Day 5 – in the middle of nowhere

Craigenbay to Stroanpatrick, 29Km

Neither of those places actually exist. Craigenbay is just a drop off point for walkers at the end of a dirt track. It’s an invention by the taxi company. Stroanpatrick is a windswept barn in the middle of nowhere. As I reached the day’s final summit, I could see the little spec of the taxi waiting there. The thunder was rumbling and huge black rain clouds were hovering about 50m above me. Even then, I got lost in the bog on my way down and was 10 minutes late. Somehow I escaped a good soaking but Brian soon had the wipers on.

It’s a bleak and desolate walk along the Southern Upland Way and I’ve still not seen another walker. However there was an oasis today. It’s called St John’s Town of Dalry and it was named by the Knights Templar, apparently because John the Baptist rested there. He probably stayed in the Clachan Inn where I sat dripping in the corner, enjoying a fish finger sandwich with salad. Although it hadn’t rained, I had to force my way through bracken almost as tall as me which was soaking wet from last night’s rain.

The author of my guidebook freely admits that “not a few” abandon the SUW at Dalry because it’s the first place you can get a bus. A woman in the Inn said the SUW was so much better than the West Highland Way which she thought too popular. Maybe when I get home and look at the photos I’ll be nostalgic but right now I yearn for the sight of another human being on one of those expensive benches which have never been sat on.

Today’s walk was partly along a river through mixed woodland and mostly over moorland covering the hills at the southern end of the Rhinns of Kells. “The path is faint, the markers well-spaced and scarcely above the bracken, so keep checking the compass”, advises the guidebook.

A drama was unfolding in the woods across the river as I walked along. A young deer was being chased by something big and was squeaking for help. The chaser pounced and killed the deer. I couldn’t see what it was. A few moments later, mother deer leapt across the stream almost in front of me, gave me a mournful look and ran off.

Just for the record, this is Craigenbay. It’s a pick up point but not what you’re thinking
The summit of Shield Rig
Plenty of benches. When the SUW was opened in 1984, they were expecting more walkers
The lovely Clachan Inn
in St John’s Town of Dalry
I think the signing is quite good
These waymarks guide you across moorland. You can just see the next one ahead.
Just look at those clouds
Avoid wind turbines during a thunderstorm

10 comments on “Day 5 – in the middle of nowhere

  1. Nessie

    Wow, you nearly saw the Rhinns Beastie! Watch your step!

    • I certainly will. Anything you want to tell me about Loch Ness?

  2. Hi Tim, wonderful account of the day’s walk. The little town of Dairy looks delightful, I wouldn’t want to leave. Hope you come across some other walkers soon.

  3. Philippa

    I love the sky photos but suspect that I’d be one of those tempted to catch a bus if I had to walk by killers of small deer, or turbines (presumably likely to attract lightning?)!

    • They’re lethal in a thunderstorm or icy morning when long sheathes of ice fly off the blades. That’s what we’re signing up for when we tick the renewables box.
      Good to hear from you again

  4. Hi Tim, I have to say I love being the only person in the middle of nowhere but I am not certain I would like to mix with the Bambi killer! Was just wondering if I could change a few sign posts around here in Devon to re-direct some of the thousands we have walking the paths around here towards the lonely Scottish ones.

  5. Emma McQuillan

    Sounds like an epic adventure Tim & you have encountered the desolate parts of Scotland.

    • Hi Emma great to hear from you. I surely have found desolation in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿! It’s nice at times…

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