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]

Monday, 20 April 2015

SUW Day 7 - Lowther Hill to Moffat

Monday 20 April
Distance: 18 miles
Weather: overcast till mid-afternoon, then clearing

Last night's pitch, on the summit of Lowther Hill, was fully exposed to the keen wind, and that wind had a bite to it. Just nipping outside at bedtime to clean my teeth left me with numb hands and eager to dive back inside. Vera, being the sturdy thing she is, stood up just fine, with only the need to re-tension a guy in the early hours, and thus a good night's sleep was had (by me; Mick complained that's the third pitch out of five where he's had a lump or a dip whereas I've had comfortable flatness).

Even after a good rest, I was feeling the effort today and I have to put it down to under-eating and over-exercising yesterday, as I was also ravenous all morning. By elevenses, I reckon I could have eaten the entire contents of my food bag and still had room for pudding. Fortunately, we had a generous lunch today, and I ate more than my fair share.

Jumping back to this morning, as a result of ending up atop Lowther Hill yesterday, we didn't have much ascent left to reach our first Marilyn of the day: Green Lowther Hill, just over a mile from our pitch.
We had left the SUW to reach that hill (in fact, we spent more of today off the route than on it), but the going was simplicity itself: leave the radar station, and follow the service road past a BT mast and on to three further masts atop our objective. There, as we stood at the trig, the low cloud that had allowed us to see nothing on our way there, started to break a little.

It was still a navigation exercise as we left the road and dropped pathlessly down the SE shoulder, where we (correctly) guessed that the tyre tracks in the grass would be useful to us, even if they weren't quite on the right bearing.

It wasn't too long before we did get below the cloud, and having got off the hill we took an impulsive decision not to follow the obvious track to regain the SUW, but to yomp along the Potrenick Burn. It was rough going and sometimes soggy but it cut off some unnecessary distance and ascent so, even with hindsight, I'd go that way again.

We didn't have to deviate far at all for our next Marilyn, as the Way goes over Hods Hill and the highest point was only just over 100m away from the path. What views from up there, albeit including an enormous windfarm.

Into the forest (where the trodden line now weaves its way around the many blow-downs on the Way's original path), we followed the official route until the turn for Brattleburn bothy. There we went not to the bothy, nor straight-on along the SUW, but turned left to take a more direct route, initially along forest tracks, into Moffat (Moffat isn't actually on the SUW, but we had elected to incorporate it for resupply).

A motorway underpass not shown on the 1:50k map, but revealed to me during a tour on Streetview a few weeks back, when I was trying to find a sensible way into Moffat, took us onto a path around the golf course and only a few minutes later I was doing a 'shopping when hungry' thing at the Co-op.

It was then on to the campsite where I feel like I've done an extra mile, partially due to chores, but not helped by the back and forth caused by the builders (snagging, following a complete refurb of the facilities is ongoing) having turned off the hot water to the ladies showers. Perhaps I should have just used the gents whilst I was in there, having not noticed that they'd switched the location of the ladies and gents since we were here in November (an error in the design stage for the refurb, says the warden). It was the presence of urinals that was the giveaway. Ooops!

(Today's piccie was taken from our hungry-enough-to-eat-a-scabby-dog elevenses spot, overlooking Daer Reservoir.)

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  1. I've been to Moffat. Nice statue of a ram in the centre, I think. Done bits of the SUW fron there and saw a rather fabulous Emperor moth.

    1. You're more observant than me. I spent a few days in and around Moffat in November and even after that visit and this trip, whilst I could say that was some sort of statue in the centre, I couldn't have said what it was.

  2. I've been looking at the Potrenick Burn option for my SUW, in order to bag the Green Lowther Marilyn, so thanks for the confirmation that it's a doable alternative!

    1. Happy to have recce'd it for you! When we hit the first fence, we went into the field rather than sticking with the side of the burn, but as the field proved to be so soggy, I suspect that staying alongside the water would have been the better choice. If you do go through the field then just head straight for the SUW fingerpost at the far side - the fence out of the field is so low that even my little legs were able to step straight over it.