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Southern Upland Way

Information Introduction Postscript
Days 1-4 5-8 13-15 16-19 20-23 24-25

Day 9. Dalry

Skies are overcast when we wake. We go down to breakfast and ask about a room for another night. They are fully booked because of the aforementioned wedding. Apparently, more guests are ariving today. We try at the farm opposite but they are also booked. This must be a big wedding! They do take campers, though, in a small field opposite the hotel. We hesitate for a moment. Should we go on anyway? It is hard to get ourselves motivated when we had decided to stay and by now it is quite late in the morning and the sky is looking very ominous. We decide to camp. We are the only tent on the field. There is just a tap and we have to use the public loos in the village. From the sublime to the ridiculous and we have only crossed the road.
camping field Newfiels Farm churchyard

We stock up in the village. The village store is an absolute gem - full of pies and pastries, large selection of meats and cheeses etc. It's a real pity we can't carry half of what we would like to take but we make up for it with what we can eat today!

The weather brightens sufficiently, in the afternoon. to allow the bride to enter the church without getting wet.

Day 10. St.John's Town of Dalry to Kiln Knowe - 9.5 miles + 4 miles detour

We have been on the Southern Upland Way for nine days now and have only covered 68 miles - not a very good average. We have plenty of time to complete the way so there is no pressure of absolute deadlines.

from Butterhole Bridge We are away quite early but start by walking the wrong way out of town! Too much chatting, not enough concentrating. We retrace our steps, walk up the road and are soon on open moor. The way is quite vague and we lose our way briefly but this is soon rectified. There are a number of small climbs and we reach a lonely moorland road which we follow before crossing the Butterhole Bridge.

We head off onto open moor again. The weather today is a real treat. foot of Culmark Hill We climb Marksaig Hill and then Culmark Hill. On the descent of Culmark Hill we have lunch by a sheepfold. A farmer arrives on a buggy with three sheepdogs not with sheep but with cattle. He comes over to talk to us. We discuss the foot and mouth outbreak of last year and finally I ask him about the Manquhill Bothy, our destination for today. We are not quite sure of it’s exact location but he gives us directions. We can reach it easier, once we have descended to the road, by turning right, leaving the Way and taking another footpath to the bothy. We decide to do this and hopefully pick up another path from the bothy back to the Way in the morning.

We begin to walk along the road when Charl is suddenly beset by stomach pains. They get worse! We have to stop. He writhes about. He thinks he has a rupture. I think he has colic but at the same time am relieved I have a mobile phone should I need to call an ambulance. I know that fat or oil is good for colic and offer him chocolate, the only thing I have with a fat content. I tell him to suck the chocolate and miraculously it starts to work. Slowly, accompanied by various bodily noises, he begins to feel a little better. After an hour and a half he is fit enough to continue.

We have to take the footpath, off the road, to Cornharrow. We seem to have walked a very long way and are beginning to think we have missed it when there it is. The sun is shining and it is a good track. We spot some deer who disappear into the woods below. Charl is back to his usual self and we are in good spirits.

We reach Cornharrow, a large farm estate, and ask some workers in a barn about the Manquhill Bothy. They tell us that it has closed and it is now a private dwelling! We are devastated. We will have to walk all the way back, a distance of over two miles, to continue on the Southern Upland Way and wild camp.

We go back along the path and sit for a smoke break and assess the situation where the path meets the road. A car comes down the track and stops. The occupant tells us we could have met up with the Way from Cornharrow! Now he tells us!!

following the wall from the Manquhill We walk back up the road and pick up the path. With the sickness break and four miles of futile walking, we have wasted a great part of the day but the sun is still shining as we begin the ascent of the Manquhill. We follow the line of the wall until we reach a ruined sheepfold. There is water nearby, so we decide to camp.

Day 11. Kiln Knowe to Polskeoch - 9.5 miles

camped on lower Manquhill We wake late and are packing up when we hear a buggy approaching. It is the farmer along with his dogs, one riding, one running. We are a little apprehensive as we are camping without permission but he waves and shouts “mornin’” as he passes by.

The Manquhill It is a misty morning. There is quite a stiff climb at the top of Manquhill Hill and then it is straight on to the summit of Benbrack. We cover over 1,000’ of ascent. Benbrack, itself, stands at 1,903’. The weather begins to deteriorate, again. from summit of Benbrack

We descend Benbrack and follow the line of the fence toward the next ascent, Cairn Hill. After Cairn Hill we begin to descend in earnest following the line of the wall. We meet a track running beside the forest and it now begins to rain quite heavily. We pick our way along the boggy track. Most of the peat is quite firm but I still manage to find the softest bit and sink ankle deep!

Allen's Cairn We turn into the forest, where we see some deer, and soon reach Allan’s Cairn. Allan’s Cairn is a red sandstone pillar, covered in text, commemorating George Allan and Margaret Gracie, Covenanters shot by dragoons.

We continue the descent until we reach the Polskeoch or Chalk Memorial Bothy at around 3.30pm. It is still raining heavily so we are pleased to duck inside. We cook dinner and decide to walk on if the weather improves by the time we have eaten. It starts to brighten at around 6.00pm but by that time we are nicely settled so decide to stay anyway.

Day 12. Polskeoch to Sanquhar - 9.5 miles

We leave around 6.45am. It is cloudy but dry.

After a pleasant walk along the valley floor, we meet a metalled road which climbs over the shoulder of a hill. We see some deer run across the road. looking back to Polgown and the road Thack Gair We continue over the hill and descend to Polgown Farm from where we take a path over the hills. The road still runs alongside us in the valley below. Opposite, on Thack Gair, we notice some field markings. We are not sure if they are old field markings or whether it was once forested. Scaur Water and the road Scaur Water

We continue along the flanks of the hillside, climbing steadily and turning away from Scaur Water and the road in the valley below. There is a very long descent. The way is wet and boggy.

I surpass my exploits of yesterday and my left leg disappears to the knee! I topple over, one leg now being longer than the other, but manage to keep my bottom out of the bog by supporting myself on my right elbow. It is now impossible to move and I shout instructions for Charlie to remove my sack. This is done, not without difficulty, but I still have a dry bum at the end of it.

I smell of bog!

coming into Sanquhar Whing Burn Sanquhar Castle
We see Sanquhar in the distance. We cross the Whing Burn and arrive on the outskirts. We pass the castle. The campsite is opposite, behind the garage. We are there by 12.00 noon and I am glad to have a shower and wash the bog out of my clothes.

We walk into Sanquhar and cannot decide on anywhere to eat. Charl suggests we buy cooked chicken and some chips and eat back at the tent. It is a very sunny afternoon. All the washing is dry. ......... We have far too much chicken!