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, 22 April 2015

SUW Day 9 - Bell Craig to Blake Muir

Wed 22 April
Distance: 17 miles(ish)
Weather: wall-to-wall sunshine to start, some fluffy clouds building later. Very warm

A cool NW wind accompanied us whilst we walked yesterday and when we pitched we did so according to that wind. By 7.30pm it had switched to E, but it wasn't strong enough to make us move the tent and, in fact, by 9pm it had died completely.

With a completely still, cloud-free night we expected a frost and a condensation-fest. But, no! It was positively balmy and we woke this morning to not a single bead of moisture on Vera.

Very soon after setting off we discovered that, if we had continued to the other side of Bell Craig yesterday, we wouldn't have needed to detour for water at all. A trickle was present there right in our path. Then we discovered that as top-rate as our pitch was last night, there was an even better one on the top of Andrewhinney Hill (first Marilyn of two today).

After gawping at the views and making use of the phone signal for a quarter of an hour, onwards we went along the boundary line to Herman Law, where we left it to descend via Peniestone Knowe. At Pikestone Rig we almost touched the SUW, but having come within feet of it we veered off again to take the path to the west of Peat Hill, which (as we had been advised) gives excellent views over the lochs below.

It was at Tibbie Shiels Inn (where its closed state prevented us from getting the tea and second breakfast about which we had been fantasizing) that we finally rejoined the Way. Obviously we were helped by the most incredible weather, but I would recommend the high level route to anyone walking that way in reasonable weather. It really was a superb walk and there are good places to camp on most of the high points (not so much in the dips, so a sturdy tent or calm conditions would be desirable).

St Mary's Loch, along whose entire length we walked, was pretty indeed, with the still conditions giving a perfect mirror surface.

Not counting the workmen, over whose newly laid tarmac we walked at the end of the loch, the only person we saw out and about today was a mountain biker as we made our way past Dryhope Tower. An information sign there told us that we could get good views from the top of the tower, but it didn't move us to make the small detour to check it out.

A grassy forest track gave a little respite from the heat of the day, and a conveniently placed bench gave our feet another rest, before we burst out onto the side of Deuchar Law.

It was a decent yomp through knee high tussocks to get to the summit and another yomp (including dashing through a bog to try to shake off a lamb which confused us for its mother) to get back to the path. Having omitted a bit of SUW which crosses a stream by virtue of going via Deuchar Law, a little detour was then needed for water, and then we needed a little patch of flat, level grass. The latter proved a little troublesome (and I made quite a meal out of the former too; when will I learn that it's always wise to take both a mug (to act as scoop) and water bottles when going to a water source?) but we found ourselves a suitable place between tussocks in the end, albeit a little further on than we wanted. A little lie-in will be had in the morning accordingly.

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