Annan to the Border and the END!

August 29, 2009
The Celebration at the end of the walk

The Celebration at the end of the walk

The final day – a 9 mile walk from Annan to Gretna and as you can see from the photo above I was joined by some friends and family who had helped me way or another at some time during the last five years.

I’d also like to thank all my Blog followers – your comments along the walk were always welcome. I have around 70 people reading my blog a day and it seems strange to think that there are “real people” out there who have read my posts.

After 5 years and about 2000 +  miles later its difficult to conceive of “an end” to this walk. The end point was for so long always so far in the distance both in actual miles and also time, that it was only on the last day that I started to come to terms it would soon all be over.

My next aim is to try and get a book written and published – if that comes to pass then I’ll post the details here but meantime if you are interested in walking part (or all) of the Scottish Coast then please visit www.nationalcoastalpath.co.uk where I intend keeping everyone informed of any developments regarding an “Official” National Coastal Path for Scotland.

Thanks again everyone,

Gil Campbell

29th August 2009

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Kirkcudbright to Auchencairn. 10 Miles

July 24, 2009
MacLellans castle in Kirkcudbright

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!!!


Gatehouse of Fleet to Brighouse.10 Miles

July 17, 2009
Light at end of the tunnel

Light at end of the tunnel

I left Gatehouse of Fleet on my walk around the peninsula that lies to the south of the A75 and goes around Borness Point and then north again to Kirkcudbright. After beating down some nettles to get down off the main A75 and onto a small farm road that led south towards the caravan park at Sandgreen. The path went through some lovely woodland and with Fleet Bay to my right. I had decided to announce the date of my last day’s walk which will be on the 29th of August and I invited my friends and family who had supported me to come down to walk a mile with me. I’m kind of looking forward to the end but also apprehensive – I will need to come up with a new project that is equally silly or I’ll panic. Like a diver who has been immersed at depths and has caught the “bends”, I will need to come up with my own version of a decompression chamber to cope with the change.

However I didn’t want to get ahead of myself but I also realised I’d have to get my skates on as time was running out on me. The beach at Sandgreen was lovely and their was a few kids from the caravan park playing on the sands. From the beach the route went along a track to Carrick which was really just a collection of holiday huts of various ages. Then the path came onto the minor road that is also on the SUSTRANS national cycle network.

At a place called Knockbrex there were three navigation pillars that poke out of the water – Im not sure how they got there or how old they are but they were important enough to be noted on the O.S Map The rest of the way was pleasant enough with a couple of interesting features along the way – a tower at Corseyard and then an old Kirk at Kirkandrews.

The rest of the road was mainly down a long straight road towards Brighouse where the path eventually took me out at the very busy caravan park at Brighouse Bay.


Kirkdale Bank to Gatehouse of Fleet. 7 miles

July 16, 2009
Fleet Bay
Fleet Bay

Only a short walk to round off a short weekend. I drove the van in and parked it the Cardoness castle car park, then waited for the bus to take me to a few miles up the road where he dropped me off at Kirkdale bank. I managed to get off the main A75 for a short time by taking the minor road above the hill which afforded me good views of across Fleet Bay and the peninsula I would be heading to next time Im down.


Newton Stewart to Kirkdale Bank. 11 Miles

July 15, 2009
Creetown

Creetown

The walk today was heading south along the east bank of the Cree River. Unfortunately most of it was along the very busy A75 which carries heavy traffic towards and away from Dumfries. Apart from a diversion I made into Creetown, most of the way was along this very busy main road. So I was doing my one-foot-on-the-verge peg leg dance a lot of the way.

I stopped off in a cafe for a coffee and was transported back about 50 years to a place that had barely changed in all that time. The old couple that ran the cafe looked as if they had bought the place about 1960, filled it up with jars of sherbet lemons and the like and had then done nothing to the place since. I enjoyed a good salad roll there and a coffee and listened in to a “conversation” between the owner and what I took was an old retired farmer. It was entirely one sided with the the owner asking questions and the farmer occasionaly saying “aye”. Is this what happens to old men? They have nothing to say? Maybe I could learn from them – I spend so much time walking along living in my own head that when I do get a chance to have a chat it can come out like verbal diarrhea. Perhaps the old men have said everything that needs to be said and don’t want to waste their breath. I used to think that  everyone had only a certain number of words that they could say during their lifetime. When your quota ran out, then you would be struck dumb for whatever years you had left. There is something attractive about that idea – perhaps people would think before they speak – choose their words carefully and not ramble on.

I wonder how many words I have left to……….


Wigton to Newton Stewart. 7 Miles

July 14, 2009

Newton Stewart

The walk from Wigton to Newton Stewart wasn’t a long one and it followed the minor road that led along the river Cree’s Estuary west bank. Eventually the minor road led back onto the main A road near St Ninian’s well and the approach to Newton Stewart was along side the river bank.  A brand new cycle path had just been opened which saved me from walking along the main road – these SUSTRANS cycle paths are a real boon and I’m sure that over time enough of them will be constructed to link large sections of paths that would otherwise are dangerous to walk along.

I walked under the main road through the underpass and read the following caption that had been written on the concrete (see Photo)

“My waters always know their course to rivermouth from hilltop course

Man’s destination is unkent until his journey is fully spent”

Im not sure where the poem comes from but walking reading the quotation struck a chord with me.

In no time I was in Newton Stewart and I was walking along when I saw a young girl carrying a baby – however she did look a bit young and when I looked closer I realised it was a doll she was carrying.  The girl must have been about 15 so it didnt seem to be a toy to her. I thought it was odd until I spotted another girl sitting on a park bench and cradling another doll. It seemed like I was walking into an episode of a “League of Gentlemen”  – it was very bizaare.

I mentioned this to a friend a few days later and I was told that it was perhaps the policy for health or the education services to allow teenage girls see what it was like to actually look after a baby – presumably to put off teenage pregnancies. The girls looked happy enough and if anything it appeared to me to be a crude mating signal to adolescent boys! I’m sure I will be enlightened by someone…..

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Garlieston to Wigton. 7 Miles

June 15, 2009

This was a shortish walk of around 7 miles. The route followed thebay around Garlieston and then follwed the path out towards Eggerness point. A squelchy mud track led into the cool of a woodland which eventually led back onto the B7004 minor road which then met the A714 into Wigton.

Wigton is a booktown and has the largest second hand book shop in Scotland.  There seemed to be about 5 bookshops in the little town and I heard that Wigton’s status as a “Book Town” came about from a competition that was aimed to increase the revenue of the town after some local industries shut down.

I liked Wigton and had one of the best scones in a cafe (cum bookshop) I  have had on my travels. Scones are the equivalent of carrots to a donkey for me. I can smell the scent of a freshly baked scone on the breath of a zephyr from 5 miles out.

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