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]

Friday 30 April 2010

Day 39 - Kilsyth to Easter Drumquhassle

Friday 30 April
Distance: 21.5 miles (Tot: 670.75 miles)

Within a mile of setting out this morning, I was kicking myself (metaphorically; it wasn't a case of tripping over my laces). There I was, looking to see which road we needed to take to pick up the path to take us south-west out of Kilsyth, when I noticed that rather than going SW back to the canal, W along the canal, and N up a disused rly to Milton of Campsie, we could simply have gone W along a track and then a road from Allenfauld Farm (which was again an excellent night stop and one which I thoroughly recommend), had a two kilometre yomp, and then picked up a track down to Milton.

The latter route not only would have been more interesting, but would have been about 3 miles shorter, which on a 21+mile day (moreover the first day in boots rather than slippers), would have been my preferred option.

So, annoyed I was as we walked along, that I hadn't looked at the map last night (as I usually do), for if I had I may well have spotted the option.

We were where we were though, no point crying over spilt milk and all those platitudes, so onwards we walked, along a burn to join the canal and then along to Kirkintilloch.

There it started to rain with something of a vengeance and reluctantly concluding that it wasn't just a shower that would quickly pass, out came our waterproof trousers.

A chap who was at the breakfast table with us this morning had commented that one of the nice things about walking must be getting to talk to other people out walking, to which we responded that it wasn't just other walkers that we got to talk to, and that some of our most interesting and pleasing chats are with non-walking folk whom we pass.

Today we had a few such enounters. We were just walking through Kirtintilloch when a voice behind me said "Are you taking donations?". It was a chap we had just passed, working at the side of the road, and even though it was raining with some enthusiasm at the time and he wasn't wearing a jacket, he was full of questions about the walk.

Having picked up the disused rly we hadn't proceeded too far when I realised that I had my MP3 player in my chest pouch and that it wasn't in a bag, so under the arch of an old bridge we dived, and there ensued our next chat, this time with a chap out walking his dog.

Although the flat bed of an old rly may not seem like it would be any more interesting than a canal, I did find it so, even if my booted feet didn't wholly approve.

Along to Strathblane the path took us (having turned less pleasingly to tarmac), where just as rain was falling again we came upon a hotel, which has apparently been trading since 1605 or some such date, although I doubt that they had the gold-effect metal ceiling in the bar back then.

Some very tasty soup and the most expensive lime and soda we have ever had anywhere ever, set us up for the afternoon, and out into the sunshine we went. It was finally looking like the sunshine and showers forecast for today were turning more towards the sunshine.

The path became little trodden and rather nice as we headed rapidly towards the West Highland Way (WHW), albeit a few fallen-tree obstacles did present themselves, just to make it all the more interesting.

By the time the WHW was reached the sky still featured clouds but was fine enough to set off the hills, which had now come into view, rather nicely.

I could gauge how much my feet hurt by the end of the day by how often I was looking at the map as if I might find that we had just magically teletransported forward by a mile or so. No teletransportation did occur, but we did eventually get to Easter Drumquhassle Farm on whose rather un-pretty campsite we're staying tonight.

After a couple of not-so-interesting days, we're rather looking forward to tomorrow. Hard work it will no doubt be, but it will be nice to get some squidgy earth and lumpiness under our feet again.

(Duncan - hello! Good to hear from you. In answer to your question, we just use mains chargers, spare batteries and gadgets that run off AAA batteries. The MP3 players, GPS and head torches all use AAA. We each have a spare camera battery with us (but no charger), and I have 2 spare phone batteries, to give me enough power to blog for 9 days between B&Bs (where it becomes something of a chore to get all 3 batteries fully charged again before we leave). Anyways, hope your Pennine Way trip in Sept is a good one (with weather as good as in late Sept 2008).
Josh - you got a good week for your field trip - I hasn't been so fine since.
Chris/Geoff - you were both spot on about Beecraigs Restaurant. It may not be the sort of place where you walk in and think "this is nice", but the food was fresh and so plentiful that it even defeated these very hungry backpackers.
Alan - each to his own, eh? What is strange is that I appreciate that both canals are quite 'wild' and therefore pretty, and yet I still find them incredibly dull.
Sophie - you're right about the adverse conditions making the most interesting memories. Alan pointed that out after we had a nightmare of fallen trees in a forest on our LEJOG, and it's very true (even if it doesn't seem that way at the time). As for the Falkirk Wheel, a shame you weren't allowed in, but at least it's somewhere that you can still fully appreciate the spectacle of the engineering from outside the perimeter. I assume you got the shower in the tunnel too?
Ken - it did cross my mind as we walked from Falkirk to Kilsyth that you weren't dreadfully far away. As for the dullness, just to clarify, it was just the canal to which I was referring - I'm sure the surrounding areas have much to recommend them!
Anyone - does anyone happen to know whether there's a shortcut on the Blackberry to take me to the bottom of the page in an email?
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. reckon the areas around Falkirk may have much to recommend them...forget may just have discovered a greater challenge!

  2. I rather liked the site at Easter Drumquhassle.

  3. Hi M&G,
    I'm still following you on your journey north. Can you give me a clue where you will be next tuesday ? I'm coming over to Scotland this monday and will be driving from Newcastle to Shiel Bridge on tuesday. I'd like to know if I should be on the lookout for you two :-)