It is possible to walk to Garlieston along the B7004. The road isn’t very busy. But I decide to walk through some adjacent Forestry Commission woodland instead. Kilsture Wood.
First I sit on one of the picnic benches, near a little car park, and eat a picnic lunch. Then I set off along the woodland paths. It’s a beautiful place. Full of bluebells.
When I meet a couple of ladies out walking, we agree the bluebells are magnificent, and they seem even better this year than normal. The splashes of blue carpet – and the scent they give off – is gentle and potent, full of ancient magic and mystery.
I take masses of photographs, including a self-portrait.
My woodland diversion lasts for just over a mile. Through a gap in the trees I catch sight of the water in Wigtown Bay, and remember this is supposed to be a coastal walk.
All too soon I must leave the wood and continue my walk along the B7004.
Road walking is so boring, especially when you have to keep looking out for traffic. It’s only a couple of miles to my next turn off, but the road is an anticlimax after the lovely woods, and seems to last for ever.
I even resort to counting my steps – 217, 218, 219 – something I try to stop myself from doing – 343, 345, 346 – because it doesn’t help the time pass any quicker – 456, 457, 458 – but once you start – 598, 599, 600 – it’s hard to stop – 731, 732, 733.
My turn off is a dead-end road leading to Innerwell Point. I’m hoping from there I can follow a Core Path all the way along the shore to Garlieston. The sign looks promising: Public Path, Garlieston 4.5 miles.
This lane is very pleasant. The wind has dropped. It’s quiet. Just some farm traffic. Farmland. A screen of trees. Hills in the distance.
Near the end of the road I come across plastic-covered fields. Wonder what they’re growing here? The strips of shining silver look weird against the warm-brown of the earth, but I like the geometrical patterns.
I startle a deer grazing by the side of the road, and it goes crashing off into the undergrowth. More plastic fields. And there’s Wigtown Bay ahead.
At the end of the road, a collection of private houses overlook the sea. What a wonderful place to live! I’m pleased to spot a well-signed footpath. Apparently it’s just over 3 miles to Garlieston.
Someone has tacked a sign onto a tree. KEEP TO THE PATH. It’s a polite sign, even though – once again – I do wonder about the famous ‘right to roam’ law in Scotland.
I follow the path, climb a slope, and enter another stretch of woodland. This is wonderful. Bright sunlight filters through the trees, lighting up a carpet of stunning bluebells. I thought Kilsture Wood was amazing, but this is even better.
The next 3 miles is totally blissful. One of the most amazing stretches of walking so far. Peaceful woods, the gorgeous scent of bluebells, masses of deep-blue flowers, the song of birds and – below – the gentle swoosh of waves on the shore.
Best of all, despite the clear path, the bright sunshine and the beauty of the scenery, I meet not a single person. Three miles of uninterrupted loveliness – and I seem to be the only human being in the universe.
At times the carpet of bluebells gives way to drifts of white flowers. Wild garlic.
It’s funny how I was feeling tired and a little dispirited while walking along the B road, but now I’m full of energy and invigorated again. I love woods. And woods full of bird song and bluebells are just… words seem inadequate. Wonderful. Magical.
It’s a shock to see open fields ahead. Not wanting to leave the woods behind, I sit on a tree stump and have another rest and a snack.
Then, onwards. I’ve nearly reached Garlieston. I follow the path along the edge of fields, and over a slope covered in bright gorse. The golden colour of the bushes seems jarring after the gentle blue-violet of the bluebells. It almost hurts my eyes.
More woodland. More bluebells. I could keep walking for ever…
… but I soon emerge on the edge of Garlieston Bay. Lots of open space – water and sand – and bright light. A man is walking his dogs along the beach.
On the other side of the bay is the village of Garlieston. I leave the path and walk across the sand.
When I reach the far side, I take photographs looking back. The landscape glows in the afternoon sunlight. The bay is a perfect horseshoe shape, rippled by semicircles of incoming waves.
Garlieston has rows of pastel coloured houses, a caravan site, many B&Bs, restaurants, and a working harbour. It’s a beautiful place.
I reach my car. It’s in a parking area, next to a trailer with a large boat on one side, and a trailer laden with canoes on the other, and just under a sign that says “NO BOATS OR TRAILERS”!
Across the road is a bus stop. This is where I caught the morning bus into Wigtown earlier today. It was windy and cold, and I sat on a step sheltering behind the sea wall. This afternoon, a man is sitting in exactly the same place, petting his lovely spaniel.
I wonder if he’s waiting for the bus too? But I don’t stick around to find out. Time to drive back to Bladnoch – the village I walked through this morning – where I spotted a friendly looking pub. I’m hungry.
Miles walked today = 15 miles
Total around coast = 3,258 miles
Route: morning in red, afternoon in black.