Distance: 14 miles
Weather: partial cloud but some good sunny periods
With a 14-mile day ahead of us, we had a lie-in this morning so we wouldn't arrive in town too early, thus it was a quarter past eight before we picked our way down the side path from the bothy back to the Way.
The first 6 miles of the day were on a track though a commercial forest and were uninspiring, save for a few good views. It's possibe that distance might have been shorter had we heeded the 'SUW closed ahead, please follow diversion' sign. However, I completely missed the sign (it wasn't until we reached one at the other end of the diversion that I became aware of the closure) and althought it transpired that Mick had seen it, he hadn't read more than the first line and didn't think it important. As it went, we didn't encounter any forestry works directly on our path and no-one stopped us walking through.
The next bit of forest was far more pleasant*, as we followed a narrow path through a wide break in the trees. Beyond the forest was one of two highlights of the day as we went over Shield Rig, where the big open space gave no hint of civilisation anywhere near (I should have troubled myself to get the Blackberry out for a photo at that point, but I didn't; sorry).
The next highlight of the day (after a 3-mile road walk which was hard on the feet) was Waterside Hill. We may have topped out at only 150m, but the views were superb (the snap above is looking back the way we had come), as was the firm grassy path underfoot.
From there St John's Town of Dalry was clearly visible just ahead of us and a short while later we arrived. After a number of failed attempts to contact the B&Bs listed in the SUW accommodation guide, we took a room at the Clachan Inn, where they didn't bat an eyelid at showing us to our room at 2pm. They were most apologetically negative in response to my question as to whether they have any live music on tonight, not realising that "No" was exactly the answer I was looking for. Nothing worse, in my view, than trying to sleep in a room above a bar, when there's loud music immediately below you.
(*As we walked along that nice path I noticed a metal badge on a waymarker post saying (I thought) "ultra" and, giving it only the most fleeting thought, I wondered why only this post out of the many we've passed had a maker's name badge on it (as I assumed it was). I've now found out that it said "ultreia" and that it's the sign used to indicate that there is a kist containing waymerks nearby.)
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