What could be nicer than a summer walk with your wife and some friends in the Galloway Hills? Well, it depends on whether you tell them how steep the first section is, how long the path back is, and whether midges are invited or not. Let’s just say that by the end of the day the phrase “good place to hide his body” was heard.
The day started well with a nice coffee at the Visitor Centre at Clatteringshaws Loch (strongly recommended). We then head round the loch and park near Craigencallie House (NX504782). The route goes behind the house and then a diagonal climb up onto Cairngarroch. Unfortunately, although the map does show the contours closely spaced 1, it doesn’t indicate how thick the bracken was at this time of year and how bad the midges would be. Fortunately we had Stuart with us who seems to be a midge-magnet and he was soon black with them: nobly sacrificing himself for his friends.
Bathing in DEET merely encouraged them. So while we wanted to stop to catch our breath on the steep and rough climb, the midges kept us going, desperately trying to get to the ridge and a breeze to blow the little buggers away. This was a pity because the view over Clatteringshaws Loch to Cairnsmore of Dee was attractive.
At this point the goodwill from the coffee stop had dissipated and we had grumblings in the ranks 2. It didn’t help that the terrain towards Millfore was rough and dull, although Jazz did manage to put in some grouse-lifting practice. So we trudged on and finally reached the summit and its trig point. Thankfully, the view saved my bacon.
We had a fantastic 360° view from the Merrick, the Silver Flowe and the Rhinns of Kells in the north; to the Lakeland Fells and the Isle of Man in the south; and the Mull of Galloway and Northern Ireland in the west. A great, midge-free, lunch stop! But it was downhill, literally and figuratively, from here.
We drop down on the edge of the Buckdas of Cairnbaber (© Wacky names of Galloway) to join a forestry track that leads us back to the car. The only teeny problem was that this track was a bit longer than the ladies were expecting and the grumblings re-started. Stuart, Jazz and I played it safe by creating a few hundred metres gap (a “buffer zone” as the military call it). However, when you get a strident “Show me the map!” from She-who-must-be-obeyed 3, then you know things are about to get nasty. Fortunately I could convince Cathy and Carol that we were mere moments away from the car and that their well-being was my primary concern 4. Luckily we soon joined the Southern Upland Way and I knew it was only a km to safety: full steam ahead!
- Word to the wise here: don’t show your companions the map – it only scares them when they see all those contour lines ↩
- Normally I don’t tolerate dissension with Jazz, but this was different as it involved the Missus… ↩
- A homage to the wonderful creation of John Mortimer: Rumpole ↩
- I believe the colloquial term is “bull-shitting” ↩
|Do It Again:|