Yesterday I discovered the coastal walk out of Wigtown was closed due to ‘lambing’, so this morning I know I must follow the road. At least it’s quiet, with a pavement, and the countryside is attractive.
Two goats watch my progress from a steep field. They want to join me, and leap up and down, butting at the fencing. Naughty!
I reach the point where my preferred path would have rejoined this road. Here is another ‘NO ACCESS’ sign, barring walkers from this end of the path too.
I’ve reached the next village, Bladnoch, where I can turn left and cross a bridge over the river.
From Bladnoch, I walk along a quiet road, past Bladnoch Bridge Estate. Estate? I was expecting a grand house, but it turns out to be a mini industrial estate. Slightly unkempt and makeshift.
The road passes under an old railway bridge – and again I’m disappointed by the missed opportunity to turn this disused line into a great walking route.
Further along the road, I can look back across the river at Bladnoch village. You can still see the supporting pillars, but the railway bridge over the water has gone.
Somewhere on the other side of the river is a ‘standing stone’, says my map. I keep a careful look out, but I don’t see it.
There are bluebell woods along the side of my road. I wish I was walking among the trees…
…but I must stick to the tarmac for this section of the walk.
Woods give way to fields of rape. I’m glad my hay fever – usually so troublesome when I walk past rape – seems to have disappeared. Maybe I’ve finally grown out of it?
The road follows a zig-zag line around Baldoon Airfield. I turn left at a T junction, heading for the coast along a pretty lane, with flowering trees. I pass farms – West Mains of Baldoon, then East Mains of Baldoon…
…where I hear the strains of Bruce Springsteen coming from a cattle shed. Lucky Town album. The familiar guitar and voice, coming from such an unlikely setting, seem both surreal and wonderful. Do the cows appreciate the music as much as I do?
Baldoon Airfield is derelict. Grass encroaching on the runways. Ruined brick buildings. [Later I learn about the history of the airport. It was built during WW2 and abandoned afterwards, like so many others.]
I pass the entrance to an industrial complex (a saw mill, according to my map). A couple of trucks are pulling out of the complex, but beyond that the road becomes a quiet lane – Shell Road 6 – wonderful name. The wind picks up.
I’m not expecting any traffic and, with the wind buffeting my ears, fail to notice a car crawling patiently behind me for some time before I finally stand to one side and let it pass.
At the end of the road I’m back on the coast. The Crook of Baldoon is an RSPB sanctuary. There’s only one car in the car park – the same one that passed me earlier. The couple inside show no sign of getting out. I guess they don’t like the wind!
A track runs alongside the marshy shore. A sign warns me there is no access to Wigtown in that direction, although the town’s buildings are clearly visible and look temptingly close. The river intervenes.
I sit on the edge of the marsh, hunkering down below the raised bank to escape the worst of the wind. Time for a rest and a snack.
Across the water of Wigtown Bay are the hills I walked across… when was it… 3 days ago? I can just make out the masts of the Cambret Hill transmitter station.
When you walk – day after day after day – time seems to lose any meaning. Anyway, I realise I can’t sit here for ever. Onwards.
Heading back to the car park, where there’s still only a single car parked, I meet a couple with binoculars. They come walking here regularly and it’s always windy, they tell me. I apologise for holding them up on the road earlier. They look confused. Turns out the original car has already left and this is a different couple!
I walk back along the lane to where I can turn south down a track. Core Path 403 to South Balfern, says a sign. I’m reassured by the Core Path part, but I’m supposed to be heading for Garlieston, and there’s no other village on my route. Where on earth is South Balfern? I pull out my map. Oh, it’s a tiny place. Probably just a farmhouse.
Yes, I’m on the right track after all.
The track makes easy walking, but turns out to be a bit boring, with only a rare glimpse of the sea across fields to my left. I walk through woodland, across a sheep field, and then towards a holiday complex.
The holiday park is called Drumroamin (surely a made-up jokey name, as it mimics the sign you often see on the doors of retirement bungalows – Dunroaming).
My track becomes a proper road and, at this point, where gravel gives way to tarmac, I come across a little tanker. It’s in the process of turning round, having reached the end of the road.
At first I think it’s a sewage truck, but then I realise… it’s a road sweeper! Out here?! Really? Yes. And it’s already ‘swept’ one side of this tiny lane. I wait while it completes its 360 degree turn, and then I follow its slow progress as it trundles along in front of me, dutifully washing and sweeping the other verge.
We’re approaching the B7004. I lose sight of the road-sweeping truck, as it turns off. And I’m distracted because I’ve spotted cattle in the field nearby. Heifers. A trio come running across the grass to greet me…
… closely followed by the rest of the herd. Oh, good grief. Why am I such a cow magnet? They follow me to the end of the lane…
…where they can go no further. They press up against the gate, pushing and shoving each other, staring at me with mournful and expectant eyes.
I guess they’ve been fed in a barn all winter. Now they’re looking for more easy food. Sorry girls. You’re quite sweet, but I’m glad I’m on the other side of the wall.
After taking several photographs of my bovine fan club, I cross over the road. The best part of today’s walk is about to start.
[to be continued…]