Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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Myra Wedgeworth of Blackwood
DS27 Myra Wedgeworth
Days S21 - S27                                                                      Central Scotland
Day S27 - Larkhall to Douglas 
Day S26                  The dog that wasn't a pig                      Day S28
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Scottish Highlands
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Northbound Home
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time of departure: 8.00 am
Time of arrival: 3.30 pm
Place departed: Larkhall, S. Lanarkshire
Place arrived: Douglas, S. Lanarkshire

Miles: 16.5
Cum miles: 357.7
Percent complete: 36.8

Bed sign Kilchoman B&B, Douglas ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: 28 ($56)
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DS27 Lake and meadow
Myra Wedgeworth is one of those nice people that you wish you ran into all the time.

It rained as I walked out of Larkhall, displeased with Carlin Cottage B&B for a smoke-stinking room and other aggravations. In the rain I got soaked - and walking uphill I got thirsty. By the time I reached Blackwood at around 10 am, I was ready for a Fanta and a park bench even in the rain.

So I ducked into the Newsfare convenience store and bought my Fanta - and asked the lady behind the counter if there was a park up the road.

Myra Wedgeworth would have none of it. Before I could demur, she had brought a chair from the back of the store, and had sat me down in it, and she encouraged me to remain there even after my Fanta was long gone. I can't imagine that hospitality in a city convenience store. And she knew I wasn't going to bring her any future business.

Continuing in wet and windy weather, and remaining soaked because my Blackwood stop was a rest and not a dry-out, I arrived in Lesmahagow. (It's pronounced "Les-ma-hay-go" with accented first and third syllables.) There I stepped into the Black Bull Inn, looking for lunch and a radiator, and Laura Benwick provided both. It's amazing what soup does to a cold, wet hiker - and potato-and-leek soup does what soup does especially well. The radiator didn't quite dry out my jacket, but it certainly heated it up nicely. I felt much better when I left, with good wishes from the locals urging me along.

But we're not done with the soup yet. I swear that I'd have felt good today if the soup had been no more than hot water, flour and pepper. Equally, neither tea nor coffee would have come close. If you live in Britain, you may have found that Cup-a-Soup hits the spot; yet if you look at the package ingredients, that's extremely hard to understand. In fact, it's amazing what the claim of "no artificial colour, no preservatives" still allows them to put in, and how little chicken and vegetables you actually get in Chicken and Vegetable soup. Yet, as I've found, even Cup-a-Soup warms the soul.

As I left Lesmahagow, I climbed a steep hill behind - by a fair distance - an old man with two canes and a dog. At first, his canes caught my eye, but then I fixated on his dog. It was an off-white, almost pink, small animal, with a short curly tail that stood upright and did not wag. His ears stood up also, and from behind were squarely cut-off at the ends. The creature was rooting along the ground behind his master.

There was something weird about that dog. So weird in fact that I suddenly wondered if it was a pig! In fact, I had my camera half at-the-ready to document the man-with-pig as I got closer, and I reached for an explanation along the lines of "country folks" and "pigs are smart, too".

But, getting closer, I saw that it was indeed a dog, albeit one that resembled a pig. I felt distinctly foolish. I decided against mentioning this matter in my journal. So you found out about it some other way. I know you'll keep this all strictly confidential. If it gets out that Hobson can't tell a dog from a pig . . .

Douglas, my night's stop, is two miles off my route to the west, and the westerly turn brought me face-on into a quite unpleasant wind, though the rain had by now attenuated to mist. The road, the A70 for this short leg, was unpleasant also, with a rustic stone wall too close to the road for my walking comfort.

Earlier I had enjoyed a generous "dual carriageway" (four-lane divided highway) - devoid of traffic which much prefers the new M74 some distance away. The B7078 runs roughly parallel with the M74 here. Together with the B7076, which I'll meet later, these two B-roads run from south of the Glasgow metropolitan area down to Gretna at the border with England. They're invariably lightly trafficked, and in places even have a quite separate bike track. While the M74 is sometimes close, often it's quite distant. These roads and bike track don't seem to be much reported in the end-to-end hiking world, yet they're really convenient. From previous experience, I doubt I'll see more than twenty vehicles all of tomorrow.

Whilst mentioning this, there's a somewhat similar set of B-roads and bike tracks that parallel the A9 between Pitlochry and Inverness. Together with the roads I've just described, these mainly-untrafficked, easy-to-navigate routes cover approximately 150 miles of the end-to-end. I recommend them for those who don't mind if words like "trail" and "way" are missing from a description of parts of their route.

By the way, these routes are not all easy. The "M74" one that I'm on now runs through the southern uplands and over Beattock summit. The "A9" one runs through the Grampian mountains and over Drummochter pass. Both are subject to snow.
Day S26                                  2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                   Day S28