After lunch, I head out of Dalbeattie along the A711. It’s a fairly busy road at this point, and not the best of walking experiences.
Time to find the crossing over the Urr Water… ah, there it is. The bridge is narrow and old. I’m glad a set of traffic lights restricts traffic to a one-way flow.
Just over the bridge, and most of the traffic swings off to the right. Meanwhile, the A711 continues round to the left and becomes a much quieter country road.
Ahead is a B&B sign. That is where I’ve booked a room for the next few days. It’s Easter, and my husband is driving up from Lincolnshire and joining me for the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
But it’s not time to check into the B&B yet. I’ve arranged to meet hubby this evening, a little further along the road, in a village called Palnackie.
I’ve got plenty of time before he gets here, and decide to turn off the road and follow a Core Path up into woodland. It should provide a much nicer walking route.
Soon I spot the footpath sign ahead.
The path follows a track across fields and into the trees. These woods are lovely. Dark and deep. But I have promises to keep… and miles to go… yes, I love that Robert Frost poem!
There is a short walking route through the forest, running parallel to the road, but I decide to follow a track that climbs up to the top of the ridge instead. Down on the other side is a little lane that should take me nearly all the way into Palnackie.
There are great views looking over Dalbeattie on the way up. Sadly, the sunshine is only fleeting, and I have to snatch photographs while the light is good.
At the top, my path peters out on the banks of a small lake. I check my map. This must be Loch Gavin. I’ve actually doubled back and am heading north, when I want to be heading south. Still, it’s a beautiful place. Utterly deserted.
I notice there should be another further track up the hill, just above the lake. I trek around the water, following a trail made by wild fowlers (I pass one of their hides) and cross a rickety walkway.
After blundering about in peaty woodland, I find my way blocked by a dry stone wall. Peering over the wall, I think I spot a track… hard to make out among the long grass and overgrown vegetation. I climb over the wall – nearly losing my footing as the stones wobble alarmingly, and am very pleased to find there really is a track on the other side.
I follow this new track downhill, and am startled by a noise above me. I look up, expecting to see a bird, but instead… it’s a red squirrel!
The little creature doesn’t like my presence, and thumps the tree trunk with its tail, before climbing higher and then stops to give me a hard stare. I stand very still, hoping it will move out into the open so I can get a better view, but it stays stubbornly half-hidden, and I only manage to snap a few blurry photographs through the foliage.
A red squirrel! That’s made my day. It was worth climbing the ridge, sploshing around the peaty forest, and nearly breaking my leg climbing over the wall.
From now on, the path is easy. It winds gently down the hill. I enjoy a series of new views, this time looking over the sea. That’s Rough Island again, in the estuary. And there – over the water – must be… Cumbria!
The path gets steeper towards the bottom of the ridge.
I come out onto a quiet lane and make my way southwards, towards Palnackie, past farms and fields of cows, through more woodland, and then down towards the A711 again.
I’m feeling tired by this stage. Stumbling along with my walking pole, the warning sign ‘Elderly people’ could apply to me!
I reach the turn off to Palnackie. It’s only 4:30 pm and my husband won’t arrive until around 6:00 pm. How am I going to pass the next 90 minutes? Well, the sign is hopeful. A shop. And the promise of somewhere to eat. Yippee.
Of course, the shop is closed. The café shut at 4pm. The pub won’t open until 5:30pm. I’ve arrived during the Dead Zone – the barren time that’s unique to Britain when there is traditionally NOTHING OPEN!
I head down to the little harbour. It’s, apparently, a working port. I only see a few rust-bucket boats moored up in the mud. Hard to imagine those ships going anywhere. But at least there’s a bench where I can sit while I wait… No!!!
Even the footpath is closed. New concrete has been laid. Access to the bench is forbidden.
I perch, uncomfortably, on the harbour wall. It’s time to finish off any snacks still lurking in my rucksack. A small dog joins me. Sorry, I’ve only got an apple left and you won’t like that.
I’m through the pub doors at exactly 5:30 pm, taking the barman by surprise. There’s no one else in the place, and I’ve just settled in a battered armchair in front of the fire, with my pint of cider, when a young man arrives with the same small dog I met earlier. It comes over to sit at my feet.
My husband appears a short time later. I look very cosy. He seems to think I’ve been sitting there all day.
Highlights: the red squirrel
Low points: arriving in the dead zone.
Walked today = 12 miles
Total around coast = 3,140.5
Route: (morning in red, afternoon in green)