Day 142: Palnackie to Seaward
Distance: 30.80 miles
Ascent: 3581 feet
Accommodation: Camping Seaward Holiday park (kindly Complimentary)
I woke up to another sunny day and the view out over the Urr Water valley from my tent was stunning. I was a little low on supplies so waited for the Palnackie community shop to open at 7:30 and got a few bits, though not much selection so ended up having a bizarre breakfast of strawberry yoghurt, shortbread & a pork pie.
I set off up the track before turning onto a core path at Tornat Forest, it was lovely even at this time of day to be in the dappled shade, and the little views, through the trees, over Urr Water were lovely. After leaving this wood there was a little island, Glen Isle, which had a private residents only sign so I decided not to enter.
From here there was a little path across the marsh onto the Almorness headland. A core path went a certain way down this before heading back up towards the A-road. I thought though it may be possible to walk all the way down to Almorness Point, but in the end decided to just stick to the core path as I was already going to be doing some off path/road to try and skip the A-road.
As alluded to above I did not want to return to the A-road from yesterday, so had decided to use the right to roam to try and cross some farm areas and re-join the paths near Auchencairn. The only issue was a river I had to cross, but on my map there was a farm track which headed to the river and my assumption was there wouldn’t be a random track going to the river if there was no way to cross. So, I headed across the fields, with a couple of gates/fences that had to be climbed and fortunately there was some wooden ladder steps over the stone wall (these were everywhere presumably for the pheasant hunts) before finally reaching the track down to the river. It really was just a mud track and I had lost faith by this point, but as I approached I was very happy to see a surprisingly stunning, narrow, old, stone brick arch. I crossed and after a short 500m stretch on the A-road (removing 2 miles of road from my route), I followed a core path down to Torr Point before soon heading up the edge of the bay to Auchencairn.
At Auchencairn I knew there was a little shop and was hoping to grab a few bits for a picnic. It turned out this had recently added a few tables to act as a tea room as well. This is very clever as village shops are really struggling and a little café will hopefully drive trade into it. This was great because it was about 11 so perfect time for a morning tea, and the lady inside said she could make a sandwich for me to have for my pic-nic later and there was enough stuff including fruit to stock up. I went to pay at the end and the lady said no and very kindly gave me my few bits and bobs for free.
From here there was a core path that I believed went all the way to Port Mary. This path was fairly up and down following the clifftops and was very scenic. At Rascarrel Bay there was some development going on of some smallish presumably holiday lets, which would be stunning to stay in. But suddenly and to my complete surprise one of the already built ones was actually built across what I though was the path and I could see the track climbing up the low cliff behind it. So I creeped around the house and then climbed up the track which took me very easily to Barlocco Bay, from here the track felt quite overgrown before just shy of Orroland (an estate with a pheasant shoot) my way was completely blocked by fencing. I looked for the path/a way through and couldn’t find an easy route, so ended up climbing a gate, squeezing through a little fir woodland and then through farm fields to Orroland Farm. Here I bumped into a farmer, who was friendly, and I asked him where the path had disappeared too. He said he believed there was no path (will come back to this later) though showed me a route that I should be able to follow to Port Mary.
After a few scrambles and short diversions to gates I did finally make it to Port Mary, a section that should have taken about 2 hours had taken in excess of 3 hours due to the issues. I sat down and had a moderate break in the shade to cool down and get ready for the next push.
Immediately, I had a decision to make, the military range had said it was active today and I had heard firing earlier in the day, but at this point the red flag was down and the red light was not on. I had assumed I would have to join the A-road here but if the base was inactive now and open to public there was a much better route from here. Someone drove passed who was not sure either so I decided I was not confident enough to enter the base (in fact the confusion increased later along the border as at the other 4 points with flags/lights differed, all four red flags were down, but at three of the points the red lights were off but at one it was definitely on). Anyway with the decision made I had a lot of moderately busy road walking about 7 miles, broken up by a short loop of St Mary’s Island and the town of Kirkcudbright where I could stock up on supplies.
Kirkcudbright was quite a nice town with a sort of marina and several historic buildings, but I did not stop for that long and just carried on along the road to Seaward Holiday Park, where the lady kindly let me stay for free which was very kind.
A long day, which was very hot and a mixture of great paths and not great roads. Regards the missing path issue it turns out that the core path online map I was using differed from that of the local authority when I checked in the evening, and the path did actually stop at Rascarrel and not at Mary Port as I had thought. I am not sure how this discrepancy has arisen but it would be much easier for everyone if the core paths were just put on OS maps and I do not know why the Scottish Government do not want this!
NB - Once again I couldn't reduce the photo number to 12.