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.