Day 143: Seaward to Carsluith
Distance: 28.50 miles
Ascent: 2782 feet
Weather: Sunny & Very Hot
Accommodation: Harmony B&B, Carsluith (kindly Complimentary)
I was up and leaving early this morning, and fortunately, barring the first couple hundred meters of the day, there would be paths and tracks for the first 20 miles or so of the day. Even now before 8 it was already really hot, and I knew I would have to be careful about getting burnt and also water /provisions as I would pass very little today.
At Millhall I joined a core path and it headed through a beautiful woodland full of wild garlic and bluebells and being in the dappled shade on a warm day like today was lovely. I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of a little red squirrel in here. After a couple of kilometres the path heads out of the wood at the ruins of Senwick Church. The path took me across a few fields before heading down to Ross Bay which was just beautiful in the morning sunshine.
On my original plan I had proposed heading straight across to Brighouse Bay here, as no path shown on OS map, but on checking core paths yesterday evening it was possible to do a loop of Meikle Ross as well, which I would have to do and would add on a couple of miles. This headland was almost like an island and was very beautiful. It was where I came across my first proper bull in a field of cows with calves. He was a very big chap, and I was a little anxious to enter a field with him, but it was a path and I went in. Fortunately, he took no notice in me at all and was more interested in the lovely cows around him. This was only my first cow encounter on this part and the next one could have been an issue I was walking along a gorse lined path when as I turned the corner there in front of me less than 10m was a group of 10 or so cows with their young and another giant bull. I had startled them, and myself, and they weren’t too happy. Two of the cows charged (the bull didn’t care at all) though seemed happy when I backed off away from them and there young. I had to wait a few minutes whilst they all moved on before being able to continue.
After finishing the loop I reached Brighouse Bay which was lovely and after crossing the beach I reached the location of a campsite, which I knew may be the last place I would pass where I could get food so I got a few bits and also got my water refilled for the first time of the day. The path from here was very clear and slowly climbed up onto the cliffs after leaving the bay. Here there was a quaint sign, ‘Danger cliffs …. Caution – steep path …. Long Walk’, undeterred I carried on and in fact the path was not that long and not very steep at all. This section was stunningly scenic all the way to Kirkandrews, though the heat was already having an effect and I was sweatier than I have ever been on the walk so far. At Kirkandrews I decided though it wasn’t quite empty to knock on someone’s door to get another refill of water and they kindly obliged. They also told me the next stretch of path was almost impossilbe to follow but if I lost it I should still be fine.
True to her word, I am pretty sure I lost the path almost immediately but just followed close to the coast and barring a couple of rock scrabbles I made it to Knockbrex fairly easily, from where I could see the stunning mansion. From here, the path joined a track that headed through a couple of static/hut holiday parks. Just as I was leaving these I spotted a woman gardening and asked if she could refill my water which she kindly did.
Amazingly I was still on a core path, but at Rough Point Wood I decided to deviate closer to the river and follow the embankment up to the bridge. So far it had been a day of lovely paths in the sun. But after crossing this bridge I knew there could be major issues as the A75 is a very busy road (HGV’s/cars heading to the ferryport for Ireland) and one you could not walk down without a large verge and there was no clear other route.
I set of on the verge which at this point was a 2m wide grass verge, which though not nice nor exciting to walk was at least safe. Near Lanefoot Bridge I passed a butty van that was shut but it was possible to drop down to the sandy/muddy beach here. This was more like it, and I covered the next couple of miles quickly. The tide was coming in and at Mossyard Bay I could now not get around the headland, so I headed up the beach and guess what I asked someone pitched in a site whether they could top my water up. They not only did this with sparkling water as it was all they had but kindly sent me on my way with a box of Maltesers.
So I headed up the lane passed Mossyard Farm and was back on the A75. I once again headed down the verge until it got too narrow and then I hopped into a new tree plantation where I had to head through the thick vegetation before climbing a couple of gates and one drystone wall before rejoining the A75 just shy of the turnoff for Kirkdale. I took the lane down to Kirkdale Cottage next to the foreshore and then followed the pebble beach all the way to Carsluith. This stretch which should have only taken 2 hours or so took well in excess of 3 hours because of all the twists and turns
I was absolutely exhausted from both the heat and the distance and this was without doubt the hardest day physically of the walk so far. Harmony B&B had emailed back the other day to say I could pitch there but on arrival at about 8pm they went one better and very kindly offered me a lovely room. I have never been more grateful for a room, and I must have looked a right sweaty state when I arrived. I did very little and pretty much lay straight down on the bed and fell asleep less than an hour later.
So a very tough day, where I drank 7 litres of water, and though 20 miles of the day were very scenic the last part of the day ruined it a bit though I was quite chuffed to find a route through that didn’t deviate too much from the coast.
NB - Once again I couldn't reduce photo count to 12.