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Southern Upland Way

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Days 1-4 5-8 9-12 16-19 20-23 24-25

Day13. Sanquhar to Wanlockhead - 8 miles

above Sanquhar We leave Sanquhar at around 8.30am. We walk out of town up Cow’s Wynd, which soon turns into a farm track. From here we meet a grassy path and are soon above Sanquhar. We meet a man who is bed and breakfasting the Southern Upland Way. He is really dressed for the part with bush hat and neckerchief!

from the fence looking back

We follow a fence and there are a few short but stiff climbs followed by a descent into conifer forest where we meet a forest road. We stop here for lunch. wild flowers

There is a choice here. It is possible to follow the forest track which adds a further 2.75 miles to the day or continue straight up and over. We decide on the latter. There is a steady climb followed by a long descent into Wanlockhead. Altogether, it is a very pleasurable 8 miles.

lead mining scars coming into Wanlockhead

At the edge of the village we meet three children, the youngest of which (about three years old) is brandishing a large stick, twice his size. He asks us what we are doing. I tell him we are walking to the sea-side and have a “go” of their bubbles.

We arrive in Wanlockhead early and decide we have enough time to visit the mining museum café and, as the sun is shining, continue to ascend Lowther Hill and wild camp. We have apple crumble with cream and coffee, sit outside for a while and return for a pot of tea. Whilst inside the second time, the weather takes a turn for the worse. old smeltworks tramway and winch It starts to rain and quite a strong wind blows up. We look at the sky and assess the situation. The wind gets even stronger. If it is like this here, it will not be very pleasant on the top, so we decide to find a B&B as there is no campsite. After much help from locals and trying several options we get a B&B at The Garage, which looks nothing at all like a garage but, apparently, used to be. We meet the guy in the bush hat who is also staying there. We watch Wimbledon in the lounge and chat about the Way so far.

Day 14. Wanlockhead to the Brattleburn Bothy - 14 miles

leaving Wanlockhead ascent of Lowther Hill We have a full English breakfast and leave Wanlockhead around 9.00am in bright sunshine.We are told by our host that a weather warning was issued yesterday and walkers were advised to keep off the Lowther Hills. We made the right decision!

We begin the ascent of Lowther Hill. It is not difficult, just a good slog. The path is good and meets and cuts across the road several times. The golf ball and the radar station gradually get nearer and nearer.

ascent of Lowther Hill looking back to Wanlockhead radar station golf ball tin hut

Lowther summit It is extremely windy on the summit but there is an old tin hut, a bit of an eyesore but a very effective shelter. We stop for a break but have no water so no tea!

We now have to negotiate three very steep ascents and descents, the way aheadlooking back to Lowther summit the third being the most steep but also the shortest. There now follows a far more gentle descent through heather. The way here is very vague and we congratulate ourselves on our navigating skills when we end up in the correct spot. We then make our way down over grass and are dive bombed by oyster catchers who must be nesting nearby. They follow us right down to the road. They seem to think Charl is a particular threat as I walk behind and watch him duck and dive in rhythm with the oyster catchers.

We cross the road and turn right over a field to cross the Potrenick Burn on a footbridge. Water! We can have that cup of tea at last and a well deserved rest. It has been a demanding morning and we still have eight miles to the bothy.

back from the foot of Sweetshaw Brae We continue and meet a forest track. This is easier walking, mostly downhill. We see two backpacking figures in the distance, walking towards us. They look even more tired than we do! We meet up with them and it transpires that they are making for the same bed and breakfast we have just left. It is 4.30pm and they still have all the hard climbs ahead! They say the path round the reservoir is a killer, in fact, they say there is no path at all. Something for us to look forward to. We wish each other luck.

from Sweetshaw Brae Daer Reservoir circumnavigating the Daer Reservoir We continue along the forest track and the Daer Reservoir comes into view. We meet a path which ascends to the summit of Sweetshaw Brae behind the reservoir. The radar station and the golf ball are now just a blip in the distance

 from Hod's Hill We go down once more, following the line of a fence, only to ascend again to Hod's Hill. The path now cuts a broad avenue through trees and descends quite steeply. It then begins to switchback. Just when I think, and afirm out loud, that I am not going to make another ascent today, we arrive at the bothy. At last! We reach the bothy at about 8.30pm. There is a guy there who has cycled from Oban and a ranger we met above the bothy pops in as well.

Brattleburn Bothy We wonder about the two guys we met on the forest track. The path round the reservoir was no worse and perhaps even better than similar paths we have met on the Way so far. If they think that path was bad they have some shocks to come! Did they make it to their bed and breakfast?

We certainly enjoy our chilli, several cups of tea and are asleep as soon as we crawl into our sleeping bags.

Day 15. Brattleburn to Beattock - 7.5 miles

inside bothyWe leave the bothy at around 9.30 am as we haven’t many miles to cover.

way we have come We continue in a straight line on the switchback forest track for around 4 miles and finally emerge into open country. We follow a track which meets the road into Beattock. approaching Beattock

After crossing the London to Glasgow railway line and the busy trunk road we finally find the Beattock Hotel where we are to camp. It is closed down! I am having a déjà vu.

Fortunately, there is another campsite on the edge of town. The sign boasts of a shop. On arrival we find, guess what, the campsite shop has closed down.Can we get food in town? No, the post office come village shop has, what do you know, closed down!

We are both tired. It was a gruelling day yesterday but the only solution is to catch the bus into Moffat.

Charl suggests I go on my own. He’s not silly!

I wait an hour for a bus and on reaching Moffat find it very “touristy” and full of ice cream parlours, gift shops, restaurants and bistros. Of course, on any other occassion, I would find it charming but I just want some FOOD. I finally find a Co-op on the outskirts. I arrive back at the campsite at 5.30 pm.