Saturday 28 July 2007

Scottish Borders + Stirling: Jedburgh- Drymen [20th - 28th July]

[Update 9]

Still missing our new friends and the nice atmosphere of a national trail, our route quietly progressed through the vast Scottish landscape. A day on St Cuthbert's Way was lovely, no bog :-), roman roads, meadows and rivers, ending with the Eildon Hills sat neatly in a row of three. Two days off near Melrose Abbey gave us a chance to make use of the laundry room, me, the luxury of a hairdryer, Will, to cook up some fresh food and Daisy just enjoyed sleeping. Next was a lovely day on the Southern Upland Way, it was more hilly and even the suncream made a rare appearance! A lamb decided to kiss Daisy - priceless, and we received some more midge avoidance tips to add to the collection, citronella, lavender oil, Tiger Balm, Avon's Skin So Soft.... however everyone says that 'nothing' will stop a seriously large swarm!

As soon as we reached deeper valleys and moorland, so the rain returned, but thankfully just a heavy shower this time. At Cheese Well Spring, we had a to leave a gift for the fairies in exchange for some water, so we left our lucky penny which had got us safely through the midlands and a pink liquorice allsort. A thunder storm ended the day with an awesome display of training Chinook helecopters that looked like they were just missing the telephone lines overhead. Daisy wasn't impressed.

On to Peebles and the second dearest campsite along the way, but it did have an interesting toilet arrangement in a castle courtyard and we managed to get the weather (rubbish again) on GMTV. It was then on to more rugged hills with really annoying flies that seemed intent on getting up our nasal passages, the butterflies were nice though. Rachel, from the Pennine Way was right, Scotland does have the most butterflies. An old drove road led us to some rather large Highland cows and their seriously fluffy, teddy bear like calves, then on to a high moorland area called Cauldstane Slap. The clouds had formed 3 Scottish flags in the sky, but we had to press on as it was a 27 miler to the campsite. Thanks for the donation from Jean at Linwater caravan park :-).

My goodness, I still can't believe we did 42 miles the next day!! There was reason behind our madness though and Ray Jardine's book (our lightweight backpacking guru) said that it was possible when necessary. Our End to End guide book said that we would need to pass through a built up area that was "slightly riskier than climbing over Cross Fell (on the Pennine Way) in bad weather" and if we feared for our security then we should box around it! Heck, we'd already passed through some 'shifty' areas and the guide book didn't mention those, so we completely boxed around the area and aimed at the only campsite on route which was unfortunately 42 miles away. We passed some slag heaps that looked like a mini Aires Rock, and follwed the thankfully flat canals, through a long dark dripping tunnel, passed the Falkirk Wheel, more canals where the wind and hurtling dragon flies was against us, then a bit of road where Daisy had a 3 mile rest in Will's sack and eventually on to Drymen. Fifteen hours later with nothing but corner shops full of yucky chocolate and crisps to fuel us along, we fell in our tent before cramping up, ate two slices of ham and a Turkish Delight and slept rather well. Needless to say we took a painful day off in Drymen (the shops for food were still 2 miles away - ouch). When we arrived back, the campsite was full of backpackers that were also ready to do our next national trail, the eagerly awaited West Highland Way.

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