298 pm Rockcliffe to Gretna

Rockcliffe is a pretty village, and slightly raised above the low-lying ground on either side. After lunch I continue walking north, parallel to the river, along a quiet lane that’s bright with daffodils.

20 leaving Rockcliffe, Ruth walking from Carlisle to Gretna

Below me the river’s furious current has slowed. Perhaps it feels as mellow as I do this afternoon. In the distance, across miles of flat fields, I see the Cumbrian fells – with SNOW on top. Beautiful.

23 snow on the Cumbrian fells, Ruth walking the English Coast - Copy

The day before yesterday was a full of gales and driving rain. Not only did the horrible weather keep me confined to sightseeing in Carlisle, but it also brought snow to the hills and closed the A66 for a while. It’s hard to believe that today, with the air warm and full of spring.

The lane leads past a country estate, and then turns away from the shore. But I continue along a footpath that runs over marshy ground close to the river.

24 Castletown marshes, Ruth Livingstone hiking near Carlisle - Copy

As I walk around the curve of the bank, I get a great view looking back at Rockcliffe. The church steeple is tall and elegant. And you can really see why the village got its name, sitting on top of some low cliffs. More crumbling sandstone than hard rock, to be honest.

25 looking back to Rockcliffe, Ruth Livingstone - Copy

I can’t walk too close to the river, because the ground is very boggy. The landscape opens out. I’m approaching an area called Demesne Marsh, and further ahead is another vast bog, called Rockcliffe Marsh.

26 Demesne Marsh, Ruth hiking up the River Eden to Gretna - Copy

I think the area I’m walking through is used for grazing. There are signs of cattle – old cow pats and hoof prints – but luckily no sign of any today. Probably still too wet and cold to release them.

It’s a lonely place. I see no other walkers.

On my right I pass a grand house. Castletown House, according to my map. It has a shuttered, empty look about it, and I wonder what it’s used for.

27 Castletown House, Ruth Livingstone - Copy

Further along, I come to the next house, simply marked as ‘Demesne’ on my map, and at this point I must make a choice.

  1. I can continue walking around the edge of the marsh until I reach Esk Boathouse, about 2-3 miles further along. Some of the way is footpath, but most of it is over private land. This is the way David Cotton walked when he did this section on his coastal walk.
  2. Or I can head up to the road and follow country lanes. This will be slightly shorter and easier than sticking to the marsh. And doesn’t involve trespassing.

I look up at the house and consider what to do.

28 Demesne, Ruth's coastal walk around England, Cumbrian marshes - Copy

My original plan was option (2), because my planned walk today is already a long one by my standards, and I’m driving back to Lincolnshire tonight. But I’m reluctant to say goodbye to the River Eden, and the marsh ahead looks tempting…

In the end, caution wins out, and I walk up towards the house to find the road. The first section is farm track and very muddy. I pass some bedraggled sheep. Very hairy. Unusual looking. Are they a rare breed?

29 shaggy sheep, Demesne, Ruth Livingstone hiking towards Gretna up the River Eden - Copy

I’m glad to reach the firm surface of a little lane. Road walking is, of course, far more boring than walking through the marsh, but at least I make good progress.

30 road walking to Rockcliffe Cross, Ruth's coastal walk, River Eden - Copy

My little lane joins a slightly larger road. This is Rockcliffe Cross, a tiny collection of houses and farms. I see a sweet looking horse standing by a gate. No, the gate isn’t huge. The horse is really VERY small.

31 tiny horse, Rockcliffe Cross, Ruth hiking up the River Eden - Copy

I turn left along the road, past more farms, until I reach another junction. The road ahead is a dead-end. It leads to the Esk Boathouse, and this is where I would have ended up if I’d followed David Cotton’s route.

32 dead end to Esk Boathouse, Ruth's coastal walk - Copy

I turn right. Although I haven’t yet had to walk through a field of cows on this trip, a bunch of bullocks are lurking behind a tree. It looks like an ambush party. I’m glad there’s a fence between us.

33 cattle ambush, Ruth's coastal walk, UK - Copy

At Halltown Farm I’m going to leave the road and follow a footpath which runs all the way up to Metal Bridge, the point at which I will cross the River Esk.

I’m worried about this footpath. The first section is across fields, but the majority of it follows a track. And farmer’s tracks can be extremely muddy. (I remember struggling along the Hadrian Wall Path to Beaumont yesterday.) Perhaps I should play it safe and stick to the road?

But I’m bored with roads.

The first part of the footpath runs across a low field beside Halltown Farm, and it is very muddy indeed. I jump from one squelchy tussock of grass to another. In between the tussocks, my feet sink ankle-deep in mucky slurry.  Yuck. Perhaps this was a terrible mistake?

I’m relieved to see a stile ahead, with woodland beyond and the promise of drier land.

34 footpath through Halltown Farm, Ruth's coastal walk, to Gretna or bust - Copy

But the woodland isn’t much better. In fact, it’s worse. And there’s no sign of a trodden path, so clearly people don’t come this way very often. Oh dear. But it’s too late to turn back now. Onwards.

I reach the track I was worrying about and – to my relief – discover it isn’t muddy at all. There are tyre treads, but the ground is firm. No sign of cattle either.

35 track to Metalbridge, Ruth's coastal walk from Carlisle to Gretna - Copy

I laugh at myself for worrying about the track. I’m reminded it can be very hard to predict what a path will be like by simply looking at the map. In fact, this track feels very established and very old. Is it an ancient green lane?

To my left, through a screen of trees, I catch glimpses of the broad expanse of marshland that sticks out into the Solway Firth. To my right, through an ancient hedge, are agricultural fields. I’m walking the border between tamed countryside and watery wilderness.

I reach Garriestown. This seems to consist of a single farmhouse and associated outbuildings. Here the lovely lane is interrupted, somewhat abruptly, by a recently added wire fence. It has a makeshift look to it. The public right-of-way continues off to the right, over a stile.

36 footpath around Garriestown, Ruth Livingstone - Copy

I follow the footpath around the perimeter of the farm building and over another stile. Here the ground is in a horrible state. Muddy and chewed up by… by what? I don’t see any cattle or sheep out here, only a bunch of chickens.

I cross the mud with difficulty, keeping to the left where there is an inch or two of grass left. Someone has, very inconveniently and deliberately, tied a cord between temporary stakes to keep walkers off the grass and keep them in the mud.

37 nasty footpath, Garriestown, Ruth hiking in Cumbria - Copy

As I inch my way past the chickens, they rush about and cluck in panic. ‘Don’t worry ladies,’ I call out. ‘I’m not going to hurt you. Just on my way to the bridge.’

I reach the gate and the driveway to the house. There, to my surprise, I see a man leaning against the side of his car. He seems to be studying a map. Is he lost?

Slightly embarrassed – because he must have heard me talking to the chickens – I open my mouth to say something, but he doesn’t raise his eyes from his map, although he clearly knows I’m there. This is odd – in isolated places people usually greet each other. And if he’s lost, maybe I can help?

Suddenly, I realise he isn’t lost at all. He’s just pretending I don’t exist. And that means he must be… the landowner.

Hah! Rude man. But there’s no point in being unfriendly to walkers or in trying to make a public footpath difficult to navigate. We’ll just find ways to get round, anyway. You don’t gain anything, just a nasty reputation.

The path continues as a track. I’m heading towards the railway line – the main line between Carlisle and Dundee – and I’m hoping to find a crossing point. Ah yes, a footbridge.

38 railway crossing to Metal Bridge, Ruth hiking from Carlisle to Gretna - Copy

Actually, it’s a stupendous footbridge. The helpfulness of its construction neatly contrasts with the unhelpfulness of the Garriestown landowner. But, my legs are feeling tired, so why the enormously high stile?

39 railway crossing to Metal Bridge with huge stile, Ruth Livingstone - Copy

There’s an equally enormous one on the other side. But I get a good view from the top of the bridge and stop to take photographs.

Ahead is the M6 and my crossing point over the River Esk at a place called Metal Bridge. There should be an ordinary road running alongside the motorway too, but, if there is, I can’t see it from this distance.

40 Metal Bridge, Ruth's trek from Carlisle to Gretna - Copy

I had assumed I could cross the river there. Someone who knows the area (Ann Lingard, I think) mentioned crossing at the Metal Bridge. Oh dear. What am I going to do if I can’t?

This worry spoils a pleasant walk along the banks of the River Esk. I reach Metal Bridge, where there are a few houses and a pub. I find the road I’m hoping to follow. But there’s a “ROAD CLOSED” sign. Oh no!!!

41 road closed at Metal Bridge, Ruth walking to Scotland - Copy

With sinking heart I follow the closed road. It dives under the M6 bridge. I can hear the traffic clattering overhead. Desperately I look for steps leading up. Nothing!

42 underpass, Metal Bridge, Ruth Livingstone on the River Esk - Copy

On the other side of the bridge, the footpath continues along the river to the next crossing point at Longtown. I pull out my map. Longtown is where David Cotton crossed, but it’s 4 miles up river. This unexpected deviation would add miles to my already long walk.

I can do it. If I have to. Yes, I can walk to Longtown and then on to Gretna. But it will be a physical challenge. And how will I get back to Carlisle? When’s the last train? I didn’t bother checking the bus times either.

Yes, I CAN do it, but I DON’T WANT TO.

Perhaps there’s a bus from Metal Bridge back to Carlisle? I turn back and walk along the road, searching for signs of a bus stop. Then I see something – a slip road, up to a non-motorway road. It exists, after all. And goes to Gretna. Over the bridge. Alongside the M6.

I’m full of relief at finding I can cross the river here, after all. And decide I LOVE this road.

43 minor road along M6, Metal Bridge, Gretna, Ruth hiking to Scotland - Copy

The love affair doesn’t last long.

Actually, this road is truly horrible. One of the worst I’ve had to walk along yet. No pavements. Almost no verge. Fast moving traffic and narrow lanes.

44 B road over Metal Bridge, Ruth Livingstone - Copy

At first I try to walk along the right hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. (As in the photograph above.) But I soon abandon that idea. For a start, the noise of the motorway traffic hurtling along inches away to my right – just on the other side of the green fence – is terrifying. At least on the left there IS a verge, of sorts.

The best part of this horrible road is the actual bridge itself, where there is a pavement. And nice views.

45 crossing the River Esk, Ruth Livingstone on Metal Bridge - Copy

This section of road walking continues for 3 miles. Luckily the traffic is not too heavy, but it is constant. I’m walking with the cars coming up behind me, but I’m unable to hear their approach because of the roar of the nearby M6.

I spend most of the time tottering along the grassy verge, trying to avoid twisting an ankle on the rough surface, and trying to avoid stepping in roadkill or stumbling over discarded litter. I know I started the day saying, “Gretna Green, or bust!”, but I didn’t mean it literally!

46 horrible road to Gretna

I know I should be excited because I’ve nearly reached Scotland. But it’s hard to be enthusiastic about anything during this part of the day.

Finally I reach the A6071 that will take me into Gretna and there’s a decent pavement to walk along. The road swings around, over a bridge and – suddenly – I’ve left England behind and I’m in Scotland. I stop to take a photo of the welcoming sign and to post an update on Twitter. I’ve made it.

47 entering Scotland, Ruth Livingstone, walking the coast of Britain

If you look carefully at the photo above, you’ll see what I first saw – my first impression of Scotland. It’s the scene of a road accident. A smashed car, police vans, and an ambulance are parked in the layby. Maybe it’s not a good omen?!

Anyway, I survived the horrible road and I’m here at last. In Scotland!

A sign post tells me it’s only 360 miles to John O’Groats. Really? No. Not the way I’m going. And, apparently, only 478 miles to Land’s End. It seems a long time since I was there.

48 signpost to John O'Groats, Gretna, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

Actually, realising I would arrive in Gretna came as a bit of a surprise. I had always thought the first place you came to on the border was Gretna Green. (All my teenage memories of elopement stories ended up in Gretna Green, not Gretna.) But Gretna Green is still a mile away up the road.

One of my NHS friends got married last year in Gretna Green. She and her husband didn’t elope – they’re in their fifties – but it’s still a place with romantic connotations.

They clearly do weddings in Gretna too. The Old Toll Bar is, apparently, the first house in Scotland and the site of over 10,000 marriages.

49 Old Toll Bar, Ruth Livingstone in Gretna, Scotland

Gretna is an odd place. It’s a mix of romantic and mundane. There’s a twee collection of inns and hotels, selling themselves as wedding venues, set against the backdrop of a large and extensive retail park.

I glance at my watch. If I miss the next train, I have 2 hours to wait. Onwards, and quickly, to Gretna Green and the railway station.

50 Gretna Green sign, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

Perhaps the reason why people eloped to Gretna Green, instead of Gretna, was because this is where the railway station is situated? If young lovers did arrive here, they must have been disappointed, because the station is far from romantic. Rusty metal steps and two functional, but Spartan, platforms. It doesn’t even have a coffee shop.

51 Gretna Green station, Ruth Livingstone walking the Scottish Coast

Anyway, I make my train with 10 minutes to spare. The ScotRail carriage is crowded and dirty. I’m glad to get off in Carlisle and switch to my car.

[A difficult afternoon was compounded by a difficult drive back to Lincolnshire. The A1 was closed in two places, causing time-consuming deviations. I know it’s sensible to conduct road works at night, but very irritating for those of us making late journeys!]


Miles walked today = 16 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,045 miles

Route: red=morning, black=afternoon


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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39 Responses to 298 pm Rockcliffe to Gretna

  1. jcombe says:

    Oh dear not a good day. I was also tempted by the marsh route to the private boat house but stuck to the road in the end. I also remember that boggy footpath though the land just before the road was drier then. After going over that stile you photographed into the woodland I lost the path. I soon spoted a stile on the other side of a low metal fence. I realised I had gone wrong so I went to climb over it and then got “stung” because it was an electric fence (though it did not look like it). Ouch! So I had to walk back and around. I was lucky with that road next to the motorway because it had 3 or 4 sets of temporary traffic lights which meant frequent breaks in the traffic. Also I could walk in the coned off sections because as is usual they had coned off far more of the road than was actually being worked on and since it was a Saturday no one was working on it anyway to tell me off.

    The Cadbury outlet shop is in that large retail park in Gretna. I think the station in Gretna Green is fairly recent and the original was closed in the 1960s. The might explain it’s rather isolated and desolate feel. I was hearilty relived when catching the train back to Carlisle that I had to change at Carlisle since the train I got off was going on to Newcastle and being only 2 carriages was packed out with drunken and loud football fans that all got on at Carlisle. A lucky escape!

    • You were unlucky with the electric fence, but lucky with the traffic lights on that awful road. It’s one walk I’ll never forget! I’m definitely going to visit the Cadbury place 😀

      • jcombe says:

        Oh and I meant to say congratulations on reaching Scotland! Were you surprised to see it is furthur to John OGroats from there than to London? I know I was.

  2. Trevor Sutton says:

    You have reached Scotland! I don’t think one can let this moment pass without saying: Congratulations – a great achievement, and not done ‘very slowly’! Your photos always make me yearn to get back to the coast (I am still working my way southwards on the Wales Coast path). All best wishes for the next phase of your project.

    • Hi Trevor. Funny, I was just thinking of you the other day and I wondered how you were getting on in Wales and if you’d finished it yet. Hard to make progress when you must fit walking around work commitments. I’m making far more progress since I retired 😀
      Best wishes and good luck with your own expedition.

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    Oh dear, sorry your arrival in Scotland was less than ideal! The pub in Metal Bridge was often a lunch stop for us on our drive south – It was just off the road. Then when they started working on the motorway we found it had closed. Now I don’t suppose anybody notices it. It didn’t look very open in your picture, though that might have just been the time of day.

  4. Jacquie says:

    Congratulations on reaching Scotland but what a pity it was such an anticlimax.
    Many years ago, driving to Scotland from Devon with two young children I remember their lack of excitement when after many miles of ‘Are we nearly there?’ I shouted ‘Look, we’re in Scotland’ and all they saw was more motorway.
    Lots of lovely hills adn Lochs to come 🙂

  5. Rita Bower says:

    Congratulations on reaching Scotland – a fantastic achievement! Hope there’s lots of more scenic walking ahead & that you have no trouble from the midges!!

  6. Congratulations on reaching Scotland! I’ll expect you to overtake me by Easter then, shall I? (Although by your walking rules, I am cheating enormously, so maybe not). 🙂

    I don’t generally mind roads but that section next to the M6 is the single most horrible road I’ve had the misfortune to walk along. It was utterly awful and I entirely understand your dislike of it.

    • Hi Ju. I’m OK with bending rules, or breaking them even, from time to time. In fact, I’m going to miss out the whole section you’re doing at the moment – and get the ferry across from Ardrossan to Arran, walk round Arran, and then another ferry across to do the Mull of Kintyre section. (It’s what Helen Krasner did when she walked the coast). So I’m an even bigger cheat than you!
      I absolutely agree with you about the M6 road. Although, I do remember a road in Essex which was equally bad, or even maybe slightly worse.

      • Chris Elliott says:

        Hi Ruth – I can’t persuade you to change your mind re your ‘cheat’? A lot of the Firth of Clyde is fascinating to walk around. It’s not as ‘industrial’ as it’s name might suggest and many parts have paths many of which are not on maps. Yes there is quite a lot of road walking but in my view you have to take the rough with the smooth (i.e. beautiful). I can understand your desire to miss parts like the A83 near Inverary, which is far more dangerous to walk on than the stretch near the M6, as indeed is the A82 near Fort William for when you get there. It just seems a shame when you are walking so much of the coast that you miss this section out……. If you are skipping this section to avoid Glasgow, then there is no need. You can cross the Erskine Bridge and then there is a lovely walk to Dumbarton along the Forth and Clyde canal. You’re missing some lovely stretches around Loch Goil / Colintraive / Tighnabruaich / Kames. If you need more details on this stretch send me an email. All the best Chris.

      • I would probably have done the same thing and taken the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry if I’d had a clear plan but I was in two minds over doing the sea lochs or foregoing the coast completely and taking the West Highland Way from Milngavie.

        As it happens, I am now planning to include Arran, only I’ll do it by making my way onto the Kintyre peninsula and then taking the ferry from Claonaig to Lochranza and doing a circuit of Arran before returning to Claonaig. Partly because, well Arran, and partly because the Ardrossan ferry offers a convenient transport option if I end or start a trip on Arran. Whereas if I just head straight down Kintyre now, the summer-only and very limited service Campbeltown-Ardrossan ferry won’t have started yet. Arran adds just enough delay that by the time I get to Campbeltown, it’ll have a ferry (weather permitting) to make getting home easier.

        • Oh crikey. Now I realise I’m going to have to read up on ferry times. I just assumed I’d turn up and there would be the ferry. Research needed.

          • The Ardrossan-Brodick ferry is much as you’d hoped as is the other Arran ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig (summer) or Tarbert (winter). But there’s also a summer-only ferry between Adrossan and Campbeltown (on the Kintyre peninsula) whose timetable reads like a bad joke and which apparenty gets cancelled the moment the sea state isn’t mirror-like. I plan to try to use it later in the year.

  7. paul sennett says:

    the third and final country of your walk has been reached.. truly an awesome achievement…

    • Thank you Paul. My husband tried to persuade me to take a shortcut. ‘Why not continue along the Hadrian’s Wall Path and miss Scotland out?’ he said. But, no, I will do Scotland. Very slowly, but surely. Best wishes and hope your walk is going well too.

  8. Hi Ruth,
    Congratulations on reaching Scotland, this walk did its best to thwart you but you persisted and conquered – (well that’s how some walks feel to me!). Due to my random approach to the coast, I have that walk all programmed into GPS ready to go in August or September – I had previously driven through Gretna/Green a couple of times and find it a bit ‘plastic’ – more for tourists but still a serious achievement.
    I can only vouch for Ayrshire on the west coast, but you have much to look forward too, although in my forward planning, I have struggled to find a good route between Dumfries and Stranraer, and there are so many fewer rights of way in Scotland, but as you know, a great tradition of ‘right to roam’.
    Enjoy Alba,
    Gemma.

  9. Hi Gemma, yes, I’m finding the lack of proper rights-of-way a real problem. Rights to roam are fine, but not helpful when you are surrounded by farms and barbed wire fences! However, to my surprise, I came across some official looking footpath signs in Gretna, and then I discovered this site: http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/15304/Core-paths-in-Dumfries-and-Galloway
    It shows a network of walking paths and I spent yesterday evening drawing them onto my OS map. Still a lot of road walking ahead, I’m afraid.

    • Hi Ruth,
      Thanks for the core paths link – I was not aware of this and It should help you out a bit, hopefully each region has its own version. I notice on OS a number of dashed black lines – presumably paths here and there along the coast, (eg south of Eastriggs) which hopefully exist on the ground!
      Like you say, right to roam is not a substitute for knowing that there is a good chance of a linear path through an area and I have found this frustrating in Scotland, although it does seem to be improving over time, with more linear routes appearing on maps.
      There are a couple of websites of people who have ‘walked the Scottish Coast’ – http://www.nationalcoastalpath.co.uk/ (for example). Of course a definitive and comprehensive route does not exist.
      I agree, when there is doubt of a way through, a road is generally the best way to go!
      Regards,
      Gemma.

      • jcombe says:

        Yes I second Gemma – thanks for that link. As you will probably find walking in Scotland can be both very rewarding and very frustrating. The scenery is stunning and the right to roam is great, but that still means that in most low level area you will spend a lot of time trying to climb over barbed wire fences and make you way around field edges. At least that’s what I do, rather than avoid it. I’ve done that a lot to avoid long stretches of road walking, but it is very tiring and can be painful too. It also makes it so hard to plan how long a walk will take when you’ve no idea whether your route is feasible and spend a lot of time trying to work out the best place to try and cross a fence or whether a gate might be. Having said that I do enjoy the challenge of route planning when I find a nice coastal route that works well! The good thing is that at least you can never be accused of trespassing when trying to find a usable route in Scotland.

        Whilst Scotland does have footpaths unless they are a long distance trail they are not properly marked on maps. Though a lot in fact seem to be marked by the grey dotted “track” symbols on the map so look out for that, they usually do seem to be paths in my experience. Where they do exists, a surprising number seem to be dead-end routes, too. Some areas of the coast are great for access though. The first part of Scotland I did was actually Fife because it has a proper well maintained, well marked coast path so it made for an easier introduction. Then I moved onto the borders, where there is the Berwickshire coast path for a while (to Eyemouth I think?). After that it’s been a case of find my own route as much as possible. I think Dumfries and Galloway are the exception rather than rule in creating that map. Aberdeenshire also have the “blob” map (https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/paths-and-outdoor-access/guide-and-maps/) which shows coastal access (though I find a few paths not marked on that map).

        Looking forward to hearing how you get on. I’ve been focussing on the east coast of Scotland mostly (hope to finish this year) so will find your posts from the west coast very useful in planning!

        • Yes, Scotland – I started with the Fife Coastal Path for the same reasons, and enjoyed it immensely, and then the John Muir Way (before it was changed into a coast to coast) and with the helpful link paths of the North Sea Trail it was easy to walk from Dundee south to Berwick (and of course you are then in England).
          My last east coast walk was Dundee to Carnoustie and I will walk onto Arbroath this summer, and do a bit more Ayrshire coast, and start the West Highland Way (Having folks in Livingston is great for both coasts!)

          The west coast of Scotland as we all know is open to interpretation/ability and quite how pedantic/completist you wish to be with all the peninsulas – My approach is a big ‘cop out’ and will consider my scottish coast walk finished as: Gretna to Clayshant (undefined route), Clayshant to Stranrear to Milngavie (Mull of Galloway Trail/Ayrshire Coast Path/Clyde Coastal Path) then West Highland Way to Fort William – Great Glen Way (completed) to Inverness – then mainly undefined route to Aberdeen then Dundee along the coast south – then Fife Coastal Path (completed) then John Muir Way and North Sea Trail Links/Berwickshire Coast Path (completed). Also eventually north from Inverness to reach as far as Thurso along the coast via wick and John O’ Groats. I will also do some of the Island trails such as Arran coast (I have already visited this stunning island) and west Island way/Cowal way)…

          So, a massive swath of the west coast left out, mainly because as stunning as it is, I cannot face weeks battling midges in a tent in the middle of nowhere without a clear and definitive route through! I will eventually get round to a dedicated Britain Coast Website detailing my route – Another short term measure is I am walking Offas Dyke to bypass Welsh coast for now (will do eventually) – I am stunned with Ruth’s completion of The Wales Coast Path and dedication, and follow each blog closely for clues on how to do each unwalked section in the future.
          I am certainly someone in awe of people who complete the Cape Wrath Trail!
          Regards,
          Gemma.

          Let us see if Nicola Sturgeon / SNP can get a cohesive Scotland coast path ‘green lit’…

          • There seems to be a 1,000 different ways to walk the coast. But I’m with you on the midges and tent issues, Gemma. This is supposed to be FUN – or so I keep reminding myself. Is Nicola Sturgeon really going to support a Scottish coast path? Now that would be wonderful!

          • Well, I don’t know for sure, but here is the text of an email I just sent to the SNP:

            ” Dear Sir/Madam,

            You have probably been asked this before, but as Wales has, and England is commisioning a Coastal Path round their entire countries, will Scotland also do the same for the mainland?

            I understand that Scotland has a particularly difficult to traverse/navigate West Coast and the actual route would have to be a compromise, but it would make walkers like me more confident of tackling the areas which do not already have footpaths and trails marked.

            Certainly the Firth O’ Clyde Rotary Trail and Fife Coastal Path are wonderful and the existing sections of North Sea Trail, but that still leaves a lot of the coast very difficult to plan – the right to roam in Scotland is superb, but you can appreciate that it is useful to know that a contiguous linear trail exists through an area as well.

            Several people have websites and blogs relating to their own versions of this magnificent endeavour, but have encountered a myriad of difficulties with impenetrable foliage, rivers to cross impassable terrain etc, and some rather irate landowners, but have also been spellbound by the breathtaking scenery.

            I would love to know the official stance of the SNP on this issue, I would certainly expect that it would be a massive boost to tourism and business revenue and good for employment opportunities.

            Warmest regards,

            Gemma Barclay (England). ”

            Anyway, let’s see what they have to say – probably more obsessed with trying for another referendum for now…

            I don’t know how your planning is going for the long sections towards Stranrear – I have provisionally worked out a route for the future using David Cotton’s experiences http://www.britishwalks.org – Unfortunately it looks like their is a huge amount of road walking…

  10. Ann Howlett says:

    Hi Ruth
    Congratulations on reaching Scotland. I like your plan of the Ardrossan ferry, we have used it a few times by car as a route to Kintyre and on to Islay. It is a great way to avoid the whole Greater Glasgow Experience.
    Now back to catching up with your blog where I have followed you as far as North Devon. I wonder if it is the only county with two entirely separate coasts.
    Ann

    • Pleased to have your blessing for the Ardrossan Ferry plan. 🙂 Still seems like cheating a bit, but… who cares! I think you’re right about Devon. Can’t think of another county with interrupted coastline either.

  11. restlessjo says:

    Good grief! This is quite some enterprise 🙂 🙂 I imagine living on my nerves for too much of the time, but still… quite some sense of achievement and some lovely bits to compensate? This is my first dip into your walking. Anabel mentioned you to me.

    • Hi there and welcome! Yes, this was a tough ending to a good day of walking. Most of the coast is fantastic and wonderful.

      • restlessjo says:

        I do a fair bit of walking but I just commented to Anabel that you make me feel like a dilettante 🙂 🙂 Hats off to you! I read the About after I commented. Do you have a husband and home ties? It’s probably rude of me to ask but I’m not known for my subtlety. No need to answer if I’m treading on toes. 🙂 🙂

        • Treading on toes is fine 😄 Yes I have a husband, and 3 daughters. I started walking when my youngest left for uni, my job was very stressful, and my father was fading away in a home. I guess I was escaping! I started walking at weekends, and hubby usually came too. He went cycling, I went walking, and he picked me up at the end of the day. Now I’m fully retired and hubby still working, so I do more trips on my own nowadays and usually during the week,

          • restlessjo says:

            Thanks for the history, Ruth. I was in dread of you being recently widowed or spurned for another woman. Much happier with your set up. 🙂 🙂

  12. Congratulations on reaching Scotland, a beautiful country lies ahead 🙂

    Your description of that awful road rang a bell. When I looked back at my 2010 end-to-end notes I found the following sentence (I was heading south and had just reached England) “The route to Carlisle was along an unpleasant road running next to the M6 with no pavement or cycle path. The only thing I really noticed was a huge waste site.”

    Seven years later I still remember countless wonderful places I saw during that journey as if I were there yesterday. The unpleasant stuff, like the road described above, have faded from my memory quickly in comparison.

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