after marrying a local girl. So Edward I was not the first foreign ruler; his son was born at Caernarfon and was the first non-Welsh (even though born here) Prince of Wales.  

Narrow streets inside the walled town
The grand entrance to the walled town
 I really liked Caernarfon. This town was an architectural gem. I walked along most of the narrow streets within the old, walled town and stopped for a pint of local beer at The Black Boy. This rather non-PC named pub dated from c. 1522. I also  climbed Ben Twthill, the small hill that overlooks the town.  

The Black Boy Inn
Even outside the walled town the architecture was nice
 It was Bonfire Night and, along with the rest of the town, I headed to the waterfront at 7 pm to watch the town’s firework display. It had stopped raining and the excellent display was 17 minutes long over the water. The atmosphere was great on the sea-side of the old town and castle walls.  

Caernarfon town fireworks display
 After the fireworks I wandered around the town again looking for somewhere to eat. I walked past a place that claims to be the smallest bar in Wales and ended up in Osteria, a Tuscan restaurant. I had a lovely meal and then, just as I was finishing, Eric and Janice arrived. They had eaten elsewhere because Janice doesn’t like the (excellent) Tuscan food, but they always pop in for some wine and a chat with the Italian staff. I was roped in. Two bottles of wine later (bought by Eric), conversation was in full flow and Eric was trying to marry me off to Sergio, the Italian waiter. It was a great evening (even though I didn’t marry Sergio, who was as bemused as me). I left with a full stomach,  a spinning head and Janice’s phone number in case I need somewhere to stay. What a brilliant example of Welsh friendliness and hospitality. I also managed to get some guidance on pronunciation of Welsh place names.  

 What a fabulous day, despite the rain. 

Day 213 Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch 

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Newborough to Menai Bridge 

15 miles

Bulkeley Arms


There’s even help with the pronunciation!
 The room in the pub I was staying at was newly decorated and clean, and breakfast was pretty good, so I was happy to stay a 2nd night. This meant I could walk with a lighter pack today. 

I caught the bus back to Newborough, just along the road from Malltraeth. It was another damp and grey day so I decided not to bother walking through Newborough Forest and down to Llandwyn Island; there wouldn’t be any views and it would just add 5 wet miles to my day.  

big, slippery stepping stones across the Afon Braint
 I walked down to Newborough Warren to see the large expanse of dunes (a common theme on this section of coast). After that I followed the coast path across numerous muddy fields on its protracted route to the actual coast.  

Caernarfon through the gloom, across the Menai Straits
 I arrived at the Menai Straits opposite Caernarfon. There were remnants of an old pier where the ferrymen used to cross the Straits before the bridges were built.  

Caernarfon Castle just visible on the right
 As usual, there were plenty of wading birds about so I didn’t feel the need to go in the Sea Zoo that I passed.  

Y Felinheli
 The coastal path headed inland again to get around a large estate and I walked past another chambered cairn.  

another chambered cairn
 By mid-afternoon the cloud was lifting a little and I saw some blue sky and sun. This was just in time for my arrival at the town called: The Church of St Mary in a hollow of white Hazel near to a rapid whirlpool and to St Tsylio’s Church and near to a red cave, otherwise known locally as Llanfair P.G.. 

The sign on the train station
 Naturally this small town, which is the first one in Anglesey across the main Britannia Bridge, is quite a tourist Mecca. At the entrance to the town is the old Toll Gate, with its charges still visible: only 4d for every horse, mule or other cattle drawing a coach or carriage with springs! 

The Toll Gate House
 Llanfair P.G. also has a 27m high monument known as the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column. It was built in 1816 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo and a bronze statue of Henry Paget, First Marquess of Anglesey and second in command to Wellington, was added in 1860. It is possible to climb the monument (for a fee) and the views would be stunning. It was closed when I arrived and it wasn’t a great day for views anyway.  

The Marquess of Anglesey’s Column
 The main road between Llanfair P.G. and Menai Bridge affords some of the best views on the whole of Anglesey I think. You get to admire both bridges, the Menai Straits and the mountain backdrop.  

Telford’s Menai Bridge, 1826
Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge, 1850
 The Ynys Gored Goch island sits between the 2 bridges. Gored means tidal fish trap and there is a stone wall around it to trap the fish as the tide recedes.  

Ynys Gored Goch
 At Menai Bridge I walked past the Welsh equivalent of Coronation Street (I only know this because Elise told me and there were camera crew lurking about). Good job I didn’t try and go in the cafe!  

A fake street in Menai Bridge
 I also saw a great barbers.  

read the sign carefully!
 The best though had to be the stunning views of the wonderful bridges. A great way to end my walk around Anglesey. 

Britannia Bridge

Day 209 North Anglesey and Wylfa Head

Saturday 31 October 2015 (Happy birthday Evelyn!)

Bull Bay to Cemlyn

10 miles

Barbara and Barry’s house (AirB&B)

Breakfast was big and I surprised myself by how easily I ate it; the last 2 days had been hard walking. I had a late start so I could catch up on my blog. 

I caught the bus back to Bull Bay and set off on today’s shorter walk. Within an hour it was raining, a fine drizzle that came with a most: a muzzle. It was still really warm and humid so I decided there was no point wearing waterproofs and I just got wet.  

Looking back at Bull Bay
 Today was a proper, hilly cliff top walk, along wet, slippery tracks. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately there were no great views to speak of because of the weather but at least I could see Middle Mouse island for most of the day. Opposite Middle Mouse is the small headland Dinas Gynfor, Wales’ most Northerly mainland point. There is an old, vandalised monument here but I don’t know what it was for.  

The monument at Dinas Gynfor, Wales’ most Northerly point
 No sooner had I left Bull Bay than I spotted a pod of dolphins swimming near to the cliffs. I tried to keep pace with them and they stopped at a point and started to circle. I watched for a while and then had to carry on.  

Porth Wen brickworks
 I came across the Porth Wen Brickworks, which closed in 1924, and the 19th Century China Clay Works at Porth Llanlleiana. Both were quite impressive nestled in little bays.  

Another view of the brickworks and Porth Wen
Porth Llanlleiana china clay works
 Around lunchtime I arrived back in Cemaes Bay and stopped for a big lunch, and to dry off, in the deli/cafe. Although Cemaes is a village, it seems to have more facilities than Amlwch, which is a town. It also has St Patrick’s Bell in the bay, put there because Patrick was saved in a nearby shipwreck.  

St Patrick’s Bell in Cemaes Bay
 Wylfa Head sticks out and protects Cemaes Bay, and Wylfa Nuclear Power Station overshadows it. Apparently a new one is being built soon and Barbara and Barry’s house will disappear under the earthworks.  

Wylfa Head
Wylfa Nuclear Power Station
 I ended up walking less mileage than I thought because the map on AirB&B placed Barbara and Barry’s house a mile and a half away from its actual location. Lucky I phoned up for directions before I passed it. Barbara didn’t see this as a problem because it’s only 5 minutes away…in a car! So I was stuck in the countryside watching Saturday night tv with 2 strangers. They had cheese and biscuits for tea and, fortunately, invited me to join them. Good job I had anticipated a lack of food and ate a big lunch!  


Day 190 Southport and Formby

Monday 12 October 2015

Warton, Lancashire to Hightown, Sefton

16 miles

Kathrine’s house

It was very cold last night and I didn’t manage much sleep. My sleeping bag was damp and the tent was soaked. I was keen to get out of the horrible campsite so I was away as quickly as possible and caught a bus into Preston to avoid walking the main road. I didn’t see much of Preston but I did make my way out of the bus station and into a shopping precinct to get a coffee in between buses.  

Looking back across The Ribble towards Warton at low tide
 I had decided I would not bother walking the mixture of roads and paths along the River Ribble as it didn’t look that exciting and I wanted to reach Hightown. So I caught a bus to Crossens, the first town in the borough of Sefton. I had reached Merseyside.  

Blackpool across The Ribble
 I walked around the corner of the River Ribble, so I could look back across at Blackpool, and then I was on Marine Drive, the coast road to Southport. The road must be built on sand because it’s quite bumpy. The sky was getting very dark and it looked rain but fortunately I escaped and the wind blew the cloud inland before it dumped its contents on someone else.   

Southport over the marsh
  The Marshside RSPB Nature Reserve is situated on the corner between the Ribble and the Irish Sea, and there were several birders out today.
Southport’s grand-looking buildings
 Southport is set back from the sea and its buildings look quite grand from a distance; a contrast to the funfairs and garishness of the sea front.  

Funfair and a large promenade on the sea front
 I walked past Southport on the promenade and then diverted onto a footpath through the dunes. The sun came out and I had a lovely, peaceful walk hidden from everything except the sound of the sea.  

Lost in the dunes
 After about an hour I popped out onto the beach and walked the rest of the way to Formby along the beach. The sand is beautifully fine (which makes it hard to walk) and the dunes are big; it reminded me of Aberdeen’s beach.  

A long sandy beach
 I reached Formby and diverted off the beach here in the hope of seeing a red squirrel in the reserve. It wasn’t my lucky day but the Asparagus Walk through the Jubilee Wood pine trees was lovely nonetheless. This part of Formby used to have big asparagus farms.  

Jimmy Lowe – 1930s asparagus farmer
 I used to play hockey here in Formby and I had forgotten just what a lovely town it is. It really is a gem on this coastline.  

Jubilee Woods, Formby
 The coast path diverted inland alongside the railway line in order to skirt around the Altcar Army Range. I arrived at Hightown and Kathrine met me. Tina Cullen came round for tea and I had a great evening catching up with old friends, 17 years after I left the hockey club here.  


Day 168 Bus to Annan

Sunday 20 September 2015

Dumfries to Annan

Rest Day (bus)

Galabank campsite

According to the map today’s route to Annan was all on roads a reasonable distance from the coast. After yesterday’s road walk I couldn’t face 20 miles of it today so made a late decision to get the train straight to Annan. This would give me an unexpected day off. 

Annoyingly, nearly everything is shut on a Sunday, or if it is open, it’s not until after 2pm. I was hoping to visit one of the museums in Dumfries or Annan, and I would really have liked to have seen Caerlaverock Castle, on the Eastern bank at the entrance to the Urr estuary. Unfortunately none of this could be worked out on a Sunday (Caerlaverock Castle was open but the only bus didn’t leave Dumfries until 2pm and then I’d be stranded). 

There was nothing for it but to have a lazy morning and then sit in Starbucks (just about the only place open in Dumfries) catching up on my blog until the first train in the afternoon. Needless to say, even the trains weren’t running on a Sunday and there was a replacement bus service to Annan instead. 

Annan is another town on the Robert the Bruce trail and the town hall boasts a statue of him dressed in armour. 

Annan town hall, complete with Robert the Bruce statue on the front
 It’s a shame I wasn’t here in July when the Riding of the Marches takes place. This sounds like a carnival with a twist as townsfolk re-enact checking the town’s boundaries to ensure everything is as it should be and this year 140 people turned out on horseback.  

 The campsite is next to Annan Athletic FC stadium. This seems to be a feature of the Galloway towns – they all have a council-owned campsite and often next to the football ground (Dalbeattie was the same, in Kirkudbright the campsite was next to playing fields). I like it that Galloway tries to provide for its guests. 

I managed to find a pub/betting shop that was showing the rugby on one of its 12 screens. I felt slightly self conscious as it was full of mostly men watching football and a few young ladies in the corner wearing hot pants, skimpy tops, furry boots and a lot of make-up. I think I stood out a bit. Still, no one bothered me and I sat happily in the corner with a pint and a free scotch pie as a bonus.  

The rain came at about 7.30 and I was all set for an early night, until I met Marie-Anne in the toilet block. She is also camping on her own and is on a 6-month sabbatical. She’s on her way to Mull and has been to Skomer helping the wardens with the Manx Shearwaters. Next month she’s off to walk the Camino De Santiago trail. We swapped tales and had a good old natter, and before I knew it, it was 10pm. 

Day 167 Following the River Nith to Dumfries

Saturday 19 September 2015

Southerness to Dumfries

18 miles

The White Hart pub

Today’s walk was split into 2 sections, linked by a bus that left Kirkbean at 12.16 pm. I therefore had enough time to go to the cafe for breakfast before tackling the first 6 miles. I set off along the sandy beach of Gillfoot Bay – the tide was out so the sea was a long way out.  

Looking back across Gillfoot Bay to Southerness Point
 As I rounded the edge of the beach at Powillimount things got a little more interesting. The signpost indicated a path but in fact it appeared that one had to walk across the beach/rocks. Beach is a slight misnomer as the tide comes right in here (although not covering the rocks) and so the sand is actually mud in places. I found this out when my right foot sank to the very top of my boot. Luckily I moved quickly to pull it out as visions of cockleshell pickers in Morecambe passed through my mind! It wasn’t that bad but I did have a very muddy, and heavy, boot that would require cleaning later. I was a bit more careful where I clambered after that.  

My boot later after removing most of the mud
 I passed by the Thirl Stane (a sandstone arch) and the Devil’s Stone (a big stone said to have been chewed off the visible a Criffel mountain and spat onto the beach by the devil). It was warm and sunny walking along the shoreline. 

Thirl Stane
Is this the devil’s stone? (Wonderful house in the background)
There was an organised beach clean going on at Carsethorn, where I left the shoreline and walked inland to Kirkbean to catch the bus along the main road to New Abbey.  

Beach clean-up at Carsethorn
An old soldier at Carsethorn
 Presumably this town was named soon after 1273, when Lady Devorgilla of Galloway commissioned the Abbey. It became known as Sweetheart Abbey as the Lady was so devoted to her late husband (John Balliol who founded Balliol College at Oxford University) that she had his heart embalmed and kept it in a special casket that she was later buried clasping to her bosom. What a great story.  

Sweetheart Abbey
 Above the town is a large monument commemorating Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo. 

Waterloo monument on the hill overlooking New Abbey
  New Abbey is a pretty little town. From here I followed a path across the fields of sheep and cows, following the course of the New Abbey Pow (essentially a creek) to the bank of the River Nith. Airds Point provides a neck in the river where it suddenly widens into the estuary. I know tides move fast over sands but I had never walked beside an incoming tide with the water keeping pace with me, until now. Unbelievable.  

Airds Point – the tide on the right kept pace with me walking!
 It was a nice walk through some woods by the river before I came out onto the main road. I had to walk about 3 miles along it before I could get onto a cycle path next to the river again for the last stretch into Dumfries. The tide must reach up a long way because the river was flowing the wrong way! 

Dumfries has a lot of bridges. I crossed over the Kirkpatrick Macmillan bridge, named after the Dumfresian inventor of the velocipede in 1840; the first pedal cycle. How apt that it is a cycle path. (This area is big on cycle trails and there’s a lot of mountain biking trails in the forests and hills.)

Kirkpatrick Macmillan Bridge over the River Nith
 I found my destination and immediately went out shopping for a brush to clean my boots. I bought a feast from Tescos and decided to have a night in as I was pooped. I wasn’t too disturbed by the very loud band playing in the pub until 2 am. I was staying right by the site of Grey Friars Monastery, where Robert the Bruce slayed the Red Comyn in 1306 to pave the way to Scottish independence. History everywhere. 


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 151 Bus to Inverness

Thursday 3 September 2015

Ratagan to Inverness

1.5 mile walk, bus trip

I left Ratagan Youth Hostel in plenty of time to walk the short distance to Shiel Bridge at the head of Loch Duich. From here it was an expensive bus journey (£20) to Inverness, where I was to meet Sally, pick up the hired campervan and head back to Kyle of Lochalsh for 10 days on Skye. I was really looking forward to seeing Skye ‘from the inside’ instead of looking across the water at it. 

The bus journey was nice; good views of Loch Ness. I sat next to the cleaner from the Glenelg Inn that I met yesterday and we had a good chat. 

I don’t feel like I’ve earned another break from walking but the Skye trip has been planned for ages and I am looking forward to it. 

I still can’t see the tops of the Five Sisters of Kintail

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. 

Day 164 Trains, Buses and Feet to Kir-Coo-Bree

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Glasgow to Kircudbright 

8 miles walked

Silvercraigs Campsite

Maggie dropped me at Glasgow Central Station in good time for the train to Dumfries. It was another lovely day and the 2 hour journey passed quickly as I watched the countryside roll by. We passed through Perth (lovely old buildings on the banks of the river) and Stirling (magnificent castle atop a hill). I had an hour to kill in Dumfries so was able to wander into Robert Burns’ town and see his statue. I also saw the alleyway leading to the brilliantly named Hole I’ The Wa’ Inn.  

Robert Burns’ statue
The Hole I’ The Wa’ Inn
Back at the well-kept Dumfries Rail Station (winners of the best station award in 1986 and 87) I caught the bus to Twynholm, just North of my final destination, so I would at least get a walk in today.  

Dumfries’ well manicured train station
 It was past lunchtime when I got off the bus and there was a lovely community garden in Twynholm so I stopped to eat my packed lunch (thanks Maggie). I got chatting to a couple of people who were preparing the garden for its 10-year anniversary party this weekend. It did look very well kept.  

Twynholm community garden
 I had 3.5 miles to walk along (mostly) quiet roads to the bridge across the River Dee into Kirkudbright (pronounced Kir-Coo-Bree). 

Kirkudbright across the River Dee (McLellan’s Castle standing proud)
  The town’s sign called it the Artists’ Town and it certainly looked quite cheery in the afternoon sun with its terraced houses painted different pastel shades.  

A Kirkudbright street
 The campsite is on the side of the hill overlooking the town roofs. I pitched my tent and went off to walk around the town. I needed to go to Tourist Information to get a map of the MOD range that’s on the coast and has public access when not in use. I can walk through it tomorrow. I walked past the marked out remnants of Kirkudbright Castle (there’s nothing left of it). It claims to have been quite an important castle in the 13th Century and was a base used by King Edward I of England for his forays into Scotland. These days Kirkudbright is a port where King and Queen scallops are landed and processed to send abroad. 

I walked out of the town and around the 3 mile loop of St Mary’s Isle, a blob of land that sticks out into the Dee Estuary. It was a nice peaceful walk through trees, no great views but nice anyway.  

Looking out of the trees on St Mary’s Isle
 I finished off my day with dinner in the Kirkudbright Bay Hotel. There was only one choice for me on the menu as I felt compelled to eat macaroni cheese and chips at least once before I leave Scotland.  

It’s not a macaroni pie, but it does come with chips for a classic Scottish carbohydrate overload
 Today it felt good to be back walking, back on course and a bonus to be enjoying the best weather in the country at the moment.  

Looking across the River Dee to Kir-Coo-Bree