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 15 June 2008

Day 62 - Kilsyth to Kippen

15 June
Distance: 14.5 miles

After our mammoth day yesterday we arrived at Allenfauld Farm B&B, which turned out to be a B&B well worthy of mention and recommendation.

In this lovely farm house, complete with stunning furniture and in-keeping decor we had a very large and comfortable room. All of that makes for a nice B&B, but this one was made even better by our attentive host Libby, who went beyond the call by driving us to and from the pub for tea last night.

It's apparently a night-stop popular with LEJOGers too, as we're the fourth through in recent weeks - and the other three who are currently on their way are not amongst the five who we have met - so there really are a lot of people walking this walk right now.

Heading out of the door rather later than usual this morning, we had a change from the last couple of days. We're away from the canals now and so as we left the farmhhouse we headed behind it, directly onto the hills.

The path marked on the map was not evident on the ground so we were immediately in our element yomping through long grass, reeds and bogs (I let Mick go ahead of me so that each time he fell into a hole I knew not to follow in his very footsteps!).

An hour or so in we hit a forest and found ourselves to be a wee touch off course. However, as the woodland ahead of us had been felled, we decided to just yomp on through down to the first track running through it, a move which we completed successfully.

Then came the really interesting bit of the day. A veritable adventure in fact.

I can only assume that when I plotted this and failed to make any advisory comment on the itinerary or on the map it was late at night and I had imbibed a quantity of wine, as the route I had plotted ran directly through the forest - not on any sort of marked path. I'm well aware that plantations of this nature are usually a tangle of impassable branches, yet I had assumed that in order to get from one track running east-west to the one running parallel, half a kilometre lower down, we would be able to take a straight line.

Having not noticed this random bit of route planning until too late, we were faced with two options: stick to the plan, as mad as it was; or walk a 6km detour so as to keep on the forest tracks.

Obviously, we stuck to the plan, which was fine at first because there was a bit of a clearing where a burn ran. Then the clearing ended and we variously found ourselves walking down the burn, scrambling up and down its edges, scrambling around fallen trees and bashing through the dense dead lower branches of the firs.

It did strike me half way through this escapade that if one of us was to come a cropper and require rescue then it would be a very tricky operation and would deserve a huge amount of censure from the rescuers.

As it went we came out on the intended track (in the intended place too) and after taking our tops off to shake out the three pounds of bits of dead tree we continued on proper tracks.

Having rounded the loch (the name of which I can't recall and I don't have the map on me) we sat down for five minutes. It wasn't the prettiest location to sit - at the side of a road and next to a car park, but I was glad that we did.

Had we not stopped we would have followed the route I'd marked, however given the time to look around us and at the map Mick noticed that we could take a more direct route up a track opposite us. I took a bit of convincing that it would work out okay (this track was not marked on the map), but once convinced was more than happy to omit the few kilometres of road walking and the descent-to-reascend that would have been involved in the intended route.

The direct route worked just fine (well, ignoring the small issue of a ravine to cross) taking us to the track that would lead us through Ballochleam Spout and down to Kippen.

The view from the Spout was fantastic. Lump upon lump upon lump of hills spreadout ahead of us (and with heavy rain showers passing both right and left of us).

Down to Kippen we dropped, miraculously missing all but a few spots of the passing rain.

Donations update: I am taken aback. There we were walking up the road to the B&B last night when a voice behind us checked "You're walking for Macmillan?" We confirmed that was the case and he handed to us £20 before heading down his driveway without further conversation. That £20 was further boosted this morning with another £20 donation from our B&B. Two donations that caused us to both end a day and start a day with a spring in our step.

Post Script: Another food post script tonight. We thought that our meal at The George in Melrose was good, but that's now in the shadows of the Cross Keys in Kippen. I had an asparagus and broad bean risotto starter, an asparagus and broad bean main course (tiny quantity mix up on the first attempt which was swiftly resolved without fuss) and a lemon tart pudding. Mick had pork loin mains with rhubarb creme brulee pudding. If I lived anywhere near here we'd made a regular visit to this place. If you find yourself in Kippen (and it's a fine place to come if you're walking LEJOG) then I'd strongly recommend a meal at the Cross Keys.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds as good as the B&B I stayed in near Morebattle, which is also worthy of recommendation. Linton Farm run by Mary and Willie Ralston. They also provided lifts between farm and pub - and to Kelso the next morning!