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|Ian Shiel and
|Days S28 - S32 Southern Scotland|
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North of England
English West Country
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Time of departure: 7.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.00 pm
Place departed: Crawford, S. Lanarkshire
Place arrived: Beattock, Dumfries and Galloway
Cum miles: 387.7
Percent complete: 39.9
Lochhouse Farm Retreat, Beattock ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: £30 ($60)
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What others say
Two days ago, I mentioned Myra, the Blackwood shopkeeper, who went out of her way to welcome me. Well, today, I met Ian Shiel from the Edinburgh area, who went even more out of his way - by a hundred miles or so - to do the same.
I left Crawford at 7.30 am with my packed breakfast, pleased to be getting miles under my belt while the weather was good. While it was pretty cool, and the wind was brisk, only a few snow flurries were falling. It wasn't a bad hiking morning at all for this time of year.
My breakfast was in my hot little hand, however, and I stopped at 8.15 to eat it. There were two ham and cheese sandwiches, a bag of chips (crisps), a Twix Bar, and an Irn-Bru soft drink.
Irn-Bru seems to have a corner on the Scottish market. It tastes like root beer, but probably owes its popularity to its reputation for relieving hangovers. Hangovers are a common affliction in Scotland.
Anyway, I used the Irn-Bru to take my pills, and ate the sandwiches and chips. I decided to save the Twix Bar for later, and didn't eat it until 8.20. Then I walked the six or so miles up to Beattock summit - not a steep ascent or any significant elevation, but a steady climb nevertheless.
And now we come to the random act of kindness. Near the summit, at about 11.30 am, I spotted a white motorhome parked off the road. Initially I thought nothing of it - but, when I neared it, a man got out. To my amazement, he greeted me:
"Would you like some soup, or a cup of tea, Daryl?"
I was quite thunderstruck. But I recognized the invitation as the welcome it was. I followed the man to his motorhome. Leaving my pack outside, I sat down with him.
Ian Shiel is a hiker himself - a TGO Challenge veteran and a two-times end-to-ender (one ending at Cape Wrath) - and thus a friend of the British hikers a few of whose names and faces I am getting to know - like Alan Sloman, Gavin Meldrum and Mark Moxon. He'd been reading my journal, and he'd probably noted my mentioning a nonexistent social life! The journal also allowed him to infer approximately where I'd be - and, after driving the considerable distance from the Edinburgh area - he successfully intercepted me. It probably takes hiking skills to be able to do this, and it certainly takes a thoroughly generous disposition.
I had a great time chatting with Ian, sitting snugly in his motorhome, taking a comfortable lunch break on his nice warm tomato soup and French bread. He assuredly made my day. And, to show you the type of man he is, he wanted to stay anonymous. It's actually taken a great deal of arm-twisting to pry his last name from him.
Warmed by this experience, I walked the remaining ten miles to Beattock, downhill all the way, and in the same quite-decent weather. There, I checked in at Lochhouse Farm, where I've stayed before. Martin and Mary Brown have made a very nice place here, right next to the (now closed) Old Brig Inn which Telford built. The Beattock village church dates back to at least 1174 when it was mentioned in Robert Bruce's papers. Nearby Moffat offers more accommodation in a busier setting, but it's slightly off the route for my hike.
My right ankle was painful today, despite painkillers. It's getting slowly worse rather than better. Unfortunately, tomorrow is another long day to get to the next town, which is Lockerbie.
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