Day 0 – I look for koalas in Scotland

There’s more to Britain than England, of course, so I’m continuing my 2020 northbound journey through Scotland towards the distant Orkney Islands. There is a nice little pilgrimage up there but before that I have the challenge of walking more than 1000 kilometres over the most spectacular terrain in Britain.

I’ve drawn a map on my website with an electronic crayon to show my route along 4 Great Scottish Trails. Last year, Contours managed the logistics with only a few errors so I’m using them again this year, as far as Inverness. “After Inverness”, said Ben, “you’re on your own”. That will be the John O’Groats Trial but it’s only a concept, not a footpath. Anyway that’s a problem for next month.

My immediate concern is the Southern Upland Way. It’s a coast to coast path of 340km with 80 summits above 610m (that’s 2000 feet). It starts in tiny Portpatrick, where I’m currently basking in 27 degrees (80F) sunshine and ends on the east coast in tiny Cockburnspath. It’s a lot like the Cheviots so I’m straight in at the deep end from Day 3. Tomorrow will just be a bit of fun along the coast and Sunday is essentially a stroll around the gorgeous Castle Kennedy gardens.

Yesterday I took the train from Weybridge. Five hours from Euston to Glasgow and then another five hours to Portpatrick. Who doesn’t have memories of a train station? They’ve fiddled around with Euston over the years but it really hasn’t changed from 1975.

However the station at Stranraer has been forgotten. It sits at the end of a long pier where the Ireland ferry used to dock. They moved the ferry ten years ago but the money to move the station into town was spent on something else. My bus replacement service drove me all the way to the end of the pier and dumped me there.

I spent today in the delightful Logan Botanic Garden, admission with senior discount £6.75 and return taxi £48. South west Scotland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and so they can grow palms and all sorts of exotic plants outdoors. Plants from New South Wales and Tasmania love it here. It was glorious. I found some shade and read On Chesil Beach.

28 comments on “Day 0 – I look for koalas in Scotland

  1. Regina O'Shea

    You’re gone again Tim! Looking forward to reading your daily blog. Mind yourself 🥾🥾
    Best wishes
    Regina x

  2. Fantastic to have a new journey to follow Tim -! This looks like another epic – !

    • Hi Linda, lovely to hear from you. Just let me know if you feel like joining me for a walk. I’m sure I’ll be passing near wherever you live! Melrose ahead!

  3. Miyuki

    I am delighted to join your new journey once again! This is really strange but I was thinking of you the other day if you would take on any challenge this year or not! I am so looking forward to seeing your lovely pictures and stories! How exciting! Please take good care as seems extreme weather is hitting everywhere!

    • みゆきせんせい !! Welcome and I’m well, thanks. I keep thinking how much I miss learning Japanese and next time I will have to go right back into your beginners class. I hope to get a few photos of the beauty of Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  4. Hi Tim,
    Your travels look much more tropical than I would have imagined finding in chilly old Scotland. Good luck with the walk and I look forward to reading more on your blog soon. Suzi

    • It won’t be long before my photos look like the more familiar chilly old Scotland. Sorry I missed seeing you. Tim


    Great walk. Enjoy it and all the best.

  6. Ruedi Bösch

    Hi Tim
    What a nice surprise to see you on the road again. You have my full admiration for your new challenge! I am looking forward reading your news and seeing your great pictures 😄. Take care!

    • Great to hear from you, Ruedi. Are you able to do some walking in Switzerland? There are so many challenges at the moment so I just have to set off and hope for the best.

      • Ruedi Bösch

        Unfortunately not. I have problems with my knees and hips for one year so I can not do days of hikes. I’m more on the road by bike 🙂

  7. Roger Clarkson

    Racing at Ayr on Monday if you want an early rest day.

    • I came through Ayr on the train and thought about the time we went racing there.

  8. Philippa Thomas

    Hi Tim, what a lovely surprise to see that you’re on the way again, and in Scotland! Portpatrick looks just beautiful; will look forward your photos & blogs, take care and buen camino!

    • Good to hear from you and I wonder if Scotland will look a bit like NZ?

  9. Hi Tim – so excited to follow you on this trip in Scotland!

    • Hi Lynn and good to hear from you again. I can’t wait to get started. It looks a long way to Orkney from Portpatrick

  10. Tassie Kaz

    Hi Tim,
    I wondered how long it would take you to ‘hit the trail’ after Freedom Day… Answer; not long at all! 😁
    Glad you now have insight into the plants & trees of Tassie & can envisage what it’s like to walk here.
    Really looking forward to reading your daily instalments.
    Gambatte & take care.

    • Karen, did you like the Tassie trees? They had a Wollemi pine tree, one of about 100 growing wild, it said. Hope you’re well and great to hear from you

  11. Kristine Wheeler

    Looking forward to following you on yet another adventure Tim.

    • Hi Kristine, welcome along. I’ve no idea what is coming next. It will be an adventure…

  12. And he’s off again! What a nice surprise. No moss growing under your feet. So impressed that you continue your pilgrimages. Soon you may be like that guy I saw on the Camino (did you run in to him?) He has been walking for 25 years with his faithful dog. Usually see him in a monk’s robe (although he isn’t one). He plays his flute for change to keep him going.
    Wishing you beautiful weather and some other pilgrims to commune with. 🙂 Buen Camino!

    • Hi DJ, so good to hear from you. Even in the most desolate of places there’s always someone around. Thanks for your wishes Tim x

  13. Yeah! We’ve missed you. How wonderful to to look forward to the continued adventures of Pilgrim Tim again. God speed, Rebecca and Jeff

    • Hi Rebecca and Jeff, good to hear from you again. I hope you enjoy Scotland, it won’t be anything like Florida, I don’t suppose

  14. Vicky Williamson

    Kia Ora, Tim. Great to be able to follow you on another challenge – even though the koalas must have escaped to sunny Oz. The land and sea can be magic in providing special microclimates to grow extraordinary things – palm trees in England – who’d have thought! Kia kaha, Vicky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.