302 Glencaple to Dumfries

I catch the bus from Dumfries to Glencaple and it drops me off in the car park. Criffel looms across the river, dark and sullen.

01 Glencaple wharf, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

The day is as dull as yesterday. Maybe duller. What a shame. All my photographs turn out looking muddy.

I’m following the River Nith up to Dumfries and the nearest crossing point over the water. An information board tells me this is one of the prettiest river valleys in Scotland. I’ll have to take their word for it. Today it just looks grey and boring.

02 River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

One of Dumfries and Galloway’s Core Paths runs along the bank, so I’m anticipating an easy walk. I follow clear signposts. and cross over watery obstructions via neat little bridges. A good start.

03 core path along River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

I meet an elderly man with an even older dog. He tells me he’s 18 years old (the dog – not the man!)

04 old boy and his dogs, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

Otherwise I have the bank to myself. There is evidence of recent floods, or maybe high tides, with damaged vegetation lying across the path.

05 flotsam on the path to Dumfries, Ruth Livingstone walking the Scottish coast

The bridges have little logos attached. ‘Dumfries and Galloway Council. RANGER SERVICE’. I guess they’re responsible for the installation of the bridges and maintenance of the path.

06 Ranger Service sign on bridge, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

Geese are using the river as a motorway, flying up and down in noisy, straggling lines. Some fly high, others prefer to stick close to the water.

07 flying geese, River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

I pass some fishing nets set out on stands along the bank. These are nets attached to static poles and are used to catch fish as the tide, or river current, drags them into the trap.

08 fishing nets, River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

The bank is constantly interrupted by little streams and drains, all flowing into the main River Nith. Luckily, there are bridges to take me across. The next bridge I come to is a large one, and has a mess of driftwood piled up beside it.

09 bridge with driftwood, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

I see a motorbike helmet stuck on a pole. Presumably it was washed up by the river? I wonder what happened to the rider. Did he/she fall in? Or did they just lose their helmet by leaving it carelessly on a bank somewhere?

10 helmet and bridge, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

I’m so busy musing about the helmet, I fail to notice the damaged bridge ahead. Until I’m up close and see the red and white tapes, and the sign. ‘CAUTION. Path Closed.’

11 path closed sign, River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

The bridge has been damaged because the bank on the other side is collapsing. The notice advises me ‘to find an alternative route’. Easier said than done. Does that mean I have to go back and find the road?

My heart sinks at the thought of more road walking.

I take a closer look at the other side of the bridge. Yes, I can see where the bank is subsiding, and the concrete base supporting the wooden bridge is leaning at an odd angle. Looks like the whole thing might fall into the water at any moment.

12 broken bridge, River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

But… the bridge is still standing. And I don’t weigh very much. (Ahem, maybe some wishful thinking here!). This little stream isn’t very deep, even if I do fall in, although my electronic equipment would be damaged, wouldn’t it? My camera, my phone, maybe my Garmin… but do I REALLY don’t want to back track and find a way up to the road?

So I climb over the tape, inch my way along the bridge – survive the crossing – and then nearly fall into the river as I climb over the tape on the other side.

Whew. Made it. I feel wickedly naughty and wildly triumphant at the same time. A little problem like a broken bridge isn’t going to stop me!

Then I look along the bank and wonder if I’ve made a big mistake. The path is indistinct along a narrow, crumbling strip of grassland.

13 path up the River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

Oh well, too late now. Onwards.

Sometimes I have to scramble over driftwood. Other times I have to watch my step on a badly eroded bank. I’m reassured to see the occasional footprint on the path – I’m not the only idiot who has decided to walk this way.

14 driftwood on bank, River Nith, Ruth hiking to Dumfries, Scotland

I pass another discarded helmet stuck on a pole. This one is belongs to a child, a push-bike rider. Must be a girl, because it’s pink.

15 Child's helmet, Ruth walking up the River Nith

Further along and the path improves. I find signposts, including one telling me the path I’ve just walked along is closed. The river narrows.

16 river narrowing, Ruth walking to Dumfries, Scotland

I reach Kingholm Quay. A mess of building materials obscures the footpath, including a slowly churning cement mixer. I don’t see any workmen.

17 Kingholm Quay, Ruth walking to Dumfries, Scotland

I pick my way through. Kingholm Quay is an odd place. A mix of derelict buildings, houseboats, and pleasure craft. No pub or café though. Shame.

18 Kinghom Quay, Nith River, Ruth walking to Dumfries, Scotland

Beyond Kingholm Quay, I meet strollers and dog walkers. There is an easy concrete path which runs for a couple of miles…

19 River Nith path to Dumfries, Ruth's coastal walk

…and takes me into Dumfries. The riverside area had been newly landscaped to form a very attractive park. Dock Park.

20 Dock Park, Dumfries, Ruth walking the coast of Scotland

Here I end my walk. It’s only been short, because I’m travelling down to Manchester today to meet up with my family for the weekend. I’ll be back soon…

Miles walked today = 6 miles (none of it actually on the coast!)
Total miles around UK = 3,091.5 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 19 Dumfries and Galloway and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 302 Glencaple to Dumfries

  1. jcombe says:

    You’re making good progress around Scotland, Dumfries already! You made the right choice with that path, I find that 90% of the time you come across path closure notices you can get through without any major problem. Also in Scotland they closure notices can’t be backed up by legal threats of fines (as they are in England) because of the right to roam. As you say it is not a deep river so you are unlikely to come to much harm if the bridge did collapse other than getting a bit muddy and wounded pride. I suspect most electronics would survive, too if they are inside a rucksack. I’d just wrap them in an extra plastic or waterproof bag first if you have one. It would still take time for water to penetrate into your rucksack and then into a camera bag etc inside. You would probably only be in the water for a few seconds. I know when I fell over in the sea a couple of years ago in Scotland all the electronics in my bag survived fine (and it’s only when you do something daft like that, that you realise how much it all adds up to!). Only my camera did not survive, and that was round my neck.

  2. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, “…………..I’m reassured to see the occasional footprint on the path – I’m not the only idiot who has decided to walk this way” ….oops! I thought I had covered all my tracks!

  3. Peter Caton says:

    Glad you climbed over the closed bridge. I’d have done the same myself – as I have on various places on my coastal walks.

  4. Mike Norman says:

    Well done on negotiating the “closed” path! A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago when I walked the last part of the Teesdale Way from Middlesbrough to Redcar so I could pick up the coastal path round to Whitby, It became really difficult to get through at one point and I was cursing the inability of the local council to maintain a long distance path until I emerged at a point with a “path closed” sign for the benefit of people coming the other way (I must have missed the one for my direction some two miles back). I wonder if that will have been sorted by the time you get there? Mind you you don’t have to worry about that until you get past Hartlepool so a little way to go yet 😉

    • Hi Mike. It’s difficult to decide what to do when you come across a ‘closed path’ sign, isn’t it. Sometimes the paths are definitely impassable, but usually you can find a way round the obstruction. Yes, will be a long time before I get to the east coast!

  5. gillianrance says:

    Good risk assessment of the bridge there Ruth!

  6. jcombe says:

    A lovely walk this one. That wobbly bridge is now even worse (see photo below), though it is still standing. The notices have gone too now so you’ve no way of knowing until you get there. Despite the angle, I did make it across, but I suspect it won’t be long now before it collapses. I came at it from the other direction, I think it’s a bit easier that way.


  7. KGriffiths says:

    A shame you missed the pub at Kingholm Quay. The Swan is just across the road as you go around the harbour and is a very popular eatery. http://www.theswandumfries.co.uk. Perhaps you could amend your blog for any future readers.

  8. Karen White says:

    Some really lovely scenery.

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