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Southern Upland Way

Information Introduction Postscript
Days 1-4 9-12 13-15 16-19 20-23 24-25

Day 5. Waterside to Bargrennan - 6 miles

We continue on the forest road. It is very serene with just the sound of birdsong. I am surprised to hear thrushes and chaffinches in a conifer forest. We decide just to walk to Bargrennan today. After three days of wild camping we really want and need a shower! There are two campsites; one in Bargrennan and Caldons Campsite which is 4 miles further on the path ascending into the forest. We think this will be the best option as we are already behind schedule due to the weather.

From the forest the road, we continue along the now usual sloshy, grassy path which meets a desolate road over the moor. Just before we leave the road for a path across the moor, we stop for breakfast/lunch.

Loch Ochiltree edge of Garshew Wood We see many low flying aircraft over the moor. We pass above Loch Ochiltree. It is overcast and misty but the loch still looks beautiful.

After reaching the summit of the moor over more squelch, we come to Garshew Wood. It is an attractive deciduous wood with many gnarled beech trees. Unfortunately, the conditions underfoot are liquid in places. I make a wrong decision and end up ankle deep in mud. It takes a lot of effort (and cursing) to release my foot!

Approaching Bagrennan After another mile of moorland we reach Bargrennan and decide to turn left to the closest campsite as we will pass a pub. This is too much of a temptation and clouds our judgement. We ignore the path up through the forest and continue towards the pub. We notice a sign on the road informing us that Caldons, the forest campsite, is closed. .....Good decision, after all. We reach the pub. It is just closing! Ah well.

At Bargrennan we pitch and are told we have the use of a caravan for cooking and also sleeping if required. The reason for this becomes clear when the midges appear in the evening. It makes a welcome change to eat and sit comfortably but we do have to make a dash through the midges to the tent after dinner. The camp shop is very sparsely stocked.

We decide to stay here tomorrow:

1. To seal the tent seams (we had a few leaks in the gale at Balmurrie)
2. We can stock up at PO/Village Shop.
3. We can take a look at the Glentrool Visitors Centre.
4. We can do our washing (muddy trousers/socks)
5. The lure of the caravan.

Day 6. Bagrennan

My blister is comletely healed. Perhaps there is something in this sheep's wool thing. However, I now have a cushion of sheep's wool on the other foot where my toe keeps hitting the top of my boot. New boots! Who'd 'av 'em.

We hang out our washing and walk to Glentrool Village and the PO/shop. We hunt all round the village but it seems it does not exist any more. We continue further on to the Visitor’s Centre, which also has a shop but, unfortunately, only selling guides and gifts. We shall have to make do with what they have at the campsite.

Waters of Minnoch

The Centre is well worth a visit. We have tea and scones by the river and watch the birds at various feeders.

We return and enjoy another meal in the caravan where we meet a Dutch couple who also remember Garshew Wood. The girl sank in the very same spot I did!

We will be able to pick up the SUW, tomorrow, from a path which leads from the Visitor Centre

Day 7. Bagrennan to Mid Garry - 16.75 miles

When we wake the midges are out in force. We quickly transfer everything to the caravan and pack up there. We chat to a Canadian, who is cycling through Scotland, and this makes for a late start.

We walk up through the forest, where the paths are a great improvement on that which we have encountered before. We pass the now deserted Caldon’s Caravan Site by the Water of Trool. The sun is shining and it would be a perfect spot to stop for a while. We try but as soon as we sit still, we are surrounded by midges.

We soon reach Loch Trool. We stop on a small peninsula that sticks out into the Loch. The view is so good, we brew up and ignore the midges. This involves alternately wearing a midge net and pacing about!

Loch Trool Loch Trool Loch Trool

drizzle over Loch Trool There is a fine rain in the air that gradually turns to steady drizzle

from rocky outcrop bad weather sets in We leave the loch and continue on a stony path through the forest. Where two streams meet, according to the map, we will climb up through the forest to meet a forest road. However, the path strikes out across open moorland, over several rises, just as the bad weather is setting in! It is now raining heavily. We grit our teeth and continue upwards. The skies brighten a little and we are back to a steady drizzle. We shelter in a rocky outcrop for a smoke break but there is a chill wind and we are pleased to get going again.

waterfall We reach the forest road by a waterfall, over a mile further along than the guide book suggests. All that water; we can't pass it by! We brew up, still prancing about because of the midges. There is a lot of forest vehicle activity along the road. Maybe this is why the path has changed.

White Laggan Bothy Loch Dee The sun breaks through again and we continue along the forest road and soon reach Loch Dee. The path continues alongside the Loch then swings away to cross the Black Laggan Burn. From here, there is a path to the White Laggan Bothy (our original destination for today). inside White Laggan Bothy The path is extremely wet but who cares with the bothy ahead. The sun shines through the bothy window and we dry our wet socks on the window sill and stand our boots in the sunlight. I cook the dinner and we eat it whilst toasting our feet in the sun on the table. Decadence - elbows yes, but feet! Most bothies have wood burning fires and are equipped with axes, choppers, saws etc. and are situated near fast running burns for water.

Loch Dee and forest track With full tums and dry socks we decide not to spend the night in the bothy after all but continue walking. We follow the forest road for about a mile when it swings away from the loch through the forest. We cross the Black Water of Dee and, still on the forest track, reach Mid Garry. We have seen nowhere to camp along the way. Anywhere flat is sodden. In desperation, we decide upon a track, which looks hardly used, and erect the tent in the middle. Black Water of Dee We have camped in some strange places but never in the middle of a track!

The midges are very annoying whilst we are putting up the tent and, once inside, we daren't even open the tent to make a cup of tea for fear of letting them in. We have our tea in the dark while the midges are sleeping! Charl is very depressed. He hates midges!!

Day 8. Mid Garry to St.John's Town of Dalry - 9 miles

We wake to rain. As we only have nine miles to cover today we decide to listen to the England/Brazil game before we leave. It stops raining but, once again, we dare not open the tent to make tea as the midges descend as soon as it stops.

We lose the game.

We strike camp as quickly as possible, dodging the midges, but by the time we start there is, once again, a persistent drizzle. We continue along the forest track past Clatteringshaws Loch. The rain is now quite heavy so I keep the camera under cover.

Before we strike out onto the forest path we stop for breakfast/lunch and eat tuna sandwiches under our midge nets. We are back to a drizzle again so it is not too unpleasant and we really enjoy our first cup of tea of the day.

wet bridge The path through the forest and over the moor is stony so quite easy even in the rain. We arrive at a footbridge crossing a burn and the path meets a farm track. I put one foot on the bridge and reach for the gate. The wood is so slippery with the rain that my foot slides from underneath me and I end up on my knees with a thud. I wait a few seconds to make sure everything is still working properly and then cross the bridge - very carefully!

The track turns into a metalled road. We are now wet, cold and miserable. WE LOST THE GAME! The road seems to go on and on. We try sitting under a tree for a smoke break but we get cold and our fag papers get wet.

suspension bridge We finally reach Garroch Bridge. It is now only around 1.5 miles to Dalry. We start to fantasise about a nice warm pub. The last stretch is over craggy hills and would be beautiful in dry weather but we keep our heads down and trudge on. The first sight of Dalry is picturesque even in the rain. After what seems an age we finally reach the suspension bridge across the Water of Ken and arrive in Dalry.

We make straight for the Clachan Arms. We are so wet and muddy, we sit in the foyer area. We have a couple of pints and drip dry. We ask about a room but the Inn is fully booked as there is a wedding in the town tomorrow. They direct us to the Lochinvar Hotel. This is also full of wedding guests but we do manage to get a room for the night. We have a wonderful meal of braised steak and dumplings, a bath, and watch “Big Brother”. We hang our wet things around the room. Even the guide book is wet and soggy. The weather forecast is not good for tomorrow. We decide to stay another night to dry everything out and recharge our batteries, having already recharged the mobile and camera batteries. Anyway, we’d like to sample the braised steak again.