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]

Sunday, 19 April 2015

SUW Day 6 - Chalk Memorial Bothy to the Lowther Hills

Sunday 19 April
Distance: 18.5 miles
Weather: sunny start and end, but heavily overcast middle, with one light shower

Having seen only 2 people out and about over the last two days it made me jump when, before 8am, someone ran up behind me. We had, after all, only just started down a very long dead-end road and we hadn't passed any parked cars, so didn't expect anyone to be about. It turned out to be the woman who lives at the farm at the road end, out for her morning exercise. She slowed and we sped up and thus in company we walked and talked together for over 2 miles, until we turned off the road and she turned to return home.

Of the various things discussed, she asked if we'd been surprised by the bothy last night, based on the picture shown in the guidebook. As I've not seen the guide (and indeed, didn't know the bothy existed until Friday) I had no expectations above what we found, but it seems that originally the bothy boasted running water, a sink, toilet, fire place and furniture. Sadly predictably, the place was abused and the answer was to remove all the facilities. Still, it did the job nicely for us.

Leaving our companion and the road behind, up we climbed, gaining good views of the pretty valley as we went. The effort in that climb kept us nice and warm, even though the day had clouded over. Then we topped out, saw Sanquhar ahead, and started heading downhill - with the wind head-on - and goodness, it was cold! I had to stop to don warmer gloves and a buff. Quite a contrast to the last couple of days.

Not much was open in Sanquhar when we passed through but we only needed the Co-op, and the cafe was an added bonus (moreover as they allowed us to charge our phones whilst we drank tea and made short work of their fine scones). It was quite a while before we walked out the other side of the town.

A couple of miles later on, we lopped a corner off the official route, but this time for good cause: I wanted to go via Green Hill (as it's called on the Marilyn list; the map suggests its called Stood Hill). I had forewarned Mick that the following four miles might be arduous yomping, as we were to follow a single-dotted-line shown on the map. The reality was that although there was no clear path on the ground, the going was very good. The only tiresome feature was the length of time spent with ankles rolling to the side as we contoured a steep hillside for a couple of miles (sheep trods were sometimes pleasantly flat walking, but often not).

The summit was an excellent 360 degree viewpoint on what has been another clear day, then it was down into Wanlockhead, where we searched the cemetary for a tap but found none. A tap would have been handy, as the map said we weren't due to cross any streams for the rest of the day (and hadn't for hours previously either). As it went, the detour for water (gorgeous sparkling clear stuff too) was tiny. It was just a pity to then discover a hole in one of the Platty bottles. Must get my glue and repair tape out later and see if I can patch it back together.

A little trouble was had in finding a pitch, which was a bit worrisome as the wind was blowing enough to want some shelter. We didn't achieve shelter, but did achieve an interesting pitch. I shall post a photo of it in the morning.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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