August 27, 2009
On my last day I went down and walked the final 9 mies or so from Annan into Gretna and a few of my friends and family came down to walk a mile with me. Above is a photo of my mum and dad fooling around in the high wind when it was there turn to accompany me. I got down to Annan about 5 and intended to do a radio interview for Radio Scotland whilst walking – but as I drove out of Annan I realised that I wouldnt be able to get a decent telephone signal and therefore would have to hang about in Annan until the interview was completed. It was mercifully short and sweet and I was soon back at Ruthwell and enjoying a lovely warm sunny evening along some minor country roads towards Powmill.
August 26, 2009
I caught the bus back to Dumfries from Caervlaverock castle and it was really interesting to see how friendly everyone was. Everyone, and I mean everyone who got on the bus at various stops on the way to Dumfries said hello to everyone else on the bus. I half expected a deep bow as well and was mildly disappointed that I didnt see that. But nevertheless the friendly attitude was unexpected and very welcome. If you said hello to anyone on an early morning bus in Edinburgh the passengers would scream in unison that there was going to be a murdurr.
I was joined half way along my walk by my sister Anna and her Dutch friend Wilco who joined me for the second part of the walk. We met at Caerverlock castle just as they were setting up for the annual medieval fayre. Wilco is a good friend and has spent some time living in the jungles of Brazil. It was good to see him again and I appreciated the fact that he took time out to see me on what was only a flying visit to Scotland.
Next week will be my final two days on my walk – only 16 miles to go and I’m looking forward to friends and family coming down to walk the final few miles to Gretna with me.
If you are interested in the idea of a National Coastal path for Scotland please visit my “sister” site which I have set up to lobby for the path’s creation. The site is www.nationalcoastalpath.co.uk
August 16, 2009
After yesterday’s long but enjoyable walk I wasnt in any mood to get up early and charge headlong up the road to Dumfries. So I decided to walk to New Abbey which was only about 8 miles up the road. I fortified myself with coffee and scone at the Abbey tearoom and then headed back to the start of the walk at Carsethorn.
Apart from the start of the walk along a minor road, the rest was a straightforward section north along the A710 towards Dumfries. Im edging towards the end of the walk and I’m running out of miles. For the first time I’m actually starting to wonder of “life after my coastal walk”.
I can imagine what it must be like to be an athlete training for the Olympics – after all the training and the journey to get there abruptly verything ends in a matter of moments. I’m faced with the same scenario – as soon as I step over the Border the journey of five years will be complete.
For me there has never really been a “goal” as such – the “process” of the actual journey has always been the most important point to this venture. At the beginning of the walk the end point seemed so far in the future, that a goal seemed non nonsensical. The goal was just to walk and keep walking. Now that I have set an end point I have to decide what to do next. Perhaps another walk – who knows…..
August 15, 2009
Today the weather was much improved over yesterdays horrendous non stop rain. I initially thought that I could go across Sandyhills Bay and ford the river (Southwick Water). However the tide was coming in and I had been advised that tides are very quick and that the river would fill first and so after walking a mile or so I decided that it was too risky to take the chance and turned round and reluctantly headed for the main road which climbed above the bay.
The area is infamous for its fast tidal waters and quicksands so I think I made the right decision to avoid the shore on this occasion. I had been told last week in a church cafe at Dundrennan of two people who had go caught out trying to walk to Heston island and had got stuck in the mud and drowned when the tide came in – I didnt want to sufer the same fate as those two unfortunate souls.
After by-passing the river by walking to Caulkerbush, the road turned south and headed towards the Mersehead wildlife reserve, and the long stretch of beach that headed east towards Southernness. Southerness is characterised by one of the oldest lighthouses in Scotland which unusually is square shaped rather than round.
After stopping at the hotel for a quick coffee I set off again towards Arbigland and Paul Jones Cottage. Unfortunately my gps was showing a path which turned out to lead deeper into overgrown nettles, wild roses and various other flora that ganged up to scratch and tear at my skins and clothes. I trained vainly to battle me way towards what I could see was the back of an orchard but gave up as the brambles and bushes were just too dense. I couldnt believe it – this was the first time in the whole of my walk that had been in such a ridiculous situation like this. (I’d been in plenty of ridiculous situations – but this was a new variety). I decided to backtrack as my battery on my map/phone/gps XDA device was just about done and I had visions of thrashing about in the dark if I didnt get my act together.
Eventually I came into a clearing that led into the grounds of what I presumed was Arbigland and by now my phone was flat as a pancake. Eventually I got back by following minor roads and using my uncanny and keenly developed sense of smell, although by now it was dark and 9.30 at night. Jings what an adventure.
August 14, 2009
Happy Days are here again
Tempus fugit and all that. Since I announced that I was going to finish my walk on the 29th August I realised I’d better get my skates on and play catch up. I don’t want to stumble over the finish line knackered at Gretna, and so I decided to do a very short final day from Annan to Gretna of around 8 miles.
The problem was when I drove down on the Friday the rain was chucking it down heavily – probably the rainiest day of the summer this year. But I had to press on despite the weather. The little harbour at Kippford was deserted as the rain poured down. The wind and the rain kept all sensible people indoors. However the path up around the cliffs towards Rockcliffe was a good one and it was quite exciting to stand at the top of the cliffs and watch the wind whip up the froth on the waves far below.
I was happy that the wind was blowing onshore from the sea as the gusts were strong and I wouldn’t want to be leaning inland constantly to avoid being blown off into the sea. How ironic would that be with 30 miles to go?
July 26, 2009
I left Dalbeattie with a heavy heart promising it’s good people that I would one day return. Actually I was thrown out the pub for being drunk and incapable. I staggered down the road sipping from my camelback water container which was now filled with drambuie and coke. I suddenly could understand all the secrets of the Universe and was anxious to get to a place where I could scribble down my insights for the benefits of all the peoples on the planet, and not just the citizens of Dalbeattie and its environs.
Ok this didn’t really happen (well not all of it) but I wanted you to get an insight into the kind of rubbish that goes through your head when you are busy playing Russian roulette with traffic. Thank God I wont have much more of these crazy mental meanderings to entertain – although I am wondering if I should hop the last 6 miles for a laugh. A ha ha ha.
July 24, 2009
MacLellan's castle in Kirkcudbright
Today I saw the first signpost for Gretna and I have to admit it felt strange as I had a sudden realisation that my big walk would soon be over. Most of the time my mind is preoccupied with the logistics of my walks – getting from A to B and back again, planning where to park my campervan and wondering how to get back to the start of my walk each day. But now I realise I have only about 50 miles to go till I reach the border at Gretna and my journey will be over.
I decided that I will finish my walk on Saturday August 29th, and some of my friends and family have kindly agreed to come down on my last day to walk the last few miles with me. Im trying hard not to think about the end. Something in me is going to change I know that. It has been a big part of my life for four years now and its become a “way of life” almost. I will have to find another project to replace this one once I’m done. What I do know is that I would certainly recommend the coastal walk to anyone who wants to attempt it.
I have been working hard behind the scenes to get a National Coastal Path for Scotland established – I really think the time has come to create a long distance path to match the Appalachian trail in the USA and the Pacific Coastal trail. Our scenery is second to none and and Im sure if the Scottish Government had the will the path will be created.
Watch this space!!!