Day 139: Riddindyke to Carsethorn

Distance: 32.30 miles

Ascent: 1401 feet

Weather: Light to Medium Rain Morning, OVercast Afternoon

Accommodation: The Steamboat Inn, Carsethorn (Kindly Complimentary)


I was up early though I did not set off early, as needed to try and sort out something for my rest day which was meant to start from this evening. I had sort of been let down on where I thought I was going to stay so I sent of an email to a business in New Abbey and vaguely checked to see if any other options.

I set off intrigued to wonder where I would end up tonight and knowing that the worst that could happen is that I would be in my tent and have to push rest day back by a day or two. Today was going to be a day primarily of lane walking, but not long from the start I had a lovely wildlife encounter. A deer was literally static only 15/20m in front of me just off the road. I walked a bit closer to about 10m and it literally wasn’t moving, I started to wonder if someone had placed a taxidermy one as a joke as no ear flick or blinking or even any sign of breathing. I took a photo and then slowly walked passed it now convinced it was a practical joke, and when I was about 5m away one ear flicked and the deer knew straight away the game had been given away and it sprinted straight off into the wood. Definitely the closest I have ever been to a wild deer.

Unfortunately, the rain started though fortunately only light at this point. I soon passed Brow Well, which to the eye is nothing special in fact quite dull and a bit ugly with stagnant brown water and rubbish in the bottom. But it is on the tourist map because it was where Robert Burns came to try and cure the ailment, which he later died off, by drinking the water.

The quiet lanes continued down to near Caerlaverock Castle but unfortunately by this point the rain was heavy enough that I did not want to waste time detouring to it and did not want to risk my camera in the rain. The light rain and quiet lanes continued as I headed up the River Nith until Glencaple where I stopped for a tea/snack. Whilst at this break I also emailed an inn about 6 miles beyond New Abbey where I had proposed to finish.

Something I had been noticing is there seemed to be lots of footpaths (core paths) on the ground that did not seem to be on the OS map. This is something I will have to investigate on my rest day. But fortunately there was one after Glencaple that followed the edge of the river all the way up to Kingholm Quay, albeit crossing the dodgiest bridge I have crossed so far (see photo below), meaning I did not have to follow the road.

I crossed the river just shy of Dumfries after which the route became a bit more tricky. I followed the road for a while but it was too busy with only a very minimal verge making it a little dangerous so at Islesteps, I detoured inland very slightly on another core path which took me past St Queran’s Well. This is another well that was renowned for its healing qualities and has been in use since at least the 9th century and coins were found in the 1870 clean up that dated back to 1560 with the likelihood that any previous coins had completely disintegrated in the spring water. I didn’t but would guess you could actually drink out of this one as the water looked very clear.

Fortunately, I could take a quiet lane down towards Kirkconnell Tower before after a bit more lane walking heading to New Abbey via a little path and footbridge. The crowning jewel of New Abbey is the Sweetheart Abbey which though a ruin and unfortunately at present covered in scaffolding was still very impressive and an interesting hue of orange.

New Abbey was my proposed finish point for today, but very kindly The Steamboat Inn in Carsethorn had offered me a complimentary room that afternoon, so I had another 6 miles to walk. This last stretch was never going to be nice with the only real route being along the fairly busy A710. After a couple of miles on the road after Drumburn Dridge I got down to the foreshore where I hoped I may be able to get all the way to Carsethorn. I could only get about 500m before having to return to the road. About a kilometer later I tried again but with similar, actually less fruitful, results to attempt to use the foreshore. Once again I had to return to the road and from there on I used the road until to Kirkbean and then the quieter lane down to Carsethorn.

The extension had made this a long day in excess of 30 miles and I arrived at the Steamboat Inn about 8pm. I cannot believe how generous they were not only giving me a complimentary room for my rest day, but also giving me dinner and breakfast as well. If you are ever in the area this pub is in a stunning location, with a brilliantly quirky interior and great food.

So the end of another quite long week, and I am looking forward to the physical rest tomorrow.

charles compton