The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Day 22 - S of Dundreich Summit to Bavelaw Burn, Pentland Hills

Tues 22 April (0730-1525)
Distance: 17.25 miles (Tot: 403)
Fitbit steps: 40000
Weather: fog, a few showers
Number of views seen today: zero

What a contrast to yesterday!

Yesterday afternoon I stayed in just my baselayer till gone 6pm. Today the only items of clothing I didn't wear (other than spare undies) were my short sleeve t-shirt and my down jacket. Even then, the first time I felt warm was 13 miles into the day.

After a breezy night, we woke this morning in cloud. That wasn't too much of a surprise, given the altitude at which we had camped, and we assumed it was just an altitude thing. Pointing out that, in the way of a silver lining, our navigation was going to be easier than if we'd taken (the sensible) Option 2 last night, off we set down the hill. Had we ended the night at the Option 2 destination, we would have needed to navigate through the fog (not that 'head downhill till you meet a burn' is complicated), but from where we were all we had to do was follow the track; it was marked on the map and we knew where it was taking us.

We'd been going downhill for quite a while, with the track perfectly obvious on the ground, when suddenly it petered out. Alarm bells rang and the map was pored over. We eventually located ourselves the opposite side of Milky Law to where we were supposed to be. Not that we could even see there was a lump we had walked around; visibility really was quite poor.

Another re-routing got us, four miles into the day, back onto the route I had plotted, whereupon things got a bit tricky again. Had we been able to see more than 80 yards, it would have been a doddle, but as it was time and care were needed to see us pathlessly across a series of rough fields, finding all the gates on our way.

Things were more straightforward through a forest, even though a few new tracks had been installed to try to fool us, but we could still see only 80 yards ahead (pacing it out gave us something to do, given the lack of visual distractions).

Things next went awry at Deepsyke Forest, where a private garden lay where our track should have been. If I could have even seen some evidence of the track beyond, I would have walked through, but I couldn't (I suppose it must have been there; perhaps I just needed to wander through the garden for a look). As it went, the road alternative cut over a mile off the day, and given that we still couldn't see a thing, I wasn't disappointed to be taking the easy option.

The real shame of the weather came after Carlops, where we were to take a route through the Pentland Hills. I'm sure it's an area worth seeing (having walked through before, on a route lying further west), but we didn't even get a glimpse of the North Esk Reservoir as we passed by. I did, however, manage to spot another stray lamb (just a littl'un this time), which I reunited with its mother on the other side of a fence. This time I covered myself in mud in the process. It's a pity we couldn't help the farmer we'd spoken to earlier in the day (who was rather incredulous as to what we were doing), who stopped to ask us if we'd seen his lost calf. I doubt he found it in today's conditions.

About 3 miles through the Pentland Hills, within a mile of the end of our day, finally visibility improved. We could see maybe half a mile ahead at one point. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and also coincided with the rain starting.

We didn't go much further. As soon as we reached a burn that looked like it might yield a pitch, we went off to inspect its banks. A place was quickly chosen and in a lull in the rain, up went the tent.

I think it's the first time on this trip that we've finished a camping day before 4pm. Much grazing of food bags and drinking of tea is now in progress.

No photo today, I'm afraid, for obvious reasons!

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  1. That's a bit extreme! I said don't nick all the sunshine, I didn't mean you to walk in the clouds! Love the idea of pacing the fog, I can see it now...

  2. That sounds like a grim day - you must have better to come.

    Looks like you're travelling east of, and parallel to my LEJOG. My camp at Harperrig Reservoir is about four kilometres slightly south of west from where I guess you are camping at Bavelaw Burn. Bright and sunny here today (Wednesday).