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A Soggy Southern Upland Way

A Soggy Southern Upland Way


Postby whiteburn » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:02 pm

Route description: Southern Upland Way

Date walked: 28/09/2012

Time taken: 12

Distance: 340 km

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Not a long report, just some relevant observations and information that may aid others.

Started 3pm on Friday 21 Sept and completed 11am on Wednesday 3 Oct 2012, 3 days fine weather at the start were followed by heavy rain, then rain, showers, rain, some more rain and then some rain and showers......it was WET, WET, WET! :( :(

Night 1 - Wild camped around 3km east of Castle Kennedy, NX 135356, rough sheep pasture. I picked up water at garage shop in Castle Kennedy as surface water will have animal contamination. In hind sight it would have been better to get a bus/ taxi to the campsite in Stranraer from/ to Castle Kennedy.

Night 2 - Beehive Bothy, NX 220714, water near the bothy was the colour of Talisker, but lacked the full flavour, I drank it and survived. Lots of rubbish ‘hidden’ in the trees near the bothy, too near a road head?

Night 3 - White Laggan Bothy, NX 466774.

Night 4 – St Johns of Dalry, Newfield Farm campsite (no fee, donation to charity requested), there’s no facilities but the public toilets are only 50m away and the pub (has good meals) is even closer. There’s a small shop in village which has the basics.

Night 5 - Polskeoch Bothy, NS 685019, nice MBA bothy with good stock of fuel unfortunately suffering from a stock pile of rubbish fire was stuffed with remains of plastic and cans, too near road head?

Night 6 - Wild camped around 1km northeast of Overfingland, NS 937102, sheep pasture.

Night 7 – Moffat, Caravan Club site, good site very close to town centre (£6.50). Large supermarket etc for restocking close by, Hyslop’s hardware sells meths and Coleman gas. Before heading back into the hills grab the full Scottish breakfast from “Moffat Mills” right next to campsite.

Night 8 – Over Phawhope Bothy, NT 182081

Night 9 – Tibbie Shields Inn campsite, NT 240205, good food and ale think the pitch cost £6. For a Saturday night it was very quiet, I guess it was the torrential rain putting people off.

Night 10 – Wild camped around 3km west of Galashields, NT 466366, sheep pasture. A good spot for an early dash into Galashields for the full Scottish breakfast!

Night 11 – Wild camped around 5.5km east of Lauder next to the foot bridge over Blythe Water, NT 567507, a nice spot, didn’t see any anywhere near as good between Lauder and Longformacus.
IMG_0547.jpg


Night 12 - Wild camped around 2km north of Abbey St. Bathans at edge of woods, NT 761633. A good spot for a quick dash to the finish line leaving lots of time for buses/ trains to get home.

Was generally disappointed with the first 50km of the SUW, too much walking through churned up cattle pasture land and tarmac bashing, the last 30km is similar. Found the going west of Sanqhar particularly bad (wet and boggy), it seemed like the when the route went off road it just cut off across country without any design and sometimes the 'path' were chewed up by ATV traffic. If Scotland is going to suffer from continual wet summers more funding will have to be found for building/ repairing paths or the route will continue to decay. If I was doing again I think I’d be targeting a crossing when the ground was frozen, quite difficult to forecast for a 2 weeks period?

I would also be less inclined to follow the official route, at times the route can seem very artificial/ contrived (probably the result of the land politics 25+ years ago) and ‘better’ routes are apparent from the map and visible on the ground e.g. crossing moor land rather than cattle pasture, etc.

I did enjoy the central section as it passes through some fine country however IMO it is being spoiled by the proliferation of wind farms, for the entire crossing you are never very far from a wind farm or one in construction. If they keep breeding at the current rate perhaps the route name will need to be changed to the SOUTHERN UPLAND WINDFARM.
IMG_0544.jpg


Carried enough food at outset to get me to Moffat (+ emergency) with only the need to top up on snack food along the way, this must have weighed 6kg, rucksack weigh at outset was >15kg (including 1.5 litres of water), tooooooo heavy. If I was doing again (backpacking) I’d look to reduce this load by planning a resupply in Dalry, probably using a food parcel sent to the campsite. Even carrying so much food and buying stuff along the way I still lost >2kg.

Carried a Honey stove (wood) and a meths burner, but only used the wood stove twice.
IMG_0533.jpg


There’s enough wood available on the route to have a bonfire every night but the constant wet weather meant that I had to revert to the meths stove and refuel in Moffat.
whiteburn
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby Paula Hubens » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:35 pm

Well done for doing this tough route and sticking with it despite the rain! :clap: Even in better weather it requires some determination :wink:
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby whiteburn » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Paula Hubens wrote:Well done for doing this tough route and sticking with it despite the rain! :clap: Even in better weather it requires some determination :wink:


I think it was more bloody mindedness rather than determination!

I didn't find the overall route that tough....I had to put in a couple of long days of nearly 40km but had a couple of short days (15km) after Moffat to recharge the batteries. Worse was the creeping dampness permeating everything despite all efforts to keep things dry that was the most depressing :( ......only to be kept at bay by regular medicinal doses of alcohol :)
whiteburn
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby meangarry » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:34 pm

Good to know hyslops has gas too! I'm toying with the idea of doing the first half from portpatrick to my home in Moffat in a week off I have then the rest in a week off at the end of nov.
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby whiteburn » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:01 am

meangarry wrote:.....I'm toying with the idea of doing the first half from portpatrick to my home in Moffat in a week off I have then the rest in a week off at the end of nov.


Good luck on the weather front, hopefully you'll get frozen bog and not too much snow :D
whiteburn
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby meangarry » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:18 pm

Lethargy has got the better of me! That and sunday night football. :oops:
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby Loon Dod » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:27 pm

Well done, i attempted to run it between xmas and new year last year and even though I was running through snow and ice that section west of Sanqha was still horrible and wet and boggy, would need a really hard frost with minimal snow to be good.
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Re: A Soggy Southern Upland Way

Postby sparkrc » Tue May 20, 2014 4:39 am

Thank you for your report ,me and my girlfriend are doing the SUW this Friday,we did the cape wrath trail last year so hopefully should be OK for this ldw,fingers crossed for the whether,and the road bashing ,have reluctantly packed a comfy pair of walking shoes just in case the old feet struggle, backpack weighing heavy at 18 kg,
Once again cheers for report
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