314 Creetown to Newton Stewart

Today I plan to walk up the River Cree from Creetown, cross over the bridge at Newton Stewart, and continue down the other side of the river to Wigtown. I have a complicated travel plan that involves two buses… but… it’s raining.

What a miserable day! I decide to walk under the shelter of my big green umbrella.

01 Ruth and her green umbrella, hiking in Scotland

I head out of Creetown along its access road. Yet again, my route won’t follow the shoreline very closely. Below me are green fields, the busy A75, an area of marsh, and the River Cree in the distance.

02 view down to River Cree, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

Although my road is quiet, I’m splattered with spray every time a car goes past, so I’m glad to spot the point where I can head off to the right along a cycle route. This should take me all the way to Newton Stewart.

03 cycle way to Newton Stewart, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

The great thing about carrying an umbrella is it means I can use my camera despite the rain. Bit awkward, of course, holding the umbrella with one hand and working the camera with the other, but better than having no photographs at all!

It’s a pleasant walk, despite the weather.

04 lovely cycle path from Creetown to Newton Stewart, Ruth Livingstone

Over on the other side of the river the sun seems to be shining. Typical! Wish I was over there.

05 view over Galloway, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

The cycle route follows the ridge of an old railway line. On either side are farms and fields. ‘Warning’ says a sign. ‘Gates will be opened after stock has been moved.’

06 gates across cycle path, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

Stock? Uh-oh. That means cows. Sure enough, ahead I see two gates, about 10 feet apart, and a cow is standing stubbornly between them. But there is nowhere else to go. No other way round.

07 cow on path, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

Unfortunately, I realise, I will need to shut the first gate before I open the second gate. This will give me an awkward few moments when I am very vulnerable – penned in with the cow – and with no easy escape route if the cow decides to turn nasty.

Another coastal walker, Ju (aka The Helpful Mammal), once advised me not to look directly at cows because they can interpret direct eye-contact as a threat.

It takes every effort of will to open and then close the first gate, and approach the bolt for the second gate – which is exactly three feet away from where the cow is standing – without once glancing at the beast.

Once safely on the other side of the second gate, I look back. Crikey! The cow had two little calves with her. If I’d known that… well, perhaps it was better not to have known.

The cows in the neighbouring field take an interest in my walk. In fact, they join me as a bizarre bovine convoy, for a few hundred feet.

08 cows and calves, Ruth hiking in Dumfries and Galloway

Cows are crazy beasts. I’ll never understand them.

I’m following Cycle Route number 7. My husband joined me on my trek recently – although he goes cycling while I walk – and he told me he cycled along here. “It’s lovely. You’ll enjoy it,” he said. Funny he didn’t mention the cows…

09 National Cycle Network 7 sign, Ruth hiking to Newton Stewart

The route runs through a strip of woodland. Disappointingly, given Scotland’s famous Right to Roam policy, not only is there a strand of barbed wire running along the top of the fencing, but there is also a strand of electric wire too. Why? To keep out marauding cyclists?

10 cycle path, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

On the other side of the fence, in the ‘forbidden’ woodland, is a lovely carpet of bluebells.

11 forbidden bluebell woods, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

After a few miles, the cycle route crosses a quiet lane, and continues on the other side as a narrow road…

12 pretty cottage, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

…that passes under the remains of an old railway viaduct. The brick pillars still stand, pointlessly, on either side, but the overhead arch no longer exists.

13 under old railway line, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

I’ve walked off the edge of my current OS Explorer map, and now I’m reliant on my husband’s less-detailed Landranger map. I think of him as I follow a quiet lane through pretty countryside. He must have cycled along here too.

14 farmland Strathmaddie, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

I pass a field of heifers, and they all come charging down the slope to greet me. Why am I such a cow-magnet today?!

15 cow magnet, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

I guess they’re hoping I’ve brought them food, because they’ve probably been fed by the farmer all over the winter. Tough luck, ladies. You must find your own food now. It’s called ‘grass’ and its the green stuff all around you.

I’m on the edge of a forested area where there are plenty of cycling routes for mountain bikes. Ahead, at another crossroads, I spot the first car I’ve seen for a long time. It’s carrying a rack of cycles on its roof.

16 Stronord, Ruth's coastal walk, to Newton Stewart, Scotland

Because I’ve been thinking a lot about cattle, when I see a ‘FOR SALE’ sign, I assume the place is a farm and they’re selling beef. Or, maybe, milk? Or cheese? Or… perhaps they’re actually selling cows?

17 For sale sign, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

As I get nearer, I realise it’s the house that’s for sale. The local estate agents have chosen, somewhat misleadingly I think, to use a picture of two cows on their display boards!

I pass through Stronord and past an Outdoor Education Centre. That usually means noisy school trips full of over-excited kids, but I don’t see anybody around.

18 Stronord Outdoor Education Centre, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

I follow the road up into the forest. Ahead is a car park, and I meet several groups of strollers and a few dog walkers.

19 carpark in Stronord woods, Ruth Livingstone

After a while, my forest road descends a very, very steep hill – (I think of the poor cyclists) – at the bottom of which is a wider road, and a small cluster of houses.

21 very steep hill, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

I join a minor road, and see the A75 ahead. For one moment I think I’m going to have to walk alongside heavy traffic after all. But the cycle way veers off to one side. Whew!

22 cycle route into Newton Stewart, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

It runs parallel to the main road, screened from the traffic by bushes…

23 straight cycle route to Newton Stewart, Ruth Livingstone

…and then I cross over a roundabout and see Newton Stewart ahead. The cycle way becomes a wide pavement.

‘Sorry, excuse me,’ says a lovely Scottish voice, and a cyclist overtakes me. I realise, with some surprise, she’s actually the first cyclist I’ve met on the cycle route all day!

24 cyclist on the cycle route, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

Newton Stewart is an attractive place, despite the dull light and the heavy skies. I stop on the bridge to take photographs of the town.

25 Newton Stewart, Ruth hiking through Dumfries and Galloway

On the other side of the bridge is a small park. I decide to sit down on a bench and have a rest while I consider what to do next.

As soon as I sit down it begins raining again – a constant, heavy barrage of drops – and I shelter under my umbrella. At least, with my umbrella protecting my camera, I can take a good photo looking back at the bridge.

26 Newton Stewart bridge, Ruth Livingstone walking the Scottish coast

My original plan was to pick up my car and drive further down the road to park in Wigtown. From there I would catch a bus back here, to Newton Stewart, and then spend the afternoon walking the 7-8 miles back to my car.

Check my watch. Yes, I could make it. In fact, there’s plenty of time to catch the bus, as long as I get a move on. But it’s still raining relentlessly. Perhaps it will stop soon?

I sit huddled under my umbrella and stare at a padlock that a romantic couple have attached to one of the park railings. It looks rather lonely on its own.

27 railings, Newton Stewart, Ruth Livingstone

After a while, I realise I’m beginning to shiver, and I’ve procrastinated for so long it’s now too late to catch the bus. Never mind. I’ll go and find a nice, dry café in Newton Stewart and order a hot, cooked lunch instead.

Walked today = 8 miles
Total around coastline of Britain =3,232 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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10 Responses to 314 Creetown to Newton Stewart

  1. jcombe says:

    Why would you lock a cow and 2 calves between gates like that? I do wonder if someone else had opened one of the gates and then left then locked in like that. Does seem very odd. What I usually do with cows is test them. If they come running towards me it’s best to beat a retreat back over the stile or gate. Then once they are at the gate or stile you can “test the water” by approaching them. 99 times out of 100 they will be more afraid of you and step back and move out of your way. So far I’ve only had to abandoned a route once because of cows. Though I did have one unpleasant expeirnece whey they started charging towards me when I was about half way across a field but fortunately stopped once they were a few feet away. Horses I find worse than cows.

    Funny that estate agent uses cows as their logo! Shame about the rain. Whilst I understand the sentiments behind them those pad locks (or “love locks”) attached to bridges can be a real problem. Abroad I’ve seen entire lengths of bridges covered in them. The problem is the bridges and in particular the railing are not designed to support the weight of thousands of locks attached to them. In Paris the authorities have had to resort to wire cutters to cut them off after railings on one of the bridges collapsed under the weight of the locks.

    • The cow did have access to the fields on either side, but for some reason it decided to stay in the narrow space between the gates – stupid thing. Your advice about testing the cows attitude is useful, thank you. Another tip to remember.
      Yes, I remember the padlocks being cut off the bridge in Paris as a news item. It seemed rather unromantic to remove them, but I guess the bridge had to be saved from collapse!

  2. Anabel Marsh says:

    We were in Newton Stewart on Good Friday – it rained then too! We have photos of that same view across the river, and also retreated to a small cafe to get away from the weather. Probably the same one as I don’t remember the choice being very wide.

  3. Jacquie says:

    Truly a hairy moment between the gates!
    Perhaps the estate agent deals mostly with agricultural properties as I think the cows pictured are ‘Belted Galloway’ and ‘Ayrshire’ so championing local breeds which farmers would recognise.
    How lucky to have a cycle path to avoid the dreaded A75. I often look at the map to try to guess your next route but my old map is pre-cyclepath days; it still shows the railway!

    • In the early days of.this walking trek, my hubby would buy me cheap OS maps from eBay. (He loves a bargain!) But old maps can be misleading, as paths change course and new roads appear. The wonderful cycle route network has certainly been a great boon for walkers.

  4. Sue Judd says:

    Your photos are very good, even in dull weather and with the account of everything you are seeing and thinking it makes me feel like I am there. We have the easy bit though! How do you manage to cover all those miles and stop to take many photos? How are your feet and joints bearing up?!

    • Thank you, Sue. Very kind of you to say such nice things 🙂
      Compared to many other long-distance walkers my mileage is quite low and I take a long time to get anywhere because of all the stops I make. I rarely average more than 2.5 mph, and rarely do more than 15 miles a day. Luckily, my joints are fine! My knees complain a little going downhill, and I still get the occasional blister, but my main problem is fatigue and grumpiness at the end of the day.

  5. Karen White says:

    Walking in torrential rain is not fun – I’m not surprised you opted for a nice hot lunch instead. Lovely photos despite the weather.

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